Last Updated on September 9, 2022 by Ngefechukwu Maduka
Of course all PA programs have that a lot in common, don’t they? And if you’ve been interviewing at PA programs, I’m sure you’ve noticed some similarities. But what exactly is it that makes each program unique, and how might you make the best decision for yourself? And what do current Augsburg University PA students think of their program–is it everything they expected or different in ways they hadn’t thought of?
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Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies
The Augsburg PA Program was established in 1995 and was the first accredited PA program in Minnesota. Augsburg’s PA Program is a full-time program that provides a broad, case-based, primary care curriculum with an emphasis on diverse and underserved populations throughout the curriculum. Our core mission is to train highly capable PAs who will serve the community with uncompromising commitment and compassion.
Students are trained using an active-learning model which incorporates case-based small group discussions, in-lecture clinical vignettes, and hands-on skill-based workshops. In the Clinical Seminar Course, PA students are assigned reading material beforehand and then work with clinicians to synthesize, apply and justify the use of that medical knowledge in small group settings.
PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT NATIONAL CERTIFYING EXAMINATION
PANCE Exam Performance Summary
The average 5-year (2016-2020) PANCE pass rate for Augsburg PA graduates is 99%.
Augsburg PAs have a proven track record of success and graduates of our PA program consistently pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) at a rate that is higher than the national average.
From the 2019 graduating cohort, the majority of our new PA graduates were employed within six months of graduation. In addition, Augsburg PAs continue to be innovative in identifying and creating new areas for PAs to practice medicine. They report employment in primary care, women’s health, emergency medicine, urgent care, psychiatry, surgical specialties, and internal medicine sub-specialties.
The mission of the Augsburg PA Program is based on a foundation of respect and sensitivity to persons of all cultures and backgrounds and oriented towards providing medical care to underserved populations. Students are well educated in current medical theory and practice, and graduates are encouraged to work in primary care settings. The program promotes dedication to excellence in performance, with the highest standards of ethics and integrity, and commitment to lifelong personal and professional development.
GOALS AND OUTCOMES
The Augsburg PA Program will:
- Enroll an intentionally diverse mix of PA students:
- Benchmark: matriculate at least 24.8% of underrepresented minority (URM) students within the program annually. This is consistent with the national average, defined and reported by the PAEA.¹
- Outcome: for the past three years, the Augsburg PA Program has matriculated an average of 30% underrepresented minority students.²
- Educate Physician Assistant students to achieve the foundational knowledge required to enter into PA professional practice:
- Benchmark: achieve a first-time PANCE pass rate that is above the national average
- Outcome: the program has a first-time pass rate of 97% – 100% (average of 99%) for the past 5 years; the national average first-time pass rate in 2020 is 95%.³
- Graduate Physician Assistant students with a demonstrated commitment to primary care (family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatrics, women’s health):
- Benchmark: alumni will work in a primary care field of medicine at a rate above the national average (25%) of PA’s working in primary care as documented by NCCPA.⁴
- Outcome: the program alumni survey through 2019 ⁵ indicate that 50% of the respondents* work/have worked in primary care at some time in their career.
- Graduate Physician Assistant students committed to providing medical care to underserved and diverse populations:
- Benchmark: 30% of alumni will provide care to underserved and diverse populations
- Outcome: the program alumni survey collected up through 2019 indicates that 30% of the respondents* report working with underserved and diverse populations. ⁵
- Physician Assistant Education Association, By the Numbers: Student Report 4: Data from the 2019 Matriculating Student and End of Program Surveys, Washington, DC: PAEA; 2020. doi: 10.17538/SR2020.0004
- Augsburg PA CASPA matriculant data from 2017-2020.
- Augsburg PA Program data from the NCCPA Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination Five Year First Time Taker Summary Report, last updated in February 2021.
- National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, Inc. (2020, July). 2019 Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants by Specialty: An Annual Report of the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Retrieved Date, from www.nccpa.net/research
- Data obtained from Augsburg PA alumni surveys from 1997-2019 cohorts, last updated on August 2019 with a 25% response rate*.
LEARNING OUTCOMES AND COMPETENCIES
Competence of the Augsburg PA Learning Outcomes for each student is assessed across the program curriculum and confirmed through summative evaluation (End of Curriculum Exam and OSCE) prior to graduation. These are the program required competencies for entry level practice, consistent with the competencies as defined by the PA profession.
- Medical Knowledge:
Demonstrate core knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care. In addition, students are expected to demonstrate an investigative and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations.
- Interpersonal and Communication Skills:
Demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, patients’ families, physicians, professional associates, and other individuals within the healthcare system.
- Clinical and Technical Skills:
Demonstrate patient care and education that is effective, safe, high quality, equitable and focuses on disease prevention.
- Professional Behaviors:
Physician assistants must demonstrate a high level of responsibility, ethical practice, sensitivity to a diverse patient population, and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements.
- Clinical Reasoning and Problem Solving Abilities:
Demonstrate the ability to compile, appraise and integrate evidence based medicine outcomes and apply to diagnostic studies, clinical interventions and therapeutic effectiveness.
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Augsburg University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Augsburg 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 2029 June. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.
The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at https://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-augsburg-university/
Chair and Program Director (Dr. Alicia Quella, phone #612-330-1325 and/or email [email protected])
ATTRITION AND GRADUATION RATE STATISTICS
|ARC-PA Student Attrition TEMPLATE|
|Class of 2018||Class of 2019||Class of 2020|
|Maximum entering class size|
(as approved by ARC-PA)
|Entering class size||30||30||33|
*Attrition rate calculation: Number of students who attritted from cohort divided by the entering class size.
**Graduation rate: Number of cohort graduates divided by the entering class size.
pA schools prerequisites
The Augsburg PA Program has several requirements to be considered for admission. There are additional recommendations that are encouraged by faculty to be a well-prepared PA student.
The following eligibility requirements must be met:
- A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
- Your cumulative and science GPA must be 3.0 or higher in order to be eligible. GPAs are calculated by CASPA and set at the time of your application submission. The Augsburg PA Program does not recalculate GPAs as additional course work is completed post-CASPA submission.
- Completion of 6 prerequisite courses (we strongly recommend a ‘B’ or better in prerequisite courses to be successful in the PA coursework).
By the start of the program, you need to have a bachelor’s degree. We do not have a preference for your undergraduate major. In fact, we encourage all potential applicants to major in the area that interests them. As one may expect, a high number of our applicants have science or health science related majors, but we have matriculants with liberal arts majors as well.
Augsburg University PA Program does not require the PA- CAT, GRE or MCAT.
augsburg university pA program prerequisites
The prerequisites courses must be completed at a regionally accredited two-year or four-year college or university; online courses from accredited institutions are also accepted. At the time of application, these courses need to be completed within the past 10 years of the year you intend to start the program. For example, if you intend to start the program in spring 2020, then your prerequisites will need to be completed in 2010 or after. All science prerequisites (physiology, microbiology, and biochemistry) must be taken at the science major level. Courses completed on a quarter system are converted to semester hours (1.0 quarter hour is equivalent to 0.667 semester hours). Refer to CASPA for credit conversion. Responsibility for approval of course work to satisfy prerequisite requirements lies solely with the Augsburg PA Program. Download the transcript summary worksheet to track your prerequisites.
|Name of Prerequisite||Course Notes/Description|
|Physiology(human/vertebrate/organ)(3-4 credits)||A study of digestion, respiration, circulation, excretion, movement, and sensory perception as well as neural and hormonal control of these functions, emphasizing vertebrates.This course must be taken at the science major level.NOTE: A full course of Physiology must be taken. If it is a combined course, i.e. Anatomy/Physiology I, then both Anatomy/Physiology I and II must be completed.|
|Microbiology*(3-4 credits)||A general study of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi) that cause human disease course will fulfill this requirement.This course must be taken at the science major level.|
|Biochemistry*(3-4 credits)||A general biochemistry course will fulfill this requirement.The course addresses the chemical structure and function of the major biological macromolecules. Key topic areas are protein structure and function, enzyme mechanisms, thermodynamics, intermediary metabolism, and metabolic regulation.This course must be taken at the science major level.NOTE: a survey or combined course in organic/ biochemistry will NOT satisfy this requirement.|
|Psychology (3-4 credits)||A general, developmental/lifespan or abnormal psychology course will fulfill this requirement.|
|Statistics (3-4 credits)||A general statistics, biostatistics or research methods course will fulfill this requirement.|
|Medical terminology(1-3 credits)||This requirement can be fulfilled by taking a college credit course or by completing a course through an accredited school or health care agency (must be associated with college credit).|
* Labs are strongly recommended but not required. This course must be taken at the upper level (see below).
** The Augsburg PA Program does NOT accept advanced placement (AP credit) in place of required prerequisite courses. We also do not accept AP credit or transfer courses for any of the curricular components required in the program.
In general, courses are considered upper level at the 200-400 level, otherwise verify with each institution. Additional course work such as anatomy, biomedical ethics, cell biology, immunology, genetics, health policy, sociology, and research methods will help better prepare applicants for the rigorous course load experienced during the program.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
The Augsburg PA Program requires three (3) letters of recommendation submitted through the CASPA process. We strongly recommend that one be from an employer/colleague (a professional reference), one letter be from a professor or adviser (an academic reference), and the third from a person of your choice. Be sure that your letter writers are able to tell the committee about you as well as his/her experiences with you and observations about you. You should not have a family member or personal acquaintance write any of your letters of recommendation. Note that we strongly recommend that your letters be submitted to CASPA as confidential.
The following are several suggestions that we strongly encourage, but are not required for admission.
COMMITMENT TO THE UNDERSERVED
In keeping with the Augsburg University mission to nurture future leaders in service to the world, the PA program looks for consistent service to disadvantaged and underrepresented populations. Applicants should have a strong record of commitment to the community, some examples include work with homeless, disabled, youth, elderly and diverse individuals. Other examples include religious or civic group missions, rural medicine programs, and other organizations with similar goals. Your service work can be paid or volunteer.
DIRECT PATIENT CARE
We recommend 2,000 hours of paid, direct, hands-on clinical patient care. Direct patient care includes roles in which you are responsible for measuring vital signs, administering medication, charting, drawing blood, tending to personal cares, dressing wounds, etc. We value situations where you have been actively responsible for the care of an individual/patient.
Some examples of competitive patient care experience include: athletic trainer, nurse, certified nursing assistant, clinical researcher, community health worker/health educator, dental hygienist, EMT, laboratory/medical technician, medical assistant, medical interpreter, mental health worker, military medic, paramedic, patient care assistant, pharmacy technician, phlebotomist, respiratory therapist, radiology technician, scribe.
MOTIVATION FOR PA PROFESSION
While not required, we encourage you to learn more about the profession by formally shadowing a PA for a day. If you are unable to secure a true shadowing experience, meeting with a PA to learn more about their experience as a PA is also beneficial.