Program Highlights

Why merely ‘Be’?  When you can ‘Become’!

The Charles R. Drew University Physician Assistant Program offers much more than an excellent education in health and medicine.  While enrolled in the CDU PA Program you will have the opportunity to:

  • Become a Certified Nutrition Support Clinician
    A medical nutrition therapy course will provide students with an in-depth knowledge of the core science and core practical application of medical nutrition therapy principles for the patient in order to provide and manage enteral and parenteral nutrition in diverse patient populations from pediatrics to geriatrics. This course is designed to allow the student to gain knowledge in order to function as part of a nutrition support team in a variety of settings including hospitals, home care agencies and long-term care facilities, research facilities, and academia.  Students will also understand the role of nutrition support specialists and the variety of professions with specialized nutrition support skills including dietitians, pharmacists, physician assistants, physicians and nurses.

    Upon completion of this course the physician assistant student will have the skills necessary to successfully pass the National Certified Nutrition Support Certification Exam and become a Certified Nutrition Support Clinician.

  • Become knowledgable in Social Medicine
    The Charles R. Drew University PA Program integrates Social Medicine longitudinally throughout the 27- month master’s program, highlighting psychosocial aspects of health and wellbeing. A special emphasis is placed on the social determinants of health, health equity, and human rights, and is taught using a structural competence approach (discernment of root causes at the societal level of diseases and ill-health at the individual level). In the first year, students will learn about the social determinants of health including the social gradient in health, and learn about the connection between specific topics such as occupation, built environment, housing, societal level violence, and racism impact health. During their second year, students will learn evidence-based approaches to the identification, optimal care and management of patients who have complex physical and social needs.
  • Become educated in Culturally Relevant Urban Trauma
    Dr. Ronald Beavers is a noted psychologist, author of the award-winning book Recovering A-New, Clinical Director at His Sheltering Arms and President and CEO of the Positive Imagery Foundation, a community-based program. Dr. Beavers will be the keynote speaker at the PA Program hosted annual symposium, The Urban War Zone, PTSD on the Home-front. Dr. Beavers is also assisting with the development of a PTSD-Urban Trauma clinical rotation elective for the PA Program.
  • Become prepared to provide medical care to victims of violence and sexual assault
    The PA Program incorporates sensitivity to detecting and managing survivors of interpersonal violence, sexual violence, child abuse, and human trafficking within the curriculum. A special focus is made on increasing the provider’s sensitivity to these problems, forming an awareness of how they intersect with urban medicine and inner-city healthcare, and connecting the students with a resource network to help them navigate the referral and treatment process. Students will also learn how to perform a sexual assault forensic exam with limited resources, designed to allow them to feel comfortable performing these examinations in the emergency room, urgent care, or even family practice environment. Special attention will also be made on interviewing techniques for all age groups, from young children to elderly patients, and providing the students with education regarding testifying in court. Lastly, the students will be instructed longitudinally on the extensive mental health and psychosocial sequelae of being a survivor of interpersonal violence, sexual violence, human trafficking, and child abuse to help them form a foundation of a new, holistic approach to the recognition, treatment, and management of these prevalent victims.
  • Become part of a university community!
    Because of the University’s location, students are afforded the unique opportunity to collaborate with students, patients and other medical professionals in a diverse range of medical disciplines and cultural settings.
  • Become involved in unique and inspiring community outreach projects such as:
  • Dolls of Hope Project

The Dolls of Hope Project was developed as part of Worlds AIDS Day activities on campus at Charles R. Drew University in 1998.  The theme for Worlds AIDS Day in 1998 was, ”Youth Being A Force For Change”.  Since Assistant Professor Cynthia Davis was an avid doll collector, she decided to develop a project to make hand-made cloth dolls for HIV/AIDS orphans.  Working with a group of more than 30 volunteers over a six-month period, over 600 dolls were made and disseminated worldwide for World AIDS Day in 1998.  The Dolls of Hope Project has been operational for 17 years and over 6,000 dolls have been distributed to HIV/AIDS infected and/or affected women, children, and youth domestically and globally.

In 2012, Charles R. Drew University was awarded a U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers’ Market Promotion Project grant in order to develop a Farmers’ Market in South Los Angeles.  This funding was part of a major federal Farm Bill to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables targeting inner city residents and individuals residing in rural areas throughout the U.S.  This is a student driven project; a team of Urban MPH students developed the original proposal.  Project activities include working in collaboration with a local mega church, Crenshaw Christian Center, in order to make available fresh fruits and vegetables to racial/ethnic minorities living in food deserts in South Los Angeles.  The project has been very successful and has expanded to developing community gardens on the campuses of local elementary, middle and high schools in South Los Angeles.

  • Charles R. Drew HIV/AIDS Community Outreach and Mobile Testing Projects

    The Charles R. Drew University Community Outreach and Mobile Testin Project was established in 1991 as a pilot demonstration project to offer free HIV screening services targeting medically underserved racial/ethnic minorities residing in South Los Angeles, Skid Row (Downtown Los Angeles) and East Los Angeles.  With funding from the LA County Department of Health Services’ Office of AIDS Programs and Policy, an HIV mobile testing and community outreach project was field-tested and implemented over a 12-month period.  The project was so successful in reaching hard-to-reach populations, that the LA County Health Department replicated the project.  Funding for the project was also made available from the Magic Johnson Foundation and Burroughs Wellcome Pharmaceutical Company in order to purchase the mobile van.  To date, over 60,000 HIV screening tests have been completed on the University’s mobile testing vans.

  • Saturday Science Academy II

The Saturday Science Academy II (SSA) is the heart and lungs of the Charles Drew University Science Pipeline, breathing inspiration and pumping an “I can do it” belief into young children.  SSA Program Director, Lorraine Grey has developed an incredibly successful and inspiring program! The SSA opens the doors to curiosity and develops the investigative mind that is crucial for successful scientists and health care professionals.  The SSA dispels the myth that the fields of science are either to boring, too hard, or inaccessible to African-American and Latino youth.
The SSA offers three 8-week sessions and one 4-week summer session per year.  Sessions highlight specific areas in the sciences – human physiology and anatomy, marine biology, and the physical sciences (physics, chemistry, and geology).  The first hour of each class is focused on mathematics assignments from the students’ home school in an effort to improve the student’s achievement in mathematics to either reach or exceed grade level performance. 

A national educational model, the SSA is the life force of the pipeline, which begins at preschool and extends through the university level. Additionally, many of the teachers and teachers’ assistants were former SSA students.  Many of the teachers return during their college breaks to teach in the program while continuing their own education. Enrolling children from the surrounding communities, the SSA plays a dynamic part in the process of creating future health care professionals who will ultimately serves those communities.  The program intervenes at a crucial period in a child’s development when the direction of life can either be positively or negatively impacted.  The Academy empowers youth by enlightening them.  It gives them some control over their environment by enhancing and stimulating their instincts and their desire to learn in a non-traditional supportive atmosphere.

  • King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science

Inspire, mentor and learn from the brilliant young minds of students enrolled at King Drew Magnet High! 

  • Anatomage Table

March 2017, CDU introduced its faculty to the Anatomage Table, “the world’s first virtual dissection table.” This device features three real human cadavers from the Visible Human Project which have been digitized and reconstructed in 3D forms. In short, this allows users to rotate, enlarge, and dissect the cadavers layer by layer, with the option to add/remove/label any anatomic parts of their choice. The table also features a collection of high-resolution images that isolate specific organs and body regions, as well as case studies and curriculum material. Not only can students study anatomy, they can also get a side-by-side comparison of the anatomic parts with corresponding radiographic images.

Like the rest of the university, the PA program quickly realized the incredible potential that the Anatomage table had for program curriculum enhancement. PA program Assistant Professor, Stephanie Purmort has become an Anatomage expert and has incorporated the table into several PA Program courses utilizing this innovative tool to supplement real-time cadaveric dissection experiences and enhance active learning.

We are extremely proud to integrate such groundbreaking technology into the PA program. Our PA students will be working with each other in small groups with their professor to operate the table, create clinical scenarios, review anatomy lecture material, prepare for cadaveric dissection lab, and review for exams. With the use of Anatomage, our students will immediately begin receiving high-quality, technology-driven, advanced education and feedback that will carry over into their careers.

1. Anatomage Inc.,

2. NIH, US National Library of Medicine, The Visible Human Project, September 11, 2003,

Professor Purmort and PA Student Daniel

  • Stay tuned there is much more to come!!!!!!!