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Physician Assistant Post-Professional Master's Program (MHS)

Program

The Master of Health Science (MHS) degree is awarded by the University through the College of Nursing and Health Professions' Physician Assistant Post-Professional Master's program. This program builds upon knowledge and skills learned in the PA professional training programs in areas of health policy, evidence-based practice, and leadership. The program is available totally online, and it may be completed on a part-time basis.

The Physician Assistant Post-Professional Master's program provides graduate education courses as a basis for personalized, professional development within the student's selected area of study. The goal of the program is to enhance basic physician assistant skills and to mentor students in areas of study beyond what is offered by entry-level physician assistant programs. The individually selected study concentration is augmented by the expertise of seasoned faculty and the vast resources of the University.

Specifically, the Physician Assistant Post-Professional Master's program seeks to:

  • Broaden the base and depth of analytical thinking by providing a foundation for scholarly inquiry
  • Mentor physician assistants in personalized, professional development to enhance the P.A. profession, its members, and the communities they serve

COMPLIANCE

The College of Nursing and Health Professions has a compliance process that may be required for every student. Some of these steps may take significant time to complete. Please plan accordingly.

Visit the Compliance pages for more information.

Admission Requirements

  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0
  • Graduation from an ARC-PA approved PA Program by the time of acceptance into the program

Required Documents
With multiple ways to submit documents, Drexel makes it easy to complete your application. Learn more by visiting our supporting document submission guide.

Tuition and Fee Rates:
Please visit the Drexel Online MHS in Physician Assistant Post-Professional Master's Program tuition page.

Accreditation

Accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools: Drexel University is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education representing the highest level of recognition awarded to colleges and universities.

Outcomes

The goals of the Physician Assistant Post-Professional Master's Program are to:

  • Broaden the base and depth of analytical thinking by providing a foundation for scholarly inquiry
  • Mentor physician assistants in personalized professional development to enhance the PA profession, its members and the communities they serve.

The program’s outcomes are to:
Develop a working knowledge in basic epidemiologic terminology and concepts for clinical practice and research

  • Evaluate the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the US
  • Apply theories of epidemiology to the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the US
  • Analyze national health promotion recommendations across the lifespan and population groups
  • Synthesize epidemiologic information with evidence-based findings to summarize national health promotion recommendations for one of the nation’s health priority areas

Develop skills for application of research findings to clinical practice and research

  • Evaluate cultural, political, and ethical issues in research
  • Define and differentiate qualitative and quantitative research methods and designs 
  • Critically appraise original research studies’ sampling, methodology, and results for validity and applicability to clinical practice
  • Evaluate systematic reviews/meta-analyses, and critique clinical practice guidelines
  • Develop clinical questions for evidence-based practice
  • Synthesize knowledge of research designs and apply Sackett’s levels of evidence to research studies

Evaluate the health care system and its policies relating to costs, disparities in access and quality

  • Develop working knowledge of major US health policies
  • Assess factors contributing to health expenditures
  • Analyze issues related to disparities in health care access and quality
  • Critique US health policies and their influence on health services delivery
  • Evaluate means for improving access to and quality of care and decreasing health services expenditures

Evaluate professional leadership and stewardship characteristics

  • Compare and differentiate concepts of leadership and stewardship
  • Assess strategies for effecting change as a leader
  • Compile professional leadership portfolio and plan

  Build lifelong learning skills for continuous professional growth and development

Research and evaluate a clinical or professional topic in depth for capstone project

Advance the dissemination of medical knowledge and improve quality of care

  • Apply principles of scholarly inquiry and analysis to the capstone project
  • Conduct online literature searches and catalogue materials
  • Compose a literature review and gap analysis
  • Compile an annotated bibliography
  • Conduct mixed methods evaluation survey for efficacy of project developed and implemented

News & Events

 

06/28/16

The PA Olympics is an annual event in which Physician Assistant students from different programs all around the Philadelphia area gather at a recreational park called Bamboo Gardens in Vincentown, New Jersey to participate in challenges and games, designed by each program, but more importantly, to come together to raise money for a worthy cause.

Drexel University’s Physician Assistant Program has been a part of the event since its founding in 2003 by Michael Huber ‘94, a professor in Arcadia University's PA program and Drexel graduate. To date, they have been a consistent contributor in helping raise close to $60,000 in support of local charities.

“The PA Olympics has become a renowned cross-cultural event for PA students, faculty, alumni, and guests of local Philadelphia physician assistant programs,” said Ben Judd ’17, a graduate student in Drexel University’s Physician Assistant Program. “The event brings participants together to work collectively in service to raise awareness of a community-based organization.”

Fundraising for the event runs from January to April. Each PA Program raises money through charity events before one larger, combined fundraiser where all of the programs work collectively. “The combined fundraiser event is usually held at a local food and beverage establishment in Philadelphia,” said Judd. “This year it was held at Stephen Starr’s outdoor oasis Frankford Hall on April 1st.”

2016 marked the 14th year for the PA Olympics, and all funds benefitted the Mazzoni Center, which has provided medical care and resources for the LGBT community since 1979. The PA Olympics was very successful in helping support their cause by raising over $15,000 in donations.

“The Mazzoni Center has been delivering quality comprehensive health and wellness services to the LGBTQ community in the Philadelphia region for over 35 years,” said Judd. “Our fundraising will help support the Mazzoni Center’s brand-new clinical complex at Broad and Bainbridge, expected to open to patients in 2017.”

Drexel's PA Olympics team brought home the trophy as this year's winners, but the real achievement is in the ability to support the Mazzoni Center. With such a successful 2016 in the books, the 15th PA Olympics will certainly be something to look forward to, as Drexel attempts to bring home the gold, and raise even more for those in need.

By Jacob Cushing ‘19

05/10/16

Kathryn Conallen (RN, ‘78; BSN, ‘89), senior vice president and CEO of Mercy Health System Acute Operations in Philadelphia, was highlighted in the Philadelphia Business Journal’s list of "Women Hospital and Health System Executives: Why Philadelphia Is Ahead of the Curve" about the women who serve as top executives at one-third of the area’s hospitals and health systems. 
 
Klaudia Cwiekala-Lewis (MSN, ‘14), president and CEO of Translate Nursing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was appointed by the American Red Cross as the volunteer regional nurse leader for the Central Pennsylvania Region, which covers 22 counties in Central Pennsylvania from the New York to Maryland borders. 
 
Gabrielle M. Gorzelnik (MHS, ‘05), a licensed certified physician assistant, was hired by SkinSmart Dermatology in Sarasota, Florida. 

04/18/16

When Jenny Retig entered a routine simulation experience back in the fall she had no idea she’d detect a serious health condition previously overlooked by licensed health care providers.
 
Retig, a second year physician assistant student, detected a nodule on the neck of one of Drexel’s standardized patient actors during a simulated physical exam – a standard requirement of the curriculum. As a result of Retig’s findings, the standardized patient actor, BA Bigham, was diagnosed and prescribed surgery to have the potentially life-threatening nodule removed.
 
“I’ve worked with standardized patient actors, including Ms. Bigham, before but didn’t think it was going to end this way,” said Retig. Standardized patients are professional actors that faculty hire and train to enhance the development of interpersonal, clinical and assessment skills in undergraduate and graduate students. Standardized patients exhibit specific symptoms during scripted sessions, and are a cornerstone of the College of Nursing and Health Profession’s approach to health care education.
 
“I’ve been a standardized patient since 2007 and at Drexel since 2011, and this is the first time anyone has found something medically wrong with me,” said Bigham. “I’m really grateful that she [Retig] had the self-confidence to disclose this information and cared enough to share it.”
 
Prior to the simulation both Retig and Bigham were given specific prompts and objectives. It was Retig’s responsibility to solicit key information, record a medical history and administer exams based on the information Bigham was required to share.
 
When Retig examined Bigham’s neck she noticed an unusually large mass on one side – something she was not expecting to find and not part of the patient profile for the simulation. Startled by her discovery, Retig asked to repeat the exam to confirm the mass on Bigham’s neck. 
 
“My objective was to collect her medical history and tailor my exam to that information,” said Retig, “but they usually don’t have or experience the symptoms they’re disclosing.” After realizing there was something medically wrong with Bigham, Retig reported the information to faculty then made a judgment call on how best to proceed.
 
“Since we are students we’re not supposed to advise what we think patients should do medically,” said Retig. “I didn’t want to make her nervous if there wasn’t anything to worry about, but I also didn’t want to ignore the mass in case it was a serious medical condition.”
 
After reporting the information to simulation faculty and Rosalie Coppola, the supervising instructor, Bigham was advised to return to her primary care physician for additional testing. Another physical exam – followed by an ultrasound and CT scan – confirmed that Bigham did, in fact, have an abnormally large nodule on her thyroid, and that it was encroaching on her trachea. 
 
A biopsy revealed that the nodule was benign, but that it needed to be removed based on its size, position and potential threat to Bigham’s trachea and carotid artery. Bigham underwent surgery in late March to have the nodule removed and is currently in recovery.
“The diagnosis was startling to me since I’m a healthy person – this came completely out of the blue,” said Bigham. “I’ve never felt any symptoms, and the tests administered by my health care team never indicated there were issues with my thyroid.”
 
Despite Bigham’s positive attitude, her experience raises significant concerns about the effectiveness of primary care treatment many patients receive. For Rosalie Coppola, Retig’s instructor and Associate Clinical Professor in the Physician Assistant Department, Bigham’s experience is representative of a shift in primary care that can result in missed diagnoses.
 
In Coppola’s opinion, many health care providers tend to recommend lab work and testing over physical exams, and prescribe treatment plans based on questions rather than actual exams.
 
“Physical exam skills are so important, especially at a time when they’re becoming ancient history,” said Coppola. “If you don’t look, feel and touch you won’t find anything.”
 
“What makes PAs so important as part of a patient’s health care team is our ability to take a detailed medical history and implement a thorough physical exam. We’re able to find things because we know where to look for them,” said Coppola. 
 
With over 24 years of experience in physician assistant education, Coppola knows what’s needed to equip physician assistants with essential skills and core competencies to make them successful practitioners.
 
“We train our students to err on the side of caution and trust their instincts enough to consult with their supervising physician if they think something is wrong,” said Coppola. In Bigham’s situation Retig did just that, despite there being universally accepted policies regarding a student diagnosis during simulation.
 
“There aren’t clearly defined rules, but as an education and health care provider, I felt it was ethically the right thing to do,” said Coppola regarding Retig’s discovery. “I believe she followed all the right steps in reporting what she found.”
 
Given such an ambiguous situation, Retig was concerned about the appropriate chain of command to follow. “It wasn’t a question of whether or not I was going to say something, but I wanted to make sure that what and who I reported to was correct.” At the end of the day, Retig made the right call.
 
Despite the abnormal and threatening details of the simulation, Retig, Coppola and Bigham are all able to find a silver lining.
 
“As a student you feel intimidated and may lack confidence, but I feel more confident in my abilities and capacity to enter the provide role,” said Retig. Coppola agrees, and is proud that a student was able to address the situation with such maturity and poise.
 
And Bigham?
 
Well, she believes that Retig needs to be recognized as a student that takes her education very seriously and demonstrates a caring demeanor.
 
“I can’t tell you how thankful and grateful I am for this young lady. It’s possible she could have saved my life.”
 
Update: Ms. Bigham’s surgery was successful. She is currently in recovery and is not experiencing any pain. She fully intends to return to Drexel as a standardized patient, and continues to express gratitude for Retig, Coppola and the Physician Assistant Department.
 
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