DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT STUDIES
Chair: Diane D. Abercrombie, PA.C, Ph.D.
Medical Director: Shannon Tyler, M.D.
Associate Professor: Abercrombie, Vetrosky
Assistant Professor: Risling-de Jong
Department of Physician Assistant Studies web site
PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAM
MASTER OF HEALTH SCIENCE DEGREE
WHAT IS A PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT?
Physician Assistants (PAs) are highly skilled health care practitioners who provide medical services traditionally performed only by a physician. The quality and value of the services they provide is well recognized and they are highly sought after by physicians and institutional employers in virtually all medical and surgical specialities and settings.
Physician Assistants take medical histories, perform physical examinations, and order and analyze diagnostic data such as laboratory tests, electrocardiograms and imaging studies. They also perform therapeutic procedures such as suturing, removal of minor lesions and casting. The Physician Assistant develops and implements a treatment plan and makes appropriate decisions regarding referral and findings to the supervising physician and other health professionals in developing a patient treatment plan. Physician Assistants also prescribe medication.
Patient education and counseling are important aspects of a physician assistant's daily activities. Physician Assistants advise patients concerning preventive health care and provide education regarding the patient's medical problems. Physician Assistants also counsel patients regarding the management of health risk behaviors.
To perform at this level of responsibility, much of the
education of Physician
Assistants is provided by physicians in order to assure that the patient-care functions provided by the Physician Assistant are equivalent in quality to those of the physician who delegates them.
MISSION, VISION, AND GOALS
The mission of the University of South Alabama Physician Assistant Program is to educate compassionate and competent individuals from diverse backgrounds to become highly qualified physician assistants in accordance with the highest professional standards to provide a broad spectrum of preventative and curative health care to patients in various communities and clinical settings with physician supervision. The emphasis of the program is one of primary care, including a broad foundation in the medical and surgical specialties.
The Physician Assistant Studies program curriculum is closely related to the goals of the University of South Alabama as well as to the degree. The program fosters an environment that promotes the acquisition and application of culturally sensitive, patient-oriented clinical knowledge and skills to produce a diverse workforce of primary care physician assistants who practice medicine with competence, professionalism, and compassion, driven by academic excellence and a spirit of service to the community.
The goals of the program are to:
- Emphasize primary care and a desire among physician assistants toward service in rural and medically underserved communities;
- Promote excellence in health care by preparing competent physician assistants to practice evidence-based medicine in all clinical settings;
- Ensure opportunities for placement of qualified military veterans through participation as a PAEA Member Program offering assistance for veteran entry into physician assistant programs;
- To recruit, select, and educate a highly qualified diverse student body, (i.e., underrepresented minorities), and provide fair and equitable admission criteria;
- Prepare physician assistant students to provide patient-centered health care services as part of an inter-professional, collaborative team in a variety of clinical settings;
- Charge physician assistant students to become graduates who reflect high standards of legal, ethical, and moral conduct;
- Foster the growth and development of PA education by preparing physician assistant graduates who possess depth of knowledge, clinical skills and abilities for excellence in practice;
- Promote in our physician assistant students the importance of life-long learning skills and ongoing professional development to meet and/or exceed contemporary standards within their area(s) of clinical practice.
Master of Health Science
Length of Program:
Annually in mid-May
Undergraduate Degree Required:
Any degree is acceptable with required
On site, no online classes
121 Credit Hours
Mon-Fri, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Advanced Placement, Deceleration, Dismissal
The program does not offer advanced placement or deceleration. Transfer credits, or credit for experiential learning cannot be substituted for any course in the program, and no transfer credit is accepted from other PA programs. In addition, any grade of D or lower will result in academic dismissal from the program, and withdrawal from any course will automatically result in dismissal from the program.
Clinical rotations are mostly in Mobile, with other locations in Pensacola and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. All rotations within a 70-mile radius (one-way) are considered commutable. Elective rotations may be considered in other locations. Rural rotations for Primary Care and Pediatrics are required. Other core rotations in in rural Alabama and/or Georgia may also be considered.
Program policies strictly prohibit the program and all its academic and clinical affiliates and preceptors from employing any PA students, or utilizing them in lieu of administrative office, or clinical staff, while attending the program. PA students are also strongly discouraged from accepting any other employment while attending the program as this will interfere with their education.
Measures of Success
Please visit our web site for information about the program's success at www.southalabama.edu/alliedhealth/pa/files/MeasuresOfSuccess.pdf
Mandatory remediation will be required of any student(s) who are in danger of not meeting the educational goals of the program as stated in student handbooks. The criteria for remediation are set in the "Goal" section below. The student's progress will be subsequently monitored to assure improvement in deficient areas and future remediation will be arranged as needed.
The goal of the didactic remediation policy of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies is to remediate students who are not performing at the optimal level which is defined as any student who has an average of <80% on two consecutive examinations or a single score of <75%.
The goal of the clinical remediation policy of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies is to remediate students who are not performing at the optimal level during the clinical year, which is defined in three areas:
- Individual "Average," or less, score on mid-rotation evaluation
- End-of-rotations exam scores more than 2 standard deviations below the national average
- A grade of "C" on a final clinical rotation grade.
Instate Students who reside in Alabama and the service areas are automatically considered residents and pay in-state tuition. The service areas consist of counties in (1) Mississippi: George, Greene, Harrison, Jackson, Perry and Stone, and (2) Florida: Escambia and Santa Rosa.
Out-of-State: For details on establishing residency,
Tuition and Expenses
In addition to USA tuition and fees, students can expect expenses associated with textbooks, food and lodging. Students will also be required to purchase uniforms, laboratory coats, stethoscopes, otoscopes, ophthalmoscopes, sphygmomanometers and blood pressure cuffs, soft reflex hammers, and tuning forks. Also, students should anticipate extra expenses, particularly related to housing and transportation, during the clinical year.
Estimated tuition and fees for the 2014-2015 academic year are:
In-State: $56,335 Out-of-State: $104,009
For a detailed list of tuition and expenses related to the program, please visit our web site at www.southalabama.edu/alliedhealth/pa/tuition.html.
For a list of university tuition rates and fees, please visit
For payment and refund policies, visit
The University reserves the right to change tuition and fees, as deemed necessary by the Board of Trustees, without prior notice.
The University of South Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
to award baccalaureate, master’s, doctor of philosophy and doctor of medicine degrees.
Program accreditation has been granted by the Accreditation Review Commission for Physician Assistants ( ARC-PA).
The goals and objectives of the program are guided by the criteria set forth in the Essentials and Guidelines for an Accredited Educational Program for the Physician Assistant,
as established by ARC-PA.
The ARC-PA has granted Continued Accreditation
to the Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the University of South Alabama. Continued accreditation is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.
Continued Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next comprehensive review of the Program by the ARC-PA will be September 2014.
COMPETENCIES FOR THE PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROFESSION
Graduates are expected to demonstrate the highest level of professionalism, be able to provide excellent comprehensive patient care and have the highest level of medical knowledge and communication skills as outlined at
- Acknowledgement of acceptance within two weeks of notification, and submission of a signed Statement of Intent Form and a non-refundable $500 matriculation deposit which will be applied toward the first semester's tuition to guarantee a seat in the class.
- Completion of outstanding required prerequisite course work with a grade of “C” or higher prior to matriculation into the program. Failure to make a grade of “C” or higher in any required prerequisite course will result in nullification of acceptance into the PA program. Updated transcripts will be required.
- Submission to criminal background checks and urine drug screens before matriculation and prior to beginning clinical rotations. The fees are the student’s responsibility. Failure to submit to and satisfactorily pass both screenings can result in dismissal from the program.
- Completion of immunizations and a physical exam upon acceptance and prior to entering clinical rotations. Forms will be provided with the letter of acceptance.
- Maintenance of the American Heart Association Health Care Providers BLS Certification throughout the program.
- Maintenance of adequate health insurance throughout the program. Information regarding health insurance will be provided upon acceptance, and the fees are the student’s responsibility.
- Understanding of duties as stated in the Technical Standards for Physician Assistants. (See below.)
PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT NATIONAL CERTIFYING EXAMINATION
Please visit our web site at
(PANCE) PASS RATES
PROGRAM COMPLETION REQUIREMENTS
The program consists of preclinical and clinical components. The preclinical component is designed to provide a solid foundation for the clinical component. During the clinical component the student refines the medical knowledge and clinical skills needed for professional practice.
Successful completion of the program requires that the student be able to:
- Complete 121 hours of graduate course work consisting of 73 credit hours of didactic course work and 48 credit hours of clinical course work.
- Obtain an accurate and detailed patient history.
- Perform complete and focused physical examinations
- Establish working and differential diagnosis
- Order and interpret diagnostic evaluations to include: laboratory tests (blood, urine, spinal fluids, cultures); imaging studies (plain film radiography, radiographic contrast studies, ultrasound studies, computerized tomography studies, MRI studies & electrocardiogram.
- Develop and manage a treatment plan.
- Record patient data: (a) Written notes and charting, and (b) Electronic medical record.
- Order and/or administer therapeutic medications (a) in hospitals and clinics and (b) via written or electronic prescription.
- Perform therapeutic medical interventions and procedures.
- Council and educate patients regarding medical, therapeutic, and behavioral problems.
- Interact with patients and the medical community in a professional manner.
- Make appropriate referrals.
Students in the USA Physician Assistant program must be able to fulfill the program's Technical Standards, which include General, Observational, Communication, Motor, Critical Thinking, and Interpersonal abilities as well as possessing certain Behavioral and Social Attributes.
To evaluate whether you meet the criteria, please visit our web site at www.southalabama.edu/alliedhealth/pa/technical.html
The deadline for receipt of all materials is November 1.
The following requirements are necessary to be considered for admission, and no requirement can be waived. As the selection of students is very competitive, please note that accepted students typically exceed the minimum requirements.
Completion of a Baccalaureate degree in any field with a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 as calculated by CASPA, from a regionally accredited institution prior to the starting date of the program. Applicants may have courses in progress through the spring semester as long as they are completed when the program begins in mid-May.
Completion of prerequisite course work completed with a grade of “C” or higher, with one semester of at least 3 credits for each course below.
- General Biology
- General Chemistry I and II
- Human Anatomy and Human Physiology OR Anatomy and Physiology I and II
- Organic Chemistry
- Mathematics (College Algebra minimum)
- General Psychology
- Medical Terminology
For guidelines on courses accepted, please visit
Completion of the General Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within the past five (5) years. The department accepts:
- A revised combined score of 290 in both the Verbal and Quantitative sections, with a minimum of 149 in each, and a 3.5 in Analytical Writing OR
- Old combined score of 1000 in the Verbal and Quantitative and a 3.5 in Analytical Writing.
About the GRE: visit www.ets.org for more information.
- The highest complete exam score is used in the ranking of applicants: We do not mix and match scores from different attempts.
- The GRE should be taken at least 14 days prior to the application deadline to ensure that official test scores are received by the deadline.
- Official scores should be sent to Institution Code 1880.
Application Screening Criteria and Interviews
Submission of completed application materials by November 1. The program will not review applications that are incomplete, received after the deadline, or do not meet the minimum standards.
For all eligible applications, the program conducts an initial assessment of the overall application quality and accuracy, and then ranks qualifying applications by academic score. Academic scores consist of cumulative GPA, science GPA, last 64-hour GPA, and GRE scores. Those who rank in the top 90 are invited for interviews.
The interview process consists of two segments: the Group Interview and the Individual Interview. Both segments of the interview process have been designed to complement the evaluation of an academically-proven applicant by the holistic appraisal of non-academic traits. In the group interview, three applicants will be given a scenario to discuss for 15 minutes. In the individual interview, applicants will answer questions posed by two or more interviewers. Knowledge of the PA profession, maturity, cultural awareness, general attitude and other intangible traits (i.e., emotional intelligence), will be assessed.
Extra points will be given for applicants with rural backgrounds, advanced degrees, certifications, military service, research experience, and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Visit our website at www.southalabama.edu/alliedhealth/pa/admissions.html
for more details.
Health Care and Shadowing Experience
Health care experience, especially direct patient care, community service, PA shadowing and/or related health care or work experience required. The program requires at least 250 hours at a minimum. Applicants must show that they are capable of providing culturally sensitive care to adverse patient population and that they understand the role of a physician assistant. Some examples of direct patient care are occupational therapy, physical therapy, respiratory therapy, Emergency Medical Technicians, Certified Nursing Assistant, Medical Assistant, any related healthcare fields involving the hands-on care of patients, or any paid or non-paid work experience.
Residency preference will be applied only when an Alabama or Service Area applicant and a non-resident applicant receive the same score. This preference will be applied both to the interview invitation list and the accepted list.
HOW TO APPLY
All application materials must be received by the deadline. The program will not review applications that are incomplete, received after the deadline, or do not meet the minimum standards.
The application cycle begins annually on May 1, and those who meet the minimum requirements can apply by completing the following three-step process:
- Apply through the Centralized Application Service of Physician Assistants (CASPA) at www.caspaonline.org. Official transcripts and three references, one of which must be from a Medical Doctor, Doctor of Osteopathy, or a Physician Assistant, are considered part of the CASPA application must be sent directly to them. The CASPA application must be e-submitted, completed and verified by November 1.
- Mail the completed Supplemental Application, downloadable on our web site at www.southalabama.edu/alliedhealth/pa/files/ApplicationGuide.pdf, along with a check or money order for $110.00. All fees are nonrefundable.
- Submit the Graduate Record Examination Score directly and electronically to Institution Code 1880. For details, visit www.ets.org.
If an international student, the applicant must also:
If a U. S. student with international coursework
- take all prerequisites in the U. S. to establish a USA GPA.
- have all international coursework and degrees evaluated by World Education Services for submission with CASPA application.
- apply by October 1 to the Office of International Services at www.southalabama.edu/international/index.html.
, the applicant should consult CASPA instructions for clarification on evaluations and submission: portal.caspaonline.org.
It is the applicant’s responsibility to monitor the delivery of all materials to the program office and to CASPA and to address any issues with them. For convenience, CASPA now offers a smartphone app for monitoring your application at portal.caspaonline.org.
PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS AND COURSE SEQUENCE
Fall, Spring and Summer
PA 550 (4 wks)
PA 560 (8 wks)
PA 555 (4 wks) 4 PA 580 (4 wks)
PA 570 (8 wks)
PA 591 (4 wks)
PA 590 (4 wks)
PA 593 (4 wks)
PA 592 (4 wks)
At least 16 weeks of the clinical rotations must serve rural/urban under served populations. The USA PA program is a participant with Alabama Statewide Area Health Education Center Program (AHEC) to assist with rural/MUA rotation placement.