Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies, Downers Grove Campus

Midwestern University's Physician Assistant Program offers accredited, student-centered training to become a valued member of an interprofessional healthcare team, focusing on evidence-based medicine and compassionate decision-making.

Student and professor examining patients head

Midwestern University's Master of Medical Science (M.M.S.) in Physician Assistant Studies is an immersive, full-time program spanning 27 months from matriculation to graduation. It offers students the opportunity to earn a valuable graduate degree while satisfying the eligibility requirements for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).

Interprofessional Focus

The Physician Assistant Program places a strong emphasis on interprofessional collaboration. As future healthcare providers, our students are encouraged to work seamlessly within multidisciplinary teams, fostering a holistic approach to patient care.

Curriculum Highlights

The comprehensive curriculum encompasses 12 months of in-depth basic science coursework, covering critical subjects such as anatomy, biochemistry, neuroscience, physiology, pharmacology, immunology, genetics, and microbiology. It also includes clinical coursework in clinical medicine, clinical reasoning and medical decision making, professional issues, and the interpretation of medical literature. In the subsequent 15 months, students participate in rotations in eight core clinical areas and one elective clinical setting. This period also includes advanced clinical medicine courses and culminates with a capstone project, providing a well-rounded education in physician assistant studies.

Clinical Experience

The second-year clinical experience takes place in Chicago and surrounding areas, offering diverse practice opportunities. Clinical settings range from ambulatory practices to hospitals, community health centers, and more, reflecting various geographic and demographic contexts. The program does utilize core site rotations in Illinois outside of the greater Chicagoland area. Housing at these sites is provided by the university for a nominal fee. Students must arrange their own housing and transportation for local and elective rotations. Midwestern University Physician Assistant students are never required to provide or solicit clinical sites or preceptors.

Ready for Practice

Upon graduation, Physician Assistant Program students possess the skills to embark on diverse career paths, confidently conducting patient assessments, interpreting diagnostic studies, selecting treatment modalities, managing emergencies, promoting health through education, and demonstrating essential interpersonal skills.

Program Goals

The goals of the Midwestern University Physician Assistant Program are to: 

  1. Recruit, matriculate and retain a diverse class of highly qualified students.
  2. Provide a comprehensive and evidence-based curriculum that prepares graduates for entry-level practice.
  3. Foster a culture of service and provide students and faculty with opportunities to engage with their communities and the medically underserved.

*The MWU IL PA program revised their program goals in February of 2024.  Documentation of success in meeting the program's new goals will be published summer of 2025. 

The Midwestern University PA Program demonstrates achievement of these goals by analyzing the results of student performance in the didactic and clinical year, admissions data, PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE) pass rates, and regular surveys of graduates, preceptors, and program faculty.

July 2023 IL Physician Assistant Program Goals 

April 2024 IL Physician Assistant Program Goals

Learn More

Learn more about the requirements and find quick links to relevant catalog content to guide you in your application process.

  • Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Minimum cumulative and science GPA of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale
  • Successful completion of prerequisite coursework from regionally accredited colleges or universities
  • Healthcare experience strongly preferred

Full list of requirements

Admissions Procedures  
The Physician Assistant (PA) program adheres to a specific admission process, and prospective students are encouraged to become acquainted with our interview and selection procedures.

Advanced Placement  
Midwestern University's PA Program does not permit advanced placement for prior academic, clinical, or life experience. Requests may be made for advanced placement for coursework and will only be considered if a letter grade of "C" or better has been earned and must be deemed equivalent to the Midwestern University course.

Extended Program  
The PA Program does not offer an extended course of study beyond the usual length of the program.

PA Program Student Work Policy  
To optimize success in our program, students are strongly discouraged from pursuing external employment while attending Midwestern University. We maintain a non-negotiable stance on managing workload, whether in the didactic or clinical phase, for those who choose external employment.

View catalog for more information

Articulation Agreement with Aurora University

Beginning with the class matriculating in Fall 2023, Midwestern University’s participating colleges/programs agree to guarantee interviews for qualified Aurora University applicants.

Requirements for all Midwestern University Programs

As a condition precedent to receiving an interview for Midwestern University (MWU) Programs, Applicants must meet all the requirements set forth below before the academic year commences for the incoming class:

  • Have received, or be on track to complete and provide proof of completion by matriculation at MWU, a baccalaureate degree from Aurora University (AU); and,
  • Have completed the minimum number of the prerequisite courses (as stated in the MWU Catalog) in the prescribed subject areas at a regionally accredited college or university with a grade of “C” (or its equivalent) or better before the program begins; and,
  • Have the ability to successfully fulfill all technical standards for the desired program; and,
  • Demonstrate a good understanding of the desired profession and a sincere interest in a career in the field, including shadowing at least one (1) health care professional prior to admission; and,
  • Medically-related experiences that indicate sufficient exposure for candidates to make informed decisions about medical careers; and,
  • Personal integrity and sound moral character; and,
  • Reflect a people/service orientation through community service or extracurricular activities; and,
  • Abide by the MWU Drug-Free Workplace and Substance Abuse Policy; and,
  • Pass a criminal background check; and,
  • Meet all other requirements set forth by MWU, including requirements documented in the catalog, student handbook, and this Agreement.

In addition to the requirements set forth in section “Requirements For All MWU Programs” above, applicants must also meet the following requirements to receive an interview with College of Health Sciences (CHS—Glendale) and/or College of Health Sciences (CHS—Downers Grove):

  • Physician Assistant
    • Achieve a minimum of a 3.60 cumulative grade point average (on a 4.00 = A scale) in the respective Applicant’s undergraduate coursework (with a 3.70 cumulative grade point average in sciences).

 

View complete articulation agreement with Aurora University

 

Articulation Agreements between Midwestern University Programs

At the time of application, students enrolled in a Midwestern University program are guaranteed an admission interview with another Midwestern University program if the student:

  1. Is in good standing in the academic program in which the student is currently enrolled or has completed the program within the last 12 months prior to the application and does not have any pending misconduct charges against the student;
  2. Meets all admission requirements for the professional program of interest;
  3. After a minimum of one full-time quarter of study, achieves a minimum Midwestern University grade point average, derived from all courses completed at Midwestern University, that is equal to or greater than 3.0; and
  4. Achieves a score on the professional entrance exam that is not less than one standard deviation below the mean score for students who matriculated into the professional degree program in the previous year.

Note: Students must meet all application deadlines for the professional program of interest. A guaranteed interview does not guarantee admission into the professional program.

 

The MWU CHS Physician Assistant Program reserves the right to alter its curriculum however and whenever it deems appropriate.

Total Quarter Credits in the Professional Program: 146

View PA Curriculum in the catalog

Core Competencies for the Midwestern University – Downers Grove Physician Assistant Program

To ensure students who graduate from the Midwestern University-Downers Grove Physician Assistant (PA) Program are prepared for entry-level PA practice, they receive a didactic and clinical training curriculum that facilitates their achievement of specific core competencies. The Midwestern University-Downers Grove PA Program competencies were developed using existing competency frameworks, such as the Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession (revised 2020) and the Physician Assistant Education Association’s Core Competencies for New Physician Assistant Graduates. The core competencies adopted by the Midwestern University-Downers Grove PA Program are listed below.

1. Knowledge for Practice

Graduates should be able to recognize normal health states and emerging, acute, and chronic abnormal health states, utilizing current scientific evidence to inform clinical reasoning and medical decision-making, and apply this knowledge to patient care.

1.1   Demonstrate critical thinking in clinical situations
1.2   Access and interpret current and credible sources of medical information
1.3   Discern between acute, chronic, and emergent disease states
1.4   Incorporate principles of basic and clinical sciences to develop a differential diagnosis
1.5   Apply principles of basic and clinical sciences to accurately diagnose disease and formulate an appropriate treatment plan

2. Patient Centered-Practice

Graduates should provide patient-centered care that is evidence-based and focused on safety and health equity.

2.1   Gather accurate and essential information about patients through history-taking, physical examination, and diagnostic testing
2.2   Develop individualized patient management plans
2.3   Demonstrate proficiency in the performance of program-defined core clinical skills needed for entry-level practice
2.4   Refer patients appropriately
2.5   Provide care and education to patients to maintain and/or improve health

3. Interpersonal and Communication Skills

Graduates should demonstrate the ability to engage with patients and a variety of health care professionals in a manner that optimizes safe and effective patient-centered care.

3.1   Communicate effectively with patients
3.2   Demonstrate active listening and appropriate nonverbal communication with patients
3.3   Accurately document medical information in patient records

4. Professionalism

Graduates should demonstrate a commitment to practicing medicine in ethically and legally appropriate ways, emphasizing professional maturity by prioritizing the interest of those being served above one’s own interests, and recognizing personal limitations to ensure the delivery of safe and quality care.

4.1   Demonstrate compassion and respect for others
4.2   Demonstrate responsiveness to patient needs
4.3   Demonstrate provision of ethical care: Informed Consent

5. Practice-based Learning and Improvement/Personal Wellness

Graduates should be able to demonstrate a commitment to continuous self-improvement and patient care by critically assessing new medical information and addressing opportunities for growth in their medical abilities. They should also look for ways to maintain or improve on their overall health.

5.1  Exhibit self-awareness to identify strengths, address deficiencies, and recognize limits in knowledge
5.2  Create improvement goals that address gaps in knowledge, skills, and attitudes
5.3  Identify self-care and personal issues that affect one’s ability to fulfill professional responsibilities
 

Mission

The mission of the Midwestern University Physician Assistant Program is to develop competent, compassionate and professional physician assistants who will make a positive impact on their patients, community and the PA profession. 

Diversity & Inclusion

Midwestern University is committed to establishing a culture of inclusivity that celebrates diversity.  As part of its vision, Midwestern University embraces cultural and social diversity in the academic community and the community-at-large.

The Midwestern University Downers Grove Physician Assistant Program also celebrates diversity, inclusion, and many perspectives in medical education. We value diversity among students, faculty, and staff throughout the educational experience. We seek to prepare future clinicians to serve diverse populations and address the healthcare needs of all patients. 
These values and aims align with Midwestern University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and express commitment to meeting the diversity and inclusion standards set forth by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc.

Goals

The goals of the Midwestern University Physician Assistant Program are to:

  1. Recruit, matriculate and retain a diverse class of highly qualified students.
  2. Provide a comprehensive and evidence-based curriculum that prepares graduates for entry-level practice.
  3. Foster a culture of service and provide students and faculty with opportunities to engage with their communities and the medically underserved.

*The MWU IL PA program revised their program goals in February of 2024.  Documentation of success in meeting the program's new goals will be published summer of 2025. 

The Midwestern University PA Program demonstrates achievement of these goals by analyzing the results of student performance in the didactic and clinical year, PA National Certifying Exam (PANCE) pass rates, and regular surveys of graduates and preceptors.

 July 2023 IL Physician Assistant Program Goals 

April 2024 IL Physician Assistant Program Goals

National Certifying Exam (PANCE) Pass Rate 5-Year Average (2019-2023)

  • Five Year First Time Test Taker Average Pass Rate for Program: 97%


Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, Exam Performance Summary Report (PDF)

For information pertaining to the Program's attrition and graduation rates, please review the ARC-PA Student Attrition Template.

ARC-PA Student Attrition Template (PDF)

The average graduation rate for the program is 96%, which was calculated using the graduation rates for the PA Classes of 2021, 2022, and 2023.

  • Female: 81%
  • Male: 19%
  • Mean Age: 23 years (Range 19-33)
  • Mean Overall GPA: 3.84
  • Mean Science GPA: 3.83
  • Class Size: 86
  • Top Home States: Illinois (41; 48%), Arizona (4), Michigan (8), Wisconsin (6)

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued to the Midwestern University-Downers Grove Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Midwestern University. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.

Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website.

Midwestern University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission/A Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC/NCA), 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, IL 60604-1413.

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Hear Our Stories

Hear from students just like you who are pursuing healthcare careers and from the faculty who are helping them along the way.

Meghan Morrissette, College of Health Sciences-Downers Grove, Physician Assistant Program, Class of 2024

"It was inspiring to see so many dedicated people in one space all striving for a common goal for the benefit of others. I knew this community was something I wanted to be a part of me and my career.”

Students posing for picture.

College Stats

Essential statistics and informative facts about the Physician Assistant Program.
$110K

Median Salary

$110,000 average median salary.

98%

Exam Pass Rate

98% certifying exam pass rate.

96%

Graduation Rate

96% graduation rate (3-year average).

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