Physician Assistant Studies Mission, Vision, and Program Goals


The Canisius College Physician Assistant Department is built upon the central mission of eliminating healthcare disparity and improving the health and wellbeing of underserved populations by developing competent, compassionate clinicians who discern a purpose of service, mindfulness, and leadership in both their community and profession.


The Canisius College Physician Assistant Program will be a leader in the development of competent, compassionate clinicians and leaders for our profession, with a strong foundation in Jesuit values.

Program Goals

The goal of the Canisius College Physician Assistant Program is to foster a culture of team-based learning by utilizing innovative educational strategies, creating a supportive learning environment, and developing a curriculum centered in primary care with a special interest in the underserved. Students will be presented with learning objectives that emphasize the need to work as a team to solve a problem, with the understanding that the answers to each problem are not always clearly defined. Graduates of our program will be confident and proficient in a wide variety of skills in multiple areas of medicine including primary care, emergency medicine, surgical service, women’s health, pediatrics, and more. This includes the ability to retrieve all pertinent information, assess and examine patients using appropriate tools, and develop a satisfactory plan for care. In addition, students will be educated in multiple areas of professional development with a broad focus on social justice and community education.

The program will strive for the following benchmarks:

1.    Development of culturally and ethically competent PAs:  The program is committed to inspiring graduates to work in medically underserved communities as reflected in graduate survey responses, preceptor evaluations of clinical students, and clinical placements.

a.    At least 20% of each graduating class reflect work in underserved communities or with underrepresented populations.
b.    Students will receive an average of 3.5 out of 5 for preceptor evaluation of a student's culteral awareness and sensitivity.
c.    The program requires each student to perform at least one clinical rotation in a setting that cares for underserved or disadvantaged patients.  Compliance will be reflected in our clinical placement data annually.

2.    Curriculum development: The program strives to develop a curriculum that provides adequate foundation of knowledge and skills required for entry-level practice as a Physician Assistant. 

a.    Mean class-specific performance value of 80% or higher on summative written and practical exams.
b.    Mean class-specific performance value of 80% or higher on preceptor evaluations and end-of-rotation exams.
c.    End-of program surveys: 80% or more of students agree or strongly agree that program provided adequate knowledge for entry-level practice. 
d.    At least 80% of employers will agree that Canisius graduate PAs were well prepared for clinical practice.

3.    National certifying exam: Students will be prepared to successfully pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) on first attempt, with a program benchmark of first time pass rates higher than the national average.

4.    Accreditation: Achieve Provisional Accreditation status by demonstrating strong student preparation, and consistently evaluating and improving overall program performance.  Retain accreditation through ongoing program assessment and improvement through Continued Accreditation status. 

5.    Program and College Mission: Create students who are passionate about Jesuit values of service and leadership through strong support of the community and the profession. 

a.    At least 85% of each cohort will actively participate in local, regional, or national community service efforts throughout their training at Canisius College and beyond. Community service includes activities such as organized free health screenings, work with food banks, disaster relief efforts, and working closely with disadvantaged youth to promote the health professions. 
b.    A minimum of 90% of students and graduates will maintain active membership in their local, state, or national physician assistant associations/organizations as evident on graduate surveys. All Canisius College PA students are required to hold membership with the New York State Society of Physician Assistants (NYSSPA) throughout training, and strongly encouraged to maintain membership with the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).

Graduate Outcomes

Competencies are knowledge, skills, and behaviors expected of the PA student at the end of the program and before entrance into PA practice. Graduates of the Canisius College Physician Assistant Program will be able to:

1. Demonstrate content knowledge

  • Understand the basic sciences of anatomy, physiology and pathology and apply knowledge in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
  • Understand the principles of pharmacotherapeutics to apply in the treatment of patients.
  • Elicit a detailed history and perform a thorough physical exam in order to accurately diagnose and treat patients.
  • Utilize effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills to elicit information from a patient.
  • Understand the principles of public health and incorporate health promotion and disease prevention into patient care practice.

2. Display adequate and appropriate skills and dispositions

  • Understand how to order and interpret appropriate diagnostic tests in a cost efficient manner to aid in treatment of patients.
  • Formulate an appropriate differential diagnosis to accurately diagnosis and manage a patient utilizing the history and physical exam findings
  • Perform or assisting in performance of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
  • Implement patient management plans, including referrals to other healthcare professionals or agencies, to provide ongoing quality care.
  • Apply appropriate clinical reasoning and medical decision-making when providing care for a patient while also empowering the patient in the process.
  • Manage acute and chronic patient conditions by providing appropriate pharmacotherapeutic, non-pharmacotherapeutic, preventive, and continuous care.

3. Consistently display professionalism

  • Understand how to accurately present and document patient information to other healthcare professionals and in the patient medical record.
  • Organize and lead inter-professional medical or surgical teams to improve patient outcomes.
  • Participate effectively as a member of an interdisciplinary healthcare team.
  • Understand the limitations of a practicing physician assistant and appropriately see guidance when needed.
  • Maintain current understanding of medical standards of practice and critically evaluate medical literature for ongoing medical education.
  • Become familiar with the history of the PA profession, development, current trends, and political/governing issues that affect PA practice.
  • Apply information systems/technology to monitor and improve patient care and health care delivery systems.
  • Accurately perform an oral presentation of a patient case to include referral of patient to a medical specialty if indicated.
  • Display a level of professionalism and respect for others that represents the Canisius College and the PA profession.
  • Advocate for the PA profession

4. Show an understanding and appreciation for cultural competence

  • Understand medical and social issues of patients of all backgrounds, particularly of the underserved, and provide compassionate and competent care without bias.
  • Demonstrate personal and professional adaptability in treating patients from all social, economic, and religious backgrounds and adjust treatment plans accordingly. 
  • Serve the local community in areas of medical disparity and advocate for social justice and equality.
  • Maintain patient confidentiality and apply ethical principles when practicing medicine.

5. Understand the importance of lifelong learning

  • Engage in lifelong learning, cura personalis, and service to others.
  • Demonstrate willingness to teach future PA students, as well as performing quality community and patient health education.
  • Practice evidence-based medicine and life-long learning to better understand and keep up-to-date on current medical practices and guidelines