M.S. Physician Assistant  Curriculum

Cohorts begin early Summer | Program length 27 months | Credits  116 | Format In-person, full time

Evidence-based medicine, cooperative learning, and top technology. 
The NWC PA Program curriculum teaches students the necessary skills and knowledge for clinical practice. The medical courses are delivered in a system and case-based approach so that students can integrate learning from clinical medicine, pharmacology, pathophysiology, anatomy, and procedural skills and apply this to patient care scenarios and simulations.

Students learn through innovative and advanced educational experiences in conjunction with traditional cadaver lab teaching. Northwestern College has a newly renovated cadaver lab, giving graduate students the opportunity to learn through dissection. 

The state-of-the-art Sectra virtual cadaver tables (made by ToLTech), provide students with three-dimensional human anatomy images in an interactive touch screen. Students and instructors can perform virtual dissections of the images, isolate specific components of the anatomy, and complete lab activities and assessments. The virtual interface enables students to toggle between detailed anatomical drawings, captioned illustrations, and actual radiologic images (CT and MRI), promoting knowledge integration and assessment. 

Program course rotation

Course number Course   Credits
PAS 632 PA Profession I: History and Healthcare Delivery Systems 4
HCP 511 Human Physiology 3
PAS 601 Patient Care Skills I 3
PAS 611 Biomedical Science 4
  Term Total  14
Course number Course   Credits
PAS 612 Clinical Medicine I 6
PAS 602 Patient Care Skills II 3
PAS 622 Clinical Reasoning I 2
HCP 602 Pharmacology I 2
HCP 612 Medical Pathophysiology I 2
HCP 510 Research Methods 3
PAS 505 Gross Anatomy for Healthcare Providers I 3
  Term Total  21
Course number Course   Credits
PAS 613 Clinical Medicine II 6
PAS 603 Patient Care Skills III 3
PAS 623 Clinical Reasoning II 2
HCP 603 Pharmacology II 2
HCP 613 Medical Pathophysiology II 2
PAS 633 PA Profession II: Ethics and Culture 3
PAS 506 Gross Anatomy for Healthcare Providers II 3
  Term Total  21
Course number Course   Credits
PAS 614 Clinical Medicine III 6
PAS 604 Patient Care Skills IV 3
PAS 624 Clinical Reasoning III 2
HCP 604 Pharmacology III 2
HCP 614 Medical Pathophysiology III 2
PAS 634 Introduction to Clinical Practice 1
  Term Total  16
Course number Course   Credits
PAS 703* Clinical Rotation Block I 15
PAS 635 PA Profession III: Practice Issues and Integration 1
  Term Total  16
Course number Course   Credits
PAS 704* Clinical Rotation Block II 15
  Term Total  15
Course number Course   Credits
PAS 705* Clinical Rotation Block III 12
PAS 701 PA Capstone: Certification, Licensure, and Summative 1
  Term Total  13

Program total:   116 credits
*Each student will have an individualized schedule for clinical rotations. Every student must complete the core rotations (Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Behavioral Health, Emergency Medicine, Women’s Health, and Pediatrics) as well as 8 weeks total of any combination of elective rotations. Students may complete clinical rotations at any institution with an established affiliation agreement with Northwestern College. All students should expect to complete a minimum of 30% of their rotations outside of Northwest Iowa. This requirement provides students with a variety of practice settings to ensure that each student receives a well-rounded education. 

Rotation Requirements
The Director of Clinical Education and the Clinical Site Recruitment and Retention Coordinator will coordinate clinical sites and preceptors for required rotations. Physician Assistant students are not required to provide or solicit clinical sites or preceptors. 


Advanced resources and PANCE-specific preparation

Students will learn in state-of-the-art facilities and have access to valuable online medical resources, including two of the most frequently used resources in clinical practice: UpToDate and Access Medicine. Students will learn to integrate their use in a case-based practice setting from the first day. The program has also purchased access to an extensive PANCE question bank, allowing students to practice their testing skills and prepare appropriately for the certification exam.

Student employment policy  
The physician assistant curriculum is very demanding and is designed for full-time students. Various lectures and labs will be scheduled outside of normal business hours, and students will be expected to flexibly adjust their schedules to be available during these times. We encourage students to avoid any routine work schedules so they can commit themselves to this demanding, full-time course of study. 

Advanced placement policy 
The Northwestern PA Program does not grant advanced placement to any applicants. All students in the program must complete all curricular requirements through Northwestern College.  Courses that are required as prerequisites to enrollment in the PA program cannot be substituted for any content within the program.  


The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Northwestern College Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Northwestern College

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students. Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class. The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at http://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-northwestern-college.