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A physician assistant (PA) is a medical professional who works as part of a team with a doctor.

PAs are educated and trained to do many of the tasks traditionally performed by physicians. Upon graduation, students are awarded a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Practice. After successful completion of the National PA Board Exam, PAs are certified by State Medical Boards to function as an extension of a supervising physician. PAs often work in primary care settings with family practice physicians, and they assist specialists in diverse fields such as surgery, orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology, radiology, pathology, and internal medicine. PAs currently provide care to millions of Americans in all types of health care settings: offices, clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities.

Our 24-month program is available full-time only. Since its inception in 1991, more than 1,000 students have graduated from the Physician Assistant Program at RFU. The faculty takes pride in teaching its students to provide competent, compassionate and ethical medical care through dynamic lectures and innovative labs as well as clinical rotations both in the United States and abroad. Not only have alumni gone on to practice on healthcare teams in a wide range of medical specialties, but they have also joined the faculty of PA programs around the country and have become state and national leaders within the profession.

Program Mission

To educate and prepare competent, compassionate, and ethical physician assistant leaders who, as integral members of the interprofessional healthcare team, will provide quality patient-centered care.

Program Vision

To be recognized nationally as a leader in the Physician Assistant profession through our outstanding graduates, curricular innovations, scholarly activities, and service to the community.

Program Goals

Guided by our vision and core values, we achieve our mission by:

Providing excellent didactic and clinical medical education to every student:

Indicators of successful achievement of this goal would be the feedback provided by students in annual surveys, their performance on the NCCPA exams, their ability to find excellent employment, and their employer’s assessment of their patient care quality.  Using these measures, the program is successfully meeting this goal, and is using a system of continued quality improvement to reach even higher levels of success. The first time pass rate for PA program graduates over the last five years averages 96%, consistently above the national pass rate. 

Educating physician assistants to be patient advocates and integral members of the interprofessional team by serving our community and meetings its educational and healthcare needs:

Interprofessional or team-based learning is a model for team-based care.  Community service provides opportunities to work collaboratively with other health professionals and develop leadership skills.  PA students participate in several activities in the community, such as Kid’s First Health Fair, Healthy Families Clinic, Interprofessional Community Clinic, and Community Care Connection.

Promoting scholarly activity as a process of professional self-study and renewal:

The creation of curricular innovations, effective teaching methods, and peer-reviewed research publications demonstrate our commitment to promoting lifelong learning.  Student involvement in faculty research is evidence that we are promoting scholarly activity. Students deliver poster presentations of their Master's projects as part of the University-wide Research Day each spring. 

Providing and encouraging continuing education for physician assistants at all levels of training and experience and developing state and national leaders to serve the physician assistant profession:

The department participates in increasing numbers of conferences, symposia, and continuing education events that involve current students, recent graduates, practicing alumni, and local physician assistants who look to our school to further their education.  An annual spring conference hosted by PA department in collaboration with Illinois Academy of Physician Assistants is one example of our commitment to cultivation of lifelong education.  Our faculty serve in leadership roles on state, national, and international healthcare organizations.  Graduates of the PA program are prominent faculty members and program directors at physician assistant programs across the country and serve on national organizations to promote education and clinical practice for physician assistants.