The Physician Assistant Profession
Physician assistants are health professionals licensed who practice medicine in collaboration with physicians. Physician assistants are qualified by graduation from an accredited physician assistant educational program and certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Within the physician/physician assistant relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision-making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. The clinical role of physician assistants includes primary and specialty care in both medical and surgical practice settings. Physician assistant practice is centered on patient care but may also include educational, research and administrative activities.
Employment and Career Opportunities
Physician assistants are employed by hospitals, ambulatory care clinics, managed care organizations, the military and many other settings.
Career options for master-degreed physician assistants include opportunities in clinical roles in primary care and clinical subspecialties, teaching in physician assistant educational programs, administrative roles in healthcare delivery systems, and research.
The La Roche College-Duquesne University Affiliation
In this program, students majoring in physician assistant complete a pre-professional program at La Roche College (designed to take a minimum of two years), and then transfer to Duquesne University to complete their professional phase in physician assistant (designed to take another three years). Students who successfully complete this program earn a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences after successful completion of year four, and a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree upon completion of the program; both degrees are awarded from Duquesne University.
Accreditation and Certification
The Duquesne University program in physician assistant is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).Graduates of this program are eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.
Admission to the Physician Assistant Studies Program
Freshman admission: All students admitted to La Roche College who intend to major in Physician Assistant Studies will be initially designated as "Physician Assistant Studies candidates". Physician Assistant Studies candidates will be automatically considered for full admission to the Physician Assistant Studies major upon completion of the second semester of courses at La Roche College.
Prospective students to the program must have earned a minimum SAT score (Verbal and Math) of 1100, or a minimum ACT score of 24. Prospective students must have earned a minimum high school GPA of 3.0. The high school curriculum must have included at least seven units in Math and Science.
In addition, prospective students must demonstrate evidence of extracurricular activities during high school and knowledge of the Physician Assistant profession as evidenced by documented shadowing experiences with a Physician Assistant in various clinical settings. Students complete 63 credits in the pre-professional phase at La Roche College in two years, then apply to Duquesne University for the professional phase. La Roche College is guaranteed an allotment of two students every year. In the event that more than two students have entered the program, only the top two will be allowed admission to Duquesne University. These students must have earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 overall, and a minimum GPA of 3.0 in Science/Math courses, with no course grade below a "C". Students must also be recommended by the pre-professional committee consisting of La Roche College Science faculty.
Students with prior college credits who are admitted as transfer students to La Roche College may express their intent to major in physician assistant studies. Each student will be evaluated individually by the Coordinator of Health Science Programs.
Admission to Duquesne University
Through the Chairperson of the La Roche Pre-professional Health Committee, a La Roche physician assistant studies major must submit a Duquesne University Application for Undergraduate Admissions by December 1st for consideration for the following fall semester at Duquesne, along with additional required documentation (which the student will be informed of during a health sciences orientation at La Roche College).
Academic requirements for admission to Duquesne University for the professional phase of the physician assistant program include:successful completion of all pre-professional course work with a 3.0 cumulative QPA at La Roche College, and a "C" or better in all coursesrecommendation by the La Roche Pre-professional Health Committeedocumentation of current C.P.R. Certification (including adult, infant, and child CPR)completion of a physical examination and other health requirements.
To complete the Pre-Professional phase at La Roche College the following coursework is required:
- 30 credits of Science and Math
- 33 credits of additional courses to fulfill most of the Duquesne University core curriculum. This will also include a Theology, Creative Arts, Global Diversity adn Social Justice course selected by the student (see the program guide for courses that will fill this requirement).