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Mission, Vision, Goals & Values


The Emory Physician Assistant Program recruits, educates and mentors a diverse group of students to become highly regarded physician assistants providing compassionate health care of the highest quality.


The Program values the highest standards of professionalism and team based medicine with a commitment to the medically underserved.

Graduates are prepared to practice evidence-based primary care and preventive medicine, engage in lifelong learning, and assume future leadership roles.


Program Goal 1

Support students’ journey to become well prepared, certified PAs by providing a high-quality, evidence-based curriculum and diverse clinical training opportunities.

-Well prepared to enter clinical practice

In the exit survey of the classes of 2016 and 2017, 82% and 88% of graduates, respectively, stated they felt prepared for clinical practice at graduation.

The attrition rate of the Emory PA Program is less than 2% over the last three cohorts.

-High-quality education

The Emory PA Program attracts experts and excellent lecturers from the broad Emory community, the region and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to teach our students.

-Evidence-based curriculum

Evidence-based medicine is an integral component of the PA curriculum.

Students matriculate in an epidemiology/biostatistics course (PAE 7002) in the second semester and learn key concepts to interpret research publications. Building on these concepts and coordinating with modules, guided journal clubs present hallmark papers with focus on interpretation of the evidence. Additionally, current best practices research evidence is presented in each module to guide clinical decision-making.

Clinical year students return to campus at the end of each rotation for further focus on evidence-based research in internal medicine topics.

-Diverse clinical training opportunities

Students are exposed to multiple healthcare delivery systems including academic healthcare settings, community hospitals, rural clinics, urban institutions in medically underserved areas, the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center and private practices. Bilingual students may rotate through predominately Spanish-speaking sites, and all students have service opportunities to work with cultural minorities.  Grady Memorial Hospital serves a multicultural population with patients from African nations, the Middle East, South and Central America, and Eastern Europe. This diversity offers the opportunity to work with onsite interpreters or use a language line for ~50 languages. Most students complete at least one rotation at a medically underserved site.

The Emory PA Program works with the Global Health Institute of Emory University.  Through this program, students may join Emory faculty on international projects with recent rotations in Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Tanzania. The Program also works with other international outreach groups.

All students complete their core rotation in inpatient medicine at an Emory-affiliated hospital.  Students complete a psychiatry rotation at an Emory affiliated academic healthcare center or a community based psychiatric clinic that serves the homeless. In addition, most students complete one rotation in a rural area to further increase the variety of experiences.

The Emory PA Program offers three elective rotations, 15 weeks total in length, which may include an Academic Medicine rotation for students interested in teaching in a PA Program, advocating for the PA profession or exploring health policy issues. Other electives include opportunities in all medical and surgical subspecialties. Students utilize these elective rotations for career exploration and to address weaker knowledge areas. From pediatric specialty rotations such as pediatric inpatient medicine, pediatric hematology/oncology and rotations in the PICU to geriatrics and palliative care, our students have a wide array of choices.

In the exit survey, over 80% of students listed the variety of available rotations as one of the top five strengths of the Emory PA Program.

Program Goal 2

Recruit, mentor, and support a diverse student body

To help address equity in healthcare, the Emory PA Program has taken an active role in recruiting minority students from historically black colleges and universities located in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee and by attending recruitment fairs that target underrepresented minority students.

The Emory PA Program has developed a mentoring program for accepted underrepresented minority students. Each participating student is assigned a mentor who graduated from the PA Program and who is also an underrepresented minority. 

The last five matriculated classes of the Emory PA Program have consisted of 20% minority students with a graduation rate of 96% among these minority students.

Program Goal 3

Promote opportunities for community engaged learning, service, and outreach to underserved populations

The majority of our students participate in community outreach opportunities provided by the Emory PA Program. These opportunities include:

The South Georgia Farmworker Health Project (SGFHP) founded in 1996

Project Scope: Over 200 student-clinicians, volunteer physician faculty, medical interpreters and logistics volunteers travel to rural south Georgia to provide two weeks of free, high-quality medical and dental care to over 1,600 migrant farmworkers and their families each June.  Much needed primary care services and medications are provided to an often invisible patient population.  PA students, doctoral-level PT students, medical students and marriage and family therapy students work together in teams to care for patients. This care includes treating acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries from farm labor, managing chronic disease such as diabetes, hypertension or asthma, and counseling patient with mental health issues. Students also mentor college-bound teens interested the health professions through the Teen Corp Program.  

Impact: Now in its 22nd year, the Project has delivered care to over 27,000 patients since its inception and has been awarded numerous grants for its innovative, interprofessional training curricula and outreach.  This project is the hallmark of the Emory PA Program. The program allows students to practice culturally sensitive medicine in the most austere of settings as they are progressing through the clinical year. Matriculating students have indicated that the SGFHP and community outreach are consistently the strongest influence in their decision to attend the Emory PA Program. Agriculture is the largest economic driver in Georgia. Many crops need to be picked by hand and these hands belong to farmworkers who have no access to healthcare. Over time we have built a relationship of trust and respect with many growers in South Georgia and work together to keep workers healthy.

In partnership with: The Decatur County Farmworker Health Program, the Lake Park Migrant Farmworker Clinic, LLC, the Southwest Georgia Area Health Education Center (SOWEGA), the Georgia State Department of Public Health, the Georgia State Department of Education, the Emory University School of Medicine Departments of Family and Preventive Medicine, Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Pediatrics, the Emory Doctoral Physical Therapy Program, the Rollins School of Public Health, Mercer University, Valdosta State University, the Lion’s Lighthouse Project, the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta, Farmworker Justice and numerous faith-based communities including the Central Congregational United Church of Christ in Atlanta and the Georgia Baptist Convention.  

The Emory PA Student-Directed Clinic at The Good Samaritan Health Center, founded in 2006

Project Scope: The Good Samaritan Health Center, a faith-based organization that serves as a comprehensive Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) for the working poor and underinsured provides medical, dental and behavioral counseling services. Atlanta's homeless and those with no income make up ~20% of patient visits, the working poor ~70%, and those who are Medicaid/Medicare eligible compose ~10% of the Center’s 30,000 visits each year. Patients pay on a reduced sliding fee scale based on income. The Center incorporates innovative chronic disease management through their Urban Farm Program (which grows and distributes approximately 12,000 pounds of fresh produce), a full-time registered dietician for nutrition counseling and a 24-hour access gym.

Impact: Our partnership with “Good Sam” dates back to 2003, when students first came to provide education and counseling to patients at the fledgling clinic started by pediatrician and philanthropist William Warren, IV, MD.  Since moving to its new location in the English Avenue neighborhood of Atlanta in 2006, the PA Program has staffed a student-led “clinic” on the first Saturday of each month and helps see new patients under the supervision of volunteer providers from our Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.  Pre-clinical students work closely with clinical year PA students to take patient histories and perform physical exams, gaining valuable experience perfecting their oral patient presentation skills, and learning to formulate an appropriate assessment and plan for each patient.  Students learn how to deliver culturally competent care by working alongside certified medical interpreters while caring for the Center’s growing immigrant and refugee patient population. PA students have been integral in providing nutrition education through their efforts on the Good Sam Urban Farm and the Food RX Program and are often invited to represent Good Sam at community health screening events. Students may also request a clinical elective rotation at Good Sam during their clinical year and gain additional exposure to the PCMH model of care.

The Emory PA Student-Directed “Clinic” at the HEALing Community Center, Atlanta’s West End Founded in 2013

Project Scope: Emory physician and founder, Charles Moore, MD, invited Emory PA Program faculty and students to join him in caring for Atlanta’s poor and uninsured patients in the Spring of 2013 when his vision of starting a free clinic became reality.  Now in our fifth year of service at HEAL, Emory PA students are excited to re-launch a monthly student-led “clinic” at this growing Federally-Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Atlanta’s West End Community. Students receive training to serve as diabetes educators and health coaches and help teach monthly classes for patients who are pre-diabetic, are newly diagnosed diabetics or who are having difficulty managing their illness. This Center is built on the PCMH model and affords patients the ability to receive medical, dental and behavioral health services in one location. Students interested in public health or in our dual-degree program may be particularly interested in requesting this site for an elective rotation during their clinical year.         

Impact:  Students and PA Program faculty have been involved in many aspects of providing care and outreach to HEAL patients including serving as nutrition educators through the Center’s “Food is Medicine” initiative and in partnership with the nationally acclaimed, “Cooking Matters” program where Emory PA students lead healthy cooking demonstrations at local schools and YMCAs for families to learn simple strategies to combat childhood obesity. Our students are also involved with the “Walk with a Doc” program aimed at helping patients use a structured walking program to increase physical activity and improve health, and serve at the Center’s “Back to School” health fair in August.

Portal de Salud, Catholic Mission of the America’s, Lilburn, Emory PA partnership founded in 2014

Project Scope: Portal de Salud is a growing health ministry that is operating through an office at the Catholic Mission, Our Lady of the Americas in Lilburn.  The health education and outreach work is based on the “Promatora de Salud”, or community health worker model as a means to support the 29,000 members of the church community and is supported through an interprofessional group of PA, medical and nursing students who staff the health education office weekly and serve as health educators. Through a vast and growing network of healthcare providers, clinics and resources, Portal de Salud is not only connecting parish members to vital health services, but also brings much needed patient education, advocacy, and health screenings to the growing Hispanic and Latino community in metropolitan Atlanta.

Impact: PA students help organize and deliver free healthcare services including health exams, immunizations, and screenings to over 1,000 patients during the groups’ growing large-scale health fair (Feria) event held in October.  First year students are able to connect their knowledge and skills about pediatric care while hosting the “Kids’ Village” and engage families with fun activities aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of nutrition and physical activity, regular pediatric care and immunizations in this largely immigrant patient population.  Clinical year students are supervised to administer health exams, perform point of care testing for glucose, cholesterol, and HIV screening and deliver immunizations.  Students who are interested in becoming culturally competent clinicians and are fluent in Spanish are encouraged to consider volunteering for the evening “clinic.”

Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless, Downtown Atlanta, Emory PA partnership founded in 2011  

Impact: Founded by Civil Rights leader and philanthropist, the late Rev. Hosea Williams, in 1971, Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless International, Inc., is one of the largest outreach organizations in Atlanta serving as many as 10,000 people four times per year on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday and Easter.  In conjunction with the Morehouse School of Medicine, PA students and faculty from the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine help provide health screenings and free primary care services during these impactful daylong events.

Christian Medical and Dental Association of Atlanta (CMDA) Mobile Health Clinic in Clarkston, Emory PA partnership founded in 2016

Project Scope: CMDA is a national nonprofit organization established in 1931 that serves as a network of medical and dental providers who seek to serve others both locally and globally.  The Atlanta chapter organizes a monthly mobile health unit that sees patients at the Clarkston Community Center and cares for a large immigrant and refugee population from many different countries, including Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Ethiopia, Burma and the Sudan.  The organization also provides outreach to Atlanta’s large homeless population and to victims of sex trafficking.  CMDA also offers several opportunities for PA students to join them on international medical mission trips to El Salvador, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.  Students interested in pursuing this opportunity must apply early in coordination with the Program’s Clinical Coordinators.   

Impact: Last year, Emory PA students played an integral part in the success of the mobile health unit’s ability to provide compassionate care to over 400 refugee patients.  Student clinicians are supervised by both Emory and other volunteer physician preceptors who function under a unique medical volunteer program administered through the State of Georgia Department of Public Health called the “Volunteers in Health” Program. 

Boat People S. O. S., Emory PA partnership founded in 2013

Project Scope: Boat People S.O.S. Atlanta is the local branch of Boat People S.O.S, Inc., an international Vietnamese-American nonprofit community-based organization serving the growing Asian-American community in Georgia. 

Impact: Emory PA students and faculty are invited to participate in this daylong event each September to deliver health screenings for hypertension and diabetes, administer flu vaccines and provide health education to over 1,000 members of Atlanta’s Vietnamese population.

Opportunities for Leadership and Advocacy

Primary Care Progress

Primary Care Progress is a national organization that seeks to promote growth, improvement, and innovation in primary care by providing learning and networking opportunities to medical and allied health students to increase interest in primary care among these students. Emory’s chapter of Primary Care Progress has been led by students from the Schools of Medicine (medical and allied health students), Nursing and Public Health to encourage Emory students to pursue primary care after graduation through networking events with primary care professionals, and presentations from researchers and innovators in primary care—all under the direction of student leadership.

Health Education Students Taking Action Together, Inc. (Health STAT), Emory PA partnership founded in 2010

HealthSTAT is a nonprofit, member organization run by health professions students from various programs in Georgia including Emory’s Schools of Medicine, Rollins School of Public Health and School of Nursin. HealthSTAT seeks to make being active in the health community a professional habit and helps students see advocacy as a continuum that links medical education and service to policy.  Students can volunteer with the program’s Street Medicine outreach team, can learn how to lobby at the State Capitol on behalf of patients, and will gain valuable insight and skills to link patients with Georgia’s non-profit organizations. Emory PA students have held a variety of committee leadership roles within this active student-led organization. 

The Urban Health Initiative (UHI), Emory PA partnership founded in 2013

The Urban Health Initiative is an Emory-sponsored interprofessional collaboration of professionals from across the University’s academic, medical, and public health programs who work together to help underserved communities across urban Atlanta to eliminate health disparities and achieve equity in health and well-being.   Emory PA students interested in the intersection of public health policy, advocacy and medicine can volunteer to organize an outreach project, or participate in community-based outreach efforts and research.  Emory PA students have volunteered with UHI on projects aiming to improve navigating the healthcare system, to bring community gardens to Atlanta’s food deserts, and to advocate for patients facing homelessness or mental health diagnoses. 

Social Medicine Elective (MD-920), Emory PA partnership founded in 2012

Students may participate in a four-week elective during their clinical year that aims to deepen their understanding of the social determinants of health and patient advocacy while learning strategies to overcome health disparities through service learning and experiential activities in the community. To date more than 15 PA students have participated in this unique elective that is combined with another primary care patient experience. Highly motivated students who desire additional public health exposure or who plan to work in a community medicine setting with an under-resourced community are encouraged to apply. Students will sample a variety of activities and outreach efforts in order to gain a realistic view of how many “non-medical” issues including health literacy and lifestyle impact a patient’s ability to effectively manage their own health.        

Program Goal 4

Prepare students for leadership positions in the PA Profession

Emory PA students learn hands-on leadership skills while serving on the executive leadership team consisting of the class president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Additionally, students lead community outreach and class service committees. These committee have a faculty member to provide support and guide student leaders in their responsibilities.

Leadership in healthcare is part of the curriculum in Becoming a PA 3 and 4 (PAE 7105 and PAE 7106), covering topics such as health care finance, billing and coding, health systems, health care technology, and leadership.

Graduates have applied their acquired leadership skills and serve after gaining clinical experience as faculty members and program directors. They serve on the board of directors of various PA state and national organizations. Emory PA Program graduates have taken on clinical leadership positions as clinical post-graduate residency directors and as various division leads and Advanced Practice Provider hospital leads.

Approximately 70% of our graduates consistently report “confidence in filling leadership positions” in their exit surveys.


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