Program Mission and Goals | M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies
The Mission of the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program is to educate physician assistants to provide comprehensive quality health care to all, to be respectful of patient values, to be committed to ethical principles and to be grounded in evidence-based practice and clinical reasoning. Graduates will contribute to the profession and their communities and be prepared to practice medicine in a variety of primary care settings in collaboration with physicians and other healthcare professionals. Graduates will also be prepared to provide service to medically underserved communities and diverse patient populations.
To achieve its mission, the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program has the following three goals:
To develop highly-skilled primary care physician assistants who are prepared using an interdisciplinary approach and who:
- demonstrate the medical knowledge to provide optimal patient care
- regularly assess, evaluate and improve their patient care practices
- demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with culturally diverse patients and families, professional associates, and a diverse health care system
Achieving Program Mission and Goals
Evidence that the Carroll University PA Program is consistently achieving its goals is provided here with respect to our graduates’ medical knowledge, cultural competency, interdisciplinary approach leading to interprofessional practice, and preparedness to provide healthcare to medically underserved communities and diverse patient populations.
The Program’s first time PANCE rate is 98% with a five-year first-time taker average pass rate of 97%, both above the National Averages (NCCPA data). Our Program consistently scored better than the national average in most content and task areas.
Over the past six graduating cohorts, class averages on the Physician Assistant Clinical Knowledge Rating and Assessment Tool (PACKRAT) exceeded the National Averages (CU Program Assessment Report, 2019-2020). Again, our Program consistently scored better than the national average in most content and task areas.
For the graduating Class of 2020, the PAEA End of Curriculum Exam was given to all second students at the end of the program for the first time. This exam measures medical knowledge through content and task material. The class average for Cohort 2020 exceeded the National Averages by almost one standard deviation (PAEA EOC data).
Second year clinical students take the PAEA End of Rotation Exam after each clinical rotation. Over the past two years, PAEA has developed a scaled score for the exam in which programs can compare their results to national averages. Cohorts 2019 and 2020 class averages on these EOR exams exceeded the national averages in family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, general surgery, pediatrics, and women’s health (PAEA EOR data).
Students develop interpersonal and communication skills with culturally diverse patients, families, and colleagues through didactic coursework, clinical experiences, and being part of a culturally diverse cohort. The Program has a long history of incorporating cultural competency within the curriculum including:
- Design, implement and evaluate a cultural competence thread in Carroll University's Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies curriculum. Supported by: ARRA – Training in Primary Care Medicine and Dentistry: Physician Assistant Training in Primary Care. Funded amount $967, 687.00. 2010-2015.
- Dedicated Course Offerings including HSC520: Inter-professional Education: Collaboration, Communication, and Cultural Competency and PHA 525: Foundations of Cultural Competence and Health Disparities. Publications include:
- Beck B, Scheel MH, De Oliveira K, Hopp J. Integrating cultural competency throughout a first-year physician assistant curriculum steadily improves cultural awareness. J Physician Assist Educ. 2013;24(2):28-31. PMID: 23875495
- Bahrke B, De Oliveira K, Scheel MH, Beck B, Hopp J. Longitudinal integration of cultural components into a physician assistant program’s clinical year may improve cultural competency. J Physician Assist Educ. 2014;25(1):33-7. PMID: 24765807
- Beck B, Scheel MH, De Oliveira K, Hopp J. Cultural competency in a physician assistant curriculum in the United States: a longitudinal study with two cohorts. J Educ Eval Health Prof. 2014 Jan 27;11:2. PMID: 24699447
- Oliveira KD, North S, Beck B, Hopp J. Promoting collaboration and cultural competence for physician assistant and physical therapist students: a cross-cultural decentralized interprofessional education (IPE) model. J Educ Eval Health Prof. 2015 May 27;12:20. PMID: 26072900.
- Participation in the Health Science Primary Care Training and Enhancement Program, an initiative made possible by a five-year, $1.25 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. Through the program, first year PA students work as part of an interprofessional team of students (from nursing, physical therapy, and occupational therapy) to develop a wellness plan for patients in medically underserved areas of Milwaukee and Waukesha. As part of this grant, students review modules on cultural diversity training and health literacy.
- Participation in the National Health Careers Opportunity Program made possible by a five-year grant, $2,893,722 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. The grant creates support systems and development opportunities for high school students, college students, and graduate students from underrepresented populations, which will prepare them for acceptance into collegiate allied health programs, including PA. The goal is to increase the number of individuals serving in integrated health care professions in medically-underserved communities.
Interdisciplinary Approach leading to Interprofessional Practice
PA students in their first year learn about an interdisciplinary approach to healthcare leading to interprofessional practice by taking a required course, HSC 520: Interprofessional Education: Collaboration, Communication, and Cultural Competency along with nursing, physical therapy, and occupational therapy students. In addition, first year students participate in the Health Science Primary Care Training and Enhancement Program in which they are part of an interprofessional team including students in nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and public health. These teams develop wellness plans for their medically underserved patients in the Waukesha Free Clinic at Carroll University (WFC).
Physician Assistant students in their first and second year rotate through the WFC located at the Carroll University Community Health Services building where they can collaborate with other allied health care students and their faculty to provide optimal and comprehensive care to their patients.
Accepted publications by faculty, including PA, involved in the HRSA grant: Health Science Primary Care Training and Enhancement Program are shown below:
- Students’ Knowledge and Self-Perceptions Regarding Integrative Medicine and Health Following Training in First-Year Graduate PA, PT, and OT Programs
Journal: Journal of Allied Health
Authors: North, Beck, Liveris, Vega, Boyington, Stockwell, St. George, Hopp
- A Cross-Cultural Integrative Health Interprofessional Practice Model Using Innovative Case Study and Academic Hispanic Community Partnership Approaches
Journal: Cogent Medicine
Authors: Vega, North, Ruggeri, Beck, Liveris, Castro, Boyington, Leveille, St. George, Hopp
- The Positive Impact of Occupational Therapy Involvement in Interprofessional Education
Journal: Journal of Occupational Therapy Education
Authors: Leveille, Brandes, Boos, Vega, Beck, Ruggeri, St. George, Hopp
Preparedness to Provide Healthcare to Medically Underserved Communities
Carroll University developed an exclusive relationship with St. Joseph’s Free Clinic in Waukesha (WFC) in order to better prepare our students to provide healthcare to medically underserved community members. The University renovated a 9,000 square foot office building, in which part of the building houses the free clinic, renamed to the Waukesha Free Clinic at Carroll University. Second year clinical PA students rotate through the free clinic where they participate in the care of uninsured and underinsured community members. They learn to better understand the social determinants of healthcare throughout their time spent at the free clinic. Learn more about the Waukesha Free Clinic at Carroll University and the services it provides for medically underserved community members.
By rotating through the free clinic, students can improve their patient care practices, especially in diabetes/metabolic syndrome and behavioral health management in medically underserved populations. PA faculty have received grant funding for expansion of the diabetes/metabolic clinic within the WFC staffed by PA faculty and second year students ( Expansion of the Diabetes/Metabolic Syndrome Clinic with an Integrative Approach, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 3 years, $150,000). In addition, PA faculty have received grant funding to implement a mental health first aid lecture series with simulation and practical application at the WFC ( Pilot Interprofessional Mental Health Literacy Training, Korkor Foundation, $30,000).