Physician assistants, as defined by the American Academy of Physician Assistants, are "health professionals licensed to practice medicine with the supervision of licensed physicians. Physician assistants are qualified by graduation from an accredited physician assistant educational program and certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Within the physician/PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision-making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services.”
Physician assistants, as described by the PA education accrediting agency, are "academically and clinically prepared to provide health care services with the direction and responsible supervision of a physician. ... Physician assistants are responsible for their own actions as well as being accountable to their supervising physicians."
The Physician Assistant Program, established in 1987 as a jointly sponsored program between John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County (previously known as Cook County Hospital) and the City Colleges of Chicago, joined the Health Sciences Department at Malcolm X College in 1992. The mission statements of each sponsor and the PA Program focus on minority, disadvantaged and indigent communities in the Chicago and Cook County region. Each organization strives to improve conditions of access and opportunity.
The Cook County Health and Hospital Systems provides the settings for the majority of clinical instruction for Physician Assistant students. John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, (JSH) the largest public teaching hospital in the Chicago metropolitan area, is a major tertiary care teaching hospital with a network of ambulatory primary care and specialty clinics. It is accredited by the Joint Commission (JC). Its post-graduate medical education programs, of which there are over twenty-two, are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and the individual Residency Review Committees.
Malcolm X College, the "beacon college for health sciences education" among the City Colleges of Chicago, is a comprehensive community college. Founded in 1911, it was the first college to be included in the City Colleges of Chicago system. There are eleven allied health professions educational and nursing programs at the college.