Housed within the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and tied closely with the Milken Institute School of Public Health, the Department of Physician Assistant Studies builds strong primary care and public health foundations among its students. With proximity to the United States Congress, the White House, and many major medical professional organizations, the Department provides a truly unique opportunity to witness the democratic process and to see its affect on health care delivery in this country.

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies currently offers educational programs that culminate in the Master of Science in Health Sciences (the "PA" degree) and plans to expand its current offerings of dual degrees. In July 2011, GW's Physician Assistant Program was elevated to department status — a true testament to its continued academic strength and contribution to the mission of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies offers two graduate level degree programs: the traditional two-year PA program and a joint three-year program that links PA and public health curricula.

About the PA Profession

Health care has become one of the top concerns of the United States as well as one of the world's largest and fastest-growing industries. Explosive growth in technology and research has brought greater complexity and expectations in health care delivery, resulting in soaring costs. With this complexity comes the need for skills to understand, evaluate, and manage new information. Patients' high expectations increase the demands for choice and quality in the delivery of services and technology.

Physician Assistants are highly qualified health professionals who are prepared to provide health care services with physician supervision. PAs gather and evaluate medical data and participate in the process of clinical decision making, diagnosis, and therapeutic management. In a primary care setting, PAs are often the initial contact for the patient, taking the history, performing the physical examination, and ordering appropriate tests. As a knowledgeable and skilled member of the health care team, the PA improves patients' access to health care and enhances physicians' effectiveness.

About the GW PA Program

The GW Physician Assistant Program focuses on preparing health professionals who will extend and complement the capabilities of physicians in the delivery of health care. Our faculty believes it is essential for all PA graduates to be well-rounded clinicians, prepared for a variety of medical careers.

We offer two graduate level programs: the traditional 2 year program leading to a Master of Science in Health Sciences degree (MSHS) and the 3 year joint program leading to both an MSHS and a Master of Public Health degree (MPH). Applicants to the joint PA/MPH program must meet admission requirements for both the MSHS and MPH programs.

It is important that GW PA students demonstrate the capacity to recognize the unique role of the PA and the scope of the professional responsibility inherent to the role. Every PA student should show proficiency in a common body of basic science knowledge and master the principles, knowledge, skills, and procedures of seven major medical disciplines: internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine, psychiatry, and primary care (ambulatory) medicine. Every candidate should meet basic technical standards by having the capacity to observe and communicate; sufficient motor ability to perform physical examinations, basic laboratory, diagnostic, and therapeutic procedures; emotional stability to exercise good judgment and work effectively in stressful situations; and the intellectual ability to integrate and synthesize data, solve problems, and formulate treatment plans.