Jun 18, 2024  
Undergraduate Calendar 2022-2023 
Undergraduate Calendar 2022-2023 [-ARCHIVED CALENDAR-]

Physician Assistant (B.H.Sc.)

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Program Overview

McMaster was among one of the first institutions in Canada to launch a Physician Assistant Education Program in 2008. The PA Education program will lead to the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Physician Assistant) degree. The program is taught using inquiry and problem-based learning, which enhance each student’s ability to think critically, solve problems, demonstrate initiative and independence in practice, and promote lifelong learning.

Mission Statement

The mission of the McMaster University Physician Assistant Education Program is to educate energetic, innovative, committed and caring individuals to become role models in a new health care delivery model practicing medicine under the supervision of a physician to expand health care access for the people of Ontario.

Curriculum Plan

The twenty-four month program begins in September. The first year focuses on the study of the clinical sciences underpinning health care delivery. In the second year, students enter into clinical placements.

Year I: Clinical Sciences

The clinical sciences curriculum is modeled on the McMaster Medical School COMPASS Curriculum and is designed to meet the competencies outlined in the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants Occupation Competency Profile and the Canadian Medical Association accreditation requirements. The curriculum is delivered in small group problem-based learning modules with a focus on the physician assistant’s role in health care and the promotion of inter-professional education and training.

The clinical sciences curriculum consists of three Medical Foundations each composed of four components:

  1. Clinical Sciences
  2. Interviewing, Examination and Reasoning (IER)
  3. Professional Competencies
  4. Longitudinal Clinical Experience Program (LP)

Medical Foundation 1 (MF1)

  • Clinical Science: Oxygen Transport: cardiovascular, respiratory and hematologic physiology and disease.
  • IER: Basic communication skills, history taking and physical examination.
  • ProComp: Professionalism, the role of the PA, principles and structure of the health care system, chronic disease, determinants of health
  • LP

Medical Foundation 2 (MF2)

  • Clinical Science: Homeostasis: energy balance, GI, endocrine, nutrition, fluid and electrolyte balance (including renal, acid base, BP) and reproduction, and pregnancy
  • IER: Continued development of communication skills, history taking and physical examination with additional focus on GI, endocrine and obstetric and gynecologic systems.
  • ProComp: Medical ethics and medical decision making.
  • LP

Medical Foundation 3 (MF3)

  • Clinical Science: Infection, neoplasia, neurologic, psychiatric and musculoskeletal physiology and disease
  • IER: Continued development of communication skills (negotiation and conflict resolution), history taking and physical examination with additional focus on the neurologic, psychiatric and musculoskeletal systems.
  • ProComp: Standards of care, laws and codes relevant to medical practice, institutional policies, mental health and society, breaking bad news, end of life decision-making, resource allocation
  • LP

Year II: Clerkship

In the second year of the program students will undertake 48 weeks of supervised clinical placements. Core experiences will take place in family medicine, medicine, surgery, emergency medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, and psychiatry. Placements will take place in Hamilton, in the distributed MacCARE campuses, and in the broader Ontario community. Elective placements will round out the balance of the clinical year and will allow students to pursue additional career interests.


Graduates will qualify to take the Physician Assistant Certification Council of Canada National examination.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must achieve a minimum GPA average of 3.0 by February, and complete a minimum of 2 years undergraduate coursework by June - this criteria must be met to start the program in September of the same year. To satisfy the minimum requirements, academic credentials obtained from a Canadian University must be from an institution that is a full member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) or the Council of Ontario Universities (COU). A minimum of 10 full-courses or 20 half courses (two years) is required. Courses that employ small group, self-directed or inquiry learning are excellent preparation for the PA Education program. There is no requirement for applicants to have carried a full course load. Applicants are expected to have achieved an overall simple average of at least 3.0 on the OMSAS 4.0 scale for consideration, but higher grades may be required to be competitive with other applicants.

Upon acceptance, successful applicants will be required to provide detailed medical information, including a record of completion of required immunizations, evidence of Basic Cardiac Life Support certification (Adult and Child CPR) and a satisfactory Police Records Check (at the applicant’s expense) upon entering the program and annually thereafter.

Admission Procedures

Application (including the appropriate fee) is to be made through the:

Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC)
170 Research Lane
Guelph, ON, N1G 5E2

This form is required by February 1st. for admission into the September class of the same year. Access to the supplementary application will be sent by email in mid-February. Please refer to the program’s web site for full application details and information regarding the supplementary application form. Upon receipt of the application, supplementary application and certified transcripts, selected applicants will be invited to an interview.

The Admissions Committee will Consider:

  • University transcripts and GPA
  • Supplementary application
  • Interview

Application for Deferred Registration

Deferred registrations will not normally be granted in the PA Education Program. Deferred registration may be granted only under exceptional circumstances. Request for deferral must be submitted within two weeks of the offer of admission.

Advanced Standing/Transfer

The structure of the PA Education program requires that all students complete the entire program starting with Medical Foundation 1. There is no provision for advanced standing or transfer into the program.

Full-Time Status

The structure of the program requires that all students be registered in the program on a full-time basis and attendance in all components of the program is mandatory.

Readmission after Voluntary Withdrawal

Former Physician Assistant students who voluntarily withdrew in good standing from the B.Sc(PA) Program must apply for readmission by February 1. Students previously admitted through McMaster University must apply for readmission through the Office of the Registrar. Readmission requests are carefully reviewed by the Admissions Committee and consideration will be given to evidence regarding the student’s academic performance in the program, a letter outlining the decision to return, and activities since last registered in the program. Readmission is not automatic or guaranteed. Decisions are normally communicated between May and June for September entry.

Financial Information

In 2021-22 the tuition fee for a student in Year I of the PA Education Program is expected to be approximately $12,500 for a 12 month academic term, plus supplementary fees estimated at $1,300.00 per year. Additional costs include books, diagnostic equipment and other learning resources estimated at $2,500.00. Students are also responsible for their transportation costs related to clinical study.

There is a bursary program which has been developed by the University. Bursaries may be awarded to students who are Canadian citizens based on demonstrated financial need. Bursaries are intended to offset provincial financial assistance and cannot supplement the full cost of education. For further information, please contact the Education program web site or the Student Financial Aid and Scholarships Office at McMaster University.

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