The mission of the Wake Forest School of Medicine Physician Assistant (PA) Program is to produce highly capable, compassionate PAs who deliver patient-centered care, make significant contributions to the health care community and continually advance the PA profession. Graduates of the 24-month program earn a Master of Medical Science (MMS) degree.
Why Choose Wake Forest?
The Wake Forest PA Program has a unique history of innovation in medical education. From its beginning in 1969, it has featured inquiry-based, small-group, self-directed learning centered on real patient medical problems. We remain one of the few programs in the country with an educational experience focused on adult and applied learning principles. Our patient-centered approach immerses students in real-life cases and fosters their clinical problem-solving abilities.
Read more about the Wake Forest PA Program in our digital magazine Inside Wake PA.
The Wake Forest School of Medicine PA Program is composed of diverse groups of students whose individual characteristics comprise an extensive variety of life experiences, cultural backgrounds, academic studies, work history, volunteer exposures and leadership roles. Over the past several years, the proportion of students from North Carolina has ranged from 30 to 50 percent of the class, with the remainder representing a majority of the states. As a result of the variation in our student population, the program remains dedicated to preparing PAs for practice across the entire spectrum of primary care and specialties in the US and around the globe.
- Our class size is 88 students
- During the preclinical year, 64 study at the campus in Winston-Salem, and 24 study at our Boone campus.
- The clinical year is centrally coordinated for all 88 students.
The goals of the Wake Forest PA Program are to:
Create a comprehensive educational experience that is focused on adult and applied learning principles, such that students develop and maintain self-directed life-long learning skills:
Centered on real patient medical problems, “inquiry-based learning” is the keystone of the program, immersing students in real-life cases and fostering their clinical problem-solving abilities. Cases cover organ system-based disease processes, include patients across the lifespan, and address unique challenges presented by diverse demographic and personal characteristics within the population. Cases are documented and reviewed at least annually for appropriate content and current scientific and medical knowledge.
Design and implement a curriculum that prepares students to acquire the key learning outcomes contained within the Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession: medical knowledge, interpersonal and communication skills, patient care, professionalism, practice-based learning and improvement, and systems-based practice:
Curricular mapping substantiates intentional and thorough coverage of the six major competency topic areas. Students are evaluated repeatedly in the competencies and achieve successful mastery in order to progress throughout the curriculum and to graduate.
Ensure student readiness to take and pass the PA National Certifying Examination (PANCE):
The Wake Forest PA Program assigns a permanent academic advisor to each student and requires regular advisement throughout the curriculum. Advising and mentoring skills are a priority for ongoing faculty development. Since 2014, the PA program’s Office of Academic Excellence (OAE) has identified and assisted students with testing and study skill deficits and augments the work of the broader university student resources. With inception of the OAE, the program’s compiled PANCE pass rates have averaged 98%.
Provide students with educational experiences that prepare them for the current and future practice of medicine, including the application of basic and laboratory sciences, case-based clinical reasoning, team-based interprofessional practice, evidence-based medicine, systems-based practice and critical appraisal of the medical literature:
Case-based clinical reasoning is the cornerstone of the Wake PA curriculum and is assessed by the students themselves, by peer review, by faculty evaluation on a weekly basis and summatively at the end of each unit of study. Students participate in interprofessional education events that consistently receive high praise on student feedback surveys. Examination of curriculum mapping reveals extensive breadth and depth of the relevant organ systems and task areas that are expected of competent PA practice. Multiple courses utilize levels of evidence to hone skills in diagnostic and therapeutic decision-making. Systems-based practice education is included in each inquiry-based learning case to introduce issues that can impact the delivery of care. All students successfully complete an evidence-based medicine Graduate Project. Innovative degree programs provide unique opportunities for students interested in research, business, legal and armed services pathways.
Inspire student governance, community engagement, advocacy and leadership development:
Wake Forest PA students are members of a chartered student society of the Student Academy of the American Academy of PAs (SAAAPA) that is self-governing and maintains its own bylaws, policies and procedures. Students conduct their elections for officers and make appointments for a variety of leadership roles. The program sends a representative to the Assembly of Representatives (AOR) of the SAAAPA. The program has a designated student representative to the North Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants (NCAPA) and to the local regional PA chapter, the Piedmont Association of PAs (PAPA). The program intentionally arranges the academic calendar to enable preclinical year students to attend the annual AAPA conference. The program provides funding assistance for students to attend leadership development events, including the annual AAPA Leadership and Advocacy Conference. Community service projects are student-driven as well as inspired by faculty involvement in local philanthropic activities and are shared via the program’s Facebook page and digital news publication, Inside Wake PA.