University of Dubuque to Develop Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

Jan 16, 2015 | Kristi Lynch

President Jeffrey F. Bullock announced today the development of a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies at the University of Dubuque.  Preparation for entry into accreditation by the Physician Assistant accrediting body, ARC-PA is now in progress.  An informational session for interested students will be held on Saturday, January 24, 2015 beginning at 9:00 a.m. in Heritage Center’s John and Alice Butler Hall.


The Physician Assistant (PA) Program will consist of a 29-month, year-round, curriculum that leads to the degree Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.  The first class of students will matriculate in August, 2016 and graduate in December, 2018.  Graduates will be prepared to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE); passing this exam allows graduates to become certified PA professionals ready to embark on clinical practice.


“The launch of a Physician Assistant Master's Program, is an important and significant, development for the University,” commented President Jeffrey F. Bullock.  “We are prepared to begin a rigorous accreditation process which I believe is another mile marker in the University's 16 year journey of strengthening our academic programs.  At the same time, education of additional physician assistants is a real need in our current healthcare environment, especially in rural parts of our state.  I believe that UD can make a real contribution to the quality of patient care in our region and beyond through women and men who are our PA graduates.”


The Saturday, January 24, session will include information about the Physician Assistant profession as well as information about the University’s plans to develop a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.  Admission and Financial Planning representatives will be present to answer questions regarding the enrollment process.  The program will begin at 9:00 a.m. and will run until approximately 11:00 a.m.


Physician Assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine under the direction of physicians and surgeons. They are formally trained to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment.  PAs must complete an educational program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and be licensed.  According to the Department of Labor Statistics, the 2012 median pay for PAs was $90,930/year.  The projected job growth from 2012-2022 is 38%, which places it in the “much faster than average” occupational growth Category.1


The health care needs of Americans, especially in underserved areas, are greater than the number of medical professionals.  It is estimated that the US has a shortage of around 85,000 trained professionals to fill the role of primary care providers   Physician Assistants help meet those health care needs by diagnosing, treating, and counseling patients as to their medical conditions, with the backup and oversight of MDs or DOs.


Applicants to the program may come directly from an undergraduate program or may have several years of work experience.  PA students will take classes on UD’s campus, in a new PA building soon to be under construction.  During months 1-15 of the program students will be enrolled in intensive coursework, while months 16-29, they will work in clinical settings, under the supervision of experienced medical professionals.


Interested citizens, as well as the medical community in the tri-state area, have expressed enthusiastic support for the establishment of a PA program at the University of Dubuque and the service PA graduates can offer to the region.


[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Physician Assistants, on the Internet at (visited January 12, 2015).