Find A PhysicianHome  |  Library  |  myDownstate  |  Newsroom  |  A-Z Guide  |  E-mail  |  Contact Us  |  Directions

SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Office of Communications & Marketing

SUNY Downstate Transitions Physician Assistant Program to the Master of Science Curriculum

Expanded Opportunities Available in One of the Fastest Growing Professions


Brooklyn, NY– State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn - Downstate Medical Center’s College of Health Related Professions has welcomed the first class of its new Physician Assistant Master of Science (MSPA) program. This inaugural MSPA class of 45 students represent the graduating Class of 2019.

Allen Lewis, PhD, CRC, professor and dean of the College of Health Related Professions, said, “SUNY Downstate has graduated hundreds of highly-skilled physician assistants since our first class in 1992. Transitioning the program from the bachelor’s to a master’s level is an important step and will provide these much-in-demand healthcare professionals greater opportunities to serve patients.”

Felix Nwamaghinna, MSB, PA-C, chair and director of Downstate’s Physician Assistant Program, notes that demand for physician assistant services is steady with approximately two to three employment opportunities for every new graduate. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for physician assistants is expected to increase 30 percent between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the seven percentage points for all occupations.

The physician assistant is a professional member of the healthcare team who is qualified by academic and clinical education to practice medicine in a physician-led team. Physician assistants perform a wide range of duties that were historically only performed by physicians.

The 27-month, full-time master’s program at Downstate is designed to provide the academic and clinical foundations for primary-care physician assistants; to foster the development of the attitudes, values, and behavior appropriate for professional healthcare providers; and to prepare students to participate in a team approach to patient care. Emphasis is placed on student understanding of the role and responsibilities of physician assistants in the provision of quality health service, in the treatment and management of disease states, meeting the health care needs of a richly diverse patient population, and fostering health promotion and disease prevention.

Physician assistants obtain patient histories, perform physical examinations, diagnose illness, determine treatment plans, order and interpret laboratory procedures, prescribe medication, and perform other duties aimed at providing patient care. They also provide patient education, counseling, and follow-up care. Employed in all healthcare settings and in every medical and surgical specialty, physician assistants function to increase access and enhance the quality of patient care while contributing to medical cost containment. The profession of physician assistants was created in the mid-1960s in the United States.

Information about Downstate Physician Assistant program admission requirements may be obtained here.



About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively.

SUNY Downstate ranks twelfth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.