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Physician Assistant Program

Mission and History

"...to educate health care professionals in the delivery of excellent health care service..."

The Physician Assistant Program joined the College of Health Related Professions in 1990. In keeping with the mission of the College of Health Related Professions, the mission of the SUNY Downstate Medical Center Physician Assistant Program is to foster the development of professional, competent diverse Physician Assistants to provide compassionate healthcare for an evolving urban population. Our vision is to meet the unmet health care needs in Brooklyn, and New York City.

The curriculum integrates the basic sciences, social sciences, medical sciences and clinical experiences to provide a comprehensive introduction to the practice of medicine. The four semester didactic phase consists of lectures, laboratory, on-line and traditional courses, as well as practical, simulation and community service experiences designed to provide PA students with the knowledge necessary to address patients in a clinical context. The clinical phase consists of ten supervised clinical training experiences (clerkships), at a broad range of clinical affiliate institutions. The clinical phase provides senior students with a valuable opportunity to develop and refine their professional clinical skills. Graduates of the program are equipped with the entry-level knowledge and clinical skills to practice medicine as primary care Physician Assistants, with supervision by licensed physicians. In addition to meeting the specific shortages in New York State's health work-force, graduates of our program are qualified and traditionally practice in settings designed to meet the special needs of New York State's under-represented and under-served populations.

The curriculum, which consists of seven consecutive semesters, is designed to fulfill the program and the institution's mission. To foster the students' spirit of collaboration with faculty and students from other health care professions, interdisciplinary courses are offered throughout the curriculum. The objectives, learning experiences, and evaluation methods of each academic and clinical course provide the opportunity for the students to gain the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to attain the curriculum goals. Recognizing that students are adult learners who are responsible for their own learning, the faculty provides a climate that facilitates the acquisition of knowledge and skills essential to safe clinical practice while respecting individual learning styles. Learning is sequenced to be progressive and influenced by previously attained knowledge and skills. Key concepts of clinical problem-solving, critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills, the teaching-learning process, and the rights and dignities of the patients are introduced early and threaded through all the Physician Assistant courses.

Several PA courses integrate direct instruction with Web-assisted learning, utilizing PRIME.

PA Professional role development mandates an awareness of the impact of medical research and evidence in clincal practice and the value of life long learning. Similarly PA's must be aware of evolving issues in health care and PA practice on local, state, national, and international levels. Educational experiences are designed to facilite student's understanding of clinical research, health care policy, and PA professional issues.

The PA faculty believe that tolerance and cultural sensitivity are vital attributes needed by health care professionals practicing in a vibrant and richly diverse urban environment such as New York City. To help develop the above critical skills, College-wide activities are arranged to discuss issues relating to cross cultural and ethical issues in-patient care. At the program level, issues relating to cultural diversity and ethics are integrated throughout the didactic phase, community service and mentorship experiences as well as the clinical phases of the curriculum.