The Master of Physician Assistant Studies (M.P.A.S.) program emphasizes primary care medicine, particularly family medicine. It also offers elective clinical rotations in selected medical subspecialties. Students who complete the program are eligible to take the National Certifying Examination for Primary Care Physician Assistants, which they must complete successfully in order to register as physician assistants in the United States.

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies and Services is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant and is a member of the Physician Assistant Education Association.

Expenses

In addition to University of Iowa tuition and fees, students in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies and Services must purchase a laptop computer (specifications are given), their medical uniforms, and diagnostic equipment, an expense of approximately $4,000. Microscopes are not required.

The Master of Physician Assistant Studies requires a minimum of 114 s.h. of credit. The curriculum spans 28 months and consists of a preclinical phase and a clinical phase. The program begins in August.

The Master of Physician Assistant Studies requires the following work.

Preclinical Curriculum

The M.P.A.S. program's preclinical phase is built on a triple-helix model whose three strands consist of clinical and professional skills (CAPS), mechanisms of health and disease (MOHD), and medicine and society (MAS). The strands are interwoven, assuring that their material is integrated and revisited throughout the preclinical phase, so that students' understanding and mastery of the material deepens progressively.

The preclinical curriculum consists of the following courses.

Human Anatomy and Foundations of Life

ACB:8101 Medical Gross Human Anatomy involves complete dissection of the human body. Students learn to identify the human body's components and learn how their structures and locations relate to their functions. They also learn much of the language they will need in order to communicate accurately and specifically with patients and other physicians.

MED:8123 Foundations of Cellular Life covers genetics, embryology, molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, and histology. Students learn the molecular events required for cellular life and how cells grow and interact to form the basic tissues of the human body. This course provides the necessary framework students will need in order to begin the mechanisms of health and disease series.

Clinical and Professional Skills

The clinical and professional skills (CAPS) strand provides students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for professional development and clinical excellence, including the sense of inquiry and lifelong habits of skill acquisition, self-assessment, and reflective practice. CAPS features developmental learning through increasingly challenging experiences across the curriculum, repeated practice opportunities, observation and feedback, and self-directed learning and reflection. CAPS requires the following three courses.

MED:8121 Clinical and Professional Skills I introduces students to concepts of clinical reasoning, communication, physical examination, and evidence-based clinical practice as well as the principles of biomedical ethics. The Longitudinal Clinical Mentor (LCM) program allows early clinical interactions and helps place classroom experiences into the context of patient care. Through interactions with students from other health sciences colleges, M.P.A.S. students begin to explore the interprofessional approach to caring for patients.

MED:8131 Clinical and Professional Skills II reinforces clinical reasoning concepts from MED:8121 and introduces additional elements of clinical reasoning, which are practiced through interactions with standardized patients and through Longitudinal Clinical Mentor clinical visits. The varied experiences help students gain a deeper appreciation for issues in biomedical ethics. As part of interprofessional education, students focus on the strengths and barriers involved in providing comprehensive interdisciplinary patient care.

MED:8221 Clinical and Professional Skills III develops advanced clinical reasoning skills through focused patient encounters and interactions with special patient populations. Emphasis is on students’ ability to integrate and use concepts from the other curricular strands that are required for cost-conscious, patient-centered, interdisciplinary care.

Mechanisms of Health and Disease

The mechanisms of health and disease (MOHD) strand focuses on multisystem mechanisms. MOHD requires the following five courses.

MED:8124 Mechanisms of Health and Disease I covers normal and healthy processes within and among the mechanisms of oxygenation, metabolism, and genetics/development.

MED:8133 Mechanisms of Health and Disease II covers normal and healthy processes within and among the mechanisms of immunology/inflammation, locomotion/integument, and neuropsychiatry.

MED:8134 Mechanisms of Health and Disease III covers abnormalities or disruptions leading to disease within and among the mechanisms of oxygenation, metabolism, and genetics/development.

MED:8223 Mechanisms of Health and Disease IV covers abnormalities or disruptions leading to disease within and among the mechanisms of immunology/inflammation, locomotion/integument, and neuropsychiatry.

MED:8224 Mechanisms of Health and Disease Keystone provides a transition from classroom instruction in MED:8124, MED:8133, MED:8134, and MED:8223 to clinical practice. Foundational information from those courses is approached from the perspective of common clinic encounters. Students make diagnostic and management decisions about common important clinical problems using the foundational knowledge they gained from those courses.

Medicine and Society

The medicine and society (MAS) strand teaches students about disease prevention, health promotion services, public health, epidemiology, health services organizations and delivery, and community dimensions of medical practice. MAS requires the following three courses.

MED:8122 Medicine and Society I introduces social determinants of health. Students investigate the influence and impact of culture and the community on health care, learn about community resources, and apply health and risk assessment to individual patients and to themselves.

MED:8132 Medicine and Society II focuses on public health and epidemiology, with attention to screening, global health, and environmental hazards.

MED:8222 Medicine and Society III  focuses on health services organization and delivery, with emphasis on community dimensions of medical practice and patient safety.

Foundational Clinical Experience

The foundational clinical experience consists of a six-week summer session that includes preclinical workshop material in cardiology and radiology. Students complete a two-week introduction to clinical medicine before beginning the clinical rotations. Foundational clinical experience requires the following five courses.

PA:8212Fundamentals of EKG and ACLS for Physician Assistant Students2
PA:8213Fundamentals of Radiology for Physician Assistant Students1
PA:8214Fundamentals of Clinical Laboratory Medicine for Physician Assistant Students1
PA:8301Seminar for Physician Assistant Students1
PA:8302Physician Assistant Professional and Clinical Skills1

Clinical Curriculum

The program's second phase concentrates on clinical education. Students complete four weeks of preclinical workshops and rotations and a 36-week core of required primary care clinical rotations, including general internal medicine, surgery, family medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, gynecology, and psychiatry. Students then select eight weeks of electives, which may include rotations such as geriatrics, cardiology, dermatology, and orthopedics.

The primary care clinical rotations are designed to provide instruction and experience in caring for patients in a way that enables students to integrate the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes they learned in the program's didactic phase. Clinical training is provided at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the Iowa City VA Health Care System, the VA Central Iowa Health Care System and Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, and other affiliated hospitals throughout Iowa. In elective rotations, students gain additional clinical experience through placement with selected preceptors involved in office-based practices, typically in medically underserved rural areas.

Students also complete a master's degree project as part of the clinical curriculum.

Required Clinical Rotation

The following clinical rotations are required.

PA:8304Emergency Medicine for Physician Assistant Students4
PA:8305Gynecology for Physician Assistant Students4
PA:8306Family Practice I for Physician Assistant Students4
PA:8307Family Practice II for Physician Assistant Students4
PA:8308General Surgery for Physician Assistant Students6
PA:8309Internal Medicine for Physician Assistant Students6
PA:8310Pediatrics for Physician Assistant Students4
PA:8311Psychiatry for Physician Assistant Students4

Elective Clinical Rotations

Students select elective clinical rotations from these.

PA:8320Dermatology Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8321Neurology Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8322Obstetrics for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8323Ophthalmology Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8324Otolaryngology Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8325Pediatric Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8326Radiology Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8327Pediatric Elective (Hematology/Oncology) for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8328Pediatric (Cardiology) Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8329Psychiatry Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8330Surgery Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8331Surgery Elective (Transplant/Organ Retrieval) for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8332Surgery Elective (Burn Unit) for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8333Surgery Elective (Cardiac Surgery) for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8334Orthopedics Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8335Internal Medicine Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8336Internal Medicine (Cardiology) Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8337Internal Medicine (EKG) Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8338Internal Medicine (Gastroenterology) Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8339Internal Medicine (Oncology) Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8340Internal Medicine (Geriatrics) Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8341Internal Medicine (Pulmonary) Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8342Internal Medicine (Pallative Care/Hospice) Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8343Internal Medicine (Infectious Disease) Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8345Urology Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8346Family Practice Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8347Gynecology Elective (Women's Health) for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8348Migrant Health Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8349Occupational Medicine Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8350Pediatrics (Neonatology) Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8351Internal Medicine (Rheumatology) for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8352Medical Intensive Care for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8353International Medicine for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8354Interventional Radiology for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.
PA:8355Gynecologic Oncology Elective for Physician Assistant Studentsarr.

Applicants must:

  • be citizens or permanent residents of the United States;
  • hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution in the United States (all international applicants will be reviewed independently for degree completion and equivalency);
  • have a minimum cumulative g.p.a. of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale;
  • have a minimum overall science g.p.a. of 3.20 on a 4.00 scale or a science g.p.a. of at least 3.20 on a 4.00 scale on the most recent 40 s.h. of college-level, science-based course work (science courses are subject to department approval);
  • have completed the preparatory courses no more than 10 years before they apply (see "Preparatory Science Courses" below);
  • have taken the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test no more than 10 years before they apply (must score at the 25th percentile or higher in the quantitative, verbal, and analytical sections) or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) no more than 10 years before they apply;
  • have completed a minimum of 1,000 hours of direct patient health care experience by December 31 of the application year;
  • be able to meet the program's technical standards;
  • meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College (see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College); and
  • have taken the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) if English is not their native language (only the internet-based test will be accepted and applicants must have a total score of at least 93 with a speaking score of at least 26).

The TOEFL requirement may be waived for an applicant with a master's or doctoral degrees from an accredited U.S. institution. Scores must be sent from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to the Department of Physician Assistant Studies and Services.

Preparatory Science Courses

Applicants must have completed preparatory science courses in biological, chemical, and statistical sciences.

Biological science courses must include an introductory biology or zoology course sequence, a physiology course (animal, exercise, or human), and a minimum of three upper-level biological science courses (cell biology, cell physiology, endocrinology, genetics, histology, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, neurobiology, and/or related disciplines).

Chemical science courses must include an introductory chemistry course sequence, at least one semester of organic chemistry, and at least one semester of biochemistry. They may not include courses at the survey level or a combined organic/biochemistry course.

Statistical science courses can be any course with a statistical focus, such as biostatistics, and general, introductory, psychological, or business statistics.

The admissions committee gives special attention to applicants' performance in science courses. Some successful applicants have had a g.p.a. of at least 3.70, both cumulative and in science; up to 141 s.h. of college credit, including at least 81 s.h. in the sciences; and more than 3,000 hours of clinical experience.

Satisfaction of the basic admission requirements does not ensure acceptance to the program. The admissions committee selects the applicants it considers best qualified. Previous health care experience involving direct patient contact is preferred. The committee requests interviews with the most qualified applicants.

Applications are accepted from the end of April to November 1 for entry the following August. Applicants must apply through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Application materials include three letters of recommendation, with one from an academic instructor and one from a health care supervisor; GRE or MCAT scores; and transcripts. The majority of prerequisite course requirements must be completed by the November 1 application deadline. All materials must be received by CASPA by the November 1 deadline.