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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



Our dear friend and colleague Jose “Pepe” Barcega MHS, PA-C, associate teaching professor, Physician Assistant Department, passed away on Wednesday, September 23, 2015. We are relieved that his passing was peaceful.

Jose Barcega

Pepe had been with the Physician Assistant Program since 1997. He was the director of Critical Analysis. He previously served as director of Clinical Education, Clinical Laboratory Practicum Course as well as the Ethical Issues in Physician Assistant Practice Course. Clinically, Pepe practiced in an inner city clinic in Pediatrics and Family Practice.

He was a member of the College of Nursing and Health Professions’ Master Teachers’ Guild and a recipient of the Teaching Excellence Award. Pepe was the consummate educator. The Physician Assistant Department will be remembering Pepe with a memorial service on Saturday, December 5 in Mitchell Auditorium – Bossone Research Center at 1 p.m.Our prayers and thoughts are with Pepe and his family, friends and loved ones.

We realize all of those touched by Pepe share our loss. A thoughtful way to pay tribute to Pepe is to make a contribution in his memory to the David Buck Scholarship Fund. Pepe has supported the Fund since its inception. Visit our site to learn more.

Patrick Auth, PhD, MS, PA-C

Clinical Professor, Department Chair

Physician Assistant Department


Roberta Waite, EdD, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, ANEF, associate professor and assistant dean of academic integration and evaluation of community programs in the Doctoral Nursing Department, was chosen as the recipient of the 2015 Pennsylvania State Nurses Association (PSNA) Distinguished Nurse of the Year Award. The award recognizes a nurse who has demonstrated leadership characteristics and rendered distinguished service to the profession. 
The Physician Assistant Program was granted accreditation – continued status by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The ARC-PA noted zero areas of noncompliance with the Standards.
Lisa Schmidt, PhD, associate director and associate clinical professor in the Behavioral Health Counseling Department, and Veronica Carey, PhD, assistant clinical professor and associate director of the Saturday Scholars Program in the Behavioral Health Counseling Department, have been selected to present a 90-minute workshop on “Community Based Learning – How Students and Community Partners Learn from One Another” at the 12th Congress of World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation (WAPR) being held in Seoul, Korea from November 2-5, 2015.  
Julie Kinzel, MEd, PA-C, assistant clinical professor in the Physician Assistant Department, was named the recipient of the Physician Assistant Educator of the Year Award, Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants (PSPA). 
Megan Schneider, MAMS, MSPH, clinical instructor in the Physician Assistant Department, was nominated for the Rising Star Award, Physician Assistant Education Association, which recognizes a program faculty member who has made noteworthy contributions to PA education. 
Linda Dayer-Berenson, PhD, associate clinical professor in the Division of Undergraduate Nursing, was recently interviewed by NPR Latino USA regarding pain management of Hispanic men and its associated cultural implications. The story was pre-recorded to air at a later date, yet to be determined.
Stephanie Brooks, PhD, associate clinical professor in the Department of Couple and Family Therapy, was appointed as the new director of the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP), part of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). 
Rose Ann DiMaria–Ghalili, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Graduate Nursing and the Department of Nutrition Sciences, was appointed to a four-year term on the Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service Scientific Merit Review Board for the Rehabilitation Engineering and Prosthetics/Orthotics Subcommittee. Additionally, a paper that DiMaria-Ghalili co-authored, entitled “Addressing Disease Related Malnutrition in Hospitalized Patients: A Call for a Natioanl Goal”, was published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. She also presented at the October meeting of the Institute of Medicine on meeting the dietary needs of older adults. 
Elizabeth Jane McCarthy, PhD, CRNA, FAAN, CAPT (RET), NC, PHS, adjunct faculty member, was awarded the “2015 USU Graduate School of Medicine Award” from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Alumni Association for outstanding contributions to education, research and advocacy.


Juanita Gardner, MPH, PA-C, clinical assistant professor in the Physician Assistant (PA) Department at Drexel University, is leading an initiative to diversify the student body within the department. With changes in policy that make health care more accessible, like the Affordable Care Act, Gardner is taking action to ensure that future PAs represent the patient populations they will one day treat.

Gardner is spearheading a recruitment process that embraces diversity and inclusion. “We are trying to make ourselves visible at different types of events, both within the local community and outside of the community, including attending health fairs or career fairs geared toward pre-health students,” she said.

The goal is to raise awareness about the PA profession and recruit students from a variety of backgrounds, including national origin, language, race, disability, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, veteran status and family structures to name a few.

 “Our program is geared toward working with underserved communities,” said Gardner. “And a lot of communities that are underserved are usually the groups that fit the definition of being diverse. We feel that it is important for our student population to represent the populations and communities which we hope they will one day practice in.”

To achieve this goal, Gardner has used some traditional and non-traditional strategies. “We partner with the Physical Therapy Program and recruit at historically black colleges and universities and in communities where we may find students that represent a variety of backgrounds,” she said. “Once a year we visit Spellman College, Clark University, Delaware State, Rutgers University and Morehouse College for their health care and career-related events. We discuss our program offerings and try to interest students in the PA profession.”

Additionally, Puentes Hacia el Futruro Elementary and Middle School, Belmont Academy Charter School, Wissahickon Elementary School, Mercy Vocational High School and Allen M. Stearne Elementary School have partnered with the Drexel University Physician Assistant Program to introduce their students to careers in health care. The partnership aims to provide a pipeline of future health care providers from diverse communities.

Building diversity continues through the application review process, and requires close examination of student records. Attracting both a non-traditional and diverse student body means taking into account circumstances that may have impacted students’ GPAs, learning experiences and other aspects of their applications.

This extra attention, though, has significantly enhanced PA students’ experience. “Some of our students have not been exposed to populations, cultures, or other parts of society. So I think with our program working toward increasing diversity, it not only enriches the student as a person, but also helps to prepare them to be able to go out and treat and help patients that are different than they are. In doing so, it has given students a broader perspective of a world outside their own and exposed them to the needs of the patients they may be seeing and how to effectively address those needs.”

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