The DeSales University Physician Assistant program has a graduation rate exceeding both the regional and national averages.

Medical Studies is an intensive, “honors” type program that completes the undergraduate requirements in three years and leads directly without further application to the two year Physician Assistant Program.  This is designed for high-achieving students who are confident of their career choice and enjoy the challenge of rigorous scientific studies.  The curriculum has at least 18 credit hours per semester and is closely monitored by their advisor, a PA Program faculty member, so that the student receives all the required courses.

The deadline to complete your application file for the Medical Studies major is December 15.
All interviews must be completed by January 15.



Students are encouraged to apply early in their senior year.  The student must first be accepted by the University and identify themselves as interested in the Medical Studies major.  If minimum GPA and SAT/ACT requirements are met, an interview is then scheduled with the PA Program.  The deadline for application to the Medical Studies major is December 15 and all interviews must be completed by January 15.  The PA Program faculty individually select all candidates for this major and, once in the program, a seat in the graduate PA Program is reserved for the student.  Candidates are selected based on their academic record, their motivation for health care, and their potential for future growth.  DeSales University welcomes applications from all qualified students regardless of race, religion, sex, national or ethnic origin. 

There is no single, preferred high school course of study or specific classes required, but a college preparatory curriculum is highly recommended. 

To continue in the Medical Studies major, the student must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in the required sciences and overall each semester.  To matriculate in their senior year to the PA Program, the student must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 overall and in the required sciences and have completed at least 250 healthcare hours.  If the GPA requirement is not met in any semester, the student is placed on probation.  The second time this is not met the student loses his/her guaranteed seat in the PA Program and must change into another major.  If the student still wishes to pursue the PA degree at DeSales University, transition into the BA in Biology major is recommended and application to the Master’s PA Program in their senior year through CASPA is necessary. 

Learn more about the Graduate Program

DeSales Physician Assistant Program News

DeSales University to Confer 148 Degrees During Mid-Year Commencement; First Doctoral Degrees Awarded

by Tom McNamara | Jan 10, 2014

DeSales University will hold its mid-year commencement on Saturday, January 18, in Billera Hall on the Center Valley campus. During the ceremony, Rev. Bernard F. O’Connor, OSFS, president of DeSales University, will confer degrees upon 148 graduating students for January 2014.

In addition to the January 2014 degree recipients, DeSales awarded 215 degrees to students in September 2013. Because there is no formal ceremony in September, the September graduates may take part in the January commencement.

At the January 18 ceremony, DeSales will award its first doctoral degrees. The doctor of nursing practice program began in January 2012. Five students from that cohort will receive their doctorates.

Ann M. PanikAnne M. Panik, MS, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, (pictured right) senior vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) will deliver the commencement address.

Panik’s involvement with LVHN began in 1987. Since that time, she has provided nursing leadership in ambulatory services, emergency services, medical/surgical services, and critical care and trauma services.  In addition to her nursing diploma and BSN, Panik holds a Master of Science in HR (Hospital) Administration from the University of Scranton; post masters certifications in nursing administration from Villanova University and in leadership from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; and is board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as an advanced nurse executive. 

Recently, Panik was designated as LVHN’s Peggy Fleming Endowed Chair in Nursing and received a courtesy faculty appointment with the College of Nursing at the University of South Florida.  At the 2013 ANCC National Magnet Conference, Panik accepted the prestigious Magnet Prize award for LVHN’s innovative and collaborative nurse-driven work in the field of patient care through telehealth technology.

Panik is a member of several nationally recognized professional nursing organizations and their local chapters.  Her curriculum vita includes numerous national and local oral and poster presentations and publications in peer-reviewed nursing journals.

She has received awards for her involvement and leadership, including the HAP Achievement Award honoring Excellence and Innovation in Health Care and the LVHN Friends of Nursing Leadership Award, and she was a finalist for a Nightingale of Pennsylvania Nursing Administration Leadership Award.

In the community, Panik’s volunteer activities include decades of work with Safe Kids Coalition and Bethlehem’s Musikfest.

During the ceremony, Fern M. Strunk, APRN, will receive the DeSales Medal.

The DeSales Medal is the highest nonacademic award conferred by the University in recognition of the outstanding contributions to the development of the University through personal service as well as financial support. Recipients of the DeSales Medal are well respected in the community at large and have been distinguished for the witness they give to the ideals most highly prized by St. Francis de Sales.

Strunk is the former director of the DeSales University Student Health Center. She started in the Health Center as a part-time nurse in 1995, assuming the director position in 1996.

Previously, she had been a nurse at Sacred Heart Hospital, on staff at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, and a health and physical education teacher for the Southern Lehigh, Philadelphia, and San Antonio, Texas, school districts.

After leaving DeSales in 2006, Strunk became the residential nursing coordinator for the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia.

Strunk earned a bachelor of arts in health and physical education from Gettysburg College and a bachelor of arts in nursing from DeSales. In 2003, also through DeSales, she earned a master’s degree in nursing and became a certified nurse practitioner. That same year, Strunk was named the DeSales University Professional Employee of the Year.

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The DeSales Free Clinic at the Allentown Rescue Mission

The DeSales Free Clinic at the Allentown Rescue Mission opened in January 2007 in an effort to bring healthcare to the homeless. The clinic is staffed by DeSales students and faculty and has treated more than 900 patients since it opened. No patient is ever turned away or charged for services, and the operation is run entirely on donations. 

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