Admissions Process Now Underway for New Physician Assistant Program

July 27, 2020

BUFFALO, NY - After considerable commitment from the college and extensive alumni community, the Canisius College Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program received accreditation and program approval for the first cohort of students beginning in January 2021.

Prior to formal accreditation, the program was granted permission to accept applicants by the New York State Education Department, and has been actively reviewing applications since. The PA program is part of the college’s increased focus on investing in emerging growth areas such as allied health and offering degrees that provide a pipeline to professional careers in high-demand areas.

U.S. News and World Report consistently ranks the profession of physician assistant in the top percentile of overall “100 Best Jobs.”  Buffalo Business First cites a study ranking the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area in the top 10 areas in the U.S. that offers the best opportunities for people working in healthcare professions, and lists physician assistant among the top paying jobs in Buffalo.

“In a healthcare industry that has and continues to see constant change, the role of physician assistants is more important than ever,” says Program Director Aimee Larson, MPAS, PA.-C.

“Our PA program is designed to develop dedicated and skilled clinicians who follow the highest professional standards and also discern a greater purpose for their occupational service.  They will be trained to become leaders in the medical profession and in their communities. We are particularly excited about our unique relationship with the University of Buffalo and the Catholic Health System in the education of our students”            

The PA program at Canisius is a 27-month master’s degree program comprised of two main phases: didactic (classroom training) and clinical training.  In the didactic phase, students spend the first 12 months on campus with access to some of the latest medical education technology and more than 120 of the most widely used medical textbooks and popular medical journals.  Lectures and seminars are offered by program faculty and distinguished guests who have extensive experience in their fields. 

In addition to classroom instruction, the college’s state-of-the-art simulation lab provides students with a diverse set of opportunities to practice skills in patient interviews, physical exams, and diagnostic testing and procedures. The lab is equipped with simulation mannequins, four simulated examination rooms with audio and visual recording abilities, and multiple Anatomage virtual human anatomy tables, often used at the finest teaching facilities in the country.

The second phase of training consists of 15 months of clinical experience.  During this phase, students attend 8-week clinical rotations in family medicine and inpatient internal medicine, and 4-week clinical rotations in emergency medicine, general surgery, women’s health, pediatrics, outpatient internal medicine and behavioral health.  Two elective rotations are also available to students in areas such as orthopedics, critical care, neurology, cardiology and rheumatology.   

Further distinguishing the PA program at Canisius College is its class size.  “While most similar programs in Western New York enroll up to 60 students in each cohort, Canisius students will benefit from a much smaller cohort size,” explains Larson.  “Our average cohort will consist of 30 students to ensure a more intimate learning environment and greater interaction between students and faculty.”

Housed on the lower level of Science Hall, the Physician Assistant Program is comprised of 3,240 square feet of space and equipped with Anatomage virtual dissection tables for student instruction.  This technology successfully replaces the use of cadavers in gross anatomy laboratories and enables learners to navigate through life-size, 3D images of full-body male and female anatomy.  The table’s digital library contains more than 200 pre-loaded anatomic pathology cases but any medical imaging data can be downloaded and configured. 

Also housed within the Science Hall space is a 2,070 square foot learning laboratory that includes four examination rooms equipped with gurneys, hospital beds and high-fidelity patient simulators (HPS).

“Practicing clinical skills on HPS enables students to learn in a highly adaptable, safe and educational environment that fosters autonomy, the development of sound analytical skills and better prepares students for the rigorous clinical assignments they’ll encounter across the healthcare continuum,” adds Larson.

The Physician Assistant Program at Canisius is supported, in part, by the generosity of three local charitable foundations: The M&T Charitable Foundation awarded Canisius a five-year, $500,000 grant.  The Vincent and Harriet Palisano Foundation provided Canisius with a four-year, $100,000 grant and the James H. Cummings Foundation awarded the college a $150,000 grant.  Funds from all were used to support the construction of new instructional space for the PA program and the purchase of laboratory equipment. 

To learn more about the graduate program in physician assistant studies or to apply, please Email @email, call 716-888-8550 or visit the website at

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Canisius College Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Canisius 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, scheduled to begin in January 2021. The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at

One of 28 Jesuit universities, Canisius is the premier private university in Western New York. Canisius celebrates its sesquicentennial anniversary during the 2019-20 academic year, marking 150 years of Jesuit education and leadership in the city of Buffalo and Western New York. Visit for more information about Canisius’ milestones and celebratory events.