Physician Assistant Studies

students practicing physical exams and casting

Program Goals

Upon completion of the program, a student will have developed the skills to provide competent and compassionate care as well as skills that promote lifelong learning.

The Le Moyne College Physician Assistant Program bases its program goals on the mission and vision of Le Moyne College and the Department of Physician Assistant Studies.

Below are the Program’s goals and some information supporting our success in meeting these goals.

Goal #1:  The development of a strong, broad biomedical and psychosocial knowledge base.

  • Preceptor evaluations measure our students’ success as they rotate through 8 clinical sites.
  • 100% of our graduates have passed competency based examinations that demonstrate that they have the skills to care for patients in primary care settings.
  • Students have 2 opportunities to take the PACKRAT examination; a standardized, clinical knowledge rating tool. 
  • Students are successful on the National Certifying examination (Examination Results)

Goal #2:  To prepare graduates for a career that requires continuous self-evaluation and self-directed learning, developing skills that foster professional growth and personal wellness.

  • Problem Based Learning (PBL) is designed to help students understand their knowledge limitations and to fill in these gaps in a self-directed manner.
  • Service Learning connects students to the greater Syracuse community.
  • De-briefing after a high fidelity simulation case is an excellent way for the learner to evaluate their skills in a safe environment prior to entering the clinical phase of their training.
  • A professional portfolio is created during the student’s clinical training to document competencies in certain clinical skills, certifications and other materials that may be required by future employers.  All portfolios include reflections and self-evaluation assignments. 

Goal #3:  The development of the skills necessary for critical review of professional literature, data and other resources encountered in clinical practice.

  • A total of 198 students over the last 5 years have conducted 49 original group research projects.  Many student/faculty research teams have gone on to present these projects at State and National professional conferences.
  •  Instruction in evidence based medicine is incorporated into our research course.
  •  In Problem Based Learning students have the opportunity to sort through the medical literature to develop an appropriate evidence based treatment plan for their patient.
  • Students present to their peers and faculty in the clinical year journal club presentations.

Goal #4: The demonstration of professional communication, comportment, leadership, duty and altruism in the service of others.

  • The 6 credit hours of Medical Humanities coursework brings patients into the classroom to discuss their medical experiences in the community. Guest speakers from the arts, social sciences and humanities complement the student’s bio-psychosocial, spiritual education.
  • Students work one on one with faculty members on medical interviewing skills during their didactic training.
  • Service learning allows students to put into practice skills related to interpersonal communication and health literacy.
  • Students are members of State and National Physician Assistant organizations.  The Physician Assistant Student Society provides opportunities for personal and professional development. 
  • Our faculty embraces diversity and reflects dedicated, accomplished medical educators and clinicians.  The core faculty health care providers have broad experience in medicine, surgery and psychiatry and in total comprise 147 years of clinical expertise.  Cooperative teamwork is role-modeled to our students.
About the Physician Assistant Profession

A physician assistant (PA) is a highly trained health care professional who cares for patients under the supervision of a physician. PAs work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, physician offices, correctional institutions, military installations, health care educational and administrative offices, industrial medicine clinics, and surgical suites. PAs document their care through the medical record, provide patient counseling and education, and may be involved in administrative or managerial roles. As an integral part of the health care team, the PA provides patients with comprehensive and personalized health care.

The duties of a physician assistant are determined by the supervising physician and by state law. In New York state, a registered physician assistant is qualified to take medical histories, conduct physical examinations, order and interpret diagnostic tests, diagnose illnesses, develop patient treatment plans, prescribe medications, and perform invasive medical interventions such as surgical assisting, setting fractures and suturing lacerations. It is estimated that a physician assistant is qualified to perform 80 percent of the procedures performed by physicians. The supervising physician may delegate to the PA any medical procedures and tasks that are routinely performed within the normal scope of the physician’s practice.

The U.S. Department of Labor describes the nature of the physician assistant’s work in general.

PA Program Accreditation

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Le Moyne College. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards. 


Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be September 2018. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

History of the Profession

Dr. Eugene Stead and his colleagues used ex-military corpsmen in the early 1960s to help run specialty units at Duke University. Because the nation was facing a severe shortage of primary health care providers, Dr. Stead developed a two-year curriculum to expand the prior education and experience of these corpsmen to become competent physician assistants. With the support of the Duke faculty and administration, he launched the first formal educational program for physician assistants at Duke in 1965. For the next seven years, Duke University and later the University of Washington (Dr. Richard Smith's MEDEX program) became focal points for the development of the physician assistant profession.

Excerpted from “Biographies: Eugene A. Stead, Jr., MD,” Physician Assistant History Center


History of the Program

The physician assistant program of Le Moyne College was founded in 1996 in response to the health care needs of Central New York, including Syracuse and Onondaga County. It was established within the Department of Biology with Norb Henry, Ed.D. as the founding director, and James Longo, M.D., as the founding medical director. The program was initially granted provisional accreditation, and full accreditation in 1998. Continuing accreditation was granted for 2002-2006,  2006-2011 and  2011-2018. The next ARC-PA review will occur in September 2018.

The physician assistant program became the Department of Physician Assistant Studies in 2005. It received approval to grant a Master of Science degree to graduates, with the first full graduate class entering in fall 2005.

The first class entered in fall 1996 with 32 students. Since 1998, over 480 students have earned master's degrees from the Department of Physician Assistant Studies and are employed throughout Central New York and across the United States. 


Read the Winter 2014 Newsletter

Read the Fall 2013 Newsletter