Coming summer of 2020 is Northwestern’s newly accredited physician’s assistant graduate program.
The PA program is the first on-campus graduate program offered by NW. The campus will also be starting an athletic training graduate program at the same time to add to their online masters of education and BSN program. Thirty-two students will be accepted into each cohort, and this coming cohort has received 80 applicants, 50 of which will be interviewed. Preference goes to NW graduates, but anyone is allowed to apply who meets the requirements.
Prerequisites for the program include 500 hours of healthcare experience, a 3.0 GPA, completion of the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants, a bachelor’s degree, and the completion of human anatomy, human physiology, microbiology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, psychology and statistics.
“The first 15 months of the program consist of lecture and lab courses designed to prepare students to enter the clinical phase. Students spend the last 12 months of the program on clinical rotations, applying their knowledge and skills in a variety of clinical settings, including hospitals, clinics and emergency departments,” said Christina Hanson, the director of the program.
Hanson launched the same program at Bethel University after receiving her bachelor’s and doctorate degree in higher education. NW is excited to have her expertise when it comes to PA programs, as Bethel’s program has been very successful. The Bethel program saw 20 times more applications than available spots in the program, and NW is looking forward to having a well-sought out program, too.
Over the course of 27 months, students will complete 116 credits in seven consecutive semesters, including three terms of clinical rotations and four terms of face-to-face training for $750 per credit. The program’s curriculum will teach classes like patient care, pharmacology, clinical reasoning, medical pathophysiology and research methods. Rotations include family medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, psychiatry, emergency medicine and internal medicine. The program aims to offer exceptional training, faith integration, leadership preparation and diverse learning.
Other faculty and staff of the program include professors of practice Lori Anderson, Sandra Muyskens, Jill Van Otterloo, medical director Dr. Alan Laird, enrollment counselor Chelsie Robins and coordinator JoAnn Weber.
Upon completion of this program, students earn their MSPAS, masters of science in physician assistant studies. With this degree, graduates are able to work at a variety of medical sceneries as medical providers.
The program recently received accreditation-provisional status. This status is given to programs that have not yet enrolled students, but the status labels the program as able to meet the standards of the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant. According to the ARC-PA, accreditation-provisional “is 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 Standard.” This committee has deemed NW’s program to demonstrate the ability to meet the standards of graduating capable and well-informed physician assistants.
One reason NW’s program is appealing is the integration of faith into academics, as NW is the second college in Iowa to be Christian-based and house a PA program alongside St. Ambrose in Davenport. Another way NW’s program stands out is with the highly accomplished professors of practice who bring years of experience to the classroom.
The draw to starting an on-campus PA program had roots in the fact that NW has a reputation for extraordinary biology, nursing and athletic training programs, all aimed to caring for the individual. The demand for physicians’ assistants is also said to rise 37% in the next seven years with a median salary of just over $100,000, making the PA career path a lucrative one.
Classes begin on June 1, 2020, and a new cohort will begin each following June. NW is looking forward to their first on-campus graduate program, and the integration of undergrad and graduate students.