Physician Assistant Studies Program Goals

The MPAS program measures the success of meeting the program's goals through evaluations made by our graduates and their employers.

Goal 1: Maintain an accredited program that ensures graduates are practice-ready.

The St. Catherine University Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) program assesses this goal through (1) its accreditation status with the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and (2) an 18-month employer survey of recent graduates. Since the program’s inception in 2012, the program has maintained its accreditation status. Most recently in 2015, it received the maximum accreditation available for an additional 10 years.

ARC-PA Accreditation

​2012 3 (initial accreditation)​
2015​ ​10
​2025 ​future accreditation visit


Employer Surveys Conducted at 18 Months Post-graduation

A second way we assess graduates readiness to practice is through an employer survey 18 months after students have graduated. Employers are asked to compare the St. Kate’s graduate’s qualities and skills to that of their expectations for a new PA graduate in relation to medical knowledge, clinical proficiency, behavioral skills and overall abilities. Below we report the “Overall rating” for graduates within the past 5 years. Employers used a 5-point scale from 1=Unable to Assess to 5=Very Good.

COHORT YEAR 2014 2015 2016
Response Rate* 33% (N=5) 85% (N=20) 89% (N=23)
Employer Overall Mean Rating—St. Kate's Grad 4.8 4.5 4.7
Employer Overall Mean Rating—New Grad 4.4 3.9 4.1

*Based on number of graduates who provided an employer email contact.

Goal 2: Deliver an innovative integrated curriculum that emphasizes clinical reasoning, team based care and scholarly practice.

The St. Catherine University Master of Physician Assistant Studies program delivers an integrated curriculum that intentionally combines foundational and clinical science components with skills training. The core curriculum is taught through body systems, populations, a social determinants of health perspective and practice settings. The components of the didactic foundation are classroom learning, research, community engagement activities, and an integrated clinical experience. Classroom sessions combine lectures, problem-based learning, skills training, and group exercises. More than 50% of the curriculum is delivered in a non-lecture format. All students participate in research projects and a 4-week intensive community clinical quality improvement project after their clinical rotations are completed. Since 2015, one to two student teams have presented research posters at national conferences and/or published their work in peer reviewed journals.

Goal 3. Cultivate professional leadership with local, national, and global impact.

The St. Catherine University Master of Physician Assistant Studies program fosters a culture of leadership within the program and through example. Each year, 100% of students participate in the Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA) conference as well as the MAPA sponsored “Day on the Hill” in which students practice advocacy skills and meet local state representatives. Twenty-five percent of each cohort are active in student leadership roles on campus and as representatives to external bodies such as the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Other ways we measure leadership impact is through the percent of each cohort who report interest in serving as a preceptor in their six-month alumni surveys.

COHORT 2014 % (N=22) 2015 % (N=28) 2016 % (N=28) 2017 % (N=23)
Indicate interest in serving as a preceptor (yes) 68% (15) 64% (18) 57% (16) 65% (15)
Indicate interest in serving as a preceptor (maybe) 32% (7) 32% (9) 36% (10) 26% (6)

Goal 4: Foster awareness of diversity, global responsibility, and community engagement.

Throughout the curriculum, we incorporate opportunities to build and strengthen students’ cultural competency and ability to deliver healthcare to each patient in a holistic manner. Cultural considerations are integrated throughout standard didactic class sessions including research, each body system and a “special populations” course. For example, the students might be learning about diabetes and then work through a case of a homeless male whose diabetes is uncontrolled; or a patient who comes from a culture that equates physical illness with spiritual intervention. Community engagement activities during the didactic year provide dedicated time to develop cultural and self-awareness via field experience and reflection. With the help of over twenty community partners, each student logs over 60 hours of experiences in diverse settings.

In the Special Populations course, students explore root causes of healthcare disparity among different groups using a social determinants of health framework. Students have also chosen research or community clinical quality improvement projects to explore issues of diversity with topics such as “Clinical management of diabetes in Muslim patients during Ramadan in Minnesota” and working with a PA faculty member to develop, deliver and evaluate a breast and cervical cancer training for mid-level practitioners in Arusha, Tanzania.

We also provide the opportunity for interested students to participate in international clinical rotations or electives. To date, students have traveled to Haiti, Cuba, South Korea, Argentina, Tanzania and Guatemala. In the fall of 2018, St. Catherine University’s MPAS program initiated a Global Health and Underserved Populations Track. Here, students can choose to focus on underserved populations in their research, clinical quality improvement projects, and clinical rotations and would be prioritized for international options. Nine students (28%) in the 2020 cohort have enrolled in this new track. Below is a summary of student participation in international rotations or electives over the past five years.

Percent Student Participation in International Rotations or Study by Cohort

COHORT 2014 % (N=24) 2015 % (N=32) 2016 % (N=30) 2017 % (N=31) 2018 % (N=30)
Participate in international rotation 25 % (6) 18.8% (6) 30% (9) 9.6% (3)* 16.6% (5)

*Hurricane Matthew damaged the clinical site in Haiti and affected rotation plans for 4 students.