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Master of Clinical Health Services

  • Members of the MCHS program pose for a picture

    Master of Clinical Health Services

    The MEDEX Northwest Master of Clinical Health Services program trains you to become a physician assistant (PA) — an essential role in team-based medicine.

Explore the clinical health services master’s degree program at the University of Alaska Anchorage

The MEDEX Northwest physician assistant program is a partnership between UAA and the University of Washington School of Medicine. The program trains current health care professionals to become physician assistants (PAs) who can examine and treat patients, diagnose illnesses, prescribe medications and perform other essential roles in medicine.

Enter an exciting—and expanding—health profession.

Physician assistants practice all aspects of medicine in collaboration with a physician. They are highly-trained and versatile, and they have an important and growing role in today’s health care system, where team-based care is more common than ever before. PAs are especially critical in underserved communities and areas with a shortage of health care professionals.

An efficient pathway to begin practicing medicine.

For current health professionals, becoming a physician assistant can be an expedient and cost-effective way to enter the field of medicine. The rigorous MEDEX physician assistant program is designed for individuals who already have significant experience in direct patient contact, such as emergency medical technicians, nurses and medical assistants. The average applicant has at least two and a half years of hands-on care experience.

Training to meet Alaska’s health care needs.

The MEDEX program focuses on Alaska’s unique health care environment, with special emphasis on primary care and the needs of rural and underserved communities. As a student, you’ll take courses inpatient management, behavioral medicine, maternal and child health, and other topics that prepare you for skilled, compassionate medical practice in Alaska’s communities.

Master of Clinical Health Services

Degree Type:

  • Master

Program Length: Two years

Availability:Anchorage campus

Accredited by: Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant

Other program options: Doctor of Nursing Practice, Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Pharmacy

Did you know..

Alaska has more physician assistants per capita than any other state in the U.S. — a sign of the critical role that PAs have in the state’s health care system.

What can you do with this degree?

As a graduate of the program, you’ll be qualified to take the NCCPA national certification examination, and then to apply for state licensure. Licensed PAs practice in collaboration with physicians in a wide range of settings, such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Private practices
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Community health centers and tribal clinics

Physician assistants can also practice across a wide range of specializations, including:

  • Primary care/family practice
  • Pediatrics
  • General surgery and surgical specialties
  • Orthopedics
  • Dermatology
  • Occupational health

By the numbers..

$133k
Median annual salary for physician assistants in Alaska.
American Academy of Physician Assistants 2019 Salary Report

Program Highlights

  • Real-world clinical experience:
    Build your confidence and skills through a year of supervised rotations in real-world clinical settings, typically in communities across Alaska. You’ll complete a four-month primary care rotation followed by a series of one-month rotations in specialty practice areas — including at least one in a medically underserved setting.
  • Training from experts in the field:
    MEDEX Northwest is one of the oldest and most highly-ranked physician assistant programs in the country. Courses are taught by PAs, physicians or other health professionals who continue to practice medicine in the community, helping you stay in tune with the expanding role of PAs in our health care system.
  • Cutting-edge simulation experiences:
    Put your classroom learning to work in the College of Health’s Simulation Center, which provides simulated patient experiences using patient actors and lifelike human models. Simulations allow you to practice skills, build confidence, and refine your personal patient care approach in a safe, controlled environment.
  • Learn to apply the latest medical research:
    You’ll learn how to interpret medical literature and use it to improve your practice — a critical skill for your career. An introductory course trains you to identify relevant, reliable research. Over the course of the program, you’ll develop an area of research expertise by defining your own research question and analyzing the medical literature to answer it.

Amazing stories from MCHS majors

"The MEDEX program provided a superior education that left me well prepared to step into the clinical world as a practitioner. They have a reputation for producing excellent physician assistants, and that gives their graduates a competitive advantage when seeking employment. And most importantly, my classmates remain an integral part of my everyday life — they’re my family."

Betsy Douds
MCHS ‘17 graduate
Two MCHS program members pose for a photo

During your clinical rotations in communities across the state, you’ll build strong working relationships with local PAs — many of whom are graduates of the MEDEX program.

A strong professional network
MCHS program instructor lectures in front of class

The MEDEX program has a commitment to rural and underserved communities. You’ll be surrounded by faculty and students who believe in this mission to provide high-quality medical care where it’s needed most.

A mission-driven program
MCHS program instructor lectures in front of class

In courses like Emergency Medicine, students watch recorded lectures beforehand and spend class-time working through cases in teams — a simulation of the collaborative environment in which PAs practice.

Preparation for team-based care

Program Curriculum

The physician assistant program is year-round, including summers. During the first year of the program, students take classroom courses in essential topics such as clinical skills, behavioral medicine and pathophysiology, as well as in specialized practice areas like maternal and child health, emergency medicine and pharmacology.

The second year of the program is comprised of clinical rotations. A four-month primary care rotation prepares you for the family practice that many PAs provide in Alaska’s small, rural communities. You’ll then complete six shorter rotations in specialty areas, spending a month each in behavioral medicine, emergency medicine, surgery and inpatient care, along with an elective area and a rotation in a medically underserved setting.

Throughout the program, students also complete a capstone project using medical literature to develop and answer a research question in an area of professional interest.

Top Classes

  • Get hands-on experience in an essential aspect of PA practice in the primary care preceptorship.
  • Develop the cultural competencies to successfully practice in a small, rural community in the medically underserved clinical rotation.
  • Integrate classroom learning and research skills to develop an area of professional expertise during the capstone project.