Catalog 2018-2019

Physician Assistant Studies Program


Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) Program

Program Philosophy

The Master of Physician Assistant Studies program at the MGH Institute of Health Professions immerses students in the study of medicine through an integrated curriculum that prepares graduates to deliver high-quality healthcare. The program is based on a philosophy that values professionalism, respect for all individuals, and the provision of excellent team-based, patient-centered care. We believe that physician assistants serve an important role in meeting the healthcare needs of patients and society, working with medical professionals in a variety of settings as clinicians, educators, administrators, scholars, advocates and consultants. Professional education should be a dynamic process, preparing graduates to be competent, broadly-skilled, reflective practitioners in primary care and other healthcare settings. As medicine continues to evolve at an increasingly rapid pace, it is imperative that our students develop the ability to identify what they don’t know and need to know, to find reliable, evidence-based answers, and to apply these skills to competent and compassionate patient care. Through a curriculum designed to meet the needs of the adult learner in both the didactic and clinical phases of the program, we will foster intellectual challenge and inquiry in an atmosphere of academic and clinical scholarship within which students and faculty share responsibility for lifelong learning.

Program Overview

Consistent with our philosophy, the 25-month curriculum is designed with the adult-learner in mind.  Our sequencing and team-based learning (TBL) approach provides context and reinforces application in order to improve critical thinking and retention.  The independent-study aspects of TBL require students to take responsibility for their learning and the team activities enhance interpersonal skills and reinforce the value of team-based practice. In order to provide a framework for this style of teaching and learning, the first year of the PA curriculum is structured in a system-based sequence that allows students to apply the basic sciences as they develop their medical knowledge, and to connect history and physical examination skills directly to the recognition of patterns of disease and illness.

The clerkship year includes nine 5-week clerkships that will incorporate the seven core disciplines and two elective clerkships. Four on-campus seminars are scheduled across year two when students return to campus for debriefing clinical experiences, practice of hands-on skills in preparation for future clerkships, and formative and summative testing.  Students will also use these on-campus sessions to work with their faculty advisors on their capstone project, a case-based poster presentation that is delivered during the final seminar at the end of the program.

Progression in the program

In addition to passing all courses with a C+ or better and maintaining an overall GPA of 3.0, students must achieve the following in order to progress in the Program:

  • Demonstrate consistent professional conduct (see Professionalism in Program Manual).
  • A passing grade on the pre-clinical cumulative written and practical examination administered at the end of the didactic portion of the Program
  • A passing grade on the Summative Evaluation (written and practical evaluation) administered in the spring semester prior to graduation.

Assessments will be based on the Graduate Competencies. The expected level of competency will be assessed using the developmental models as outlined in the Program Manual.