The professional curriculum leads to a Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies (M.M.S.). This full-time 24-month professional program offers students the opportunity to earn a graduate degree and satisfy the eligibility requirements for the PA national certifying examination (PANCE). The PA program does not offer an extended course of study beyond the usual length of the program. The maximum allotted time for completion of this program is 36 months. The roles and specific clinical duties and responsibilities that graduates can expect to experience will vary depending on their chosen career path. PA Program graduates are expected to have the ability to competently perform patient histories and physicals, gather pertinent patient data, order and interpret diagnostic studies, recognize common diseases and disorders, choose appropriate therapeutic modalities, perform minor surgical procedures, manage emergency life-threatening conditions, promote health through counseling, education, and disease prevention, and demonstrate interpersonal skills consistent with the physician assistant role. The program is a combination of didactic and clinical education with the first 12 months covering a variety of didactic courses.
The didactic coursework includes basic medical science coursework in anatomy and embryology, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutics, and microbiology. It also includes clinical preparatory coursework in medical interviewing and documentation, preventative and developmental medicine, health professionalism, physical diagnosis, medical ethics, epidemiology, evidence-based medicine, interprofessional health care, clinical medicine (including pediatrics), psychiatry and behavioral medicine, women's health, basic electrocardiography, emergency medicine and surgical principles, and therapeutic and diagnostic skills. During the remaining 12 months, students rotate through seven required core clinical rotations and one elective rotation.
The second-year clinical program is delivered at affiliated clinical sites and facilities. These sites are geographically and demographically diverse, reflecting the broad scope of practice opportunities that exist for PAs in the healthcare delivery system of this country. Sites include ambulatory practice settings, small and large office-based group practices, community health centers, inpatient settings involving large and small hospitals, as well as federal and state facilities. These sites are in urban, suburban, and rural communities. In addition, the program has established formal affiliations with clinical facilities and practitioners in Arizona as well as a number of other states. As part of the clinical education phase of the program, students enrolled in the MWU PA Program will likely be assigned to clinical rotations that reflect this geographic and demographic diversity. Students are required to complete a minimum of one clinical rotation in a medically-underserved community.