This page is intended to be a general overview of the PA Program's policies. A complete guide to these policies is contained in the Program Handbook, distributed to all matriculating students.
All PA students are required to have health insurance throughout their 2-years of the program. Students are to complete the Coverage Selection Form to either elect or decline the insurance that Northwestern University offers. Proof of University or other health insurance coverage must be provided to the PA program. See the Health Services-Chicago website for more information.
Health Requirements for Admitted Students
All PA students at Northwestern are required to meet entrance health requirements. Please review the "Admitted Students" page under the "Admissions and Financial Aid" section for more detailed information.
Course work in the Physician Assistant Program is different from most traditional graduate programs. Due to the knowledge base each semester building on the knowledge gained from the previous semester it is vital that all students of the Northwestern University Physician Assistant Program complete the required work in the prescribed sequence. No advanced placement within the Physician Assistant Program will be allowed for prior academic or clinical experience.
The following matriculated student records will be maintained by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program for the length of time specified. These records and others maybe maintained by other departments within the institution. For example, transcripts are maintained by the registrar and health records are maintained by student health.
Length of Time
Clinical rotation schedule
Ten years after graduation
Ten years after graduation
Health/Immunization screening assurance
One year after graduation
Official Transcripts: Northwestern University has authorized Parchment Exchange to provide on-line transcript ordering services to PA Program Alumni. For more information, or to request a transcript, please click to the link below. Current students may obtain official transcripts through their CAESAR account under the "My Academics" menu.
The Program will not employ any physician assistant student as a graduate assistant or in any other capacity within the program. Students enrolled in the PA Program cannot substitute for practicing physician assistants or provide unsupervised services while at any clinical site. Northwestern University employee policies do not apply to students while in the Program. PA students credentialed or licensed in other non-PA professions cannot function in that role while in the role of a PA student.
While the Program does not encourage students to work during the didactic or clinical years of the program, the program does not prevent students from obtaining outside employment. The program will not make any exceptions, due to outside employment, in regard to course work or clinical assignments for the student who does engage in outside employment.
Leave of Absence
Due to the intensive nature of physician assistant education, all academic activities are considered to be an important part of the overall educational experience. The Program encourages all students to engage in their education with consistent attendance. Leaves of absence will be individualized to the specific situation but will follow the general policies and procedures outlined below. Program faculty will be notified of all instances of leaves of absence. Students are urged to submit requests for absence as soon as an absence is anticipated. All requests for a leave of absence, whether administrative or medical, should be submitted IN WRITING to the Program Director or their designee.
A. Administrative Leaves of Absence
Administrative leaves of absence may be granted for personal, educational, financial or other reasons which must be stated in the letter of request. If the student is in academic difficulty, the program director or designee will consult with the faculty and course instructors of record prior to approval of the request. During both the Pre-Clinical and Clinical year, administrative leaves will be considered on a case-by-case basis. During the Pre-Clinical year, when more than two weeks of leave are needed, the usual recommendation is withdrawal from school and readmission.
B. Medical Leaves of Absence
Medical leaves of absence require a statement from the appropriate licensed health care provider as to the expected duration of absence. Details as to the reason for the medical leave are not required. Reinstatement must be approved by the Program Director or their designee, who will need to be assured that the student is again ready for the rigors of medical studies. While a statement of readiness from the student's health care provider may be sufficient, the right to require a second opinion regarding readiness is reserved. This consultation will come from a health care provider approved by the program, and any cost involved will be borne by the student. With medical leaves of longer than two weeks, the usual recommendation is withdrawal from school and readmission.
C. Excused Absences (Up to 72 Hours in Length)
Excused absences will be determined on a case by case basis. Valid reasons for requesting an excused absence include personal illness and family emergencies. Personal illness lasting longer than 3 days may require documentation by a medical provider. The student must notify the program via phone or e-mail to report all absences. Please note that absence requests related to attending weddings, homecomings, the need to make an early flight for vacation, etc., will not be granted.
With excused absences during the didactic year:
- The student should arrange to make up any work missed.
- The student must notify the PA Program of his/her absence.
- For excused absences that include missing an exam, refer to the Exam Policy.
- With excused absences during the clinical year:
- Each absence will be considered individually.
- For excused absences that include missing an exam, refer to the Exam Policy.
D. Exit Interview
Should you be granted an extended administrative or medical leave of absence, withdraw from school, or be dismissed, the student is required to have an EXIT INTERVIEW with the PA Program Director or designated faculty member. This will involve returning any instructional property that has been entrusted to you and turning in your identification badge and white clinical jacket. Other things to be considered at this time are clearance of all current debt with the university, the onset of the grace period if you should have school loans, and termination or conversion of your health and disability coverage. You may also want to arrange for an EXIT INTERVIEW with Financial Aid. Students dismissed from the Program will no longer be able to attend program classes and activities unless an appeal is in process.
Once admitted to the Program, all matriculating students will be subject to a background check to be completed prior to matriculation. The Program will follow background check procedures utilized by other programs within the Feinberg School of Medicine. Matriculating students will not subject to any fees directly related to this process.
Should criminal or other dubious legal histories be uncovered during the background check, the Program reserved the right to rescind offers of admission.
Once enrolled, a student wishing to withdraw from the program will have his tuition refunded to the degree determined by the following schedule:
0-25% of term elapsed: 75% of tuition paid will be refunded
26-50% of term elapsed: 50% of tuition paid will be refunded
51-100% of term elapsed: 0% of tuition paid will be refunded
Financial aid recipients who withdraw from the University may be required to return a portion of their financial aid to the federal programs. The policy is subject to change in accordance with revisions in federal regulations. A full description of the University's refund and repayment policy as it applies to PA students is contained in the Financial Regulations of 2013-14. This pamphlet is distributed by the Office of Student Accounts (Abbott Hall, first floor). See also the handbook Financial Regulations for Students on the Chicago Campus.http://www.northwestern.edu/sfs/documents/publications_and_forms/FinRegsCh.pdf
The Standards of Honor and Professional Conduct Policies are guided by the mission and vision statements of our institution.
Physician Assistants are called to the highest standards of honor and professional conduct. Understanding that this responsibility begins not upon graduation but rather at the inception of one's medical education, the students of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program uphold the following standards which serve as an embodiment of conduct and integrity. These standards strive to foster an atmosphere of honesty, trust, and cooperation among students, instructors, patients, and society.
Behavior considered appropriate for a career in medicine includes, but is not limited to, honesty, trustworthiness, professional demeanor, respect for the rights of others, personal accountability, and concern for the welfare of patients. In these areas, PA students are bound by:
- Be truthful in communication with others.
- Refrain from cheating, plagiarism, or misrepresentation in the fulfillment of academic requirements.
- Maintain the confidentiality of patient information.
- Maintain confidentiality of student assessment/evaluation information.
- Admit errors and not intentionally mislead others or promote ourselves at the student peer, professional colleague, or patient's expense.
- Be thoughtful and professional when interacting with patients, their families, our professional colleagues or student peers.
- Strive to maintain our composure under pressures of fatigue, professional stress, or personal problems.
- Avoid offensive language, gestures, or inappropriate remarks with sexual overtones.
- Maintain a neat and clean appearance, and dress in attire that is reasonable as a student and accepted as professional to the patient population served.
Respect for the rights of others
- Create an atmosphere which encourages learning, characterized by cooperative relationships to my student peers and/or to the patient population served.
- Deal with professional, staff, and peer members of the health team and in my study groups in a considerate manner and with a spirit of cooperation.
- Act with an egalitarian spirit toward all persons encountered in a professional capacity, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual preference, socioeconomic status or educational achievement.
- Respect the right of patients and their families to be informed and share in patient care decisions.
- Respect patients', standardized patients’ or peers’ modesty and privacy.
- Respect the diversity of learning styles within my student class.
- Personal accountability.
- Participate in our study groups and class assignments responsibly to the best of our ability.
- Participate responsibly in patient care to the best of our ability and with appropriate supervision.
- Undertake clinical duties and persevere until they are complete.
- Notify the responsible person if something interferes with our ability to perform clinical tasks effectively.
Concern for the welfare of patients
- Treat patients, their families and our peers or professional colleagues with respect and dignity both in their presence and in discussions with others.
- Consider what is hurtful or helpful to patients and use that as a guide for participating in patients' medical care.
- Consider what is hurtful or helpful to our student peers and use that as a guide for participating in our study groups.
- Discern accurately when supervision or advice is needed and seek these out before acting.
- Recognize when our ability to function effectively is compromised, and ask for relief or help.
- Avoid the use of alcohol or drugs in a way that could compromise patient care or our own performance.
- Avoid engaging in romantic, sexual, or other non-professional relationships with a patient, even upon the apparent request of a patient.
To graduate from the PA Program, and earn a Master of Medical Science degree, the candidate must:
- Achieve a grade of C or better in all PA Program courses.
- Achieve a minimum overall GPA of 3.00 at the end of the Program.
- Successfully complete the PA Program Summative Evaluation.
To achieve satisfactory academic progress in the Physician Assistant Program, the student must maintain an aggregate grade of B (GPA of 3.00). The PA Program considers a grade below “C” in any of the Physician Assistant Program courses to represent unsatisfactory academic progress and may result in academic warning, probation or dismissal from the program. Unsatisfactory academic progress will result in a review by the academic review committee and may result in repeating course work, academic warning, academic probation, or dismissal from the PA Program.
The principal PA Program faculty members review each student’s progress each semester. The purpose of this review is to clarify each student’s academic status and his/her progress towards completion of the Physician Assistant Program. Factors to be considered in this review include the following: an internal audit of grades earned in completed courses, professional development, and professional/ethical behavior.
Academic progress in the second year is evaluated with end of rotation exams scores, preceptor evaluations, and other course work requirements..
To remain in good academic standing all PA students must receive a grade of “C” or better in all PA Program courses and a passing grade in all clinical rotations. The academic review process exists to assist students with identification of problems and issues that may be associated with academic or professional difficulties. The process occurs so that appropriate guidance, advice and remediation options may be effected.
Within the syllabus of each course the grading methodology and elements are defined. Each element (quiz, exam, group session, etc.) are assigned a point value within the context of each course. The points are totaled and a final grade determined. The letter grade is determined from the point scale outlined in the course syllabi.
Student Grievance/Dismissal/Appeals Policy
When a student fails to achieve satisfactory academic progress, accused of academic dishonesty, or is accused of other program violations the Academic Review Process will be initiated. (See sexual harassment policy the handling of grievances.)
- The accuser will, within three working days, inform the Program Director in writing of the accusation, providing as much detail as possible.
- Within two working days of notification, the Program Director will convene a Student Review Process.
- The committee will meet to discuss the incident, interview witness, and use any method allowed to gather information related to the incident. Multiple meetings may be required.
- Within two working days of the final meeting the PA faculty attending the review will prepare the committee's recommendations and forward them to the Program Director.
- The Program Director will accept or reject the recommendations including, if applicable, reasons for rejection of any recommendations. The Program Director will inform the student and members of the review process in writing on the course of action within two working days.
- A form accompanying the written course of action must be signed and returned by the student to the Program Director within seven days of receipt.
- A copy of all final recommendations will be placed in the student's academic file.
- Working Days are defined as those days within an academic semester or session. Holidays recognized by NWU and days that separate academic semesters and sessions are not counted in these timetables.
- There will be times when extenuating circumstances call for an exception to these time frames. Requests for modifying these time frames must be presented to and approved by the Program Director.
Students who disagree with the plan of action set forth by the Program Director may have the decision reviewed by the Dean of the Feinberg School of Medicine. See the Feinberg School of Medicine Appeals Process for more details.
Safe and Healthy Learning Environment
Feinberg believes that an effective learning environment is one in which all involved are treated with respect. Discover how we foster a safe and healthy learning environment and connect with student support resources.