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Master of Health Science - Physician Assistant (PA)

Program

The Drexel University Physician Assistant Program provides graduates with a Master of Health Science degree. Students are also awarded a certificate of completion after successful completion of the program, which enables them to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).

The physician assistant (PA) is a primary health care provider who, when graduated from an accredited program and national certified and state-licensed, is eligible to practice medicine with the legal supervision of a physician.

PAs perform many duties including, but not limited to, physical examinations, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, ordering and interpretation of lab tests, assist in surgery, perform procedures, perform hospital rounds, prescribe medicines and provide patient education.

The primary goal of the PA Program is to develop graduates who are competent, caring physician assistants, possessing the skills of life-long learning needed to incorporate new knowledge and methods into their practices and to adapt to a changing medical environment. 

The mission of this program is to:

  • Educate qualified primary care physician assistants
  • Improve health care delivery in rural and urban medically under served areas
  • Promote the physician assistant profession

Click to View the Student Handbook for 2016-2017

MHS - PA: Technical Standards

COMPLIANCE

The College of Nursing and Health Professions has a compliance process that is required for all PA students. Some of these steps may take significant time to complete. Please plan accordingly.

Visit the Compliance pages for more information.

Admission Requirements

EFFECTIVE WITH THE 2017-2018 ADMISSIONS CYCLE, ALL APPLICATIONS MUST BE VERIFIED BY CASPA BY SEPTEMBER 1ST.

EFFECTIVE WITH THE 2017-2018 APPLICATION CYCLE (OPEN MID-APRIL – SEPTEMBER 1, 2017), ALL PREREQUISITE COURSEWORK MUST BE SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED BY THE END OF THE FALL SEMESTER PRIOR TO MATRICULATION.

Degree:
If you do not have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution by the end of the spring semester prior to fall matriculation, 90 specific credit hours (135 quarter credit hours) are required. The list of courses can be found under "Prerequisite Course Information" below.

A minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale from all colleges and universities attended is required for the following three (3) categories: non-science courses, science courses, and combined overall courses. Applications will not be reviewed unless the applicant has attained these minimum requirements at time of application as calculated by CASPA.

Standardized Tests:
Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are not required or considered.

Transcripts:

  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended sent directly to CASPA.
  • Non-United States-based educational institutional transcripts must be evaluated by an approved agency (see the listing of acceptable agencies on the CASPA website). Evaluation fees are the responsibility of the applicant. Evaluations must be sent directly to CASPA.

Prerequisites:
Meet the technical standards for admission, progression, and graduation from the Physician Assistant Program. Each applicant is expected to review completely the "MHS-PA:Technical Standards" PDF at the top of this tab. Individuals unable to meet these technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodation, are counseled to pursue alternate careers.

Students must not receive a grade lower than a "B-" in any single prerequisite course.

Prerequisite Course Information

General Prerequisite Course Information

  • Applicants may apply with some prerequisite coursework yet to be completed.  In this case, applicants must indicate all courses that are either in progress or that will be taken in the appropriate section of the CASPA applicationApplications that do not list all prerequisite coursework (either as completed, in progress, or planned) will not be reviewed.
  • The deadline for completing all prerequisite courses is the end of the fall academic term prior to expected matriculation to the PA program.
  • Applicants may have no more than two (2) remaining prerequisite courses in progress during the fall academic term prior to expected matriculation.
  • The applicant having, at the time of initial application, prerequisite coursework either in progress or planned for completion no later than the end of the fall academic term prior to expected matriculation, may only be offered provisional acceptance.  Full acceptance to the program will be offered after documentation by official transcript of successful completion of all in-progress or planned prerequisite coursework has been received by the Physician Assistant Program. Failure to provide official documentation by the deadline provided at the offer of provisional acceptance will result in the rescission of the provisional acceptance.
  • Prerequisite coursework not completed by the end of the academic term as indicated will disqualify applicants from further consideration for admission.
  • Courses may be completed online, provided that they are offered through an accredited college or university and the applicant receives college credit and a letter grade for the course(s).
  • All prerequisite courses must have a grade of B- or higher documented on official transcripts in order to be accepted. 
  • Prerequisite coursework may also be satisfied by Advanced Placement (AP) credit or College Level Equivalency Program (CLEP) examination achievement.  Information is available online at: http://www.collegeboard.com.
  • There is no “expiration date” for completed coursework, but applicants are very strongly encouraged to complete Human Anatomy and Physiology within 3 – 5 years of application.

Applicants are categorized as:

Degreed: Those who already hold baccalaureate or graduate degrees from regionally accredited educational institutions at the time of initial application. Any Degreed Applicant missing significant prescribed courses should defer applying until prerequisite coursework is complete.

Pending-Degree-Completion: Those who anticipate receiving their baccalaureate degrees no later than the end of the spring academic term prior to their anticipated matriculation in the PA Program. The provisional acceptance for a Pending-Degree-Completion Applicant who does not document the official awarding of an anticipated baccalaureate degree by the end of the spring academic term prior to anticipated matriculation will be rescinded, unless the applicant can demonstrate full compliance with all the prerequisite coursework requirements of a Non-Degreed Applicant by the end of the spring academic term prior to anticipated matriculation.

Non-Degreed: Those who do not hold an undergraduate degree but have accumulated at least 90 semester credit hours (or 135 quarter credit hours) of acceptable transfer credits at the time of application. Non-Degreed Applicants accepted into the PA Program will matriculate for the Master of Health Science degree, and are eligible for a Bachelor of Science degree after completing the didactic year curriculum. The provisional acceptance for a Non-Degreed Applicant who does not document on official transcripts the successful completion of all missing prerequisite or elective coursework by the end of the spring academic term prior to expected matriculation will be rescinded.

Please note that one semester credit hour (SCH) is equivalent to .67 quarter credit hour (QCH).

Prerequisite Coursework Required for Degreed and Pending Degree Applicants:
*Please note that all numbers listed are the minimum semester credits hours (SCH)
;  no grades lower than “B-“ will be accepted.

  • Psychology (3-4 SCH): One course in General/Introductory, Developmental, or Abnormal Psychology
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology with Labs (8 SCH): Regardless of the number of credits, the requirement is the complete study of the anatomy and physiology of all the major human bodily systems. Typically, this requires either two semester-long or three quarter-long courses with laboratory components to accomplish. Alternatively, a complete course in human anatomy with lab and a complete course in human physiology may satisfy the requirement provided that together the two courses also constitute the complete study of the anatomy and physiology of all the major human bodily systems.
    • Exercise Physiology does not satisfy this requirement.
    • It is strongly recommended that anatomy and physiology coursework be completed within three to five years of application.
  • General Biology with Labs (8 SCH): Regardless of the number of credits, the course sequence must constitute a complete general study of a collegiate, year-long, survey course of biology. Typically, this requires either two semester-long courses or three quarter-long courses to accomplish.
  • General Chemistry with Lab (4 SCH): At least one course in general, inorganic college-level chemistry
  • General or Medical Microbiology - Preferably with Lab (3-4 SCH): Regardless of the number of credits, the course or course sequence must provide collective study of all the major constituent organisms included in general microbiology.
    • Individual courses in bacteriology, virology, mycology, or parasitology do not satisfy this requirement.
  • General or Medical Genetics - Preferably with Lab (3-4 SCH): One course
  • Medical Terminology (1-3 SCH): This must be a course dedicated to medical terminology. A course containing medical terminology as only one component/unit/module of the course curriculum will not satisfy this requirement.

Prerequisite Coursework Required for Non-Degreed Applicants:
* Please note that all numbers listed are the minimum semester credits hours (SCH);  no grades lower than “B-“ will be accepted.

  • Psychology (3-4 SCH): One course in General/Introductory, Developmental, or Abnormal Psychology
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology with Labs (8 SMC): Regardless of the number of credits, the requirement is the complete study of the anatomy and physiology of all the major human bodily systems. Typically, this requires either two semester-long or three quarter-long courses with laboratory components to accomplish. Alternatively, a complete course in human anatomy with lab and a complete course in human physiology may satisfy the requirement provided that together the two courses also constitute the complete study of the anatomy and physiology of all the major human bodily systems.
    • Exercise Physiology does not satisfy this requirement.
    • It is strongly recommended that anatomy and physiology coursework be completed within three to five years of application.
  • General Biology with Labs (8 SCH): Regardless of the number of credits, the course sequence must constitute a complete general study of a collegiate, year-long, survey course of biology. Typically, this requires either two semester-long courses or three quarter-long courses to accomplish.
  • General Chemistry with Labs (8 SMC): Two courses in general, inorganic college-level chemistry
  • General or Medical Microbiology - Preferably with Lab (3-4 SCH): Regardless of the number of credits, the course or course sequence must provide collective study of all the major constituent organisms included in general microbiology.
    • Individual courses in bacteriology, virology, mycology, or parasitology do not satisfy this requirement.
  • General or Medical Genetics - Preferably with Lab (3-4 SCH): One course
  • Medical Terminology (1-3 SCH): This must be a course dedicated to medical terminology. A course containing medical terminology as only one component/unit/module of the course curriculum will not satisfy this requirement.

Additional Required Coursework for Non-Degreed Applicants:
*Non-degreed applicants must not receive a grade lower than a "C" (2.0) in any single required course listed below.

  • English composition and literature (6 SCH): Courses in standard, college-level English or one or more composition (writing) and English literature courses
  • Mathematics (3 SCH): College Algebra, Pre-calculus, Calculus, or Statistics
  • Computer Science Applications (3 SCH) (word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, database)
  • Additional Social Sciences (6 SCH) - See list below
  • Additional Humanities (6 SCH) - See list below.

Additional Required Elective Coursework for Non-Degreed Applicants:
*Non-degreed applicants must not receive a grade lower than a "C" (2.0) in any single required course listed below.

  • Must be sufficient to bring the total of all transfer credits to at least 90 semester hours (or 135 quarter credit hours)

Additional electives may be taken from the following disciplines:

  • Natural Sciences (e.g. chemistry, biology, physics)
  • Social Sciences (e.g. sociology, history, political science, economics, anthropology, additional psychology)
  • Humanities (e.g. ethics, medical ethics, critical thinking, logic, philosophy, religion, foreign languages, art history, music history, speech communications, American Sign Language, additional English courses)
  • College-level Mathematics (non-remedial): (e.g. college algebra, precalculus, calculus, statistics, probabilities)
  • Computer Science (e.g. applications, programming, theory)

For those seeking suggestions for additional elective courses to take, the following is offered for the applicant’s consideration and planning.

Strongly recommended electives include:

  • Abnormal psychology
  • Biochemistry
  • Critical thinking
  • Death and dying
  • Developmental psychology
  • Embryology
  • Ethics/ Ethics in Medicine (Health Care) and Methodology
  • Foreign languages
  • Introduction to Pharmacology
  • Logic
  • Nutrition
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pathophysiology
  • Advanced Anatomy
  • Philosophy
  • Public Speaking/Speech
  • Research Design
  • Sociology
  • Statistics

Submission of False or Inaccurate Information:
Any intentional or unintentional falsification, misrepresentation, or omission of any required application materials or supporting documentation, either to CASPA or the Drexel University Hahnemann Physician Assistant Program, may result in termination of the processing of the offender’s application, the revocation of any offer of acceptance tendered, or dismissal from the PA Program if discovered after matriculation.



References:
Two letters of recommendation are required to be submitted as part of the official CASPA application.  Additional letters of recommendation are encouraged by the program.

Preferred references are from individuals who have been in a supervisory capacity over the applicant or academic instructors who have personal knowledge of the applicant. Submissions of references from friends, relatives, personal physicians, or instructors who do not possess a personal, supervisory knowledge of the applicants are discouraged.

Personal Statement/ Essay:
A personal statement recorded as part of the CASPA application.

Interview/Portfolio:
Personal interview may be required

CV/Resume:
Required.

Licenses:
N/A

Clinical Work/Volunteer Experience:
A minimum of 500 hours of clearly documented volunteer/paid direct hands-on patient contact accrued by the time of application and recorded as part of the official CASPA application.  Ensure that all hours are accurately reported. Applicants may list the same position in multiple sections in order to account for multiple experiences (patient contact, related health care, research, shadowing, etc.) accrued in the same position as long as each hour is not reported in more than one experience category.

The Drexel Physician Assistant Program gives preference to applicants who have demonstrated significant community or volunteer service (a minimum of 100 hours recorded on the CASPA application). All types of community service and volunteer activities will be considered. If volunteer hours are accrued through patient care activities, these hours will be accepted for both patient contact hours and volunteer hours.

The Physician Assistant Program does not grant advanced standing for coursework similar to that contained in its curriculum when completed at other educational institutions. 

Patient Contact
A minimum of 500 hours of clearly documented volunteer/paid direct hands-on patient contact accrued by the time of application and recorded as part of the official CASPA application is required. The following constitute patient contact:

  • Athletic Trainer (Certified or Student)
  • Cardiovascular Perfusionist
  • Medical Corpsman
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Dietician
  • Caregiver
  • ED Technician
  • Medical Scribe
  • EMT/Paramedic
  • Exercise Physiologist (cardiac rehab)
  • Foreign Medical Graduate – Physician
  • Home Health Care Aide
  • Phlebotomist
  • Medical Assistant
  • Medical Health Tech/MH/MR
  • Medical Research with Patient Contact
  • Midwife
  • Nurse
  • Nursing Assistant
  • Orderly-Patient Transport
  • Orthopedics Technician
  • Physical Therapist
  • Physical Therapist Assistant/Aide
  • Radiologic Technologist
  • X-Ray Technician
  • Ultrasound Technician
  • By-Pass Technician
  • Respiratory Therapist
  • Surgical Technician/OR Technician
  • Veterinary Technician

Please note that administrative work performed in a health care setting will not satisfy the required 500 hours of direct patient contact, but should be recorded under the “Related Health Care Experience” section of the CASPA application. This would include positions such as medical receptionist, unit clerk, etc.

Pharmacy technician and shadowing are not considered direct patient contact.

This is not an exhaustive list of patient contact experiences. If you have questions about a role or position not listed, please contact the Drexel PA Program at paadmissions@drexel.edu

International Students:
International applicants, as well as immigrants to the United States and U.S. permanent residents whose native language is not English and who have not received a bachelor's degree in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom, must show proficiency in English speaking as well as listening, writing and reading. American citizens born on U.S. military bases abroad may be waived from the TOEFL requirement after providing documentation of this status. Otherwise, applicants must meet one of the following requirements: 

If you take the TOEFLiBT exam, you must have: 

  • a minimum combined score for listening, writing, and reading sections of 79 plus a speaking section score of 26 or higher.
  • a minimum score of 550 or higher and a Test of Spoken English score (TSE) of 55 or higher.

Pre-Professional Options at Drexel University
While the PA program does accept students via the Accelerated Dual-Degree BS/MHS Option, students enrolled in this program are not guaranteed admissions into the Drexel PA program. Applicants from this program must meet the same academic, patient contact and volunteer hours requirements as the general applicant pool. They must also complete a successful interview.

Tuition and Fee Rates
  • Please visit the Tuition and Fee Rates page for tuition information. Please follow the link for tuition and fees for the current school year, then choose Graduate Programs link. Our fees will be on the drop down under "College of Nursing and Health Professions Programs".
  • Additional PA Program Fee Estimates can be found here (PDF).
  • Tuition Refund Policy.

Application Link (if outside organization):
Apply online at www.caspaonline.org

Curriculum

Progression Requirements

Progression to the Clinical Year:

Students must:

  • Successfully complete all didactic phase courses.
  • Demonstrate professional conduct.
  • Achieve a passing grade on the didactic comprehensive examination. 

Graduation Requirements for the Physician Assistant Program:

To graduate students must:

  • Successfully complete all required courses, rotations and preceptorships.
  • Demonstrate professional conduct.
  • Students may not earn a grade less than a “B” in each course in the curriculum.
  • Maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average.
  • Meet all financial obligations to the university.
  • Achieve a passing grade on the a passing grade on the Didactic Comprehensive Examination, Summative Examination and the Objective Standardized Clinical Examination.

Commitment:

The program is intensely challenging, both intellectually and physically; it requires stamina as well as personal and financial sacrifice on the part of the students. The program demands a high degree of integrity, self-sufficiency, motivation, self-discipline, and highly developed study skills.

Clinical Skills:

Among the most important of all practitioner skills is the ability to effectively gather cogent information from patients, primarily through medical history taking and physical examination. Physical examination skills are taught early in the curriculum in laboratory sections where students learn those examination skills first by practicing on each other as partners prior to attempting examinations on actual patients. Students have long appreciated the advantages of reducing potential anxiety with practicing these new, psychomotor skills under close supervision of experienced, professional instructors, and the ability to both give and receive immediate feedback from the student-partner team afforded by this controlled, private, and “safe” practice setting.

Scheduling:

During the didactic (primarily classroom) phase of the curriculum, most classes will be scheduled during the daytime hours; however, it may be necessary to schedule some classes during evening hours. All students are required to attend all classes as scheduled and to subordinate any personal commitments (i.e., employment or family responsibilities) to the training schedule.

In the clinical phase of training, students will be learning in diverse clinical settings with varying daily and weekly schedules that may involve daytime, evening, or weekend hours. Students must give priority commitment to assigned schedules at clinical sites.

Classroom Instruction:

Training begins with four quarters of didactic education, which integrates patient interaction beginning with the first quarter.

Clinical Practice

Among the most important of all practitioner skills is the ability to effectively gather cogent information from patients, primarily through medical history taking and physical examination. Physical examination skills are taught early in the curriculum in laboratory sections where students learn those examination skills first by practicing on each other as partners prior to attempting examinations on actual patients.

Students have long appreciated the advantages of reducing “student-actual patient anxiety,” practicing these new, psychomotor skills under close supervision of experienced, professional instructors, and the ability to both give and receive immediate feedback from the student-partner team afforded by this controlled, private, and “safe” practice setting.

Clinical Training:

The clinical training phase consists of six (6), five-credit, five-week clinical rotations in medicine, surgery, women’s health, pediatrics, emergency medicine, and behavioral health, assigned in varying order in locations across the United States. The final portion of the clinical training phase curriculum consists of two (2), 10-credit, quarter-long, primary care practica (preceptorships). During these practica, each student is assigned to primary care sites for individualized clinical training with physician preceptors.

These sites are located in a variety of locations, from rural to urban areas and private clinical practices to large hospital settings. Students may expect to gain exposures in each of these settings in order to obtain the best clinical medicine experience and training.

Training sites during the clinical year are provided by the program and are located throughout Pennsylvania and the United States. Students are welcome to identify and assist in the development of up to two clinical rotation sites and/or one 10-week primary care practicum site. (These sites must have PA Program approval.)

Students are required to relocate during the clinical phase and are responsible for all associated financial costs, including transportation and living expenses.

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.

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Drexel University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Drexel University. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.

 

Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be 2025. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

Goals and Outcomes

  • Maintain PANCE pass rate above the national average.
    • Since 2010, Drexel University Physician Assistant Program PANCE pass rate has exceeded the national average.
       
  • Provide all students with a clinical experience in an underserved area.
    • 100% of the physician assistant students from the Class of 2015 had a clinical experience in a rural and/or urban underserved area.
    • 39% of the currently matriculated students come from ethnically under-represented, or economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.
    • 12.5% of the PA Class of 2014 spent at least 50% of their time in medically underserved areas.*
  • Provide all students with a service learning activity in an underserved area.
    • Since 2012, 100% of students have conducted health education presentations in urban medically underserved areas.
  • Strive for 30% of graduates employed in primary care.
    • 70.8% of 2014 graduates practice in primary care setting.*
  • Strive for 75% of the DUPAP faculty represented in leadership positions at the college, university, state or national levels to promote the physician assistant profession.  
    • 94% of the DUPAP faculty represented in leadership positions at the college, university, state or national levels to promote the physician assistant profession.
    • 48 presentations by PA Faculty and/or PA Program professional staff to promote the physician assistant profession in 2015/2016.
    • Positions held by faculty to promote the physician assistant profession:
    • Ambassadors for the National Health Service Corps – (3) faculty.
    • Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, site visitors (2) faculty.
    • Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistant, A Difficult Diagnosis, Section Editor.
    • Diversity Committee, Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistant Society, committee member.
    • Region 4 Representatives, Greater Philadelphia Region, Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistant, (2) committee members.
    • Scientific Board of the National Foundation of Celiac Awareness, member
    • Health Ministries Committee, member.
    • Faculty Loan Repayment Program, awardee, Health and Resources Services Administration.
    • Ellen Feld, MD, Fellow of the American College of Physicians.
    • Distinguished Fellows of the American Academy of Physician Assistants:  Patrick Auth, PhD PA-C, Geraldine Buck, DrPH, PA-C, Gretchen Fox, MMS, PA-C,  Julie Kinzel, MEd, PA-C,  Nina, Multak, PhD, PA-C.
    • Positions held by students to promote the physician assistant profession in 2016/17:
    • Representative to the Assembly of Representatives, American Academy of Physician Assistants.
    • Representative to the House of Delegates, American Academy of physician Assistants.

*Based on 24 graduate surveys returned from the PA Class of 2014

Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination Five Year First Time Taker Summary Report - PDF Download

Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination Exam Performance Summary Report - PDF Download

Application Process

All application materials are to be submitted directly to the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). You may apply online at http://www.caspaonline.org.

Applications made directly to the Office of Enrollment Management (Admissions) of Drexel University will not be processed.

All applicants must complete the CASPA application process no later than September 1st of the year prior to expected date of matriculation. This includes e-submitting the application, the receipt by CASPA of all transcripts, reference forms, and other supporting documentation such as foreign transcript evaluations and TOEFL scores, and verification of the application by CASPA. Applications remaining unverified by CASPA for any reason after the September 1st deadline will not be processed. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early to avoid delays in processing and to facilitate the transmission of verified CASPA applications to the PA Program in a timely fashion.

Once an applicant e-submits the application to CASPA, it is the applicant’s responsibility to track the status of his/her application from the time of submission through to the “verified” status. Please refer to CASPA’s FAQ (https://portal.caspaonline.org/caspaHelpPages/frequently-asked-questions/) for information regarding tracking the receipt of transcripts and references, the GPA calculation process, and the mailing of your application to the programs you selected.

Once your application has reached “verified” status, Drexel has received it electronically. Please do not contact Drexel for a status update until at least four weeks from the verified date. This will give Drexel time to begin processing your application.

If you need to update your contact information during the application process, please do so by updating the information in your online CASPA application.
NOTE: If you wish to update your coursework after you have e-submitted your application, you may do so via the Academic Update feature on the CASPA website any time after your application has been verified. Please see the FAQ on the CASPA website for more information (https://portal.caspaonline.org/caspaHelpPages/frequently-asked-questions/). Please do not submit additional transcripts to the PA program unless they are specifically requested by program staff.

NOTE: If you wish to update your patient contact experience, you may do so at the interview should you be selected for one. Your application will be evaluated based on the completed coursework, patient contact hours, and references that you submit at the time of application. If you are concerned that your completed coursework and/or your patient contact hours at time of application are insufficient, you are advised to consider applying in a future admissions cycle after completing additional coursework and/or accruing additional direct patient contact hours. Please do not email, mail, or call the PA program with updates to your application unless you are responding to an inquiry from program staff.

Drexel’s Review Process
Drexel utilizes a rolling admissions process. Final decisions regarding applicant selection will be made upon conclusion of the interview process. It may be in an applicant’s best interests to apply early in the admissions cycle.

Once Drexel receives a verified application, it is screened by admissions personnel to ensure that the minimum GPA requirements have been met, the prerequisite coursework has either been completed or is listed as in progress or to be completed by the deadline, the minimum numbers of direct patient contact hours have been accrued, and the application was verified by the September 1st deadline.

Applications that meet these criteria are then assigned to faculty members to be screened for interview. In addition to a thorough review of all supporting documents, candidates are evaluated for their ability to handle the high demands of training, commitment to people-oriented service, and familiarity with the physician assistant's role and the PA profession. After review, the most promising applicants are invited for a personal interview.

Applicants who have been selected for interview will be notified via email and invited in for an interview session. Interview sessions are held July through February, and Drexel invites 20 – 25 applicants per session. Interview days run from approximately 9 am to 5 pm and include an onsite writing sample, presentations about the program and financial aid, a tour of the campus, lunch with the program director, interaction with current students, and an interview with a pair of faculty members.

Applicants who either do not meet the minimum criteria or who are reviewed but not selected to interview will be notified via a letter from the Office of Graduate Admissions of Drexel University.

Drexel’s Decision Process
Drexel accepts approximately 75 students per year. Applicants are reviewed following the interview sessions, and some are offered early acceptance. We do not fill the entire class until interviews have concluded. All decisions should be made by the end of April. Accepted applicants will receive a phone call from the Director of Admissions notifying them of their status, followed by an acceptance packet from the Office of Graduate Admissions. Applicants placed on the wait list will receive an email notifying them of their status, along with a request to confirm that they accept their position on the wait list. Nonaccepted applicants will be notified via a letter from the Office of Graduate Admissions of Drexel University.

Accepted Applicants
If an accepted applicant has earned a baccalaureate degree and completed all nine (9) prerequisite courses as documented on the CASPA application, or does not possess a baccalaureate degree but has documented completion of all prerequisite course and a minimum of 90 semester hours of credit on the CASPA application, he/she will be accepted non-provisionally.

If an accepted applicant has prerequisite coursework outstanding, and/or is a pending-degree applicant, he/she will be accepted provisionally. Official transcripts documenting the completion of outstanding prerequisite coursework and/or the awarding of a baccalaureate degree must be received by the Office of Graduate Admissions by the end of the spring academic term prior to matriculation. If all prerequisite coursework has been satisfied and/ or a baccalaureate degree awarded, the acceptance will become non-provisional.

Accepted applicants must return all paperwork as detailed in the acceptance packet, as well as a $500.00 non-refundable deposit, within 15 days of receipt of the acceptance packet in order to secure their place in the new incoming class.

Accepted applicants must also send official transcripts from every college or university attended directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions. CASPA does not provide Drexel University with official transcripts. All transcripts must be received by the end of the spring academic term prior to matriculation. The only exception is coursework and/or degrees awarded in the spring term prior to matriculation. Transcripts reflecting this coursework and/or degree awarded must be submitted as soon as they are available.

Additional requirements to be completed prior to matriculation will be communicated to accepted applicants via email during the spring and summer terms prior to matriculation.

The PA program follows the Drexel University academic calendar for quarter programs. The academic calendar can be found here: http://www.drexel.edu/provost/calendars/. Please note that the PA program holds a mandatory orientation during the week prior to the start of the fall term.

Keep the PA Program Updated!

Between the offer of acceptance and the orientation activities and the start of classes in September, much of the communication from the PA Program to incoming students occurs through e-mail and by telephone; therefore, the applicant is strongly encouraged to promptly notify the PA Program of any changes to e-mail or mailing addresses and telephone numbers. The PA Program cannot be responsible for failures of important communications due to outdated or incorrect contact information provided by the applicant.

Tips from the Drexel PA Program Admissions Staff

  • Complete the prerequisite courses before you apply; at most have only one or two outstanding.
  • If anatomy and physiology courses were completed more than three to five years prior to time of application, it is strongly recommended that applicants enroll in either refresher or advanced coursework in anatomy and physiology to demonstrate current competence in the subject matter.
  • Be sure to list this in progress or planned anatomy and physiology coursework on your CASPA application.
  • Quantity and quality of direct patient contact does matter, and so does the breadth of experience you potentially bring to the PA program through your healthcare related experience and general life experience.
  • Research the profession thoroughly.
  • Shadow PAs in a variety of medical settings.
  • A strong foundation in the natural sciences will make it a bit easier to get through PA school – any PA school. Don’t just complete the prerequisite coursework. Acquire as strong a knowledge base as possible before starting PA school by picking up as many of the recommended electives as possible.

Drexel University reserves the right to revise, without notice, admissions standards and procedures, as it deems necessary. The Drexel University Physician Assistant Program reserves the right to make exceptions to admission policies at the programs’ discretion.

News & Events

 

10/31/17

To say that medicine is in physician assistant (PA) student Hope Johnston Cline’s genes is a gross understatement. Her grandparents are doctors. Her mom is a physician assistant from Drexel’s class of 1983. Her dad, two brothers and most of her aunts, uncles and cousins are doctors. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to study their deoxyribonucleic acid!

Physician assistant student and her mom, Lavonne Johnston at a ceremonyOf course, Cline knew science was it for her. Being like her family members, very compassionate caregivers, was important to her. What they did and how they did it made a career in healthcare appealing to her. “I debated between veterinary, PA and medical school, but eventually I chose PA because I really love the flexibility it allows,” she offered. Less time in school and fewer loans were also enticing. But the biggest draw of being a physician assistant is practicing primary care. For her, it’s the depth of getting to know your patients and its well-roundedness. “I love when a patient comes in with all types of issues. I like how you can dig into their lives a little bit by following up with them. You see them more than one time, get a good relationship with them. I can make a difference in their overall health—not like a specialty when you're focusing on just one area,” Cline revealed. She and her brothers often talk about medicine and what both binds and separates them as doctors and PA. Where she feels that doctors have opportunities to do research and that their education dives much deeper into microbiology, chemistry and histology, she feels that physician assistants look specifically at what is presented by the patient immediately. “PAs go straight for the meat: What is it? What medication should be prescribed and what is the follow-up,” Cline said. “My brothers and I would say we have a similar approach in managing an illness—what to do right then and there for the patient right in front of us. But if you want to know more about rare diseases or very specific pathophysiology, they’re the ones to ask. Their training is more extensive, she added.

Starting her undergraduate career with a pre-vet stint as she called it, Cline ended up choosing nutrition as a major. She became familiar with gastroenterology while a medical assistant and found that she really like learning about the GI system. Despite the fact that she continued debating between medical and PA school, nutrition would give her a different perspective on health while providing a solid base no matter which she picked. Once she chose to become a physician assistant, she immediately started looking for programs in Philadelphia and quickly zeroed in on Drexel. “I thought that it would be so cool to go to the same school my mom went to,” Cline admitted. She recognized, too, that CNHP had one of the oldest and most well-established programs in the country. “I knew they had great curriculum and really knew what they were doing.” Drexel was her first choice.Hope Cline with fellow physician assistant students in scrubs

The small number of spots in Drexel’s PA program are highly coveted despite its rigor. Cline acknowledged how challenging it was to balance the volume of content with expectations simultaneously avowing how much she loved it. “I thought it was awful sometimes, but I really liked being pushed like that and seeing how much I could do. But there were definitely some moments where I just wanted to curl up in a ball and die because it's so much,” she laughed. Even with this, Cline was able to recite a litany of things she loved about the program starting with its focus on social justice and service of others. There are many reasons for healthcare disparity including cultural bias, sexual orientation, racism and stigmas around mental health, but CNHP’s PA program looks at all those issues to build an understanding of how these attitudes affect what is available to whom and how. This is something at really appealed to her. She remembered her first project starting with reading a book about cultural differences affecting care. Another thing Cline expressed was her appreciation for Megan Schneider, her favorite professor. Schneider, a clinical instructor in the PA program, was Cline’s advisor on her graduate project, a paper about the implications of race in diagnosing mental health. “I really look up to her. She does everything with excellence,” enthused Cline. “She was very encouraging and knowledgeable. She’s taught me a lot,” she explained.

PA student Hope Cline on a mountainIt's hard to believe, but Cline has a life outside of school. She and her husband Stephen Cline, an engineer, will be moving to Oregon in January where she hopes to find a job working with underserved populations. If she can find five minutes when she’s not studying, working or on rotation, you will find her somewhere enjoying the great outdoors—probably running on at trail with her husband. She finds great enjoyment riding horses though she hasn’t had much time to do that recently. Maybe once she’s finished her last rotation finds a job and gets settled in Oregon, she’ll find a little more time for some of the other thing she loves alongside developing her niche in primary care.

Things I like or would recommend:

Book: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett  The author is flipping my mind, but it’s incredible.

TV Show or Movie: Oh, man! This is hard. I think everyone should be watching Downton Abbey.

Podcast: I’m not interested in any currently, but I am listening to Harry Potter. I’m a little embarrassed because I’ve never used this media type.

 

Written by Roberta S. Perry

10/30/17

Physician Assistant Clinical Instructor Clare Pisoni, MPAS, PA-C and student prepping for classThe College of Nursing and Health Professions has been educating physician assistants for 45 years, only five years less than the 50 years the profession has been in existence. Thirty years ago, Clare Pisoni decided to pursue an education at Hahnemann for a career as a physician assistant because of her father, a World War II veteran. “My father was stationed in the South Pacific in the medical corps which was actually how the PA profession started in the late 60s when people were returning from Vietnam,” shared Pisoni. “When I was in my 20s trying to figure out what the heck I wanted to do with my life then heard of this profession, I feel like it was really meant for me,” she added. Today, she has a unique distinction: Pisoni is an alumna of the same program in which she teaches. She received her bachelor’s degree from the physician assistant program in 1989 and became a clinical instructor at Drexel in 2014 and can easily speak to the evolution of the program.

Pisoni, who’s been a practicing physician assistant for 28 years, feels like the growth in career opportunities and general awareness is partially due to studies published in 2003 that led to capping medical residents’ work week. “Cutting the hours for the residents put advanced practitioners in their roles, claimed Pisoni. “We're really taking the place of the residents because they can't stay there that long. And that's definitely been a big change—the field has opened up because of this moratorium on the residents' hours,” she added. Pisoni notes that while more people know about physician assistants, they don’t know how old the profession actually is or that, as a whole, what’s involved in their schooling.

PAs are broadly educated using a physician model. While they need to complete more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations in family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, general surgery, emergency medicine and psychiatry, some would argue that PAs are taught to seek or build more of a connection with their patients than doctors. It is often heard from people who receive their primary care from physician assistants how much time they spend together looking at them as a whole and that all their questions are answered.  In fact, one of the first courses PAs take in CNHP is patient communication where students learn about patient-provider collaboration and counseling techniques for education and health promotion. Further into the program, CNHP’s PA students look at the biopsychosocial model of patient care. When one looks at the curriculum and pairs it with the mission of the program, it’s clear that serving patients and delivering quality healthcare, especially in underserved areas are at the heart of this program.

Pisoni, in her role as a clinical instructor, does students’ clinical assessment lab, ethics and clinical reasoning seminar. She also serves as the surgery clinicalClare Pisoni, MPAS, PA-C and students at an information table coordinator for the surgery rotation. “I make sure everybody’s doing okay on the rotation. I go see students and see how they do, but I'm also going to the preceptors and learning a little bit about them,” said Pisoni. One of the things that really impresses her about Drexel’s program is the diversity in students it attracts. She commented that she doesn’t see that as much in other PA programs. “We have people from Africa, people from Utah, some in their early 20s and some people that are already in the 50s,” she acknowledged. This is an important strength of the program because it encourages students learning from each other. They all have vastly different experiences to share whether it’s cultural, professional, communal or academic. Diversity isn’t restricted to students. CNHP’s faculty offers an exceptional mix of professional and medical knowledge. She made a point of mentioning the how available faculty advisors are for students. “I have an open-door policy with my advisees and cultivate a special connection with them. I want them to come to me anytime they need or want to talk,” she remarked. This sentiment is prevalent throughout.

Another aspect Pisoni feels is an asset is its history. The mission of the program that co-founders Wilbur Oaks, MD and David Major, MD portends outstanding preparation of its students and improvement in healthcare delivery. Faculty achieve this through consistent and recurrent assessment. None of its constituents is comfortable with resting on their laurels. Courses are regularly evaluated to make sure they are still the best they could be—tweaked if found otherwise—and student reviews are taken seriously with the goal of improving the program.

Pisoni is an active member of both the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants and the Physician Assistant Education Association. Her career speaks to the versatility of the profession. “I have worked in surgery, on the cardiac floor, in the ICU and I've worked in the outpatient arena,” she mentioned. “I say that our students do primary care, however, we do send them to surgery rotation because I think it's important they know what the signs and symptoms are of appendicitis. I went to see a patient on a site visit, and her preceptor said she diagnosed appendicitis in the office and then sent him to the emergency room,” she furthered. In addition to her position at Drexel, she lectures at Salus University and for Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants and also doing per diem work at a Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where she does ICU medicine and procedures. Even with all this, she still has time to spend with her 16- and 19-year old children, read and check out the arts.

Things I like or would recommend:

Book: Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient by Norman Cousins 

Pisoni thinks the point is to try to concentrate on the good things rather than bad things that are happening and try practicing mindfulness. 

TV Show or Movie: I love The Walking Dead and I just binge-watched Ray Donovan which I think has a good cast of characters.

 

Written by Roberta S. Perry

10/30/17

45th Anniversary of Physician Assistant ProgramThe physician assistant program at the College of Nursing and Health Professions celebrated a big milestone; its 45th Anniversary. Interim Dean Sue Smth, PhD, PT greeted all attendees welcoming them to the 45th anniversary celebration of the Hahnemann/Drexel Physician Assistant Program. Smith, in her comments, noted that the College of Nursing and Health Professions takes pride in its program faculty who collectively have over 120 years of teaching experience and remain committed to the mission: Educate qualified primary care PAs. Improve healthcare deliver in rural and urban medically underserve areas. Promote the PA Profession. The history of the program below was written by clinical professor and its current department chair, Pat Auth, PhD, PA-C '85 and shared at a celebration that attracted more than 100 people over Alumni Weekend last May.

The program was established in 1971 at the Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital. It is among the oldest in the country, matriculates one of the largest classes each year, and has a long history of innovation in primary care education for physician assistants while addressing its mission to improve healthcare in rural and urban underserved communities.

The PA Program has graduated thousands of physician assistants, with 40 percent practicing in primary-care settings and the remainder practicing within a range of medical and surgical disciplines and sub-disciplines. Additionally, 25 percent of graduates practice in either urban or rural medically underserved communities across the United States and foreign countries. More than 20 percent of the graduates are members of minority groups acknowledged to be underrepresented in the healthcare profession.

Each entering class is chosen from a national and international applicant pool with students from across the United States and other countries. Representation of recognized minorities is among the highest in the nation. The program's selection of students includes a widely diverse group in relation to age, ethnicity, prior education, healthcare experience, and people-oriented activities. 

The Physician Assistant Program is now part of Drexel University, a leader in innovative, technologically advanced higher education and home to one of the largest private medical schools—Drexel College of Medicine—in the country. The program is located on the university's Health Sciences Campus adjacent to the Hahnemann University Hospital in Center City, Philadelphia. Additional clinical affiliation sites available to PA students are located throughout the greater Philadelphia region, the entire East Coast, and numerous other locales across the country.

Student Edward Suppan, president of the Physician Assistant Class of 2018 speaking at eventDuring the spring event, Edward Suppan, the president of PA Class of 2018, thanked all of the alumni for their dedication to the CNHP's PA Program. Auth thanked Nate Alston for his long history of service to the PA profession, especially for his dedication to promoting the physician assistant profession in Pennsylvania and 

Evelyn Eskin, MAB and David Major, MD, a co-founder of the program, were given an award named after Sherry Stolberg, PA-C, one of the longest standing directors to lead the mission of the program and the education of its wonderful students. Major and Wilbur Oaks, MD, co-founded a program to train the best primary care physician assistants which Eskin directed. Stolberg grew the program during her tenure always keeping the focus on students. “As Pat and I always say, our compass as directors of PA programs has always been the students—it's all about the students,” she wrote in a note because she couldn’t be there in person. To Eskin and Major, she wrote that she couldn’t think of two more deserving people to receive the award.

Below are Eskin’s thoughts on the evolution of the PA program which appeared in a piece she wrote for PSPA News recently.

My introduction to the PA program came in the fall of 1970 in the form of two bulging shopping bags. Dave, a brand new faculty member in the department of medicine at what was then called Hahnemann Medical College, arrived home one evening with these two gigantic shopping bags overflowing with all kinds of paper. It seemed that Bill Oaks, the legendary and visionary chairman of the Department of Medicine, had an idea to create the third PA program in the country. To announce this program, he did what people did before there were social media -he put an ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The bags contained the responses to "if you are interested, reply to....".  There was no curriculum, no application process, no faculty -just dozens of people who were interested in being PAs. Dave, as the junior faculty member, was asked to make some sense out of it.

To say that Dave had no time for this is an understatement. I said I'd give it a shot. Thus the first application form was developed, admission criteria were established, an interview process evolved, and the first class of ten PA students arrived nine months later. I was given the title of admissions director. In the intervening months, the curriculum was developed by Bill and Dave during several late night and weekend meetings, and the faculty were recruited from among the physicians at Hahnemann.

As the program began, there was a part-time program director and no dedicated staff. I continued as the admissions director and was itching to do more.Evelyn Eskin, MAB and David Major, MD at Physician Assistant program 45th anniversary celebration Bill said that he had confidence that I could do the job of program director, but he couldn't hire me without a graduate degree.

I got a graduate degree, and, in 1977, I got the job!

Our years in the PA program were among the most gratifying and fulfilling of our careers. There was always a sense of adventure, the encouragement to dream, and a can-do attitude. The students were amazing - smart, motivated, and endlessly interesting. It was a wonderful ride and a magical time.

The PA Program at Hahnemann/ Drexel has always had a big heart and soul. The faculty are unusually devoted and capable. The stability of the leadership is indeed impressive; I had the shortest tenure at seven years. Sherry Stolberg succeeded me in 1984, and Pat Auth followed her 20 years later. Both are graduates of the program, and totally committed to its quality and continued success. Sherry was a wonderful student, friend, leader and a role model for faculty and students, and it is an honor for us to receive this award named for her.

The commitment of faculty, staff, alumni and students to the profession is evident through the stories and experiences shared that night. The esteem of CNHP’s program is well known throughout the country and it all due to the founders and those who carry on their legacy.

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