Physician Assistant (PA) Program
112 Semester credit hours
24 Months (6 semesters)


George Fox University has applied for Accreditation-Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the PA (ARC-PA).


In-person, full-time, heavy use of problem-based learning


Newberg, Oregon

Application timeline

April 30 to October 1, 2020 (rolling admissions)

* All stated financial information is subject to change.

Physician Assistant (PA) Program

George Fox University has proposed a new six-semester, 112-credit Physician Assistant (PA) program, which will award a master of medical science (MMSc) degree. The program will begin in January of 2021, pending successful regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and accreditation-provisional by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the PA.

Classes will be held in person for the full-time program at the university’s Newberg campus and affiliated clinic sites. The program seeks to develop well-informed, resilient and compassionate PAs who provide patient-centered medical care in diverse environments and aspires to transform healthcare for the benefit of people and their communities.

Program competencies, concepts and course descriptions are available on the curriculum page.

Program Distinctives

George Fox’s physician assistant program is distinguished by our dedication to problem-based learning and our commitment to service and humanitarianism.

Problem-Based Learning

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching approach that centers on the process of developing knowledge rather than simply memorizing the right answer. It develops critical thinking skills in an active, rather than passive, learning environment.

In problem-based learning, students work in collaborative small groups to solve complex real-world medical problems while building communication skills at the same time. Students are given a medical case and use their curiosity to ask questions about the patient’s condition. These questions either lead to things they already know or things they have yet to discover.

If they do not know the answers, they create a list of learning issues that become the "how or why questions" to be researched after the initial small-group meeting. The group facilitator rarely provides answers; rather, he or she instead directs the conversation to ensure the students are heading down the right path.

In the next class or small-group meeting, students share what they’ve learned with the group and apply it to the medical case in question, thus weaving the information together. In doing so, they construct knowledge to use for future problems or cases.

In the George Fox PA program, new cases are introduced each week while other classes support and supplement the learning that takes place, filling in any gaps the students might not have explored or discovered in the PBL class.

Service and Humanitarianism

The George Fox PA program is centered on service and humanitarianism. We want graduate students who have a heart for providing care to those who need it most in settings where medical care is scarce.

Providing care for all is at the cornerstone of the program. We teach students how to integrate what they learn into serving others, demonstrating compassion, knowledge and leadership. We strive to instill a spirit of volunteerism focused on the care of our fellow humans as we use the blessing of our education to bring health and healing to those who need it most.

Our goal is that students not only see this modeled in our faculty and staff, but that they themselves embody our vision to transform healthcare through increased access, affordability and equality for the benefit of people and communities.

The PA Profession

PAs are medical professionals who diagnose illnesses, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider. With thousands of hours of medical training, PAs are versatile and collaborative, practicing in every work setting and medical specialty.


There are more than 131,000 PAs in the U.S., accounting for more than 400 million patient interactions per year. The profession is growing, and there are now more than 200 PA education programs nationwide.

Programs follow an allopathic physician model and average three years of graduate medical education (typically seven semesters; 27 continuous months; three academic years; 110 to 120 graduate semester hours).

PAs practice in every work setting and medical specialty.

Work Setting

  • Outpatient office or clinic (53.3 percent)
  • Hospitals (36.5 percent)
  • Urgent care centers (5.9 percent)
  • Other (4.3 percent)

Medical Specialty

  • Primary care (20.8 percent)
  • Internal medicine subspecialties (12.2 percent)
  • Pediatric subspecialties (1.4 percent)
  • Surgical subspecialties (27.4 percent)
  • Emergency medicine (9.4 percent)
  • Other (28.8 percent)

Professional Potential

In 2017, the PA profession was recognized by multiple sources as a highly sought-after job.

  • U.S. News and World Report rated the PA profession first in its "Best Healthcare Jobs" list.
  • U.S. News and World Report rated the PA profession third in its "Best 100 Jobs" list.
  • Forbes rated the PA profession seventh on its "Highest Paying Jobs in America" list.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the PA profession is the fifth fastest-growing jobs in America.

Public Perception

A 2014 Harris Poll established high patient satisfaction in PA medical providers.

  • PAs are trusted healthcare providers (93 percent)
  • Having a PA makes it easier to get medical appointments (92 percent)
  • PAs improve the quality of healthcare (91 percent)

The Primary Care Shortage 

As of Jan. 1, 2014, the Health Resources and Services Administration designated more than 6,000 primary-care shortage areas where the physician-to-population ratio of 1:3,500 or more existed. HRSA estimates it would take an additional 8,000 primary care physicians to eliminate this current need.

The ratio used by HRSA, however, is much higher than the 1:1067 ratio suggested by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which pushes the primary care provider need closer to 24,000.

The present shortage has been predicted for some time. In fact, in 2006, the American College of Physicians stated that primary care was on the verge of collapse and unable to keep up with population growth, people with chronic disease, and long-term care of the aging. A 2012 study by Petterson, et al., estimates that 52,000 additional primary care providers will be needed by 2025.

In addition, the provider shift from rural to urban practice settings has widened the gap between healthcare demand and access to care. For example, in 2016, 1 in 5 Oregon citizens lived in rural areas (AAPA, 2018). Unfortunately, only 16 percent of practicing PAs work in a rural community. Of these, only 39 percent worked in primary care settings (6 percent of practicing PAs). This is hardly enough given the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which generated 725,000 new enrollees and an additional 1.39 million primary care visits per year.

As the paradigm of healthcare shifts, new models of care – like the patient-centered medical home – are ideally suited for the PA provider, who has a generalist education, team-based practice, and strong focus on wellness and prevention (AAPA, 2014).


Cristina Schmitt

Cristina Schmitt

Admissions Counselor, School of Medical Science (PA)

Admissions Counselor, Doctor of Physical Therapy

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