A student in North Central College's new master of physician assistant studies program.
North Central College is launching a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) Program and expects to welcome its first cohort of students in the fall of 2021.

Media Releases

North Central College introduces new master of physician assistant studies (MSPAS) program


By Jeremy Borling

Apr 28, 2020

MSPAS Program Is the Latest in North Central’s Growing Suite of Graduate Health Science Program Offerings

North Central College is launching a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) Program and expects to welcome its first cohort of students in the fall of 2021. The program, which will be housed within the College’s School of Education and Health Sciences, aims to address the current shortage in the nation’s physician workforce—an issue that has been recently exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The College’s MSPAS Program is in development and has applied to the ARC-PA for Accreditation-Provisional. The Program will have its Accreditation-Provisional site visit in October 2020 and its status will be voted upon by the ARC-PA in March of 20211.

“North Central College is a cornerstone institution in Naperville and we look forward to our graduates becoming the next generation of healthcare providers right here in our own backyard and beyond,” said North Central College President Troy D. Hammond. “The College is well positioned to serve the community in this way, especially given our location in an area known for its excellent healthcare services, facilities and organizations.”

Applications for the first cohort of students can be submitted on the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) portal starting April 30. More information regarding admissions requirements and preferences for current North Central students and alumni can be found by visiting northcentralcollege.edu/program/master-physician-assistant-studies.

“North Central College continues to be a leader in building distinct, high-demand programs that provide healthcare solutions to societal problems,” said Marci J. Swede, Ph.D., North Central’s dean of the School of Education and Health Sciences. “This is an opportunity for the College to build on its successful track record of growing advanced clinical healthcare programs that are rooted in the liberal arts traditions and that strongly adhere to evidence-based medical practice, while at the same time emphasizing a humanistic and relationship-centered approach.”

The role of a physician assistant (PA) is a highly respected, evolving and expanding profession. PAs practice both inpatient and outpatient medicine in a team setting with physicians and other healthcare professionals. PAs examine patients, order and interpret diagnostic studies, diagnose disease, and provide safe, evidence-based pharmacologic, medical and surgical treatment. PAs are an essential component to the delivery of quality care and help address critical shortages of primary care providers in both rural and urban environments.

Contingent upon the granting of Accreditation-Provisional status, North Central’s MSPAS Program will be a 24-month long program, starting with a year primarily devoted to instruction of content areas and followed by a clinical year. The program will underscore the importance of hands-on experience, communication skills and relationship building throughout.

After focusing on classroom, laboratory and simulation experiences during year one, students will be well-prepared to initiate their core clinical rotations in year two. Clinical placements will include six-week rotations—completed in both inpatient and outpatient settings in a variety of hospital and private practice sites—in the following areas:

  • General Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Internal Medicine
  • Behavioral Health
  • Pediatrics
  • Women’s Health
  • Family Practice
  • Primary Care or Surgical Elective

“One of the unique aspects of North Central’s MSPAS Program has been our ability to build it from the ground up using ARC-PA standards and a student-based approach that focuses on preparing graduates to be competent and compassionate leaders in their field and to work as part of a broader healthcare team,” said Mary Groll, MD, MS, North Central’s MSPAS Program director. “Students will have opportunities throughout the 24-month program to work with other clinical graduate students to develop the skills for successful communication and teamwork.”

New State-of-the-Art Facility

Students will benefit from the College’s construction of a new, 40,000-square-foot on-campus academic and interprofessional health sciences facility, which will be located at 160 E. Chicago Ave., just east of downtown Naperville. The facility is expected to be completed in time for the inaugural MSPAS cohort in the fall of 2021.

The state-of-the-art facility will house multiple advanced clinical practice programs, which will create various opportunities for interprofessional education. The facility will include space for problem-based learning; a skills lab to practice fundamental technical skills such as starting IVs and blood draws; high fidelity and low fidelity mannequins in a simulated hospital inpatient setting; and fully functional outpatient examination rooms, including cutting-edge 3D anatomy visualization tables.

Additional Graduate Health Science Program Offerings

North Central’s MSPAS Program is the latest in a growing suite of graduate-level health science programs offered by the College, including: the Master of Occupational Therapy Program, which launched in 2018 and will graduate its first cohort of students on May 3, 2020; the Master of Athletic Training Program; and a Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, which is expected to launch in January of 2023. Construction of the College’s new academic and health sciences facility will provide enhanced educational opportunities for students in all of these programs.

For more information about the College’s MSPAS Program and to apply starting April 30, visit northcentralcollege.edu/program/master-physician-assistant-studies.

1 If Accreditation-Provisional is not granted, the program will not commence in August 2021 and student seat deposits will be returned.

Media Contact

Jeremy Borling, Director of Communication, North Central College
jaborling@noctrl.edu; 630-637-5307

About North Central College

North Central College provides students with the confidence, instruction and direction they need to exceed their personal best inside and outside of the classroom and throughout their careers. Founded in 1861 and located just 28 miles west of Chicago in the Historic District of Naperville, Ill.—named among the nation’s “Best Places to Live” by Money magazine—North Central is home to nearly 3,000 students and offers more than 70 undergraduate majors, 60 additional undergraduate minors and concentrations, and 13 graduate degree programs. Visit northcentralcollege.edu to discover why U.S. News & World Report has named North Central a “Best in the Midwest” school for 20 years in a row and to learn more about the College’s state-of-the-art facilities and distinctive programs, particularly in the sciences and business.