Physician Assistant Program Goals

  1. Maintain PANCE pass rates higher than the national average, with the ideal being 100%.
    DeSales students have a 99.3% first time pass rate on the PANCE since program inception.

  2. Foster and maintain close connections between the students and faculty in a collaborative learning environment.
    All faculty offices are a short distance from the main lecture room and we maintain an open door policy for students.  We have dedicated time built into the first year schedule for advising and discussion.  On the second year, every student is visited by a faculty member on every clinical rotation.  Formally, every student is assigned a faculty advisor and they meet at least every semester.  All faculty serve as advisors. 

  3. Provide continuous clinical experiences throughout the program to enhance classroom teaching and foster development of excellent clinical reasoning and skills.
    In the first year, clinical experiences begin in the third week of classes.  On Friday mornings, students are sent out to clinical sites ranging from physician offices, hospitals, and operating rooms to inter-professional sites such as hospice, diabetes education, case management, and physical therapy.  The students also run a free clinic at a local homeless shelter every Tuesday and Thursday evening.  In the second year, all our core rotations are local so that the preceptors are familiar with our students and with our program.  Students return to campus at the end of each rotation for testing and discussion. 

  4. Utilize critical thinking skills and case-based learning to guide learners to develop as clinicians while maintaining focus on patient centered care.
    We have developed a clinical reasoning course which has a large group cased-based discussion section and also a small group (13 students, one faculty member) discussion component that runs the entire first year of the program.  Several of our courses use a flipped classroom format (lectures are reviewed at home before class reserving time in class for facilitated discussion). 

  5. Provide experiences with diverse and vulnerable populations to reinforce compassionate and ethical medical care, as illustrated by the Christian humanism of St. Francis DeSales.
    The students run a free clinic at a local homeless shelter. Students also have an opportunity to provide care at The Truth Home, a local therapeutic residential home for survivors of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. We have close contacts with a local street medicine service that takes students for electives. We have established international rotations in underserved clinics in Peru and Tanzania. There are also a variety of mission trips available for our students with local preceptors. Our program includes a stand-alone ethics course that includes both discussion of the major issues of the day and of issues specific to PA practice.

  6. Maintain inter-program connections and collegiality through involvement with regional and national organizations including student involvement with challenge bowl competitions.
    Our students have competed in the national challenge bowl at the annual AAPA conference since its inception and have won five times.  We also have won the state challenge bowl 12 times at the PSPA conference.  Our faculty are always represented at the PAEA annual conference.  We are co-located with undergraduate and graduate nursing programs and a PT program, and have connections with two local medical schools.  The Program works collaboratively with these programs and the major local health networks on a variety of collaborative projects to include a homeless curriculum and Ethics symposia. 

  7. Emphasize a focus on the patient in primary care medicine which spans all specialties. 
    Throughout the program we provide primary care experiences with interspersed inter-professional experiences including multiple professions (nursing, PT, medical students, case management and dentistry).  Our focus on primary care is continuous throughout the first and second year with dedicated rotations in internal medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and two family medicine rotations.  Our students are clinically competent and prepared for employment in many settings immediately after graduation.



Physician Assistant students: to receive full consideration for the next academic year, your CASPA application must be verified by CASPA no later than December 1.

Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA)

DeSales University Information Sessions

Program Information