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Master’s Program Available to Physician Assistant Students

Physician Assistant students at Pennsylvania College of Technology now have the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree under a unique agreement with Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

A Penn College Physician Assistant student in good academic standing can apply for the master’s program in the fall of his or her senior year. Up to nine credits from that final year will transfer to NSU, and, once the student graduates from Penn College, the Master’s in Health Sciences degree can be completed via a distance-learning format on either a full- or part-time basis.

Dr. Michael Gaylor, director of Penn College’s Physician Assistant program, said the collaborative arrangement the product of long-standing negotiations between the two institutions offers the “best of both worlds” to enrollees.

“Being able to transfer credit saves students money,” he said. “But the real benefit is that they can earn a living while working on their master’s.”

Penn College’s Physician Assistant bachelor’s program requires 151 credits to graduate 31 more than the national standard so students can transfer credits to NSU. In addition, once they have their bachelor’s degree from Penn College, students can sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam and begin their clinical practice before completing their master’s studies.

Penn College’s Physician Assistant “Class of 2003” achieved a perfect passage rate on the National Certification Exam last year. In the past six years, graduates of the program have achieved a 100-percent job-placement rate within six months of graduation.

The cooperative arrangement with Nova Southeastern and the distance-learning format for the remaining credits allows a student to work professionally to pay for his or her advanced degree, or permits post-graduation entry into the Armed Services for completion of an advanced degree while on active duty.

The practical benefit of working in the field while furthering one’s education can’t be ignored, according to Dr. Gaylor.

“There are some aspects of medicine that you simply have to be in practice to appreciate” the complex biochemical effects of a particular medication on a given patient, for instance. “There is a great deal of motivation created by actual practice experiences in the field,” he explained. “Practice-related research gets translated into the master’s work.”

The internship experience also benefits students enrolled in the master’s program, since it helps to highlight areas of special interest that will be researched during higher-level course work.

Four students already are enrolled in the program, and several faculty members are about to graduate with their master’s degrees from Nova Southeastern University. Further enrollment opportunities will be available in June, and the option eventually will be available for Penn College alumni.

For more information about the academic programs offered by the School of Health Sciences at Penn College, call (570) 327-4519, send e-mail or visit online.

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