Featured Associate: Stanford University

The Stanford University School of Medicine’s Master of Science in PA Studies (MSPA) program is located in Palo Alto, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

The MSPA program is a 30-month program featuring innovative and streamlined curriculum, a state-of-the-art simulation lab, and a world-class clinical anatomy lab. In a novel approach to PA education that will help create the next generation of PA leaders, students are required to select a leadership track and complete a Capstone Project. The leadership tracks include Community Health, Health Services and Policy Research, Clinical Research, Medical Education, and Healthcare Administration.

The MSPA program’s mission is to educate and train compassionate and diverse PAs who can provide high-quality, patient-centered care, who are dedicated to improving access to healthcare, and who are inspired to become leaders in healthcare.

Stanford University has a long history of educating PAs. The MSPA program is expected to graduate its inaugural class in 2020. However, from 1971 until 2018, Stanford University partnered with Foothill Community College, offering an Associate Degree from Foothill Community College and a Certificate of Clinical Competency from Stanford University School of Medicine. More than 1,500 PAs completed this program.

A distinctive aspect of the MSPA program is our Educators-for-Care (E4C) faculty. Each MSPA student is assigned an E4C faculty member who supports and mentors their student longitudinally throughout their educational experience; this is in addition to the student’s faculty advisor. The E4C faculty are clinically practicing PAs who dedicate one day per week to mentoring and working with our MSPA students on patient communication and physical examination skills, clinical reasoning, and professionalism. Additionally, more than 150 PAs work within the Stanford health care community, creating endless opportunities for students to engage with clinically practicing PAs, both during their pre-clinical and clinical years.

The Stanford healthcare community is home to a significant number of Advanced Practice Providers. This provides MSPA students extensive opportunities for mentorship and support during their education and clinical training, in addition to the substantial mentorship and support they receive from the MSPA faculty. During the didactic work, PA students are based at the medical school and enroll as a cohort in a clinically focused curriculum. The program is proud to feature interprofessional education with medical students: 50% of the didactic curriculum is comprised of courses integrated with the medical students, offering both types of learners a rich and unique learning experience. During the clerkship year, students rotate through Stanford-affiliated hospitals and ambulatory practices as well as select sites throughout California. The MSPA students now have the opportunity to train clinically in two new, state of the art hospitals. Stanford Hospital, a 368-bed adult hospital, opened in 2019, and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, a 364-bed children’s hospital, opened in late 2018. These award-winning hospitals are two of the most technologically advanced hospitals in the country with a focus on patient-centered care and integrating technological advancements into every aspect of medical care delivery, all while sitting on over 7 acres of green space.

The MSPA program possesses several other truly unique aspects, including a small class size of fewer than 30 students, which allows faculty to provide individualized support. MSPA faculty are not only experienced educators, but they retain clinical relevance by continuing to practice clinically within the Stanford healthcare community. Faculty clinical practice areas include primary care (including Stanford clinics at Google and Yahoo), critical care, cardiology, dermatology, emergency medicine, hospital medicine, infectious disease, nephrology, and oncology. Another unique aspect of the program is that MSPA admissions criteria do not include set mandates for minimum grade point average, minimum Graduate Record Examination scores, or prerequisite courses (although preparatory coursework is suggested). This better allows for the identification of prospective students with unique backgrounds and experiences who can add to program diversity, become exceptional PAs, and be future PA leaders.

For more information on the Stanford MSPA program, visit our website by clicking here.