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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.

Physician Assistant Faculty

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History of Physician Assistant Program

News & Events



Each year during Homecoming Weekend, the Drexel University Alumni Association celebrates the achievements and contributions of its graduates by presenting awards in five categories: Alumni Entrepreneurship, Service to the Community, Service to Profession, Special Distinction and the Harriet E. Worrell Society award, in honor of the creator of the Alumni Association. Each year, a large number of qualified nominations makes the selection process very competitive. However, the Honors and Awards Committee of the Board of Governors takes pride in reviewing all of the personal and professional achievements carefully. 
The Service to the Community Award is presented to a Drexel alum “who, through voluntary or paid work, has significantly contributed to civic and/or community life.” This year’s recipient was CNHP alumna Johanna Berrigan, PA-C, `97. She was nominated by Patrick Auth, PhD, clinical professor and department chair of the physician assistant program.
Berrigan began as a physician assistant student at Drexel in 1994. Her commitment to community service was already apparent then. As a member of the Wilbur W. Oaks Student Society, she volunteered in many community activities such as blood pressure screenings, health fairs and feeding the homeless. 
After graduating from Drexel in 1997, Berrigan co-founded The House of Grace Catholic Worker Community and Catholic Worker Free Clinic, which provide hospitality to former homeless people, as well as health care, dental care and advocacy for homeless, uninsured and underinsured people of the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia.  
In addition to The House of Grace, Berrigan also co-founded the House of Health Kay Lasante Education and Outreach Prevention Care in Port au Prince, Haiti. Since its inception in 2004, it has grown into a full service health clinic that serves 40 patients a day. Kay Lasante provides a plethora of services, including primary care, emergency services and pharmacy. It also provides crucial community and health care education. The increased access to care it provides has improved the health of the community and saved hundreds of lives in Haiti.  
The Service to the Community Award is not a first for Berrigan. She also received the Physician Assistant Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants in 1999.  
The Alumni Association encourages all members of the alumni and university community to participate in the awards process by sharing the achievements of fellow alumni, colleagues and friends with the Honors and Awards Committee. Nominations for any award may be submitted throughout the year, and will be held for future consideration. For more information, please contact Lauren Villanueva at


On January 11, US News and World Report published their 2017 Best Jobs list and 52 of the top 100 are in health care. Nurse practitioner and physician assistant are number two and three on that list with no surprise as the demand for more skilled health care professionals skyrockets. Susannah Snider, personal finance editor at U.S. News said in a press release about the jobs list, "Health care jobs often require a human element, so they can't be exported or entirely replaced by robots – at least not yet.
“Continued growth in the health care sector, low unemployment rates and high salaries make these jobs especially desirable. Plus, individuals can pursue a range of health care positions that require varying levels of skill and education," furthered Snider. While the opportunities for PAs and NPs expand practically every specialty — orthopedics, endocrinology, cardiology, pediatrics — a reported 80% of nurse practitioners choose primary care whereas a study from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) states physician assistants tend to practice outside of primary care. 
Regardless of the position a person chooses, it’s all good news for CNHP. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics cited nurse practitioner and physician assistant among the fastest growing occupations with 35% and 30% growth respectively. This expansion can be attributed to a few factors including a move to patient-centered care models and an aging population. But another reason is the expansion of coverage for an additional 20 million people through Affordable Care Act. “The ACA recognized physician assistants as an essential part of the solution to the primary care shortage by formally acknowledging them as one of the three primary care health providers,” said Patrick Auth, PhD, MS, PA-C, CNHP clinical professor and department chair. “They also committed to expanding the number of PAs by providing financial support for scholarships and loan forgiveness programs, as well as by funding the training of 600 new PAs,” he continued.
“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed millions of Americans to have access to insurance to pay for the cost of their health care. That meant hospitals and providers reduced their cost of indigent care.  While these figures have presented a hopeful outlook on what new health care reform may mean, one recent report has portrayed a potentially much different outcome.
The study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund revealed repealing the ACA, likely starting with the insurance premium tax credits and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility would result in a doubling in the number of uninsured Americans while having widespread economic and employment impacts. In 2019, the study predicts a loss of 2.6 million jobs nation-wide, primarily in the private sector, with around a third of them in the health care industry. Pennsylvania could see around 137,000 jobs lost. 
Elizabeth W. Gonzalez, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, associate professor and department chair of the doctoral nursing program and Kymberlee Montgomery, DrNP, CRNP-BC, CNE ’09, associate clinical professor and department chair of the nurse practitioner program, both suggest that it is too early to tell what any real impact will be to healthcare or employment. “The ACA also lowered Medicare spending by allowing people to enter into share savings plans with accountable care organizations where providers are reimbursed based on the quality, not the quantity, of their services,” Gonzalez said. “This emphasis on quality has resulted in significant savings, lower cost of health care for seniors, individuals with disabilities, low income families, and children. The ACA encourages a focus on the patient experience and this has led to some wonderful innovations because clinicians are being paid to focus on ways to enhance the quality of the care they provide patients,” she added. 
“The Affordable Care Act introduced patients to the role of the nurse practitioner. Patients were forced to see us for primary care — nurse practitioners provided care at a lower cost,” stated Montgomery. “Now patients want to see us because of the level of care we provided.” There are just so many unknowns where the ACA is concerned. While the current administration seems determined to repeal the law, they haven’t yet put forth a replacement that will provide affordable healthcare for those who would undoubtedly lose what they currently have. It’s uncertain whether a new law might be proposed that would guarantee that no jobs created under the ACA are lost or if patient outcomes will decline.” But both Gonzalez and Montgomery feel that advanced practice nursing will continue to be a cost effective way to deliver outstanding clinical services. While it’s tough to speculate, Montgomery thinks opportunities for nurse practitioners will continue to grow regardless. “Who knows, it might make it better for the nurse practitioner especially because we provide high-quality, comprehensive care at lower costs,” she said.

By: Roberta Perry and Kinzey Lynch `17



On Friday, December 9, 2016, 73 graduates of the Physician Assistant Class of 2016 celebrated their completion of the PA Program. Drexel’s nationally recognized PA program was established in 1971 and is one of the oldest in the country.
A large piece of the program’s mission is to serve the underserved, making community service and civic engagement part of its DNA. Students know, right from their first interview as a prospective student, that they will be expected to get involved with the community. 
This class, like all graduating classes, took that part of the mission very seriously and performed a number of civic engagement activities lead by class presidents Michael Rigatti and Alyssa Muething. Those included two medical mission trips to Haiti and a variety of involvement ranging from health education presentations and screenings for the City of Philadelphia Golden Senior Health Fair, Love Run Half Marathon EXPO Fundraiser for PA Olympics, the City of Philadelphia’s Veterans Resource Fair, Kidney Action Day, 10th Annual Jazz on the Avenue, Philly Restart, and St. John's Hospice, Puentes Hacia el Futuro Middle School, Belmont Academy Charter School, Atria Senior Living, Cook Wissahickon Elementary  School, Mercy Vocational High School, and Allen M. Stearne Elementary School.
Twelve student papers were submitted to publications including the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the Journal of Physician Assistant Education and The Clinical Advisor. Advance Magazine for NPs and PAs accepted Christina Dias’ paper titled “Improving Screening Rates for Intimate Partner Violence in Pregnancy: A Three-pronged Approach.”
In addition, six student posters were accepted and shown at the 2016 Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistant Conference featuring topics from “The Inclusion of EKGs in Pre-participation Athletic Screenings” to “Misconceptions of the Bull’s Eye, Erythema Migrans.”
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