Physician Assistant

Our Physician Assistant Program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).  Unique to the program is our non-competitive team approach and our specialized clinical tracks.

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Director: Karen E. Arscott, D.O., M.Sc., A.O.B.N.M.M.


The Physician Assistant Program at Marywood University is committed to providing students with an exceptional education in a supportive and nurturing environment. This professional education will include the knowledge necessary to diagnose, treat, educate, and empower patients in a variety of settings.

This program is committed to preparing the student to deal with the changing health care environment while promoting the physician assistant profession. Marywood's Physician Assistant Program will emphasize the importance of sharing their knowledge with future Physician Assistant students while providing leadership in the community.

We acknowledge that a patient is more than his/her physical body and so the program is dedicated to teaching the students the appreciation of the patient's spirit as well as caring for the body.

The Marywood Physician Assistant Program has an awareness of the need for quality health care, both regionally and globally: and this program will assist our students in carrying out Marywood's goal for all students — learning to live/practice responsibly in a interdependent world.

PA Program Objectives:

  1. To provide students with the basic medical sciences requisite to a foundation for the practice of medicine.
  2. To expose students to all facets of primary care medicine as a foundation for their future practice of medicine.
  3. To instruct students in techniques necessary for proper patient assessment such as the patient interview and physical exam.
  4. To provide students with the means to communicate effectively with patients, families and other members of the health care team.
  5. To aid students in the development of clinical skills with which to perform appropriate physical examinations.
  6. To provide students with the principles of clinical pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutics so as to allow them to initiate appropriate pharmacotherapy.
  7. To provide students with a clear understanding of the past, present, and future of the PA profession, and the role of the physician assistant in the delivery of health care.
  8. To stress the importance of preventive medicine principles in the delivery of health care.
  9. To provide instruction in health psychology, behavioral medicine, and the psychosocial factors that contribute to health with special attention given to the cultural differences encountered in the delivery of health care services.
  10. To provide students with a forum for discussion of the legal and ethical issues in health care today.
  11. To foster understanding of the special needs encountered in the delivery of health services to those in rural and underserved areas.

Clinical Objectives:

  1. To expose students to the various aspects of provision of primary health services.
  2. To provide the student with hands-on teaching and supervision by physician preceptors and physician assistants in actual clinical settings.
  3. To initiate and foster the process of self-learning in the development of a competent health care provider.
  4. To develop a realistic awareness and understanding of the role of the Physician Assistant as a functioning member of a health care team.

Academic Flexibility

Multiple Points of Entry:

  • Enter as a Freshman – Five year program
  • Enter as a Transfer – Two to five year program based on approved credits for advanced standing
  • Enter as a Graduate Student – Those with a B.S. may earn their master’s degree in PA studies after 27 months.


Clinical Diversity: Students may choose to focus their studies and clinical experience in any one of the following areas of concentration:

  • Primary Care
  • Hospitalist
  • Pediatrics
  • General Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics/Sports Medicine

Dual Degree Program:
M.S./M.H.S.A. available.

Program Overview

The five-year program consists of two distinct phases: The Pre-Professional Phase (years 1-3), and the Professional Phase (years 4 -5). The curriculum for the Professional phase is further divided into a Didactic and Clinical period.

The Pre-Professional Phase

During this phase of the program students undertake a period of study to meet the liberal arts core requirements and the science requirements to prepare for admittance to the Professional phase of the program. A description of this program can be seen in the undergraduate catalog.

The Professional Phase

This consists of 27 months of continuous study in the clinical sciences. The first 12 months are didactic and include classroom and laboratory work in basic and applied medical science. The final 15 months are clinical and include six 6-week rotations and two 3-month preceptorships. These are performed at local, regional, and national clinical sites such as hospitals and medical offices, providing experiences in the areas of pediatrics, surgery, orthopedic surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and emergency room medicine. During this phase students will be required to complete a Professional Contribution paper/project, or Thesis.

Clinical Concentration

In the fifth year of the program eligible students will be able to apply for specialty tracks to focus their graduate education and clinical acumen. These tracks are General PA Studies (Primary Care), Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Hospitalist, Pediatrics, General Surgery, and Emergency Medicine. Students will have to petition to enter the Specialty tracks and the enrollment will be limited to 3-4 students per track. The Preceptorship and Thesis and/or Professional Contribution will likewise be defined by the track the student has chosen. The tracks serve to allow students an opportunity to refine their clinical abilities within an area of specialization. These tracks do not make a student a specialist. No certification is conferred beyond that of the M.S. in PA Studies.

The Professional Phase Requirements:

The successful completion of the Pre-Professional Phase at Marywood University or a bachelor's degree from another college or university.

  • A minimum overall QPA of 3.00
  • A minimum overall QPA of 3.00 in the following required science courses:
    • 2 semesters of General Chemistry with lab
    • 2 semesters of General Biology with lab
    • 1 semester of Microbiology with lab
    • 2 semesters of Anatomy and Physiology with lab
    • In most cases these courses must have been completed within the last seven years
  • GRE scores
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A minimum of 500 documented direct patient care hours
  • A minimum of 30 hours shadowing a PA is recommended
  • Completion of Technical Standards (upon acceptance to the program)
  • Submission of an application through CASPA (Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants). The application deadline is December 1.
  • Successful interview by the Physician Assistant Selection Committee. Final acceptance to the Professional Phase is ultimately based not only on performance in the prerequisite sciences and overall academic performance but also on the student's desire for and understanding of the profession, demonstration of maturity, self-confidence, and good interpersonal skills.
  • Marywood University currently does not accept transfer credits from other Professional PA Programs nor does Marywood offer advanced placement or credit for experiential learning.
  •  Due to Affiliation Agreements with clinical sites, a background check is required.


Degree Conferral and Certification

Those students entering the program as undergraduates will be awarded the B.S. in Pre-Physician Assistant Studies upon successful completion of the PA curriculum through year four. Students successfully completing the Professional Phase (years four and five) of the PA Program are awarded the Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies and are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Once a candidate passes the examination, he/she is certified to perform a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services under the supervision of a licensed physician.

Accreditation and Memberships

Marywood University’s Physician Assistant Program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARCPA). We are institutional members of the Association of Physician Assistant Programs (APAP) and The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), the only national organization that represents physician assistants in all specialties and all employment settings.

Year 4 – PA Didactic Phase


PA 510 Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis I
PA 522 Medical Anatomy and Physiology I (at the Commonwealth Medical College)
PA 540 Diagnostic Methods I
PA 570 Developmental Medicine I
PA 580 Epidemiology/Research Methods


PA 511 Clinical Assessment and Diagnosis II
PA 520A Pathophysiology I
PA 530 Clinical Medicine I
PA 541 Diagnostic Methods II
PA 550 Basic Medical Science I
PA 571 Developmental Medicine II
PA 581 Research Methods II
PA 590 Seminar I


PA 531 Clinical Medicine II
PA 551 Basic Medical Science II
PA 560 Behavioral Sciences
PA 572 Developmental Medicine III
PA 591 Seminar II
GER 510 Concepts and Issues in Gerontology

Year 5 – PA Clinical Phase


PA 610 Clerkship I
PA 611 Clerkship II


PA 612 Clerkship III
PA 613 Clerkship IV
PA 614 Clerkship V


PA 615 Clerkship VI
PA 640 Preceptorship I


PA 650 Preceptorship II

Physician Assistant Website