Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Physician Assistant Program
Skip to main content

Timeline

The curriculum for the PA Program is broken into a didactic year and a clinical year:

Didactic Year

The didactic year consists of a series of courses taught using an organ system approach (cardiology, pulmonary, etc.), with pediatrics, infectious disease, emergency medicine, geriatrics and genetics included across each system. Both lecture and small-group formats are used to deliver the curriculum, highlighted by a problem-based learning approach. The didactic year will also include instruction in evidence-based medicine and pre-clinical year prep and procedures course.

June - September

Patient Assessment I

PA 400 Patient Assessment I ( Credits 3 )

This is the first in a series of courses designed to develop the knowledge and skills required to obtain and record the complete medical history, use of appropriate equipment, proper techniques and accurate medical terminology to document findings; course will provide an overview of the medical record as well as development of writing and organizational skills for medical record keeping and oral presentation skills. Skills will be developed through structured laboratory exercises.

Prerequisites: Admission to the physician assistant program

Behavioral/Preventive Medicine I

PA 410 Behavioral/Preventive Medicine I ( Credits 2 )

This is the first in a series of courses designed to develop skills in the area of patient communication, patient counseling, patient education and cultural diversity and how they influence all aspects of medical practice. Instruction is focused on the detection and application of preventive measures and treatment of health risk behaviors including stress, abuse and violence, substance abuse, sexuality, end-of-life issues and reaction to illness.

Prerequisites: Admission to the physician assistant program

Pharmacotherapeutics I

PA 450 Pharmacotherapeutics I ( Credits 3 )

This is the first in a series of courses designed to develop skills related to the principles of pharmacology as they pertain to therapeutic agents, prescription and non-prescription. Discussion will include the principal mechanisms of action of the major classes of therapeutic agents, understanding of pharmacodynamics, uses, side effects and toxicities.

Prerequisites: Admission to the physician assistant program

Clinical Laboratory Medicine I

PA 430 Clinical Laboratory Medicine I ( Credits 2 )

This is the first in a series of courses designed to develop a functional understanding of the appropriate uses and interpretations of clinical diagnostic testing, including radiographic and EKG testing. Students will learn to select, interpret and evaluate clinical laboratory, imaging and other diagnostic tests used for diagnosing, treating and managing patient needs.

Prerequisites: Admission to the physician assistant program

Basic Science I

PA 420 Basic Science I ( Credits 3 )

This is the first in a series of courses designed to develop an understanding of normal physiology, genetics, pathologic and pathophysiologic concepts of diseases per organ system and clinical anatomy with an emphasis on important anatomical landmarks required in physical evaluation of patient, anatomical relationships of structures to each other and anatomical components of body systems.

Prerequisites: Admission to the physician assistant program

Clinical Medicine I

PA 440 Clinical Medicine I ( Credits 5 )

This is the first in a series of courses designed to provide an intensive study of human diseases and disorders, using a lifespan approach from pediatrics to geriatrics, in the areas of clinical medicine including epidemiology, etiology, historical data, clinical manifestations, progression, therapeutic management, prevention, laboratory medicine and prognosis. Emphasis will be on disease processes common to primary care practices and the development of differential diagnoses and plan based upon the patient's clinical presentation.

Prerequisites: Admission to the physician assistant program

Mastering Medical Information

PA 470 Mastering Medical Information ( Credits 2 )

This course will cover the importance of evidence-based medicine and review basic statistical, research methods and ethical standards in research. It will also cover the interpretation and application of various types of clinical articles to answering a clinical question and prepare the student for the project to be completed during the clinical year.

Prerequisites: Admission to the physician assistant program

October - January

Patient Assessment II

PA 401 Patient Assessment II ( Credits 3 )

This is the second in a series of courses designed to develop the knowledge and skills required to obtain and record the complete medical history, use of appropriate equipment, proper techniques and accurate medical terminology to document findings; course will provide an overview of the medical record as well as development of writing and organizational skills for medical record keeping and oral presentation skills. Skills will be developed through structured laboratory exercises.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of prior semester of PA coursework or program permission.

Behavioral/Preventive Medicine II

PA 411 Behavioral/Preventive Medicine II ( Credits 2 )

This is the second in a series of courses designed to develop skills in the area of patient communication, patient counseling, patient education and cultural diversity and how they influence all aspects of medical practice. Instruction is focused on the detection and application of preventive measures and treatment of health risk behaviors including stress, abuse and violence, substance abuse, sexuality, end of life issues and reaction to illness.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of prior semester of PA coursework or program permission.

Pharmacotherapeutics II

PA 451 Pharmacotherapeutics II ( Credits 3 )

This is the second in a series of courses designed to develop skills related to the principles of pharmacology as they pertain to therapeutic agents, prescription and non-prescription. Discussion will include the principal mechanisms of action of the major classes of therapeutic agents, understanding of pharmacodynamics, uses, side effects and toxicities.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of prior semester of PA coursework or program permission.

Clinical Laboratory Medicine II

PA 431 Clinical Laboratory Medicine II ( Credits 2 )

This is the second in a series of courses designed to develop a functional understanding of the appropriate uses and interpretations of clinical diagnostic testing, including radiographic testing. Students will learn to select, interpret and evaluate clinical laboratory, imaging and other diagnostic tests used for diagnosing, treating and managing patient needs.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of prior semester of PA coursework or program permission.

Basic Science II

PA 421 Basic Science II ( Credits 3 )

This is the second in a series of courses designed to develop an understanding of normal physiology, genetics, pathologic and pathophysiologic concepts of diseases per organ system and clinical anatomy with an emphasis on important anatomical landmarks required in physical evaluation of patient, anatomical relationships of structures to each other and anatomical components of body systems.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of prior semester of PA coursework or program permission.

Clinical Medicine II

PA 441 Clinical Medicine II ( Credits 5 )

This is the second in a series of courses designed to provide an intensive study of human diseases and disorders, using a lifespan approach from pediatrics to geriatrics, in the areas of clinical medicine including epidemiology, etiology, historical data, clinical manifestations, progression, therapeutic management, prevention, laboratory medicine and prognosis. Emphasis will be on disease processes common to primary care practices and the development of differential diagnoses and plan based upon the patient's clinical presentation.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of prior semester of PA coursework or program permission.

Bioethics

PA 485 Bioethics ( Credits 1 )

This course is designed to aid the student in the transition into the medical profession and serves as an introduction to bioethics. Areas of discussion include confidentiality, truth telling, competency, making informed decisions and other ethical issues.

Prerequisites: Admission in the physician assistant program

Preparing Future PAs

PA 480 Preparing Future PAs ( Credits 1 )

This course is designed to aid the student in the transition into the medical profession and serves as an introduction to professional practice issues. Areas of discussion include history of the physician assistant profession, the PA-Physician team, professional organizations, licensing and credentialing, malpractice, professionalism, healthcare delivery, reimbursement issues including Medicaid and Medicare, biomedical ethics, health literacy, diversity issues, domestic violence and end of life issues.

Prerequisites: Admission to the physician assistant program

February - May

Patient Assessment III

PA 402 Patient Assessment III ( Credits 3 )

This is the third in a series of courses designed to develop the knowledge and skills required to obtain and record the complete medical history, use of appropriate equipment, proper techniques and accurate medical terminology to document findings; course will provide an overview of the medical record as well as development of writing and organizational skills for medical record keeping and oral presentation skills. Skills will be developed through structured laboratory exercises.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of prior semester of PA coursework or program permission.

Behavioral/preventive Medicine III

PA 412 Behavioral/preventive Medicine III ( Credits 2 )

This is the third in a series of courses designed to develop skills in the area of patient communication, patient counseling, patient education and cultural diversity and how they influence all aspects of medical practice. Instruction is focused on the detection and application of preventive measures and treatment of health risk behaviors including stress, abuse and violence, substance abuse, sexuality, end of life issues and reaction to illness.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of prior semester of PA coursework or program permission.

Pharmacotherapeutics III

PA 452 Pharmacotherapeutics III ( Credits 3 )

This is the third in a series of courses designed to develop skills related to the principles of pharmacology as they pertain to therapeutic agents, prescription and non-prescription. Discussion will include the principal mechanisms of action of the major classes of therapeutic agents, understanding of pharmacodynamics, uses, side effects and toxicities.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of prior semester of PA coursework or program permission.

Clinical Laboratory Medicine III

PA 432 Clinical Laboratory Medicine III ( Credits 1 )

This is the second in a series of courses designed to develop a functional understanding of the appropriate uses and interpretations of clinical diagnostic testing, including radiographic and EKG testing. Students will learn to select, interpret and evaluate clinical laboratory, imaging and other diagnostic tests used for diagnosing, treating and managing patient needs.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of prior semester of PA coursework or program permission.

Basic Science III

PA 422 Basic Science III ( Credits 3 )

This is the third in a series of courses designed to develop an understanding of normal physiology, genetics, pathologic and pathophysiologic concepts of diseases per organ system and clinical anatomy with an emphasis on important anatomical landmarks required in physical evaluation of patient, anatomical relationships of structures to each other and anatomical components of body systems.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of prior semester of PA coursework or program permission.

Clinical Medicine III

PA 442 Clinical Medicine III ( Credits 4 )

This is the third in a series of courses designed to provide an intensive study of human diseases and disorders, using a lifespan approach from pediatrics to geriatrics, in the areas of clinical medicine including epidemiology, etiology, historical data, clinical manifestations, progression, therapeutic management, prevention, laboratory medicine and prognosis. Emphasis will be on disease processes common to primary care practices and the development of differential diagnoses and plan based upon the patient's clinical presentation.

Prerequisites: Successful completion of prior semester of PA coursework or program permission.

Medical Spanish

PA 490 Medical Spanish ( Credits 1 )

This course is designed to prepare the student to communicate with Spanish speaking patients as they conduct a medical history and physical examination. Basic medical vocabulary and comfort with the spoken language is the focus of this course.

Prerequisites: Admission to the physician assistant program

Pre-Clinical Year Prep Course

PA 460 Pre-Clinical Year Prep Course ( Credits 3 )

This course will prepare the student for the upcoming clinical year. The focus will be on procedures, such as bedside and surgical procedures including aseptic technique, air and blood-borne pathogen transmission prevention, phlebotomy, IV placement, foley catheter insertion, paracentesis, lumbar puncture, thoracocentesis, injections, surgical techniques and casting, as well as on the emergency management of a wide variety of diseases and disorders.

Prerequisites: Admission to the physician assistant program

Clinical Year

During the clinical year, students will complete a total of 11 rotations. This includes seven core rotations: internal medicine, family practice, psychiatry, pediatrics, general surgery, women’s health and emergency medicine. Each student will also complete four elective rotations in a wide variety of areas — including primary care, surgery and hospitalist medicine — based on their interests. Rotations last approximately four weeks each. All students will complete a master's project during the clinical year.

Back to top

Follow PA Program on