September 21, 2015
A fast-growing field of healthcare now has a new pathway for professional training in Northern California.
University of the Pacific's new Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) is a 27-month program expected to start in January 2017 on the university's Sacramento campus. The program is designed for those with experience in health care, individuals interested in a second career opportunity and pre-health students interested in entering the physician assistant (PA) field.
PAs are healthcare professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. In an interprofessional setting, Pacific PA students will become proficient in the full array of skills involved in completing medical histories, conducting physical examinations, performing clinical skills and procedures, providing treatment and counseling patients.
In the first year, students build a strong academic foundation in preparation for clinical practice. Students study the basic sciences (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, microbiology and pharmacology); explore the role of the PA as a member of the health care team; and learn about cultural and personal determinants of health and disease. In the second year, students participate in clinical rotations in a variety of settings and in conjunction with other of healthcare disciplines. Learning settings include physician offices, hospitals and clinics under the direct supervision of a physician and/or physician assistant.
Pacific's MPAS program will provide numerous opportunities for interprofessional education through involvement with Pacific's highly regarded health-related schools, the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. The Dugoni School of Dentistry is administrating the program, making it the first dental school in the nation to administer a physician assistant program.
According to U.S. News and World Report's 2015 "100 Best Jobs" ranking, physician assistant is one of the top 10 best jobs in America. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 30% job growth rate for the profession through 2020.
Pacific has applied for Accreditation-Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Pacific anticipates matriculating its first class in January 2017, pending achieving Accreditation-Provisional status at the September 2016 ARC-PA meeting. Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program's ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.