Stanford University to Replace Associate Degree with Master Degree Option for Physician Assistants

U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Stanford University the #2 “Best Medical School” in 2017, and it continues to earn its reputation as a worldwide leader in education by consistently designing programs that directly benefit the changing needs of the medical community.

Last month, on September 15, the school excitedly announced plans to open a new master of science program for physician assistants. Set to begin in fall 2017, the graduate program will replace the school’s diminishing associate degree program that began training physician assistants as far back as 1971. Once the students currently enrolled in the associate program graduate, the degree option will cease altogether.

According to staff members employed at Sanford, the university’s decision to offer the upcoming M.S. in PA Studies degree option was the logical response to shifting dynamics within the medical field. Today, physician assistants’ must assume greater professional responsibility due to several emerging factors, including:

  • Broadening public access to healthcare
  • Growing demand for more complex medical care
  • Expansion of physician assistants’ scope of practice
  • Continual shortage of physicians nationwide

The master’s program is structured to accommodate between 25 and 30 PA students over a 30-month period, during which time students will spend five quarters focusing on foundational sciences training followed by a one-year clerkship. Those enrolled in the program can chose from four areas of concentration:

  • Health services and policy research
  • Medical education
  • Community health
  • Clinical research

Clinical clerkship opportunities will be offered in:

  • Ambulatory family medicine
  • Pediatric
  • Emergency medicine
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Psychiatry
  • Internal medicine
  • Surgery

Of course, competition to gain entrance into the program will undoubtedly be fierce. The Admissions Committee will weigh these six major factors during the student acceptance process:

  • Academic (GPA, GRE): 40%
  • Health care experience and scholarly output: 20%
  • Leadership potential: 10%
  • Interpersonal communication skills: 10%
  • Supporting materials: 10%
  • Community service: 10%
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