• White Coat

    Program students learn Public Health principles while preparing to be PAs

Integrating the Professions

The Physician Assistant Profession

Physician assistants (PAs) are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs work in primary care, specialty and sub-specialty practice and in both outpatient and inpatient settings. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, physician assistants conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and write prescriptions. Within the physician-PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A physician assistant’s practice may also include education and teaching, research, and administrative services.

The Public Health Profession

PA Program Image

The public health system is a complex network of organizations that coordinates efforts to protect, promote, and improve the health of the population as a whole. While governmental public health agencies (i.e., Federal, State and local) play a pivotal role in the planning and delivery of public health services, many other organizations comprise the public health system, including health care providers and associations, faith-based organizations, businesses, and schools.

The core functions of public health professionals have been defined as assessment (community diagnosis); policy development and leadership; and assurance of access to environmental, educational, and personal health services. These functions are further delineated as ten essential public health services:

  • Monitor health status to identify community health problems;
  • Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community;
  • Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues;
  • Mobilize community partnerships to identify and solve health problems;
  • Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts;
  • Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety;
  • Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable;
  • Assure a competent public health and personal health care workforce;
  • Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based services; and
  • Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems.

Core public health services provided to communities include communicable disease control, community assessment, community outreach and education, environmental health services, epidemiology and surveillance, food safety, health education, restaurant inspections, tuberculosis testing and most recently emergency preparedness and bio-terrorism response.

Physician Assistant and Public Health – Complementary Professions

The MPH track for the Joint Program is in Community Health. The Joint Program provides training in clinical, preventative, and health promotion foundations and is committed to fostering the students' critical thinking and clinical reasoning necessary to be a competent clinician. These elements will prepare a future health workforce to understand that the wellness of one individual is linked to the wellness of their communities.