Physician Assistant Program

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Contact: Office of Admission

(440) 826-8012,

Contact: Physician Assistant Program

(440) 826-2221,


Small class sizes, faculty mentoring and collaborative learning are the hallmarks of a Baldwin Wallace education. In combination with our holistic approach to learning, BW's Master of Medical Science (MMS) physician assistant program prepares you to be a patient-care provider across diverse health care settings.

Through coursework and clinical rotations, you’ll gain extensive integrated and diagnostic medical sciences training designed to build proficiencies in critical thinking and problem solving. Upon completion, you’ll earn the MMS degree and be prepared to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).

What is a Physician Assistant?

A physician assistant (PA) is a medical professional who works as part of a team with a physician. PAs perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret lab tests, perform procedures, assist in surgery, provide patient education and counseling, and make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes. They work in all medical and surgical specialties to complement physician practice. All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow PAs to practice and prescribe medications.

Twenty-Four Months to a Top Medical Career

Physician assistant (PA) is one of the fastest-growing health careers. rates physician assistant #1 on its list of "best master’s degrees for jobs," and ranks physician assistant as its #2 choice for a health care career in its "Best Jobs in America" list.

The mean salary for practicing physician assistants in Ohio is $86,766. The Department of Labor projects a 39 percent increase in physician assistant jobs through 2018.

Baldwin Wallace's Ideal Location

BW's location is ideal. Its suburban campus is just minutes from internationally-ranked and renowned medical facilities, including the Cleveland Clinic. Northeast Ohio offers outstanding career opportunities in all aspects of health care.

Tuition & Costs

Baldwin Wallace offers a single, comprehensive price that includes tuition, fees, books, lab coat, stethoscope, CPR and ACLS certification, as well as PANCE preparation exams and special fees for library electronic resources. The total cost of BW's 24-month program physician assistant program is $75,000 for the 2016-18 cohort.

Financial Aid

Financial aid available to PA students is limited to the Federal Direct Student Loan program. These loans have features that make them particularly attractive, including low interest rates, deferred payment options and flexible repayment schedules.

Graduate PLUS Loans

Graduate PLUS loans are available to help graduate students finance any remaining educational costs, including program costs and estimated living expenses not covered by other forms of aid.

Billing and Payment Plans

Initial bills for each new semester will be mailed to the student in April, July and December. The University has a monthly payment plan available to students which may be utilized for the entire cost or any tuition not met by loan or other resources.

Education and Training

A physician assistant must graduate from an accredited PA educational program that is nationally certified and state-licensed to practice medicine under the supervision of an allopathic or osteopathic physician. There are currently 196 accredited PA programs in the United States, of which 10 are in Ohio. PA education programs are represented by the Physician Assistant Education Association and accredited through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). PA Focus is a weblog and resources for people interested in learning more about physician assistant careers, people applying to physician assistant school and current PAs.

New Program Approval by ARC-PA

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional to the Baldwin Wallace University physician assistant program. Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status. The status indicates that the plans and resource allocation for the proposed program appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA standards, if fully implemented as planned. Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

Baldwin Wallace enrolled its first class of physician assistant students in May 2013.

Program Goals


Educate talented physician assistants who strive to promote the PA profession, understand the primary care workforce needs of the future, and act competently when providing excellent patient care utilizing an evidence-based and dynamic team approach.


Create a physician assistant education program with an outstanding reputation in the community and throughout the nation which allows students the transition of becoming physician assistants and effective leaders who will practice, teach, and continue to enhance the quality of care for each patient.

Educational Philosophy and Goals of the Program

  • Educate students utilizing problem-based learning concepts
  • Incorporate an integrated basic science education
  • Critically review research methods and evidence-based practice
  • Develop effective clinical reasoning skills
  • Develop critical interviewing and communication skills
  • Foster leadership and management skills
  • Instill professionalism throughout the program


The PA educational program is modeled on the medical school curriculum and includes a combination of classroom and clinical instruction.

The Baldwin Wallace PA program is rigorous and intense. BW's program is 24 months (not including any prerequisites that need to be taken). The curriculum is divided into 12 months of didactic coursework and 12 months of clinical rotations. It is only offered as a full-time program at this time.

PA education includes instruction in core sciences: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, physical diagnosis, pathophysiology, microbiology, clinical laboratory science, behavioral science and medical ethics.

Course descriptions, requirements for the program and additional information can be found in the University Catalog.

Prerequisite Courses

Prerequisite CoursesBW Course Equivalencies
Biology I with labBIO 121L
Biology II w/labBIO 122L
Anatomy and Physiology I w/labBIO 203L
Anatomy and Physiology II w/labBIO 204L
Microbiology with labBIO 212
General Chemistry I w/labCHM 111
General Chemistry II w/labCHM 112/113L
Organic Chemistry I w/labCHM 251/251L
Introductory PsychologyPSY 100
English CompositionENG 131
Statistics or BiostatisticsHPE 209, MTH 135 or PSY 278
Medical TerminologyHPE 206

The prerequisite courses listed are minimum requirements. Additional biology and chemistry courses are recommended. Candidates must have completed one semester of each of these prerequisite courses, with a grade of C or better in each course, prior to enrollment in the Physician Assistant Program. Minimum cumulative GPA and science GPA must be at least 3.0.

All prerequisite coursework must be obtained from a regionally accredited institution in the U.S.
BW courses have been listed next to each prerequisite in the box below. Candidates can reference these courses in the BW online course catalog to identify an equivalent course at other regionally accredited colleges/universities.

No online or virtual laboratory courses. The PA program will not accept online laboratory or virtual laboratory courses in the natural sciences for the prerequisite courses.

Seven year time limit.
All prerequisite courses are to be completed within the last seven years, and candidates must have a working knowledge of these courses.

Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2.
Not all schools offer A&P as a combined two-course sequence with labs. One semester of Human Anatomy with lab and one semester of Human Physiology with lab may be substituted for the two combined Anatomy and Physiology courses with labs.

Retaking prerequisites.
If a student has retaken courses for a better grade, both the original and retaken grade will be included in the GPA calculation, and the better grade will be noted.

AP courses.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses may satisfy prerequisite coursework only after evaluation by the Admission Committee, once a student applies through CASPA.

No previous credit replaces or transfers into the PA curriculum.
No previous coursework will transfer to replace courses in the PA program. There will be no advanced standing permitted in the PA program.

Additional courses in biology and chemistry are recommended.
Additional suggested coursework may include: Biochemistry, Cell/Molecular Biology, Immunology, Histology, Embryology, Endocrinology, Epidemiology, Neuroscience, Pathophysiology, Virology, Developmental/Abnormal Psychology, College Algebra.

Licensure and Certification

Graduates of physician assistant programs sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) which is a computer-based, multiple-choice test comprising questions that assess basic medical and surgical knowledge. Eligibility for the PANCE includes graduating from a program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) in a physician assistant program or a surgeon assistant program. PA program graduates are deemed to have graduated from an accredited program if their PA educational program was accredited at the time of their matriculation.

PAs need to be licensed in the state in which they practice. Licensing information for Ohio can be obtained from the State Medical Board of Ohio.


Clinical partners facilitate real-world learning. BW's PA students complete rotations in family medicine, surgery, emergency medicine, OB/GYN, pediatrics, internal medicine, psychiatry and elective rotations.

As a student in the physician assistant program, you'll complete more than 2000 hours of clinical experience working with practicing professionals in a variety of settings, from major research hospitals to clinics to extended care facilities. BW has affiliation agreements for the physician assistant program with the following health care organizations:

  • Affinity Medical Center
  • Akron Children's Hospital
  • Cleveland Clinic – Main Campus, Euclid, Fairview, Hillcrest, Lakewood, Lutheran, Marymount, Medina, South Pointe
  • Lake Health
  • Mercy Medical Center – Canton
  • MetroHealth Medical Center
  • Northcoast Behavioral Health
  • Parma Community Hospital
  • Robinson Memorial Hospital
  • Saint John Medical Center
  • Southwest General Health Center
  • Summa Health Systems – Akron City Hospital, St. Thomas, Barberton, Wadsworth
  • University Hospitals, including Case, Ahuja, Bedford, Conneaut, Geauga, Geneva, MacDonald Women’s, Richmond, Rainbow Babies
  • Veteran's Administration – Wade Park and all Cleveland-area clinics

Preceptors Praise BW PA Students

“(This BW student) was a dream for any preceptor, especially so early in her rotations. Her knowledge base is impressive and readily applied to the clinical setting. She is always attentive, always willing to try new diagnostic and therapeutic techniques, and always ready to assist in more complex procedures. Please send me more students as prepared and eager as her!” – Andrea Boyd, PA-C, Southwest General Health Center, Emergency Department

“(This BW student) has a strong knowledge of disease processes and continued to read relevant material regarding her patients throughout the rotation. Treatment plans are often the most difficult area for students; however, she put in the time and effort to strengthen her assessments and plans and succeeded brilliantly. She was a strong asset to our team and always brought a positive attitude and a desire to get involved and learn. She is a quick learner and, if she continues on her current path, she will undoubtedly achieve great things. It was an absolute pleasure to work with her!” – Qutaibah Khatib, MD, Summa Health Systems, Critical Care Unit

PANCE and Program Outcomes

BW's first class of the physician assistant program graduated in May 2015, achieving a 100 percent first-time pass rate on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).

BW physician assistants have launched careers throughout Ohio, as well as nationwide in Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia.

Alumni are practicing in specialties including emergency medicine, family practice, trauma, neurology, neurosurgery, gastroenterology, surgery and orthopedics. One of our recent graduates secured a fellowship in acute care oncology at The Ohio State University James Comprehensive Cancer Center.


Jared R. Pennington, ABD, MHS, PA-C
Associate Professor and Chair
Jared Pennington is the founding director and chair of the physician assistant program. He is a graduate of the Hahnemann Physician Assistant Program at Drexel University and has extensive experience as a practicing physician assistant in abdominal organ transplantation, emergency medicine and pediatrics. He has taught as an adjunct instructor at Drexel University and The University of Akron. He is a doctoral candidate in public health at Kent State University under a specialization in health policy and management with research interests in the patient-centered medical home, child Medicaid policy and health economics. He maintains his membership status with the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Academy Health and the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). Mr. Pennington is currently serving his first term on the Leadership Development and Recruitment Council for the PAEA.

Mark Gersten, M.D., FACEP
Professor and Medical Director
Dr. Gersten received his BS in pharmacy from Albany College of Pharmacy in 1981 and his MS in health systems management from Union College in 1982. After working in pharmaceutical research for three years, he attended and graduated with his MD degree from Indiana University School of Medicine in 1988. He completed his emergency medicine residency at Akron General Medical Center in 1991 and has worked in the emergency department at Mercy Medical Center in Canton, Ohio since 1991. He was director of medical education for the emergency department until 2014, precepting hundreds of residents, medical students and physician assistant students. He also has mentored many high school and college students. He has worked with physician assistants in the emergency department since 1997. He became medical director of the Baldwin Wallace Physician Assistant Program in 2012, initially half time and since 2014 full time. He maintains his membership status in the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Physician Assistant Education Association. His special interests include toxicology and medical mission work.

Chandra Lynch, MSHS, PA-C
Assistant Professor and Director of Didactic Education
Chandra Lynch has a BS in biology with a background in laboratory medicine, particularly HLA typing for organ and bone marrow transplant. She is a graduate of the Cuyahoga Community College physician assistant program and has over 10 years of clinical experience in various fields including neurology, bone marrow transplantation and family practice. For the past three years, she has served as the academic coordinator for the Cuyahoga Community College/Cleveland State University physician assistant program but has maintained some degree of clinical practice throughout. In addition, she served as the admissions chair, coordinating and overseeing the admissions process. In 2012, she completed a Master of Science degree in health sciences at Cleveland State University. Her main interest in clinical medicine is primary care.

Bonnie J. Ritson, PA-C, MPAS
Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education
Bonnie Ritson has over 20 years of clinical experience in various surgical specialties including spine, plastic/reconstructive, colorectal and general surgery. Her extensive surgical experience includes both intraoperative and perioperative management of patients. In addition, she has served as clinical preceptor for physician assistant students throughout her career and is clinically active at St. John Medical Center functioning as a hospitalist PA, providing care to newly admitted patients as well as evaluating and managing acute changes of patient condition. Ms. Ritson earned an undergraduate degree in psychology/pre-medicine from Cleveland State University, successfully completed the physician assistant program at Cuyahoga Community College and subsequently obtained a master's degree in physician assistant studies from the University of Nebraska in 2003. She maintains her membership status with both the American and Ohio Associations of Physician Assistants and is BLS, ACLS, ATLS certified.

Laura Blesse-Hampton, MPAS, PA-C
Assistant Professor
Laura Blesse-Hampton received her BS in health sciences and her MS in physician assistant sciences from Gannon University. Her medical background includes hematology/oncology, gastroenterology and surgery. She is currently clinically active at Lakewood Hospital, working in general surgery. She has been published by the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA) and has acted as a peer reviewer for them since 2010. She has served as a subject matter expert for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). She is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

Joseph P. Yavornitzky, DDS
Associate Professor, Physician Assistant Program and Director of Primary Healthcare Advancement Program
Dr. Yavornitzky received his BS in biology from Baldwin-Wallace College (now Baldwin Wallace University) in 1980 and his DDS from Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine in 1984. He operated private dental practices in Lorain, Ohio and Rocky River, Ohio and began teaching part-time at Baldwin Wallace in 1993. His full-time position at Baldwin Wallace began in 1997, teaching Human Anatomy & Physiology. His current teaching includes Gross Anatomy, Clinical Anatomy, Head & Neck Anatomy and Clinical Case Studies. He is the director of the Primary Healthcare Advancement Program, the course director of the Physician Assistant Clinical Anatomy and is the faculty advisor of BW's Pre-medical Society. His interests include the advancement of primary medical care in underserved areas, medical craniofacial cephalometrics and facial reconstruction.

Donald Zabriskie, BPharm, MBA, RPh
Lecturer in Pharmacology
Mr. Zabriskie received his professional degree in pharmacy from The Ohio State University and his Master of Business Administration from Baldwin Wallace University. Mr. Zabriskie has practiced pharmacy in the Cleveland area, including Lakewood Hospital, Hillcrest Hospital, MetroHealth Medical Center, Parma Community General Hospital and Fairview Hospital. His professional career at those hospitals has given him experience as a staff pharmacist to director of pharmacy services. Currently, Mr. Zabriskie guides a team of pharmacists delivering bedside pharmaceutical care to over 300 patients daily. Mr. Zabriskie has served as a faculty member for a number of undergraduate and graduate programs lecturing in pharmacology. He has made numerous presentations to professional groups locally and on a national level bringing to the groups a unique perspective from more than 40 years of professional practice. Mr. Zabriskie is the recipient of the Evlyn Gray Scott Hospital Pharmacist of the Year award and the recipient of the Jerry A. Greco, PA-C Memorial PA Educator of the Year Award.

Martin G. Hellman, MD, FAAP, FACEP
Lecturer in Pediatrics
Clinical assistant professor of pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh; attending physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Dr. Hellman has been an emergency medicine attending for the past 25 years at several residency programs in both pediatric and adult emergency departments. He has been honored with five teaching awards during that time and was the ACEP Speaker of the Year in 2000-01. He was chairman of the Ohio ACEP Emergency Medicine Review course in 1990 and has served as faculty of the Ohio EMR since its inception. He is currently on the advisory board of EMS Magazine. He served as national faculty in Ohio for the Pediatric Advanced Life Support course from 1988-91. He has authored several critical decisions for ACEP and wrote a chapter on physical examinations of children at different ages for a pediatric emergency medicine textbook.