Physician Assistant Degree Options and Curriculum

PA Program


The first three semesters of the program consist of didactic and laboratory coursework in the basic and clinical sciences, including a 9-week anatomy course with cadaver dissection at Jefferson Medical College. First-year students are introduced into clinical settings as part of the Physical Diagnosis I course in the fall semester. At the conclusion of the didactic phase of the program and prior to the start of the clinical rotations, students participate in a transitional phase. During several weeks, students complete their core competency examinations, receive training in clinical procedures and  participate in standardized patient simulation experiences. The transitional phase concludes with student attendance at the AAPA National Conference. The conference is expected to be held in Boston in 2014 and San Francisco in 2015. Most of the costs associated with attending the conference are included in the tuition. 

Clinical Rotations

The clinical phase consists of seven required rotations including Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, Community Medicine, Internal Medicine, Women’s Health, Pediatrics, and Surgery. In addition, there are 12 weeks of clinical electives. During the clinical rotations, the students are visited by a faculty member to ensure that  they are getting an appropriate learning experience. Every 12 weeks, the students return to campus for exams and professional practice lectures. 

Dual Degree Option

Students complete the coursework for the Public Health program in the year prior to entering the Physician Assistant program.

Master of Public Health prepares graduate Physician Assistants for leadership roles in meeting community healthcare needs. The Master of Public Health degree focuses on population health and includes the disciplines of epidemiology and biostatistics with an in-depth fieldwork thesis project oriented toward a student’s primary area of research interest.

Student Work Policy

Due to the intensity of the Physician Assistant program, students are discouraged from outside employment while enrolled in the PA and dual-degree programs. Employment during these programs makes it difficult to have time for social activities, hobbies and recreational activities and rest. Students are prohibited from applying compensated clinical experience toward academic credit. Additionally, students may not provide services within a preceptor's practice apart from those rendered as part of the clinical year of the program. Students are not permitted to have clerical or teaching responsibilities within the PA program. Students may not receive compensation for any work performed within the preceptor's clinical site or practice.