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Physician Assistant Department

Steeping in History, Committed to the Future

While our program is one of the oldest in the nation, we are continually looking forward to cutting-edge research and advancements within this exciting field so that our graduates excel in the quickly growing PA job sector.

Physician Assistant Department

The Physician Assistant Department’s PA program, one of the nation’s oldest and largest, is pledged to providing students with the most current and finest preparatory training available. Employing continuous curricular analysis, assessment of the best clinical practices, and utilization of state-of-the art in educational technologies, program graduates are eminently prepared to undertake their roles as professional health care practitioners.
The Physician Assistant profession is one of the fastest growing and highly regarded professions in the country. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has consistently ranked the profession among the 30 fastest growing occupations. We are committed to providing the education and training needed to enter this exciting job sector.
We offer a Physician Assistant Master’s (PA) Program and a PA Post-Professional Master’s Program. Please explore our web pages for a wealth of information about our programs, students, faculty, research and clinical practice.


Master of Health Science - Physician Assistant
As a PA, you will complement the practice style of the supervising physician or physicians.

The PA Post-Professional Master's Program
Receive personalized professional development through an adult learner model.

Post-Master's Certificate in Geriatrics
Designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of Physician Assistants in clinical geriatrics.

Physician Assistant Faculty

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History of Physician Assistant Program

News & Events



Drexel undergrad students Valerie Iovine and Lauren CertoLauren Certo and Valerie Iovine have a lot on their plates. The third year Health Sciences students go to classes, work part time jobs, are involved in student organizations, volunteer, and on top of it all, are co-investigators on a research project they came up with.

Iovine knew she wanted to go to Drexel from the start. “Drexel was my top choice all along. It was my first college visit ever and it was at the end of 10th grade. It was a rainy day, and I totally loved it. My parents were like, `Relax. It's your first college visit. You'll like other colleges, too.’” She continued to visit other schools, but kept coming back to Drexel. “I just knew, for some reason, that I loved it here so much. I just liked that everybody here knows what they want to do and they're so passionate about it and want to get going with their goals,” she said. 

Iovine’s Drexel career didn’t begin quite how she expected. She knew about Drexel’s quarter system, but knowing and experiencing are two different things. Iovine found that she struggled with one class in particular, and even after dedicating all of her time and energy to homework and studying, her GPA at the end of the quarter wasn’t quite what she had hoped for.  She was able to use that as motivation and drastically improved her GPA in the second quarter, and by the third, she had earned a 4.0.

“Now I feel like I've finally got a hang of this. CNHP is a place I take a lot of pride in—it isn't easy work and I think that people know that. It’s a really satisfying feeling to hear that reaction whenever I say ‘I go to Drexel University’” she said.

Her enthusiasm led her to become a member of the executive team of student ambassadors as well as a member of the Dragon Recruitment Team. “I really love it. It’s so exciting to be able to share my experience with all the people who are coming into the school.” Though, Iovine makes sure to manage expectations. “I remember being on my college tour and hearing `Oh, your average class size is 18,’ but then getting here and having a lecture and it wasn’t 18 at all.” Now I'm the tour guide. So I tell them, `The average class size is 18 but you're going to have these lectures. This is how this really works. It’s not easy, but you'll get used to it.’”

Certo’s experience was very different. She didn’t have a particular school in mind when she began her college search. “I looked up schools that had an accelerated PA program, and Drexel was in the top three.” The Pittsburgh native made her way to Philadelphia to visit Penn, Philadelphia University and Drexel. After visiting all three, her choice was clear. “I liked it so much! I love how fast-paced Drexel is and how really passionate about their careers everybody is, too. Our professors are actually practicing in whatever discipline they teach, and that's really important. Also, the cadaver lab was a big draw for me.”

Certo credits the quarter system with improving her time management skills. Not only did she take the regular health sciences course work, but during her spring quarter, Certo also took an EMT course and received her certification. She is now the treasurer of the Drexel EMS club, volunteers as an EMT with a station in Lancaster and works in the Drexel College of Medicine Emergency Medicine department teaching EMT and CPR classes.

As if her coursework, work and volunteering wasn’t enough, Certo is also the president of the Dragon Recruitment Team (DRT), an organization specific to College of Nursing and Health Professions. As president, she works to advance the mission of the DRT— to increase the awareness for both current and prospective students of the outstanding opportunities the College of Nursing and Health Professions offers like a wide variety of courses, unique co-op experiences and programs that facilitate a smooth transition between undergraduate and graduate/doctoral programs. She also recruits and trains members of the organization—including Iovine!

As an executive ambassador and president of the DRT, the two have the opportunity to work together during University recruitment events such as open houses and accepted students days. “I think that our roles, hers as an executive ambassador and mine at DRT, kind of collide and create something awesome. We work together because no one represents Center City Campus except for the Dragon Recruitment members. Having presence on this campus as well as in University City is kind great because we're able to work together and represent both campuses and everything they have to offer,” said Certo.

Certo’s and Iovine’s next joint venture is as co-investigators on a research project inspired by Certo’s study abroad trip to Greece. Certo is currently participating in a ten-day intensive study abroad course called Mediterranean Crossroads for which the final project is a ten-page reflection paper. She and Iovine decided that if she had to write the paper, they should make it worthwhile. “We came up with the idea to assess the difference between Greek and American cultures based on body appreciation and intuitive eating and how that affects depression, anxiety and stress in those two cultures,” said Iovine.  The two will use Qualtrics to survey Greeks and Americans and SPSS Statistics software to analyze the results. Though the results are not yet finalized, they do have a hypothesis. “We think that Greek people will likely have lower depression anxiety and stress because their body appreciation is higher and they intuitively eat in a better sense that Americans do,” said Certo.

Drexel study abroad in Greece with Lauren Certo

Both Certo and Iovine have applied for accelerated programs, Certo in physician assistant and Iovine in physical therapy. While the coursework, jobs and extracurricular activities may seem overwhelming, both want to assure prospective students that it becomes manageable and a new normal.

“My advice is to stick through it because there was a little while where I was like, `I can't do this. I'm going to have to look at other schools. This is insane,’” said Iovine. “But it's so worth it. Everything that I've done since then has been beyond worth the work I put in. I have learned so much about myself, about my work habits, about how to manage time and to really mature and be an adult. I feel like I couldn't have learned those skills at any other school, and I'm so happy with my choice here.”

Certo wholeheartedly agrees. “You just have to stay strong, believe in yourself, and realize that you're investing so much time into yourself, and your education is the most important thing you will ever put your time into. So don't cheat yourself, take everything seriously, and seize all opportunities.”

  By Maggie Rowan McCrea


Producing a commencement ceremony honoring all our graduates is a huge undertaking, months in the making and includes many, many volunteers, but it pales in comparison to the work the College of Nursing and Health Professions graduates did to earn their seat at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts on June 12, 2017. Drexel University Provost Brian Blake, PhD welcomed our graduates and all who taught, nurtured and supported them along the way including their family and friends who made up their greatest support network. He commented about CNHP graduates having a higher level of capacity for knowledge, innovation and most importantly, for service to others. That theme, so deeply embedded in the curriculum of all the programs in the College, was highlighted in the speeches given by student speaker Kimberly Allen and Sueann Navarez-Brown and David Baiada, who delivered the commencement address.
Allen stated how humbling it is to be part of a person’s most difficult and vulnerable moments and how important it is to empower patients or clients to make the choices that matter the most to them. “Drexel’s programs have educated us to promote social justice and healthcare equality as we serve our clients in the various wellness/health pathways,” she articulated. She acknowledged that it is necessary to be skilled to be able to perform, but that it is far more important to choose to be present in each and every moment while with clients, to choose to be in service of others. 
Navarez-Brown, in her speech, noted that both faculty and classmates assisted each other in becoming the best they each could be by providing outstanding support and encouragement. However, sometimes it did require a gentle and loving push. Benefitting from the confidence professors and fellow students had in each other, she concluded that they are skilled and determined, able to learn from failure and equipped with a sense of service and success.
Nowhere is service to others better explained than in the keynote speech delivered by David Baiada. Baiada is the incoming CEO of BAYADA Home HealthCare, a company that brings vital services into homes across 23 states, India, Germany, South Korea and Ireland. Their staff of 50,000 nurses, home health aides, therapists, medical social workers and other healthcare professionals live the mission, vision and beliefs — the BAYADA Way — while caring for their patients. They put their clients first. They value their employees and they believe in building relationships based on trust, compassion, honesty and service. Baiada told a story of a client he called Mr. Jones who he visited in his West Philadelphia apartment.
Mr. Jones is an elderly man who, because of cerebral palsy, relies on his electric wheelchair as his lifeline to the outside world. When Baiada arrived for a visit, Mr. Jones took a while to answer the door as his wheelchair was inoperable and he was forced to drag himself with the use of his walker. Baiada carried him back into his apartment and helped him get situated all the while Mr. Jones, clearly agitated, ranted about his frustration. In order for him to safely stay independent and in his home, he uses BAYADA for his Medicaid-funded home health services. When his aide Mary arrived, who is completely in tune with his needs and anxieties, Mr. Jones was finally able to calm down. Mr. Jones is someone who represents so many of the BAYADA clients who struggle day-to-day living because of disease or illness and Mary represents the thousands of people who bring their clients comfort and compassion and facilitate a better quality of life for them.
The collaboration and coordination of care people have come to expect from BAYADA is most successfully achieved through interprofessional work. And Baiada noted that that kind of practice is purposely taught and demonstrated at CNHP because it is what is needed when dedicated to serving others. He learned many lessons over his career at kitchen tables in apartments like Mr. Jones’, but Baiada chose three to share with graduates.
  1. Listen closely, show empathy and respond to the needs of others. Helping others starts with a willingness to listen, connect, and tune in.  Your perception of their goals and needs might be biased or distorted by your own preferences, Making the most meaningful impact is dependent on your willingness to take the time to sit at the proverbial kitchen table and listen. 
  2. Set specific goals and work hard and efficiently to achieve them.There is no more powerful force than a clear goal.  You all are here because you set a goal to get your degree, and now as you look ahead, what will your next goal be?  I challenge you to think big, write it down, think about it often.  You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish once you put it out there. 
  3. Be creative, flexible and determined. Reaching your goals will not come easy.  Like the patients and clients we care for, ups and downs are inevitable.  But I always find that those that are willing to think differently, adapt to change with an unrelenting determination will inevitably overcome almost any obstacle. 
Compassion, excellence and reliability are elements of The BAYADA Way and they are also what so many have learned as students in the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

Provost Blake, before introducing Susan Smith, PhD, interim dean, affirmed that the world needs those who received their diplomas that day citing that the long-term health and prosperity as a society depends on how graduates use their education.

Smith thanked graduates for the privilege of learning from them, mentoring them and working alongside them for as long as they had been at Drexel. She acknowledged University administrators and Stephen Sheller, a prominent Philadelphia attorney and Drexel University trustee. Smith thanked both Sheller and his wife Sandra, a creative arts therapies and couple and family therapy alumna, for their support of the College and the Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University before presenting him with a gift for his service as a trustee.
Honoring accomplishment and excellence continued as exceptional academic achievement was recognized. Students designated Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude, as well as Pennoni Honors College students and the recipient of the Harold W. Pote “Behind Every Graduate” Award where acknowledged before the specific award winners were announced.
  • Harold W. Pote “Behind Every Graduate” Award – Donald Little of Pennsbury High School
  • College-level Outstanding Promise Award – Kendra Ray, PhD (Creative Arts Therapies) and Anniliese Marie Kummerle, MS in Human Nutrition
  • Teaching Assistant Excellence Award and Outstanding Civic Engagement – Leah Tsui, MS in Human Nutrition and Jessica Liu, MS in Human Nutrition
  • Outstanding Civic Engagement – Corinne L. Ellis, MS in Human Nutrition
  • Dean’s Award – Anne E. Woolley, BSN
  • Achievement Award – John Ghee, MHS
  • Community Service Award – Kevin Carrasquillo, BS in Nutrition and Foods
  • Clinical Service Award – Nahidah R. Rahman, BS in Health Sciences
  • Social Justice Research Award – Mariya Kesselman, MA in Art Therapy and Counseling
Graduates names were announced by Yasmine Awais, Beth Leonberg, Virginia Wilson, and Drs. Theresa Campo, Nancy Gerber, Stella Lucia Volpe and Linda Wilson with Dr. Michael Bruneau and Lauren Karch assisted with distribution of the scrolls.
Doctoral graduates earning degrees in Couple and Family Therapy, Creative Arts Therapies, Nursing, Health Science in Rehabilitation Sciences, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences were hooded by their supervising professors first. Then graduates earning Master of Arts in Art Therapy and Counseling, Master of Arts in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling, Master of Arts in Music Therapy and Counseling, Master of Family Therapy, Master of Health Administration, Master of Health Science (Physician Assistant), Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Master of Science in Nursing (Advance Practice and Nurse Practitioner) were escorted to the stage. They were followed by the graduates who earned Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Counseling, Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration, Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Foods. Once all graduated has been announced, an alumna for the classes of `90, `92 and `99 greeted the newest alumni — a long-standing tradition – to the more than 25,000 CNHP alumni.
To conclude a week of celebrations, CNHP participated in the University-wide commencement ceremony at Citizens Bank Park in the evening of June 13. All schools and colleges had the opportunity to hear the inspiring words of John Maeda — the global head of Computational Design and Inclusion at Automattic, the parent company of Jetpack, WooCommerce, Longreads, and more. The night was capped off by a exciting display of fireworks sending Drexel’s newest alumni out in to the world to leave their marks for the betterment of society.


Revisiting our mission — To impact health and wellness through basic and translational scholarly works created by interprofessional teams investigating complex healthcare issues — we see that the service these men and women have given to Drexel, to the College of Nursing and Health Professions and to our students directly contributed to achieving that goal daily. 
We thank these individuals for sharing their talent, intellect and energy toward changing the way we delivery healthcare — with compassion and precision and with the expertise of all our faculty and staff behind it.
52 Years of Service
Vincent Zarro, MD, PhD
Associate Professor, Chinatown Clinic and Dornsife Center Wellness HUB
41 Years of Service
David Flood, PhD, BA
Professor, Health Services Administration
40 Years of Service
R. Peter Meyer, PhD, BS
Associate Professor, Health Sciences
39 Years of Service
Alan Haroian, PhD, BA
Associate Professor, Health Sciences

36 Years of Service
Michael C. Kennedy, PhD, MS, BA
Professor and Associate Dean, Undergraduate Health Professions

32 Years of Service
Geraldine Buck, DrPH, MHS, PA-C, DFAAPA
Associate Teaching Professor and Director, Physician Assistant Post-Professional Master's Program Physician Assistant
29 Years of Service
Rita O'Donnell
Program Coordinator, Health Sciences
Gloria Turchi
Administrative Assistant, Dean's Office
Ronald Comer, DSW, MA, BA
Associate Professor and Associate Director, Behavioral Health Counseling
Janet Stern
Academic Assistant Director, Physician Assistant
24 Years of Service
Ellen Schelly Hill, MMT, BC-DMT, NCC, LPC
Associate Clinical Professor and Director, Dance/Movement Therapy & Counseling, Creative Arts Therapies

26 Years of Service
Margo Orlin, PT, PhD
Associate Professor, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences
21 Years of Service
Gloria Donnelly, PhD, RN, FAAN, FCPP
Professor and Dean Emerita
Priscilla Killian, MSN, RN, CPNP
Assistant Clinical Professor
Patricia Gerrity, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor and Associate Dean for Community Programs
Founder and Director, Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University
20 Years of Service
Elizabeth Gonzalez, PhD, PMHCNS-BC
Associate Professor and Department Chair of Doctoral Nursing Program
Patricia Rubertone, PT, MSW, EdD
Assistant Clinical Professor and Director of Experiential Learning, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences

17 Years of Service
Diane Lewis
Administrative Coordinator, Physician Assistant

13 Years of Service
Cheryl Portwood, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CNE
Assistant Clinical Professor, Division of Graduate Nursing Advanced Role MSN Department
Susan Smith, PT, PhD
Interim Dean
12 Years of Service
Robin Young
CICSP Clinical Lab Coordinator

11 Years of Service
Michelle Sahl, PhD, Med, MBA, MBE
Associate Teaching Professor, Health Services Administration

10 Years of Service
Joseph Rubertone, PhD, MPT
Associate Clinical Professor, Health Sciences and Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences
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