MS in Physician Assistant Studies - Center City


College of Health Professions


Master of Science


Center City


On Campus


27 Months

Enrollment Options

Full Time

Mission & Goals


The mission of the Jefferson Physician Assistant Program (Center City) is to educate and graduate kind, competent and diverse primary care clinicians that are dedicated to lifelong learning and service.


The Jefferson Physician Assistant Program (Center City) was intentional in the use of the word “strong” when creating this goal. Strong may be defined in many ways but in this context, the program does not mean having physical power.  Strong was intended to encompass both of the latter aspects of this goal, clinical competence and medical knowledge, but furthermore professionalism, ethics, and fortitude. The goal is not just to create competent and knowledgeable clinicians but strong medical providers. While this is not measurable, at multiple points within the curriculum students are educated and challenged to self-assess these aspects of themselves.  All students must successfully complete our Legal and Ethical Aspects of Medicine course in their first semester. This course contains lectures and case discussions related to medical ethics, lecture content on the “AAPA Guidelines for Ethical Conduct for the PA Profession” and a dedicated professionalism lecture.  Our clinical students participate in two professionalism lectures/sessions prior to and during their clinical phase of the program.  In addition, each student is evaluated by their clinical preceptor on professional behavior, interpersonal interaction, integrity, reliability and compassion as well as clinical skills.  Fortitude is defined as courage and ability in the face of adversity.  During their first year in the program our students have a dedicated session provided by our academic support services on coping strategies, wellness and tolerating academic adversity.  Concurrently, the faculty support our students through the rigor of the program, which by its nature rewards persistence and determination as the students meet each milestone and grow into strong providers.

Competence is assessed throughout the program but also specifically though standardized patient experiences and clinical skills evaluation and documentation.  All students are required to complete multiple standardized patient experiences with different competencies assessed such as history taking, physical exam skills, patient education and communication and the delivery of bad news.  In addition to standardized patient experiences, the student must also document competence of clinical skills during their clinical phase.   All students have required skills which they must document performance of and which are acknowledged by a clinical preceptor.  In the didactic phase, students perform simulated procedures and skills, such as suturing and splinting.  These skills then must again be performed and confirmed by the preceptor during the clinical phase to ensure competency. 

Our success in producing knowledgeable entry-level medical providers is evidenced by our 99% NCCPA PANCE pass rate for all first-time test takers who have graduated from our program.  Knowledge also encompasses both medical knowledge but also critical thinking.  This is assessed throughout the program through interval assessments.  100% of our student must successfully pass all standardized patient experiences, the didactic comprehensive exam and the summative curriculum assessments to ensure they are knowledgeable to sit for the NCCPA PANCE and subsequently to practice medicine.

This goal is achieved through many aspects of the curriculum but specifically at Thomas Jefferson University, our students are required to participate in the Jefferson Health Mentors Program.  Within this program, our students are placed in groups with students from every college in the university including medicine, nursing, rehabilitation, pharmacy and life sciences. These groups are expected to become collaborative, interprofessional health care teams. Within these teams they meet with their “Health Mentors” who are volunteers from the community living with one or more chronic health conditions or impairments.  The health mentors, along with faculty facilitators and mentors, educate the students on the course of their clinical care, including the social aspects of their health care.  The Goals of the Health Mentors Program are to teach person-centered care, effective team practice, and to value and understand the different roles of an interprofessional team.  100% of our students participate in this program which runs over multiple semesters.

Diversity can be defined by many personal attributes including but not limited to race, culture, religion, economics, and gender.  The PAEA (PA Education Association) Program Report published first-year class demographics in its most recent version based on statistics from a national program survey in 2019.  The report did not define diversity but rather separated the student demographics by gender, ethnicity, and race.  The PAEA report sub-classified race into American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Multiracial, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, White, Other or Unknown.  The report sub-classified ethnicity as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish in origin; Not Hispanic, Latino or Spanish in origin; or Unknown ethnicity.  Reviewing the three most recent matriculated cohorts (2023-2025), the Jefferson Physician Assistant Program (Center City) did not have any students self-report as Other or Multiracial.  However, comparatively the recent 3 program cohorts matriculated (2023-2025), have 22.0% nonwhite students as compared to the 21.2% nationally reported by PAEA.  Of our matriculated class of 2025, 8% were self-reported Hispanic, Latino or Spanish in origin compared to the 7.6% in the PAEA report; over the 3-year span our percentage was 4.6%.  PAEA reported 3.9% of first-year students were Black or African American and our percentage over the 3-year span was comparative at 3.3%.  The percentage of Jefferson PA students self-reported Asian was consistently above the average over the previous 3 cohorts compared to PAEA statistics.  These numbers are imperfect as a small percentage of our students did not self-report and in the PAEA report, 8.7% and 9.4% of students were reported unknown ethnicity and unknown race, respectively.  However, it demonstrates that we compare favorably to these national reported averages but also must continue to work to accomplish this goal.

While the Jefferson Physician Assistant Program (Center City) is not prescriptive in its ideal of service for our students, we do encourage our students to be involved in service. We want students to value the ideal of service while participating at a level where they feel comfortable.

The Class of 2024 serves the program and its peers as >50% of students have a role as either a class officer, course liaison or subcommittee member.  The Class of 2024 also participated in the PA Olympics in April 2023 with other local PA programs to raise money for The Block Gives Back. The Block Gives Back targets issues within local communities in Philadelphia by recruiting volunteers, businesses, organizations and community leaders to work toward a solution. Furthermore, the Class of 2024 participated in service alongside faculty at MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance) and at Cradles to Crayons.  MANNA provides medically tailored meals and nutrition education to improve health for those with serious illnesses.  Cradles to Crayons provides clothing and essential items to children living in homeless or low-income situations.

The Class of 2023 participated in the PA Olympics in April 2022 with students from other local programs to raise money for METAvivor.  METAvivor is a non-profit organization which seeks to increase awareness and promote and fund research for stage 4 breast cancer.

In addition to class-specific service projects, every class in the history of the Jefferson Physician Assistant Program (Center City) has participated in the PA Olympics which has benefitted a different charity each year.  These charities include in recent years the IM ABLE Foundation, the For Pete's Sake Cancer Respite Foundation and the Krueger Hat Trick Foundation.  The PA Olympics is the largest PA student-run philanthropy in the country.

Lifelong learning is fostered in class daily but more specifically by instructing our students in research and the implementation of evidence-based medicine. This is structured throughout the curriculum, building a foundation of experience from one semester to the next.  In their first semester in the program, our students are enrolled in the Evidence Based Medicine and Population Health course.  Within this course they are instructed on methods, design, evaluation and critical assessment of research and the application of these principles to scholarship, population health and the individual patient visit. During the subsequent Clinical Medicine I-IV courses, the didactic phase students are asked to consider topics of interest, and conduct and analyze research on a topic that pertains to their current learning.  During the Graduate Project I-II courses, which occur in the clinical phase, the students similarly create and present a literature review which analyzes multiples studies to answer a clinical question of interest.  In addition to the Clinical Medicine I-IV courses, the students have small seminars where they dissect cases while identifying learning issues and more clinical questions which they collaboratively solve.  Critical thought, learning and curiosity are truly stimulated throughout but particularly in these aspects of the curriculum.

From 2022 to 2023, the Jefferson Physician Assistant Program (Center City) faculty participated in leadership education, published and presented peer-reviewed scholarly works, participated in continuing medical education, attended national conferences, pursued advanced degrees and served on national committees.  Some examples include but are not limited to:

  • Three principal faculty attended the PA Education Association Forum, October 12-15 2022 in San Diego, CA.
  • The program director and one principal faculty attended the American Academy of Physician Associates Annual CME Conference, May 20-24, 2023 in Nashville, TN.
  • The program director and one principal faculty taught/facilitated iScan, a student point-of-care ultrasound event, for The Society of Point of Care Ultrasound on May 24, 2023 as part of the American Academy of Physician Associates Annual CME Conference in Nashville, TN.
  • One principal faculty attended Ultrasonography: Essentials in Critical Care, June 8-10, 2022 in Chicago, IL.
  • One principal faculty presented/participated in the virtual panel for the American Academy of Pediatrics “Primary care & Subspecialty Pediatrics – Physician Associates in the Neonatal Workforce” on October 20, 2022.
  • One principal faculty gave a virtual presentation “OSCEs in APP Education – the good, the bad & the ugly” for the Society for Simulation in Healthcare SimSeries on May 18, 2023.
  • One principal faculty member attended the International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) 2023, January 22-25, 2023 in Orlando, FL.
  • One principal faculty is pursuing Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Healthcare Professions Education with a concentration in simulation from the MGH Institute of Health Professions.  Anticipated degree completion dates are August 2024 and August 2026, respectively.
  • One principal faculty is pursuing a Doctor of Medical Science degree from Rocky Mountain University with a concentration is Psychiatry with an anticipated degree date of August 2023.
  • One principal faculty is an abstract reviewer and committee member for the Jefferson College of Interprofessional Education 2023 Conference.
  • The medical director was an author on the peer-reviewed publication “Acceptability of Telemedicine in a Geriatric Outpatient Practice during the COVID-19 Pandemic” in Telemedicine Journal and E-Health in November 2022.
  • The medical director was an author on the peer-reviewed published abstract “Using Electronic Knowledge Based Resources to Teach Medical Trainees about Caring for Older Adults” in Journal of the American Geriatric Society in 2023.
  • The medical director presented: “The State of Geriatric Education” at a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) webinar on August 16, 2022.
  • The medical director presented “Get Your GACA On: Advice from Former GACAs on How to Write a Successful Application” at a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) webinar on September 16, 2022.
  • The medical director attended the 2023 American Geriatric Society Annual Scientific Meeting, May 4-6, 2023 in Long Beach, CA.
  • The medical director completed the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Certificate Program in 2023.
  • One principal faculty completed the NCCPA certificate of added qualifications (CAQ) in Psychiatry in 2023.
  • One principal faculty attended Faculty Skills 101 at the PAEA Spring Workshops, April 26-28, 2023 in Washington, DC.
  • One principal faculty attended the Neuroscience Education Institute Synapse Conference, March 30 – April 1, 2023 in Nashville, TN.