Academics–Master of Health Services—Physician Assistant Studies Degree | Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis
Mission and vision
The Master of Health Services — Physician Assistant Studies Degree Program prepares graduates to deliver care as physician assistants.
In alignment with the school's vision to advance health, the mission of the physician assistant program is to educate health care professionals to deliver care as members of interprofessional health care teams and to improve the availability of culturally relevant primary health care to underserved populations throughout California.
Wa Vue, Physician Assistant Student, Class of 2015
Preparing primary-care providers
Physician assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, physician assistants conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery and write prescriptions. Within the physician-physician assistant relationship, the physician assistant exercises autonomy in medical decision making and provides a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A physician assistant’s practice may also include education, research and administrative services.
The physician assistant program prepares clinicians with the knowledge and skills needed to serve in those capacities and meet the needs of a constantly changing health care system. Rooted in a growing body of research and nurtured by visionary faculty who seek to transform health care, the curricula embrace integrative case-based learning, technology and systems-wide perspectives. Instruction is also designed to be “more inspiring…and create an atmosphere of a community of learners,” as identified in a 2012 report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
As a result of health care reforms and an increasingly aging population with advanced chronic illnesses, millions more people require primary-care services, exceeding the number of providers currently available. The physician assistant program at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing provides a partial solution to this growing problem by educating and preparing primary-care providers versed in preventive measures, who advance health through health promotion and disease prevention, practice in ambulatory and community-based settings and enhance the existing workforce. A key to that preparation is learning in a collaborative environment, rather than in the absence of other health professions.
Dale Risenhoover, Physician Assistant Student, Class of 2015
The National Academy of Sciences recognizes the changing landscape of health professions and how the education of those professionals must evolve in order to improve care and decrease costs. Researchers note, “When contributions from each specialty field are well coordinated, the individual person benefits from improved communication among providers, resulting in improved health.” Leaders of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation expand upon that premise, recognizing that health educators and professionals must break out of their silos and “work in tandem with others to transform what it means to be a healthy nation.” They also recognize the bigger picture of health care, looks at a culture of health from both from a bird’s-eye view and by taking into effect how health extends to family and community life.
The physician assistant and nurse practitioner programs at the School of Nursing are the only ones in the country where students in these different disciplines learn alongside each other. Together, they discover how to interpret different perspectives, collaborate and lead as members of health care teams. The experience fosters awareness and appreciation of other cultures, promotes qualities that transcend the classroom and shapes how students provide care once in practice. With a focus on primary-care serving rural, diverse and aging populations, the UC Davis programs enable students to experience underserved populations during clinical rotations and prepare clinicians to fill the gap of providers that continues to grow.
Graduates are prepared to work as leaders of health care teams and learn methods to continually critique and improve care, provide care that is evidence-based and establish systems of care to address population health.
Growing a community of learners
The Master of Health Services — Physician Assistant Studies Degree Program is led by the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Group, an interprofessional team of more than 55 faculty from disciplines such as nursing, medicine, health informatics, nutrition, biostatistics, pharmacy, sociology and public health.
The master's-degree program is a full-time, professional degree program that includes academic courses, clinical skills courses and supervised clinical practice. Students are encouraged to limit outside employment while enrolled in this full-time program of study.
All students must complete core academic courses, a scholarly project, and a comprehensive exam as well as 1,530 hours of supervised clinical practice. Academic courses provide a broad education that includes advanced skills in understanding complex problems and generating solutions, how health systems and health care work, how to improve quality, as well as how to lead teams and manage business aspects of care, including informatics and reimbursement.
This is a 27-month, year-round program. Core courses courses are offered summer, fall, winter and spring quarters on the UC Davis Sacramento campus. Students typically attend class Monday through Friday and they should also expect some weekend and evening course requirements and clinical experiences.
A mandatory Leadership Immersion Experience serves as an orientation for students. This full-time, three-day experience runs the week prior to the first summer quarter. Throughout this time together, students interact with School of Nursing leadership, participate in team building and develop one-on-one faculty relationships. The week serves as the foundation for the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate program curriculum.
- Full-time enrollment (12 units per quarter) is required
- Required courses for the master’s-degree program include a combination of core courses and electives.
- A comprehensive exam is required
- Physician assistant students are expected to complete the program in 27 months
- Physician assistant studies program degree requirements
- Essential abilities and technical standards for students
- Applicant clinical experience
- International graduate requirements
- Program goals, outcomes and PANCE rate report
- Required technical standards
- Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession
- Click here to learn more why UC Davis is the right choice for your physician assistant education
- New physician assistant students quickly exposed to clinical experiences
- Preparing family nurse practitioners, physician assistants to fill primary care need