PA Program General Information

What is a PA?
Role and Function of the PA
Practice Settings
Employment Opportunity
Weill Cornell PA Program
Weill Cornell Medical College Physician Assistant Program Mission Statement
Weill Cornell Medical College Physician Assistant Program Educational Philosophy
NCCPA Boards Pass Rates
The American Academy of Physician Assistants
Directions to PA Program


What is a PA?

Physician Assistants (PA's) are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PA's conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel patients on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and in virtually all states, can write prescriptions.


Role and Function of the PA

Physician Assistants practice medicine in conjunction with a supervising physician. Some of the duties of a PA include taking medical histories, performing physical examinations, and ordering and interpreting diagnostic studies, such as laboratory tests, electrocardiograms, and imaging studies. They also perform therapeutic procedures, such as suturing, removal of minor lesions, and casting.

After diagnosing the problem, the PA develops and implements a treatment plan. When appropriate, the PA may confer with the supervising physician and other health professionals to develop a patient treatment plan.

Patient education and counseling are also important aspects of a PA's daily activities. PA's advise patients concerning preventive health care and provide education concerning patient medical problems. PA's also counsel patients regarding the management of health risk behaviors. In a majority of states, PA's prescribe medications.

PA's perform medical tasks and procedures that are delegated to them by their supervising physicians. State laws and regulations also affect their scope of practice.


Practice Settings

PA's work in a wide variety of settings, including private practices, hospitals, HMOs, nursing homes, student health services, and urban and rural clinics. Today, PA's may also be employed in areas of medical education, health administration, and research. In short, you may find a PA practicing wherever a physician is found. The Cornell PA programs intensive focus in medicine and surgery allow our alumni to work in a wide variety of clinical practice areas.

The U.S. government, which has helped fund PA education since 1971, employs PA's in the military, Veterans Administration, Bureau of Prisons, Public Health Service, and other agencies.


Employment Opportunity

The United States Department of Labor recently identified the ten ‘hottest' careers for the future. PA's ranked number three on the list for future growth. The demand for qualified Physician Assistants and particularly those interested in careers in surgically related fields continues to grow. As a result, multitudes of career opportunities are available to new graduates in a variety of practice settings.

Cornell PA students and alumni have access to an updated listing of career opportunities and are encouraged to use the elective rotations to explore a variety of potential career interests. Employment information is made available as soon as students near graduation. The program faculty and administration enjoy participating in the academic growth of students and are pleased to assist students with career-related issues.

The future for PA's, especially surgical PA's is bright. In short, there is no greater time to be a PA, especially a Cornell PA!


Weill Cornell PA Program

Cornell's Program was established in 1973 at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center for the purpose of training qualified individuals to assist in the care of the surgical patient. While the surgical focus remains strong, primary care training is provided to all students preparing them for practice in any area. The PA Program offers students an opportunity to apply the foundations of medicine learned in the classroom to patient care in a variety of practice settings by utilizing the abundant academic and clinical resources summarized above. As a result, students participate in patient care as an integral member of the surgical/medical team.

The twenty-six month curriculum is conducted under the auspices of the Weill Cornell Medical College Office of Education. Upon successful completion of the PA Program Cornell University grants a certificate of graduate study. A Masters Degree curriculum is currently under development.

Upon completion of the Program students are eligible to take the National Certifying Board Examination administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (www.nccpa.net). The PA Program is registered and accredited by the Accreditation Review Committee for Physician Assistant Education, Inc. (www.arc-pa.org), American Medical Association, the American College of Surgeons and the State of New York.


Weill Cornell Medical College Physician Assistant Program Mission Statement

The principal mission of the Weill Cornell Medical College Physician Assistant Program is to educate highly competent, safe and effective physician assistants capable of practicing and excelling in diverse clinical and academic settings.

The Program offers a rigorous and thorough foundation in generalist medicine and primary care education, striving for a balanced curriculum that provides students with fundamental principles of generalist clinical practice and training in general surgery and the surgical subspecialties.

Consistent with the mission of its sponsoring institution, the program will develop a course of study and scholarship, which will allow its students to obtain a Masters degree in Health Science. In this way, the program will advance medical knowledge and contribute to the PA profession through research and other scholarly endeavors.


Weill Cornell Medical College Physician Assistant Program Educational Philosophy

The Medical College is committed to providing an environment that fosters mutual respect, the values of professionalism, ethics, and humanism in the practice of medicine as a physician assistant. The environment thus created will be conducive to learning the importance of the professional duties each student is about to assume. Of paramount importance is to understand the individuality and importance of each person the students will come in contact with throughout both training and practice, taking into account the value of human diversity. This includes patients, colleagues, fellow students, and above all self.

Each student will be expected to perform at the best of his or her abilities. This requires that faculty, students and administrative and support staff treat each other with civility without limiting appropriate teaching techniques and styles that advance and stimulate the educational environment in order to foster critical thinking and encourage professional leadership. Students will be presented with sufficient information to develop a medical knowledge base and the skills required to refine and expand the knowledge base throughout a professional career, sharpen and hone clinical skills, and comport oneself as a professional in all situations.

Faculty shall educate and advise students about the specific standards that govern professional conduct in a rotation, course or hospital and clinic setting, and, by his or her own conduct, set an example of the standards expected of the student.


Performance on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination

All graduates of the Weill Cornell Medical College Physician Assistant Program sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). The following is the pass rate for first-time takers:

200374%
2004 90%
2005 97%
2006 94%
2007 94%


The American Academy of Physician Assistants

The national organization representing PA's is the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) (www.aapa.org), founded in 1968.

The Academy educates the general public about the PA profession, assures competency of physician assistants through active involvement in the development of educational curricula and accreditation of PA programs, provides continuing education and certification opportunities, and conducts PA-related research.

The Academy works to promote quality, cost-effective health care, and the professional and personal growth of physician assistants.

The American Association of Surgical PA's.
The AASPA is the oldest specialty group representing PA's on a national level. The AASPA was formed in 1969 by graduates from the three Surgeon Assistant Programs, Cornell being one.

AASPA functions to support the surgical PA through education, marketing, and lobbying. This overall leads to better care for the surgical patient.

AASPA has developed a special program for prospective PA's. In addition, student PA's are allowed to join as a 'student member'.

 
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