Lorraine Cashin, M.P.S., PA-C, Program Director
Brian C. Baker, MD, J.D., Associate Director
The Mercy College Physician Assistant Program educates students to become highly qualified physician assistants. Physician assistants are health professionals licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. Physician assistants perform a wide array of medical duties and work in a variety of medical settings, ranging from primary care to various sub-specialties. Physician assistant education also prepares graduates to practice in emergency medicine or any surgical sub-specialty. Physician assistants are able to attend to many medical emergencies, act as first or second assistants in major surgery, and provide pre and postoperative care.
The Physician Assistant Program embodies the principles of primary care medicine incorporating the biopsychosocial model of medical education. With this model, students learn to incorporate knowledge from biologic science, while integrating psychological and social factors with population/community-based medicine in order to deliver comprehensive primary health care. It utilizes broad-based medical knowledge incorporating internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics & gynecology, emergency medicine and psychiatry. Graduates of this program are educated to practice in any field of medicine they choose.
The Physician Assistant Program is a full-time program designed to prepare graduates to pass the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) examination and to practice clinical medicine at an entry-level. The program grants a dual B.S. degree in Health Sciences and a Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies. Those students who do not have a baccalaureate degree must first complete 90 credits, including all general education requirements. All students must complete 33 credits of specific prerequisite courses prior to beginning the physician assistant curriculum.
The Physician Assistant Program emphasizes research and writing skills as well as skills necessary to practice clinical medicine. As a master’s degree-awarding program, many of the required natural science courses are completed before entering the program, which enables the curriculum to focus on the advanced study of medicine and public health. It further allows for a study of the principles of community and population-based research, ending with the presentation of a capstone project based on participation in a community-based research initiative.
Expectations of the Graduate
The Physician Assistant Program is designed to provide students with the skills needed to practice at an entry-level proficiency with their clinical supervisors while observing all appropriate ethical and legal boundaries.
Upon completion of the program, graduates are expected to:
- Master entry-level proficiencies in physician assistant knowledge and practice skills with emphasis on the biopsychosocial approach to community based medicine toward individuals across the entire life span.
- Display professional behaviors, cultural competence, ethical values and a commitment to maintaining currency with professional knowledge and practice.
- Use a dynamic process of inquiry to guide evidence-based clinical decisions to competently fulfill a physician assistant’s responsibilities within a complex and changing health care environment.
- Demonstrate commitment and ability to advocate as part of an interdisciplinary team for access by a diverse population to health care education, fostering life and community integration after illness.
- Analyze the implications of current health care policy and identify various health care delivery systems.
Specifically, graduates are required to perform the following tasks with competence:
- Elicit a detailed and accurate history and perform an appropriate physical examination on any patient within any setting; distinguish acute from chronic problems and delineate health maintenance needs.
- Record findings in a uniform, concise, clear and legally competent manner.
- Determine appropriate diagnostic tools, and interpret the results of routine diagnostic evaluations, laboratory procedures, radiographic and electrocardiographic studies.
- Develop treatment plans, including written medical orders, for common medical problems.
- Perform routine medical procedures such as injections, immunizations, suturing, wound care, intravenous catheterization, cast application and incision and drainage of superficial infections.
- Perform patient rounds in inpatient care settings, record patient progress notes and pertinent case summaries, develop and implement patient management plans.
- Assist in the provision of continuity of care in clinic and office based care settings.
- Counsel and educate patients regarding prescribed therapeutic regimens, health maintenance and disease prevention, normal growth and development, family planning, lifestyle risks, lifestyle adjustments due to illness and other health concerns.
- Perform evaluations and initiate therapeutic procedures in life- threatening events.
- Maintain knowledge of referral mechanisms for medical and psychosocial concerns. Facilitate referral to community resources, social service agencies and other health care providers as appropriate.
Technical Standards of the Graduate
To be a Physician Assistant, you must possess a number of abilities and skills. Therefore, to successfully complete the Physician Assistant Program, each student must be able to:
- Acquire information from written documents and visualize info as presented in images from paper, film, slides and video.
- Comprehend X-ray, EKG, and other graphic images with or without assistive devices.
- Exercise good judgment..
- Complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients properly.
- Observe patient accurately, at a distance and close at hand, with or without standard medical instrumentation.
- Speak to, hear and observe a patient in order to elicit information.
- Communicate effectively with patients and their families in both written and oral modalities.
- Communicate effectively and efficiently in oral, written, and electronic format with members of the health care team.
- Possess motor skills necessary to perform palpation, percussion, auscultation and other diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers.
- Perform basic laboratory tests and emergency therapeutic procedures including airway management, placement of intravenous catheters, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, application of pressure to control bleeding and suturing of wounds.
- Tolerate physically taxing workloads.
Social and Behavioral
- Develop mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients.
- Describe changes in mood, activity and posture and perceive nonverbal communication in patients.
- Function effectively under stress.
- Adapt to changing environments.
- Display flexibility and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the practice of clinical medicine.
- Possess good interpersonal skills in order to be an integral member of a medical team.
Problem Solving/Critical Thinking
- Measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate, synthesize and comprehend three-dimensional relationships including spatial relationships of structures according to standard medical care.
The Mercy College Graduate Program in Physician Assistant Studies is a 90-credit, full-time, weekday program that takes 27 months to complete. The Program is divided into three terms of didactic instruction, three terms of clinical rotations and a final term for the master’s capstone project. Some evening and weekend sessions are held during the didactic terms. During clinical rotations, students will be required to take on-call shifts, including nights, weekends, and holidays as required by the clerkship objectives and by the hosting institution.
General information regarding eligibility for the Physician Assistant Program and an application form may be obtained from the Centralized Application Service for the Physician Assistant (CASPA) at www.caspaonline.org. Information may also be obtained by contacting the Physician Assistant Program Office at 914-674-7635.
Students who have earned an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 and a GPA of 3.2 in the CASPA designated sciences have met the minimum GPA requirements for the application process..
Applicants with a lower overall GPA may be considered for admission provided the GPA from their most recent degree meets the minimum GPA of 3.0 and other components of the application are strong. If admitted, the student would be a special matriculate required to achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0 after completing the first semester of the program. Special matriculates who fail to attain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the first term of the program will be dismissed.
All prerequisite courses must be successfully completed prior to entry into the Physician Assistant Program. A minimum of 500 hours of direct patient care (volunteer or work) experience in a health care setting is required for admission to the Physician Assistant Program. Additionally, 250 hours of the 500 hours must be completed in a primary care setting (e.g., outpatient internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics or OB/GYN). All applicants are required to submit the following to CASPA:
- A completed CASPA application which includes official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and evidence of a minimum of 500 hours of direct patient care (volunteer or work) experience in a health care setting, 250 of which must be completed in a primary care setting. Students who have studied at institutions of higher education in other countries must submit official translations of their transcripts to CASPA as part of the admissions submission. Please check the CASPA website for a list of vendors that evaluate transcripts from foreign and French-Canadian schools.
At least three letters of reference (one or more from a registered physician assistant, physician or a medically-related work supervisor) shall be submitted. The recommendations should give evidence of academic and professional qualifications for graduate study. Recommendations should be dated within six months from the date of the application. Applicants who do not have a baccalaureate degree must have completed 90 credits, including all general education requirements and JRSM 301 Junior Seminar. Please note that no more than 75 credits can be from a two-year college. At least three of the following prerequisite courses (human physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, advanced human biology course) MUST be completed at a four-year institution. See the Curriculum section below for the complete list of prerequisite courses.
Human physiology, microbiology, biochemistry and the advanced human biology course must be completed within five years of beginning the program. Students who have completed these courses more than five years prior to the beginning of the program must repeat the course(s).
All applications will be reviewed and ranked according to the overall GPA and the GPA of the CASPA-designated science courses. Selected qualified applicants will be invited for a personal interview with representatives of the Physician Assistant Program. Decisions will be based on each applicant’s academic achievement, health care experience, interview, essay and letters of recommendation.
Students with foreign credentials and whose first language is not English are required to complete six credits of college-level English composition to satisfy the multiple degree program requirements, or successfully pass the English CLEP or TOEFL exam.
All candidates for the Physician Assistant Program must file an application with CASPA at www.caspaonline.org. and a supplemental Mercy College application. Completed applications must be submitted by November 1 and verified by December 1. The program begins in late May.
Selected applicants will be invited to interview with representatives of the Physician Assistant Program. Offers of admission are extended only for the academic year stated. Students accepted into the program will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of $800.00 at the time of acceptance, which will be applied to the summer tuition payment.
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Mercy College Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Mercy College. 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 June 2027. 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.
Upon acceptance into the Physician Assistant Program, each student will be assigned a faculty member who will serve as his or her advisor. The advisor will offer counsel on issues related to requirements for program completion, the development of long-term plans of study and future professional direction, and academic standing in the program.
The Physician Assistant Program is a full-time weekday program that takes 27 months to complete. It is possible that some evening and weekend sessions will be held during the first three terms. The program is divided into three terms of didactic instruction, three terms of clinical rotations and a final term for the master’s Capstone project. The didactic phase of the program will be taught during the day, Monday through Friday. For the clinical or second year, students will be required to take on-call shifts, including nights, weekends, and holidays as required by the clerkship objectives and by the hosting institution.
Students move through the curriculum as a cohort. There is no opportunity for part-time study. Transfer credit for courses previously completed will not be accepted. Each term contains a full course load, so working full-time or part-time is not advised. A comprehensive financial aid program is available through the Mercy College financial aid office.
Attendance and punctuality in all classes and clinical education assignments is required, unless the student is excused for extenuating and extraordinary life circumstances. If absence is due to illness, a note signed by a licensed medical practitioner must be submitted. A maximum of three undocumented absences from class may result in failure in the course and may jeopardize the student’s standing in the program. Course instructors or clinical instructors must be notified in advance regarding absences. If a student misses a test or exam without previously contacting the instructor, the situation will be reviewed by the faculty and may result in a grade of F for that test or exam. Absence from a clinical assignment is subject to the rules and regulations of the institution and the PA Program Clinical Year Handbook distributed to students prior to beginning the clinical year. In addition, individual course instructors may have attendance policies specific to their courses. These will be provided at the beginning of the course.
In order to participate in clinical education a criminal background check is required. The majority of clinical sites now require students to pass a background check prior to starting their affiliation. It is the student’s responsibility to perform this and supply the necessary documentation to the clinical facility well in advance of the start date of their affiliation. Policies regarding criminal background checks vary from facility to facility. Some facilities require students to have the background check performed on site or by a specific company. Some facilities require fingerprinting and/or drug screening in addition to a background check. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the Clinical Coordinator to find out the specific procedure at that facility and to have it completed and submitted within the specific time frame for the facility. If a facility has no preference, the Clinical Coordinator will provide the student with an acceptable company. Cost of the background check is the student’s responsibility. A student may be required to have more than one background check performed during the course of the program.
Failure of 2 or more components in any Fundamentals of Clinical Medicine course, may result in being placed on academic probation. Students placed on academic probation for this reason, will be required to meet with their advisors and course instructor regularly, to develop a remediation plan and will be required to show substantial progress to be removed from probation.
Any student whose cumulative program or term GPA falls below 3.0 (without rounding) after any given semester will be placed on academic probation. In all subsequent terms in which the student is on academic probation the student is required to achieve a term GPA of 3.0 or better. If a term GPA of 3.0 or higher is not achieved the student will be dismissed from the program. If the student is not able to achieve a cumulative program GPA of 3.0 by the end of the semester in which the student is on probation, the student will be dismissed from the program. A student must have a cumulative program GPA of 3.0 or higher by the end of the didactic year to be able to register for Clinical Clerkship courses. A student must have a cumulative program GPA of 3.0 or higher by the end of the clinical year to be able to register for the research semester courses. If a student receives a grade of F or FW in any course the student will be subject to dismissal from the program. Once a student is dismissed from the Program he or she may not re-apply to the PA Program.
For all students on probation, future registrations must be reviewed and approved by the director of the student’s program as well as the graduate dean.
Program Dismissal Review
In cases in which a student has been dismissed from the Physician Assistant Program, the student may request a dismissal review when he/she believes that extenuating circumstances affected his/her academic performance in the program. The student must follow the SHNS Program Dismissal Review Policy detailed at the beginning of the School of Health and Natural Sciences section.
The Physician Assistant Program maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding cheating and plagiarism. The Physician Assistant Program follows the College’s Academic Integrity Policy (located in the Academic Regulation and Procedures section in the Graduate Catalog). This policy covers cheating, plagiarism, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents.
Maintenance of Matriculation
It is expected that students will fulfill the requirements for their graduate degree by registering over successive sessions. For cohort programs, registration is required during summer session(s). For non-cohort programs, summer registration is not required. Registration is accomplished by either enrolling in classes or maintaining matriculation. The Maintenance of Matriculation fee is $100 per session when student does not enroll in classes and is processed as a registration. The course number in all programs is 899. Students must be approved for registration of 899.
Students who have not maintained matriculation and wish to return to their program within one year after their last course will be charged the Maintenance of Matriculation fee of $100 for each missed session. Maintenance of matriculation without attending classes is limited to one year. Activated U.S. Military Reservists are not required to pay the Maintenance of Matriculation fee.
It is expected that Capstone students shall make satisfactory progress with their program’s culminating activity. After the student registers for all sections of his/her Capstone requirement, he/she will be given one subsequent term to complete his/her work. The Maintaining Matriculation registration must be completed for this subsequent term if no other courses are taken. After this period, a Capstone Continuation fee (equal to the cost of one graduate credit) will be charged for each additional term required to complete the project. The course number in all programs is 890. Students can only register for Capstone Continuation for two terms.
A student’s degree will not be released until all Maintenance of Matriculation and Capstone Continuation registration and fees are recorded appropriately on a student’s record.
Maintenance of Good Academic Standing
A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all courses applicable to the degree is required for both good academic standing and degree conferral. A student admitted as a Special Matriculant is required to achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 after completion of six credits. Please note, certain graduate programs may have more stringent program policies. Please check the specific program regulations. Grades are subject to review by the faculty advisor and program director at the end of each term. If the academic average falls below 3.0, the student will be placed on academic probation. Students must achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 to progress through phases of the program (i.e., didactic to clinical to capstone).
Complaints That Fall Outside the Realm of Due Process
The Physician Assistant Program is committed to meeting its mission as it relates to serving our students, potential students, staff, faculty, adjunct faculty, clinical faculty and the public consumer of physician assistant services. To that end, we are committed to ensuring that exceptional complaints for which there is no established College, School or program policy or procedure are considered and resolved in a timely, fair, consistent and equitable manner.
Procedure: Complaint to the Program: Complaints should be addressed to the Program Director through the online form located here .
If the program director is the subject of the complaint, the complaint should be addressed to the Dean, School of Health and Natural Science.
Each candidate for a degree or certificate must have completed all coursework and program requirements. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all courses applicable to the degree is required for both good academic standing and degree conferral. The words “With Distinction” will appear on the diploma and transcript of any student who completes their degree with a GPA of at least 3.75. Once the degree is conferred, the academic record is finalized and cannot be changed.