The WMU Department of Physician Assistant is dedicated to educating competent, caring physician assistants to practice primary care medicine with the supervision of a physician, and to providing physician assistants to serve in all areas of society.


Western Michigan University will prepare the highest quality physician assistants to practice primary care medicine within the changing health care environment of the 21st century.


The aim of the program is to facilitate the acquisition of the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to respond positively to the challenges and opportunities of future trends in health care delivery. The focus is on "higher order learning" to prepare the physician assistant student for critical thinking, ethical decision-making and the synthesis and judgment of problems, based on the bio-psycho-social model. The PA student will be insightful and aware of his or her own professional role and limitations, as well as the needs, styles, and values of patients, and those of other health professionals. PA students are considered "lifelong learners" of the art and science of medicine, as well as active learners who ask questions, uncover meaning and make decisions.



The department is committed to educating high quality, effective physician assistants.

Student performance is measured through a variety of assessment methods, such as assignments, projects, clinical scenarios, quizzes, integrated examinations, rotation specific examinations, and clinical performance examinations. In addition, mock Physician Assistant National Certifying Examinations are administered at the beginning of the program to determine baseline knowledge, at the end of first year, and at the end of the second year just prior to graduation, to monitor student progress throughout the program. These exams also provide the students with practice for the real exam. The pass rate on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination has always been above the national average except in 2012. 

WMU Student performance on the mock Physician Assistant National Certifying Examinations over the past five years shows consistent growth of knowledge through the program.

Graph showing the growth of student knowledge over time.


The department is committed to contributing to the health and well being of society.

This goal is measured by the graduation of well qualified PAs who contribute to the health and well being of society and participate in community service.

WMU performance: In order to promote life-long community service in addition to their professional work, the program encourages the WMU William G. Birch Sr. Student Society of the AAPA to contribute to local, state and national service projects such as Girls on the Run, Adopt a Family, Relay for Life, WC SAFE, Angel House and Goodwill Inn Homeless Shelter. At the University level, WMU PA students have been the top fund raisers for Relay for Life (2008) and runners-up (2012). They have raised funds for the Michigan PA Foundation and the National PA Foundation both of which provide scholarships to PA students and work with many charitable organizations to improve healthcare delivery and access for those whose medical needs are great. These foundations organize charitable competitions in which WMU PA students participate. In charitable competitions sponsored by the Michigan PA Foundation in conjunction with the MAPA Fall CME Conference, WMU PA students have been fund raising champions four times (2014, 2013, 2011, 2008) and runners-up twice (2012 and 2010). In charitable competitions sponsored by the National PA Foundation in conjunction with the Annual AAPA National Conference, WMU PA students have been national fund raising champions twice (2014 and 2010) and runners-up twice (2009 and 2009). In addition to participation in these charitable competitions, the students have provided free medical care under the supervision of faculty such as blood pressure and blood sugar screening in an underserved area in Michigan, sports physicals for high schools and physicals for Head Start.


The department is committed to promoting and developing the physician assistant profession.

This goal is measured by faculty and student participation in state, national and international PA conferences and organizations.

WMU performance: PA faculty regularly attend and present papers and posters at conferences such as Michigan Academy of Physician Assistant, Physician Assistant Education Association, the American Academy of Physician Assistant, and the International Academy of Physician Associate Educators. Faculty also serve on the committees of these organizations. In addition, faculty act as journal editors, competition reviewers, and consultants and educators in industry. These activities provide opportunities for faculty to interact with peers and remain current in the latest practices in medicine and medical education.

Graph showing faculty attendance at physician assistant conferences over time.