Physician Assistant Program—MS

The Physician Assistant (PA) Program curriculum is guided by the mission of the PA program, which focuses on innovative education to prepare students to provide care for a diverse patient population with interprofessional education and practice.

Learning Outcomes

  • Provide the didactic and clinical experiences that cultivate the development of competent entry-level physician assistants.
  • Support an environment of professionalism with the program and the broader medical community.
  • Prepare students to care for all patients, including those from vulnerable and underserved communities.
  • Prepare students to practice medicine as an ethical member of a patient-centered, interdisciplinary healthcare team.

Program Requirements

Didactic Phase

PISCEs (Principles Integrating Science, Clinical Medicine, and Equity)

PISCEs is a longitudinal integrated set of seven courses during the didactic phase of the curriculum that prepares students with the medical knowledge needed to care for patients. It integrates foundational science, pathophysiology, and disease management. The course is broken into three foundational modules followed by eight systems-based (e.g., cardiovascular, neurology/psychiatry) modules. Woven into each of these modules are longitudinal threads, which include oncology, infectious disease, anatomy, microbiology, pharmacology, and pathology, as well as health equity curricular themes. PISCE 7 is the last 10 weeks of the didactic curriculum. It contains Integration Weeks, which focus on integrated cases that revisit prior foundational, clinical, and social science content to help students consolidate and integrate the material. In these final 10 weeks of the didactic phase, students are immersed each week in patient cases that begin with a patient presentation to a clinic or emergency department and then evolve over a week where students navigate patient signs, symptoms, labs, and imaging to again connect foundational science to patient data they will see in the clinical phase. These cases also have a goal of introducing students to patient cases that are representative of our patient population at Boston Medical Center, our primary teaching hospital. All cases are based on real patient cases and integrate teaching about our unique populations, highlighting knowledge and skills needed to address our curricular key themes and populations. Finally, students collaborate in small groups to solve clinical problems, simulating the “clinical team” in medical practice. The PISCEs curriculum uses multiple instructional design strategies to support active learning, peer learning, and team development.

PISCEs Integrated Cases

At the end of each of the seven PISCEs courses, students are presented with several patient cases that emphasize foundational science concepts covered in prior weeks. This helps students reintegrate content from multiple systems previously presented. The cases: 1) present student with signs and symptoms that demonstrate how physiologic and anatomic processes lead to patient presentation, 2) present diseases that are multisystem and highlight multiple processes at once, 3) integrate clinical schema to emphasize the approach to developing a differential diagnosis based on patient presentation.

Health Equity Key Themes

A primary part of the PA mission is preparing students to care for a diverse patient population. It is a mission of both our medical school and medical center to serve marginalized and vulnerable patient populations. We integrate health equity content in multiple ways. The first week of the PISCE 1 and 5 courses are called Health Equity Weeks, and they focus on knowledge and skills related to health equity. In addition, health equity objectives have been added into our PISCEs courses and to the SCORE courses taken during the didactic phase.

Our Health Equity content includes poverty, social determinants of health, health equity, racism in medicine, behavioral medicine, and population health. The patient populations that will be highlighted in diagnostic cases will be patients with substance use disorders, refugees and immigrants, LGBTQIA+ patients, and Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC).

SCORE (Social Concentration and Outreach Research Experience)

The SCORE courses further develop the health equity themes from PISCEs and provide the framework and curriculum to prepare students for caring for a wide variety of patients, including vulnerable populations. The concentrations include addiction medicine, psychiatric medicine, refugees, immigrants, veteran medicine, LGBTQIA+, and patients with trauma, including familial abuse and human trafficking. Students will choose an area of interest (concentration) in the second year and develop a scholarly project and will have the opportunity to have an experiential learning opportunity in their concentration.

Didactic Phase – Year 1

The first year of the didactic phase includes:

  • Principles Integrating Science, Clinical Medicine, and Equity (PISCEs)
    • Foundations 1—Molecules and Genes
    • Foundations 2—The Human Body: Tissues to Structure
    • Foundations 3—Disease, Defense, and Drugs
    • Genomic Medicine
    • Cardiovascular
    • Pulmonary
    • Renal
    • Reproduction and Endocrinology
    • Hematology
  • Social Concentration and Outreach Research Experience (SCORE)
  • Introduction to Clinical Medicine
  • Clinical Practicum 1
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Introduction to Research
  • Advanced Clinical Medicine 1

Didactic Phase – Year 2

The second year of the didactic phase includes:

  • Principles Integrating Science, Clinical Medicine, and Equity (PISCEs)
    • Neurology/Psychiatry
    • Gastroenterology/Nutrition
    • Dermatology/Rheumatology/Musculoskeletal
    • Integrated Case-Based Weeks
  • Social Concentration and Outreach Research Experience (SCORE)
  • Clinical Practicum 2
  • Advanced Clinical Medicine 2 and 3
  • Thesis

Clinical Phase – Year 3

The clinical phase includes nine required clinical rotation blocks, two elective blocks, and one thesis block, with each block lasting four weeks.

  • Internal Medicine 1 (4 weeks)
  • Internal Medicine 2 (4 weeks)
  • Family Medicine (4 weeks)
  • Pediatrics (4 weeks)
  • Surgery (4 weeks)
  • Emergency Medicine (4 weeks)
  • Neurology (4 weeks)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology (4 weeks)
  • Psychiatry (4 weeks)
  • 2 Electives (4 weeks each)
  • Thesis (4 weeks)

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine. 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 2028. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at