Overview of the University of Manitoba’s Master of Physician Assistant Studies

Information here is from the PA program website and past information sessions from the program and University of Manitoba Pre-PA society.

About the Manitoba PA Program

Manitoba Master of PA Studies

School: University of Manitoba MPAS Program

Spots: 15 candidates selected to be part of the program (with roughly ~200+ applicants that apply each year)

Degree: Master of Physician Assistant Studies

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba

University of Manitoba’s Master of PA Studies is the only PA program in Canada that offers a Master’s Degree.

The PA program office is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Offices and classes are housed within the University of Manitoba medical campus, in close proximity to the Health Sciences Centre with a large catchment area of patients.

The Mission of MPAS:

Commitment to educating outstanding Physician Assistants as generalist medical providers and leaders committed to our communities’ service, wellness, and healing.

The Vision of MPAS: 

To teach the knowledge of medicine and the wisdom required for its use. We educate PAs to consider the patient’s narrative and personal journey while thiking critically and reflectively about the care provided.

It has a 100% pass rate for the National PA Certification Exam in Canada for University of Manitoba graduates.


Watch the University of Manitoba 2022 Program Overview:

Manitoba PA program Curriculum

The PA program weeks of classroom learning with clinical rotation over 2 years. 86 Credit Hour Professional graduate studies and is a course-based program. 

MPAS uses a horizontally integrated spiral curriculum, which focuses on building foundations in the sciences (anatomy, physiology, organic chemistry and biochemistry) in order to learn medicine. MPAS builds upon the core courses in addition to clinical experiences, and throughout the curriculum PA students revisit the material in increasing complexity in order to reinforce previous learning.

University of Manitoba Revised Spiral Curriculum

Year 1 PA School

Year 1 is 48 weeks (57 credit hours) consisting of biosciences and medical foundations (September to the 3rd week of July).

The academic year includes biomedical sciences  case-based tutorial approach:

  • Medical Sciences
    • Biochemistry
    • Anatomy
    • Pharmacology
    • Physiology
    • Genetics
    • Microbiology
  • Adult Medicine
    • Paediatrics
    • Emergency
    • OB/GYN
    • Psychiatry
    • Infectious Disease
    • Surgery

Throughout the program there is also emphasis on professionalism, social determinants, bioethics, reflection and scholarly activity.

A typical 1st year PA student schedule includes 35+ hours per week (note from students: this schedule is grossly underestimated).

University of Manitoba Physician Assistant Program 1st Year PA Student Schedule

From Manitoba PA Student – Jennifer’s Schedule in 1st year PA school – Jennifer found her classmates had very different study schedules. She would wake up at 5 am, 6 am arrive on campus and study prior to classes beginning. She would leave campus at 5 pm and use the rest of the evening for self-care, setting things in order for the next day and ensuring she got enough rest. She spent 8 hours studying on Saturday, and Sunday was usually reserved for rest, unless she had an upcoming exam.

From Manitoba PA Student – Justine’s Schedule in 1st year PA school – Justine is only 8 weeks into her first year of PA program, she wakes up at 6:30 AM where she attends her classes and studies between classes and in the evenings. Friday night she reserves for time off. She casually studies on Saturday and Sunday. Justine noted that this did not differ too much from her undergraduate study habits, as she spent time establishing good routines and habits around studying, while also managing to make time for family and friends. First year material is difficult and challenging, but she enjoys studying medicine as she loves what she is learning.

Year 2 PA School

Year 2 Clinical Year Core Rotations (mid-August to end of the next August). Rotations are done in:

  • Family Medicine – 8 weeks
  • Community Health – 4 weeks
  • Psychiatry – 4 weeks
  • Pediatrics – 4 weeks (mixture of Paediatric Emergency Medicine, Outpatient Paediatric and a few days on the Paediatric Inpatient Ward)
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology
  • Surgery – 6 weeks
  • Emergency Medicine/Urgent Care – 6 weeks
  • Internal Medicine – 6 weeks
  • Plus Electives and Research (capstone project)

Rotations occur across Manitoba and provides support travel expenses from the city to other sites.

From Manitoba PA Student – Michelle’s Schedule in 2nd Year – First year is much more routine than second year, which may change week to week or month to month. Her schedule as a second-year PA student varies depending on what clinical rotation she is on. In trauma surgery, she was on the ward at 6:30 AM for morning rounds, and finished her day at 6 pm. Some of these days were 12-14 hour days. In family medicine, she found it was more common to have days that ranged from 8 to 4 pm (more regular day time hours). In Paediatric Surgery, in addition to being at the hospital, she was on-call once every four days, for 24 hours. This involved staying at the hospital in one of the on-call rooms, going down to the operating room or to the ER department for a consult, and you don’t get to go home until 9 am. As a 2nd year clinical clerk you have to be okay with occasional lack of sleep, long hours on some rotation

View Manitoba MPAS Course Descriptions

Manitoba PA Program Admission Requirements

You must be elgible for registration with the Graduate Studies and within the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba on the.

  • A four year Bachelor’s degree in any area of study (e.g. Bachelor of Sciences, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Commerce, RN, or other)
  • Recommended a cumulative GPA is 3.5 out of 4.5 on the Manitoba GPA Scale, which includes undergraduate study and post-graduate study.
  • 3 Credit hours in Human anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, with a grade of B or better

Manitoba PA Program Deadlines

There is a hard deadline of January 15th to submit ALL documentation including your online application. Start your application early, and ensure you submit everything on time. Exceptions are generally not made.

Late February: PA school interview invites released.

Mid-March: MMI invitations sent out

Early to mid-April: Virtual Interviews take place

Offers of admission will be released to successful applicants on May 20 from all 3 PA programs in Canada to help applicants with the decision-making process.

Manitoba PA Admissions Process

  • Pre-PA CV/Resume – Follow the  University of Manitoba Career Services CV Guidelines on how to format your CV/Resume.
  • Statement of Intent – 1000 word statement answering 4 questions, demonstrating your character.
    • The Statement of Intent is an opportunity for candidates to share their journey, experiences, and motivations for pursuing the PA profession and the program at Manitoba.
  • Self-Declaration Statement to indicate that you have no criminal record
  • ALTUS-Caspier TEST – situational judgement test
  • Unofficial copies of all transcripts and degree certificates
  • Two letters of recommendation – ensure that they reference knows you personally and can speak to your character, commitment to society. You enter the reference contact information, and the university will send form questions

Interview Format: 

  • PA Panel Interview – interview with several interviewers asking several questions to get to know you better.
  • Multi-Mini Interview

Stats of Past Successful Applicants

You can view past class statistics on the Manitoba PA fellowship website, or visit past class statistics from the Canadian Pre-PA Student Network Facebook Group, which contains statistics for all 3 PA programs (free to join).

PAs in Manitoba

Cost of Education – From the University of Manitoba Graduate tuition and fees for “Master of PA Studies”:

Scholarships and Awards – MPAS Students are eligible for Graduate Student funding including the University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowships, the Gordon Bell Scholarship, MPAS  Academic Achievement Awards.  Visit University of Manitoba Financial Aid and Awards.

PA Salary – In Manitoba, PA collective agreements are available on PCAM website. You can also view the Canadian Association of Physician Assistant Salary Report as well.

Where PAs work – Canadian PAs have the potential to work in all fields of medicine and surgery, with horizontal mobility between specialties. PAs can work shift work, regular day hours, or have a mix. PAs work across Canada in Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick.

Manitoba Physician Assistants work across 32 specialties and across the country in urban, rural and remote areas. Some areas where Manitoba PAs work include:

  • Critical Care
  • Emergency medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • Cardiac Sciences
  • Neurosurgery
  • Surgery
  • Paediatrics
  • Internal Medicine
  • Primary Care
  • Orthopaedics
  • Vascular Surgery
  • Oncology
  • Mental Health
  • Education
  • Hospitalist Roles

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Does MPAS take students who do not have a science degree?
A. Yes. You have to have a 4 year degree, but it can be in any program, as long as you take the required courses. Examples of backgrounds we’ve had at Manitoba include theatre arts, psychology and Political Sciences.

Q. How do I go about shadowing a PA in Manitoba?
A. On the website there is a PA shadowing checklist you have to complete, which includes a letter of intent that you can submit on the website

University of Manitoba Masters of Physician Assistant Studies Q and A

Manitoba PA students Jennifer, Justine, and Michelle answer questions about their life experiences during a past MPAS PA Program Information Session.

Q. Question to the students – what were your life experiences prior to applying to the PA program?

Jennifer – “I worked in remote settings and definitely challenging – so lots of life experience there. I also got involved in volunteering in different groups. You can really grow your supply of experience in life by doing things like working and volunteering… I was an EMT before and worked for about 5 years. I went back to school, and did a degree in biological sciences and anthropology here at the University of Manitoba. It was a long process, and I initially thought I’d go to medical school.  At the end of that I did not want to go to school for four years plus residency. What else could I do that would be rewarding and challenging? The PA program was a good fit. ”

Justine – “From my background, after university, I worked with UofM as a recruitment officer where I was passionate about education advocacy, but I always wanted to get into health care. I worked in pharmaceutical sales, and I was worked out in the United States. There were so many PAs, and the profession was so well established there. Whenever I would visit the clinic, I would speak to the PA. Fortunately there was a PA program in Manitoba, everything lined up really well. That is when I reached out to PAs in Manitoba”

Michelle – “While doing my undergrad I worked in a group home, so that really peaked my interest in mental health, learning about the brain, and why things go wrong. What about the rest of the body? When I graduated from my undergrad, I wanted to get my foot in the door – I worked in a podiatry clinic for about 3 years. I also volunteered in quite a few different areas – paediatric wards, community health clinics, Diabetes Clinic, H1N1 clinics…. So really little bit here and there. And then, the year before I got into the program, I completed a placement with the “Rural Medical Program”; its 1 week long, you apply and interview, and you pick 3 rural hospital.  I was picked to go Dauphin, there was a PA there as well, really getting my foot in the door in different areas of medicine. Especially when it came to the interview process, this demonstrated what a PA is, and what you are signing up for”.

Q. What is involved in the interview process for Manitoba?
A. In addition to the Multi-Mini Interview, Manitoba MPAS also has a written station and panel interview. 3-4 people will interview you during the interview where the admissions committee has an opportunity to get to know you.

Q. Can Canadian PAs practice in the United States?
A. No, the accrediting body in the United States does not recognize any PA programs outside of the United States. Canadian PAs cannot practice in the United States.

For more answers to frequently asked questions:

http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/health_sciences/medicine/education/paep/faq.html

Websites of Interest

Hear from Manitoba PA students and alumni: 

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