Curriculum & Courses

Physician Assistant Studies (MS)

NEW Application Deadline
August 1st

Additional Info

Sample Curriculum

Northeastern’s PA Program is highly integrated within each semester as well as vertically between semesters. Methods of instruction include general lectures limited to the maximum 52 students in the class, small group discussion sections of 5 to 8 students, and simulation lab exercises including interdisciplinary cases with students from other health science programs in our college. Instructors are able to respond to questions and go into topics in considerable depth, preparing you for the clinical placements where you will put your knowledge to work.

As the role of the PA has expanded over the years, Northeastern has adapted its curriculum. While PA education concentrates largely on generalist medicine, more than one-quarter of PAs now go into subspecialties. Northeastern has been in the forefront of creative utilization of PAs. You will be trained as a generalist provider in the traditional primary care environment and will also be prepared to work in new and emerging aspects of health care.

Northeastern’s PA Program is committed to developing future physician assistants who can advance diversity by providing culturally informed care to people across race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, age, ability, and nationality. We support the acquisition of competencies that prepare our students to recognize, confront, and end discrimination in its many forms.
Successful completion of the entire 2 year program is required to take the national certification exam (PANCE).

Curriculum is subject to change.

Year 1
  • Fall Semester

    • Anatomy and Physiology 1
    • Physical Diagnosis and Patient Evaluation 1
    • Pharmacology 1
    • Principles of Medicine 1
    • Principles of Psychiatry
    • Health Care Delivery

  • Spring Semester

    • Anatomy and Physiology 2
    • Physical Diagnosis and Patient Evaluation 2
    • Pharmacology 2
    • Clinical Lab and Diagnostic Methods
    • Professional Issues for Physician Assistants
    • Principles of Medicine 2
    • Clinical Neurology
    • Principles of Pediatrics

  • Summer Semester

    • Principles of Medicine 3
    • Principles of Obstetrics and Gynecology
    • Principles of Orthopedics
    • Principles of Surgery
    • Aspects of Primary Care
    • Emergency Medicine and Critical Care
    • Aging and Rehabilitation Medicine
    • Research Design

Year 2

Clinical rotations are a critical part of PA training. After successfully completing the didactic portion of the program in the first year, the subsequent 12 months are spent in clinical rotations. Rotations are assigned at a variety of medical settings. Because of Northeastern’s recognized focus on practice-oriented education and the PA Program’s longevity and reputation in the field, we can offer students a wide variety of clinical opportunities at hospitals, clinics, private practitioner’s offices, and multispecialty clinics. All students experience a broad diversity of patient populations and practice sites.

Students do not need to find their own clinical placements. We have long-standing relationships with many sites and supervisors and are able to place students in rotations. Every student receives an individualized rotation schedule and completes clinical rotations in each of the following areas of medicine. The sequence varies for each student.

Ambulatory Medicine
Emergency Medicine
Family Practice Medicine
Inpatient Medicine
Mental Health
Women’s Health
Pediatrics
Surgery
Elective

Only the elective rotation is chosen by the student and may be done in any medical specialty either in this country or abroad. The Clinical Faculty must approve all elective rotations to ensure they fulfill learning objectives and provide adequate supervision.

Completion of a scholarly project by the end of the second year is required for graduation.

Curriculum is subject to change

Course Descriptions

Year 1:

Semester 1 (Fall)

PA 6200. Anatomy and Physiology 1. 3 Hours.
Emphasizes the structure and function of the human body including cells, tissues, and organs. Highlights interrelationships among systems and regulation of physiological functions involved in maintaining homeostasis. Focuses on features of clinical importance. Covers musculoskeletal, neurologic, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, endocrine, immunologic, and renal systems. Requires cadaver laboratory sessions. This course is the first in a two-course sequence.

PA 6203. Physical Diagnosis and Patient Evaluation 1. 3 Hours.
Presents the techniques for eliciting an accurate history, performing an appropriate physical examination, making case presentations, and documenting patient information. Includes issues such as effective communication, confidentiality, cultural competence, and dealing with patients who are terminally ill or disabled. Emphasizes skill development. Students participate in all aspects of the clinical encounter.

PA 6205. Pharmacology 1. 2 Hours.
Examines the classification, mechanisms of action, and use of a broad spectrum of therapeutic agents. Focuses on dose response, side effects, adverse reactions, and the role of patient concordance in medication effectiveness.

PA 6311. Principles of Medicine 1. 4 Hours.
Presents a systems approach to the principles of disease processes and includes such topics as physiology, pathophysiology, the natural history of disease, diagnostic procedures, and therapeutic measures. This course is the first of a three-semester series covering core medical concepts and knowledge grounded in scientific principles and evidence-based medicine on the diseases and conditions commonly encountered in clinical practice.

PA-6325. Principles of Psychiatry. 2 Hours.
Provides an opportunity to understand how to work with patients and families exhibiting psychiatric problems. Includes such topics as psychological growth and development, psychiatric diagnoses, the effect of social milieu on behavior, the psychological bases of drug and alcohol abuse, the dynamics of psychosomatic problems, the role of culture in self-concepts, and family attitudes toward mental illness as well as appropriate psychotropic medications.

PA- 6329. Health Care Delivery. 2 Hours.
Explores the principal components of the health care delivery system, emphasizing its social, political, and economic evolution and development. Discusses trends and their implications.

Semester 2 (Spring)

PA 6206. Pharmacology 2. 2 Hours.
Continues PA 6205. Examines the classification, mechanisms of action, and use of a broad spectrum of therapeutic agents. Focuses on dose response, side effects, adverse reactions, and the role of patient concordance in medication effectiveness.

PA 6204. Physical Diagnosis and Patient Evaluation 2. 3 Hours.
Presents the techniques for eliciting an accurate history, performing an appropriate physical examination, making case presentations, and documenting patients’ information. Includes issues such as effective communication, confidentiality, cultural competence, and dealing with patients who are terminally ill or disabled. Emphasizes the correlation of pertinent physical findings with their respective clinical conditions. Students participate in all aspects of the clinical encounter.

PA 6207. Clinical Laboratory and Diagnostic Methods. 4 Hours.
Covers a variety of diagnostic and therapeutic evaluations including clinical laboratory methods, radiologic studies, and electrocardiography. Includes basic principles of diagnostic and therapeutic patient evaluation, radiology, indications and interpretation of clinical laboratory studies, demonstration and practice of various diagnostic methods, and electrocardiography theory and interpretation.

PA 6208. Professional Issues for Physician Assistants. 2 Hours.
Offers students the opportunity to understand their professional environment, community resources, legal parameters, and ethical situations they may face. Also addresses interpersonal dynamics in working with physicians and other healthcare providers. Some material is covered in problem-based learning sessions.

PA 6312. Principles of Medicine 2. 4 Hours.
Continues PA 6311. Presents a systems approach to the principles of disease processes and includes such topics as physiology, pathophysiology, the natural history of disease, diagnostic procedures, and therapeutics measures. This course is thesecond of a three-semester series covering core medical concepts and knowledge grounded in scientific principles and evidence-based medicine on the diseases and conditions commonly encountered in clinical practice.

PA-6323. Clinical Neurology. 2 Hours.
Presents the clinical application of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. Offers the opportunity to develop an understanding of the nervous system’s normal functioning as well as a clinical approach to assessing and managing nervous system disorders and disease states, and their effects on patients and their families.

PA-6324. Principles of Pediatrics. 2 Hours.
Presents the physiological and psychological fundamentals of child development. Focuses on the major common pediatric illnesses, including their signs, symptoms, and treatment regimens; various immunizations and medications used in pediatrics and their indication and dosage in relation to specific disorders; and management of such pediatric emergencies.

Semester 3 (Summer)

PA 6313. Principles of Medicine 3. 4 Hours.
Continues PA 6312. Presents a systems approach to the principles of disease processes and includes such topics as physiology, pathophysiology, the natural history of disease, diagnostic procedures, and therapeutics measures. This course is the third of a three-semester series covering core medical concepts and knowledge grounded in scientific principles and evidence-based medicine on the diseases and conditions commonly encountered in clinical practice.

PA 6320. Principles of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2 Hours.
Focuses on the management of women and fetuses from prepregnancy to term as, during much of that time, care is provided to both patients simultaneously. Gynecology attends to women’s reproductive issues from prepuberty through senescence. Uses a variety of presentations, clinical case scenarios, and related readings as the basis for students’ learning and development of critical thinking skills related to assessment and management of a woman’s health. Students may be expected to read, discuss, acquire, and briefly write about women’s health issues.

PA-6322. Principles of Orthopedics. 2 Hours.
Discusses common orthopedic problems, including those of the hand, knee, shoulder, and back. Examines special problems of acute trauma and managing uncomplicated orthopedics cases. Also considers such topics as how to complete an adequate patient medical history and perform a physical examination of an orthopedic patient.

PA 6321. Principles of Surgery. 2 Hours.
Offers students an opportunity to explore the surgical environment, approach to the surgical patient, and management of surgical conditions with an emphasis on clinical presentation, operative and nonoperative intervention, and perioperative management. Students participate in clinical skills sessions on a variety of surgical techniques including suturing, knot tying, sterile technique, and other minor surgical procedures.

PA 6326. Aspects of Primary Care. 4 Hours.
Studies approaches to and management of the patient in a primary care setting. Discusses specific diseases and medical conditions common to primary care, including HIV/AIDS. Considers psychosocial aspects of disease as well as aspects of prevention.


PA-6327. Emergency Medicine and Critical Care. 2 Hours.

Presents the principles of life-support techniques. Focuses on the initial management of acute medical and traumatic conditions in hospital and prehospital situations. Instructs students in basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques including BLS and ACLS. Includes such topics as airway management, hemodynamic monitoring and management, dysrhythmia recognition and treatment, cardiac arrest, hypovolemic states and management, invasive procedures, multiorgan system failure, nutritional support and metabolic management of the ICU patient.

PA-6328. Aging and Rehabilitation Medicine. 2 Hours.
Studies techniques of effective planning and decision-making for patients with significant acute and chronic problems. Discusses the purposes, techniques, and potential of rehabilitation medicine. Also focuses on physiologic changes of aging and appropriate theories of management.

Research Design. 2 Hours.
Considers research methods and designs used in varied professional settings. Emphasizes development of research techniques, including the ability to define research problems, write hypotheses, review and interpret literature, apply research designs, organize, analyze, and present data, and draw relevant conclusions.


Year 2: 

PA 6400. Applied Clinical Study in Medicine. 5 Hours.
Offers supervised clinical practice experience that is designed to foster students’ growth regarding general medical knowledge and clinical reasoning skills. Students may have the opportunity to review historical information, interview patients, perform physical exams, order and interpret studies, perform procedures, present assessments, develop differentials, educate patients, coordinate interdisciplinary communication, document encounters, develop professionalism skills, and improve the ability to triage and manage tasks efficiently.

PA 6401. Applied Clinical Study in Ambulatory Medicine. 5 Hours.
Offers supervised clinical practice experience. Allows students to further hone their content knowledge and clinical skills either in the area of primary care or in a selected subspecialty area of medicine. Offers students an opportunity to develop skills related to both the initial assessment, as well as the ongoing management of patients with established diagnoses, while working to develop their clinical reasoning skills given initial presentations. Emphasizes assessing and managing both acute and chronic medical problems.

PA 6402. Applied Clinical Study in Family Practice. 5 Hours.
Offers supervised clinical practice experience. Offers students an opportunity to evaluate and treat patients while emphasizing the patient as an individual and family member. Clinical rotation experience may include exposure to preventative medicine, patient education, integration of community services, and medical diagnosis and management for both acute and chronic conditions.

PA 6403. Applied Clinical Study in Emergency Medicine. 5 Hours.
Offers supervised clinical practice experience. Offers students an opportunity to gain experience triaging, evaluating, and managing patients in an emergency medicine setting. Clinical skills honed may include the ability to diagnose and manage patients who present with urgent and emergent complaints, ranging from acute illnesses and traumatic injuries to life-threatening issues.

PA 6404. Applied Clinical Study in Women’s Health. 5 Hours.
Offers supervised clinical practice experience. Offers students exposure to clinical medicine as it relates to typical women’s health issues. May include common gynecologic disorders, obstetrical complaints, and/or family planning.

PA 6405. Applied Clinical Study in Pediatrics. 5 Hours.
Offers supervised clinical practice experience. Offers students an opportunity to manage care of pediatric patients. Common components of this rotation may include exposure to both well child and urgent care visits, offering students an opportunity to develop interview and physical examination skills with children of all ages.


PA 6406. Applied Clinical Study in Surgery. 5 Hours.

Offers supervised clinical practice experience. Designed to allow students to gain experience in a surgical setting. Experiences may include preoperative, intraoperative, as well as postoperative patient care. Offers students an opportunity to hone their procedural and assessment skills, distinguish between surgical vs. nonsurgical presentations, and differentiate acute from elective complaints.

PA 6407. Applied Clinical Study in Mental Health. 5 Hours.
Offers supervised clinical practice experience. Exposes students to a variety of behavioral medicine patient care experiences. Emphasizes recognizing various types of mental health disorders that may require referral to a specialist and managing problems that can be handled by the nonspecialist. Offers students an opportunity to further their understanding of effective patient interactions and the mental health components of health, disease, and disability.

PA 6408. Applied Clinical Study Elective. 5 Hours.
Offers supervised clinical practice experience. Exposes students to a medical, surgical, or subspecialty of either field for further study. Offers students an opportunity to hone their ability to recognize and treat conditions within these fields of medicine to foster utilization or support of related specialists. Select students may participate in an elective that focuses on global health or on a clinical support role, such as administration, leadership, public health, or technology as it relates to healthcare.

Academic Requirements for Enrolled Students

  • Students are expected to maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 (“B”) in all course work.  If the cumulative GPA falls below 3.0, students are placed on academic probation.  Only two courses may be repeated in meeting the GPA of at least 3.0 (“B”) required for the degree.  “Satisfactory” and “Unsatisfactory” grades are not included in the GPA.
  • Students must receive a grade of “C” or better in each individual course.  If a course grade is below “C,” students are placed on academic probation even if the GPA is above 3.0.
  • Students must obtain a GPA of at least 3.0 (“B”) in each semester.  If the GPA for any semester is below 3.0, students are placed on academic probation.
  • Students who receive a grade of “F” or “U” in a course may make up the course based on their advisor’s recommendation and permission of the Program Director. Students are not permitted to repeat a course more than once.  As didactic courses are offered only once each year, students may have to wait at least one year to repeat a failed course or one in which they received a grade of “U.”  In some cases, this could mean that students may not continue in the Program because they have not completed a prerequisite.  Course credits earned in the Program are valid for a maximum of four years unless an extension is granted by the PA Program Director.
  • To be removed from probation, students must clear any deficient grades; maintain a 3.0 GPA in all future semesters without receiving an “I,” “F,” “U,” or “W” grade; meet the requirements listed above; and petition for removal from probationary status.  Students who do not meet these requirements are subject to dismissal.  Readmission to the program is at the discretion of the Program Admissions Committee.
  • An “I” (Incomplete) grade will be changed to a letter grade when the deficiency that led to the “I” is corrected to the satisfaction of and in the manner prescribed by the course instructor.  A grade of “I” must be cleared within one calendar year from the date of its initial recording on a student’s permanent record.  Students must sign an Incomplete Contract with the Program as required by the Registrar’s office and complete the terms specified prior to clearing the “I”.
  • Students are permitted to decelerate in the event of a formal leave of absence. A leave of absence is granted at the discretion of the Bouvé College Dean of Graduate Studies and is limited to one year in duration. The student must petition the Bouvé College Dean of Graduate Studies to return to the Program. The Program itself does not participate in the granting of a leave or in reinstatement. After a return from the leave of absence, the student must repeat in its entirety any course for which a final grade was not entered.
  • A letter grade is given for each clinical rotation (applied study).  The clinical grade includes a review of the student’s clinical performance and professional conduct as determined by the preceptor at each site.  A grade of at least “C” in each clinical rotation is required.  If a student fails a rotation, repeating it is at the discretion of the preceptor and Program Director.  A student may repeat only one rotation during the entire PA Program.
  • Students must have at least a 3.0 GPA to enter their second year (Semester 4).   Students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA during the clinical year or be placed on academic probation.  In order to graduate, students must pass all end-of-rotation exams as well as a comprehensive exam at the completion of their second year.
  • Students are required to pass a Summative Evaluation within the last four months of the program prior to graduation.  For more information on the Summative Evaluation, you may download  the description here.
  • Students are also required to successfully complete a Scholarly Paper/Capstone Project of publishable quality prior to graduation. A passing grade for the Scholarly Project is 70% or higher.
  • Students must have at least a 3.0 GPA upon completion of the Program to receive the Master’s degree.