About Physician Assistant Studies

About the Profession

Physician assistants (or PAs) are health care providers who are licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician. Physician assistants perform physical examinations, order and perform laboratory tests, analyze medical data and develop care management plans. Additionally, PAs perform many diagnostic and therapeutic procedures including casting, splinting, and minor surgery procedures such as suturing and biopsies.

PAs are allowed to practice in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Guam, and are employed in a broad range of medical facilities including:

  • private physician’s offices
  • hospitals
  • nursing homes
  • occupational health centers
  • military and correctional institutions

All states, including Maryland, allow physician assistants to prescribe medications.

Physician Assistant Practice

PA practice is characterized by clinical knowledge and skills in areas traditionally defined as family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, surgery and psychiatry/behavioral medicine.

Physician assistants deliver health care services to diverse patient populations of all ages with a range of acute and chronic medical and surgical conditions. They need knowledge and skills which allow them to function effectively in a dynamic health care environment. Services performed by physician assistants while practicing with physician supervision include:

  • evaluation — detailed and accurate patient history, physical examinations and develop management plans
  • monitoring — implement and monitor patient management plans
  • therapeutic — assist in the management of medical and surgical procedures
  • patient education — counsel patients on health care management, including compliance with prescribed therapeutic regimens
  • referral — facilitate the referral of patients to other health care providers

Professional Technical Standards

Candidates admitted to the program must have the following:

  • academic ability — well-developed study skills and a high level of motivation
  • mental, emotional, physical ability — the physical stamina and emotional stability to approach highly stressful human situations in a calm, safe and rational manner
  • communication skills — well-developed oral and written English language communication skills
  • dependent practitioner — comfortable with the role of a dependent practitioner operating under the supervision of a licensed physician
  • ethical integrity — strong ethical integrity consistent with working as a health care professional
  • additional physical abilities — be able to competently perform the technical activities that are a critical part of the program curriculum and profession

About the Program

The physicians assistant program prepares individuals with strong academic backgrounds and clinical experiences for careers as physician assistants. Full-time continuous enrollment is required throughout the 98-credit 26-month program. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant Inc

Entry into the program requires admission to the Towson University Master of Physician Assistant Studies component. Enrollees complete all courses (98 credits) at the Towson University campus. Graduates receive a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree from Towson University. 

Successful completion of the program requires strong science, clinical skill development and medical experience preparation, as well as intense study and commitment throughout the 26-month program. The first year of study is didactic in nature. Students will attend classes for 35 to 40 hours per week.

In the second year, students complete clinical rotations in behavioral and mental healthcare, community medicine, emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, and women's health. Students also have the opportunity to have rotations in electives and a final preceptorship. Students return to campus between rotations for classes, advising, and grand rounds during their clinical year.