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About the Program

To be a graduate of DeSales' Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies is to be dedicated to the total well-being of the patient and cognizant of the Christian humanistic traditions of DeSales University.

Regardless of patient diversity or delivery setting, we strive to ensure that you will deliver competent and compassionate including preventative services and wellness education to various patient populations across many different environments. We teach you to consider the patient holistically in the context of family, community, and and incorporate ethical principles into a patient-focused practice. Our hope is that all DeSales MSPAS graduates will serve their patients by using evidence-based medicine and promoting life-long learning in the profession.

Upon completing the program, you will be able to:

  • Perform with competency and proficiency functions and tasks involved in evaluation, monitoring, diagnostic, therapeutic, counseling, and referral in diverse practice settings.
  • Conduct yourself in a professional demeanor expressing sensibility and understanding of the nature and impact of and physical disease.
  • Demonstrate behaviors that are essential to acquiring and sustaining the confidence of colleagues, other professionals, patients, and the community.
  • Initiate management and provide supportive care for acute life-threatening emergencies.

Goals of the MSPAS program:

Maintain PANCE pass rates higher than the national average, with the ideal being 100 percent.

DeSales students have an average 99.3 percent first-time pass rate on the PANCE since program inception.

Foster and maintain close connections between the students and faculty in a collaborative learning environment.

Faculty mentorship is a key component to your success. We maintain an open door policy for students; all faculty offices are a short distance from the main lecture room. We have dedicated time built into the first year schedule for advising and discussion. In the second year, every student is visited by a faculty member every clinical rotation. Formally, every student is assigned a faculty advisor and they meet at least every semester. All faculty as advisors.

Provide continuous clinical experiences throughout the program to enhance classroom teaching and foster development of excellent clinical reasoning and skills.

Experiential learning in the field is another critical component to your success. 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.

Utilize critical thinking skills and case-based learning to guide learners to develop as clinicians while maintaining focus on patient-centered care.

Developing and applying your thinking and reasoning abilities within patient care is a life-long process; however, it begins in earnest during your MSPAS education. We have developed a clinical reasoning course which has a large group case-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).

Provide experiences with diverse and vulnerable populations to reinforce compassionate and ethical medical care, as illustrated by the Christian humanism of St. Francis DeSales.

There are several opportunities to put the theory you gain into practice while benefiting those in great need of care. 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 of the major issues of the day and of issues specific to PA practice.

Maintain inter-program connections and collegiality through involvement with regional and national organizations including student involvement with challenge bowl competitions.

We offer you many opportunities to enhance your collaborations and grow your professional network. 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 always represented at the PAEA annual conference. We are integrated at our facility with undergraduate and graduate nursing programs and a PT 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 projects in partnership to include a homeless curriculum and ethics symposia.

Bond and grow professionally at DeSales through our Physician Assistant Student Society.

Our Physician Assistant Student Society is part of the Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (SAAAPA). The student society is self-governed and comprises officers who are elected by the class. There are many other unique opportunities for students within the Society such as community outreach chair, diversity chair, class mentor, historian, and social chair.

As a benefit of joining the Society, students also receive membership to the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants. Our student Society brings the class together as a family — they host various social events, participate in community outreach service projects, and fundraise for local charities.

The Society also provides mentorship to the undergraduate medical studies majors through a club called PUPS, or PA Undergraduate Pack (and a play on our school mascot, the French bulldog). The graduates mentor the undergrads by hosting clinical pearl labs, which gives undergrads exposure to physical exam skills early and thus helps to cement their desire to enter the medical profession as physician assistants.

Emphasize a focus on the patient in primary care medicine which spans all specialties.

Throughout the 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.

Contact Us

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS)
Gambet Center