Physician Assistant Studies

Department of Physician Assistant Studies 

Graduate Program

The Profession

Physician Assistants are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Physician Assistants are qualified by graduation from an accredited physician assistant educational program and/or by certification by the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants. Within the physician/PA relationship, Physician Assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision-making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. The clinical role of Physician Assistants includes primary and specialty care in medical and surgical practice settings in rural and urban areas. Physician Assistant practice is centered on patient care and may include educational, research and administrative roles. (Source: American Academy of Physician Assistant's Professional Practice Council)

Accreditation Status

Accreditation is a process of external peer review to assure standards of excellence and quality are met and maintained. Graduation from an accredited PA program is now a requirement to practice as a PA in the United States and to sir for the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) certifying examination. The review process is conducted by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The Missouri State University Physician Assistant Program is accredited by ARC-PA.

Career Opportunities

More than half of all clinically practicing physician assistants are employed in a primary care setting. Current and future changes in the health care delivery system continue to increase the demand for primary care practitioners, especially among medically underserved populations. Between 1996-2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 46.6 percent increase in the number of physician assistant jobs.

The Missouri State Physician Assistant program is a graduate entry-level, professional course of study designed to prepare highly competent practitioners to practice primary care medicine in the context of team-delivered care in a rapidly evolving health care arena. The program is 24 months in duration and is divided into two phases: didactic (12 months) and clinical (12 months). Enrollment is on a continuous, full-time basis only The curriculum is based on Accreditation Standards for Physician Assistant Education and incorporates the principles of scientific inquiry, self-directed study, critical analysis and problem solving.