This two-year Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL) is a quad-partnership through the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, UWL, Gundersen Medical Foundation, and Marshfield Clinic Health System.
The program's curriculum begins with a 12-month didactic phase consisting of classroom and laboratory activities at UWL followed by a 12-month clinical phase with 11 four-week rotations in a variety of clinical areas. These include seven core rotations which include family medicine, internal medicine, behavioral medicine, women’s health, general surgery, pediatrics, and emergency medicine, and four specialty rotations. The 12-month clinical phase is completed at Mayo Clinic in Rochester and within the Mayo Clinic Health System, or at the other two clinical partners (Gundersen, Marshfield) and their health systems.
years as a top PA program in the region
5-year first-time PANCE pass rate
Each year, the UWL Physician Assistant program admits up to 28 students, 12 of whom will be enrolled in the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences program and be based at Mayo Clinic in Rochester or within the Mayo Clinic Health System for their 11 clinical rotations. This class size ensures that students receive tailored instruction and a comprehensive educational experience.
Facilities (clinical rotations)
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, includes an extensive outpatient complex, two hospitals, and substantial research and education facilities. This Mayo Clinic site is among the largest, most advanced medical centers in the world.
The Mayo Clinic Health System is composed of facilities in more than 60 communities across Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa which provide both inpatient and outpatient experiences.
Graduation and certification
After successfully completing this program, students graduate from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Physician Assistant Studies.
Graduates are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
Faculty and staff
Ryan Meverden, PA-C, Clinical Rotations Program Director
Ryan Meverden, PA-C
Clinical Rotations Program Director
Ryan Meverden graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a Mathematics degree and worked in Biostatistics at Mayo Clinic for six years where he co-authored 14 published articles. He then returned to school and graduated from the Mayo Clinic/Gundersen Lutheran/UW-La Crosse PA program. He worked in Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine for three years, General Internal Medicine for four years, and now the NPPA supervisor in Vascular Medicine for six years where he also serves as the NPPA Educational Coordinator.
Ryan is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and a fellow in the Academy of Educational Excellence. He has served as a member of the Mayo Clinic NPPA Executive Council, co-chaired the NPPA Practice Enhancement Subcommittee, was a member of the NPPA Education subcommittee as well as the Professional Development subcommittee. Ryan developed and co-directs the annual Mayo Clinic Physician Assistant Board Review course. He also developed and published a PA student clinical rotation evaluation instrument that provides feedback to programs and rotations on the overall experience.
As one of two Mayo Clinic representatives to the UW-La Crosse PA program, Ryan served as the Associate Program Director of the Physician Assistant Studies Program since 2014, becoming the Program Director in April 2022. He is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor through UW-La Crosse.
Ashley Vitale, PA-C, DHSc, Clinical Rotations Associate Program Director
Ashley Vitale, PA-C, DHSc
Clinical Rotations Associate Program Director
Ashley Vitale graduated from Butler University’s five-year combined undergraduate/PA program in 2008 with both a Bachelor of Health Sciences and a Master of Physician Assistant Studies. She returned to her home state of Minnesota to join the General Surgery team at Immanuel St. Joseph Hospital in Mankato, which later became Mayo Clinic Health System – Mankato.
For the past 14 years she has been working with the multidisciplinary surgical team with special interests in robotic surgery, bariatric surgery, and vein care. In 2019, Ashley became the NPPA supervisor of Surgical Services for the Southwest region. She subsequently finished her Doctor of Health Sciences degree through A. T. Still University in May of 2022. Her doctoral research evaluated the impact of physician mentoring during the onboarding phase for surgical Physician Assistants.
In June 2022, Ashley was appointed the Associate Program Director for the Physician Assistant Studies Program for Mayo Clinic/UW-La Crosse. She is also an Instructor of Surgery for the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine.
Andrea Hagen Gates, M.A., Education Administration Coordinator
Andrea Hagen Gates, M.A.
Education Administration Coordinator
Andrea Gates graduated from St. Olaf College with a B.A. in English and Art History; she then earned an M.A. (completed coursework and comprehensive exams for the Ph.D. but did not complete the dissertation) in Art History from the University of Iowa. She has taught, as an adjunct, at the University of Iowa, Northern Michigan University, and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Southern California.
While a graduate student Andrea discovered that she loved academic advising even more than teaching art history, so she has spent most of her career in that field. She advised undergraduates at the University of Iowa, the University of Minnesota, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and longest/most happily in the College at the University of Chicago. In addition, for five years she and her husband were resident heads in charge of a house of 100 undergraduates at the University of Chicago. She reports that it was fun, most of the time!
Andrea has been in her position in Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences since 2019.
To participate in the Mayo Clinic/UWL Physician Assistant program, students must be enrolled in the PA program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Contact the school for more information:
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Graduate Studies Admissions web page
UWL Physician Assistant Program web page
The Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Gundersen Medical Foundation, and Marshfield Clinic Health System Physician Assistant program application deadline is Aug. 1 to qualify for admission for the following summer to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Please review the UWL PA program’s application process, including the admission requirements.
Applicants are selected based on academic achievement, work experience, volunteer experiences, leadership qualities, representation of personal qualities and skills in a personal letter, three letters of reference, and a panel interview.
Tuition and financial aid
Tuition rates are determined by and paid to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Current tuition and program costs are published on its website. See details about financial aid opportunities.
The Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences charges no additional tuition or fees for the clinical experiences completed on its campus.
Several of the Mayo Clinic Health System clinical sites provide housing, but for the most part, students are responsible for their own living accommodations, expenses, and transportation when completing clinical rotations.
Employment during the program is strongly discouraged.
The Physician Assistant (PA) program quad-partnership through the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Gundersen Medical Foundation, and Marshfield Clinic Health System is fully accredited through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The program’s next accreditation review is due in 2027.
See accreditation information for Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.