Physician Assistant M.S. Curriculum
Cohorts begin each June | Program length 27 months | Credits 116 | Format In-person, full time
Case-based learning and top technology. The NWC PA Program has been carefully designed for students to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge for clinical practice. The medical courses are delivered in a systems and case-based approach so that students can integrate learning from clinical medicine, pharmacology, pathophysiology, anatomy, and procedural skills and apply this to patient care scenarios and simulations.
Students learn through innovative and advanced educational experiences in conjunction with traditional cadaver lab teaching. The state-of-the-art Sectra virtual cadaver tables (made by ToLTech), provide students with three-dimensional human anatomy images in an interactive touch screen. Students and instructors can perform virtual dissections of the images, isolate specific components of the anatomy, and complete lab activities and assessments. The virtual interface enables students to toggle between detailed anatomical drawings, captioned illustrations, and actual radiologic images (CT and MRI), promoting knowledge integration and assessment.
Program course rotation
|PAS 632||PA Profession I: History and Healthcare Delivery Systems||4|
|HCP 511||Human Physiology||3|
|PAS 601||Patient Care Skills I||3|
|PAS 611||Biomedical Science||3|
|PAS 612||Clinical Medicine I||6|
|PAS 602||Patient Care Skills II||3|
|PAS 622||Clinical Reasoning I||2|
|HCP 602||Pharmacology I||2|
|HCP 612||Medical Pathophysiology I||2|
|HCP 510||Research Methods||3|
|PAS 505||Gross Anatomy for Healthcare Providers I||3|
|PAS 613||Clinical Medicine II||6|
|PAS 603||Patient Care Skills III||3|
|PAS 623||Clinical Reasoning II||2|
|HCP 603||Pharmacology II||2|
|HCP 613||Medical Pathophysiology II||2|
|PAS 6XX||Evidence-Based Practice and Preventative Care II||1|
|PAS 633||PA Profession II: Ethics and Culture||3|
|PAS 506||Gross Anatomy for Healthcare Providers II||3|
|PAS 614||Clinical Medicine III||6|
|PAS 604||Patient Care Skills IV||3|
|PAS 624||Clinical Reasoning III||2|
|HCP 604||Pharmacology III||2|
|HCP 614||Medical Pathophysiology III||2|
|PAS 634||Introduction to Clinical Practice||1|
|PAS 703||Clinical Rotation Block I||15|
|PAS 635||PA Profession III: Practice Issues and Integration||1|
|PAS 704||Clinical Rotation Block II||15|
|PAS 705||Clinical Rotation Block III||12|
|PAS 701||PA Capstone: Certification, Licensure, and Summative||1|
Program total: 116 credits
*Each student will have an individualized schedule for clinical rotations. Every student must complete the core rotations (Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine, Women’s Health, and Pediatrics) as well as 8 weeks total of any combination of elective rotations. Students may complete clinical rotations at any institution with an established affiliation agreement with Northwestern College. All students should expect to complete a minimum of 30% of their rotations outside of Northwest Iowa. This requirement provides students with a variety of practice settings to ensure that each student receives a well-rounded education.
Advanced resources and PANCE-specific preparation
Students will learn in state-of-the-art facilities and have access to valuable online medical resources, including two of the most frequently used resources in clinical practice: UpToDate and Access Medicine. Students will learn to integrate their use in a case-based practice setting from the first day. The program has also purchased access to an extensive PANCE question bank, allowing students to practice their testing skills and prepare appropriately for the certification exam.
The NWC PA Program has defined competencies that all graduates must demonstrate prior to graduation. The curriculum is designed to prepare students in each of these competencies so that each graduate is ready for clinical practice.
- Demonstrate acquisition of essential medical knowledge to provide individualized care for patients across the lifespan in a variety of clinical settings
- Integrate biomedical science knowledge with patient case scenarios to optimize patient outcomes
- Gather patient information appropriately through an organized and complete history and physical exam
- Perform clinical and technical skills, including procedures required by the program, safely and effectively
- Document and deliver oral presentation of patient interactions correctly and in accordance with legal requirements for a variety of clinical settings
- Accurately interpret lab and imaging tests, and appropriately apply the results to the patient’s situation
- Integrate clinical findings to develop differential diagnoses with appropriate assessments for patients across the lifespan
- Synthesize clinical findings to develop individualized preventative care and treatment plans for patients across the lifespan
- Critically analyze medical literature and apply findings to specific research questions and patient care scenarios to demonstrate evidence-based decision making
- Conduct patient communication, education, and counseling in an effective, empathetic, and culturally humble manner for patient-centered care across the lifespan
- Communicate and collaborate with other medical professionals to provide quality, patient-centered care
- Formulate a personal approach to medical care, considering how their worldview interacts with the worldviews and individual needs of patients and their families, with cultural humility
- Demonstrate understanding of the physician assistant profession, including ethical, legal, financial, and regulatory guidelines for practicing within the larger healthcare system
- Conduct self-assessment demonstrating an understanding of their own limitations and biases, leading to appropriate professional development and help-seeking behavior
- Demonstrate understanding of population health, including the role of social determinants of health, patient advocacy, and resource identification, including unique characteristics of rural health care
Student employment policy
The physician assistant curriculum is very demanding and is designed for full-time students. Various lectures and labs will be scheduled outside of normal business hours, and students will be expected to flexibly adjust their schedules to be available during these times. We encourage students to avoid any routine work schedules so they can commit themselves to this demanding, full-time course of study.
Advanced placement policy
The Northwestern PA Program does not grant advanced placement to any applicants. All students in the program must complete all curricular requirements through Northwestern College. Courses that are required as prerequisites to enrollment in the PA program cannot be substituted for any content within the program.
The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Northwestern College Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Northwestern College.
Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students. Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.