DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT STUDIES
Chair: Diane D. Abercrombie
Medical Director: Dr. Shannon Tyler
Associate Professor: Abercrombie,
Assistant Professors: Vetrosky, Smith
Department of Physician Assistant Studies web site
PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAM
MASTER OF HEALTH SCIENCE DEGREE
The program is designed to prepare the student for Physician Assistant practice in a variety of clinical practice settings following graduation from an accredited PA program. The mission of the program is to educate students who come from a wide variety of backgrounds to become highly qualified medical practitioners who will provide health care to patients in diverse clinical settings under the supervision of a physician. The emphasis of the program is one of primary care medicine and prepares students with knowledge, skills, and attitude to practice medicine as an integral member of the medical care team.
Physician assistants are healthcare professionals who are authorized by the state to practice medicine as part of a team with physicians. Physician assistants are certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), and are licensed, certified or registered in the state in which they practice. Physician assistants deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services which include obtaining medical histories, conducting comprehensive and focused physical examinations, diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering and interpreting tests, counseling on health promotion and disease prevention, make appropriate patient referrals and assist in a variety of surgical settings. Physician assistants are authorized to prescribe medications in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The complete program consists of seven consecutive semesters (27 continuous months) of study and is divided into two components: The Preclinical Component and the Clinical Component. The Preclinical Component
consists of four semesters (15 consecutive months) of basic and clinical medical sciences. The Clinical Component
is three semesters (12 continuous months) in length and consists of clinical rotations in each of the major areas of medicine and surgery. During the clinical component, the student increases medical knowledge and refines clinical skills which are needed for professional practice as a physician assistant.
In addition to the academic standards of the Graduate School, any grade of "D" or lower will result in academic dismissal from the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. Withdrawal from any course in the Physician Assistant Program automatically results in dismissal from the program.
PROGRAM APPLICATION PROCESS
EARLY ADMISSION: Candidates who have a minimum GRE score of 155 in both verbal and quantitative (300 combined), and a minimum score of 3.5 in the Analytical Writing portion, and meet all other requirements must apply by September 1, and will be notified of their status by November 1.
REGULAR ADMISSION: Candidates who have a minimum GRE score of 155 in both verbal and quantitative (310 combined), and a minimum score of 3.5 in the Analytical Writing portion, and meet all other requirements must apply by October 15, and will be notified of their status by December 15.
The application is a three
-step process. The first step is to complete the online application via the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) at http://www.caspaonline.org which opens in mid-April.
The deadline for applying through CASPA is October 15 (September 1 for Early Admission).
Transcripts and references are considered part of the CASPA application and must
be sent directly to them. The second step is to submit the supplemental application directly to the USA PA Program, with payment. The third step is to send GRE scores to institution code 1880.
The deadline for submission of all application materials is October 15 (September 1 for Early Admission)
. Timely and complete submission of all required materials is the applicant's responsibility. Applicants are strongly encouraged to complete all application materials at least one month prior to the deadline. The supplemental application, along with other detailed information is available by visiting our web site at http://www.southalabama.edu/alliedhealth/pa. Prior to matriculation, international applicants must submit an application and meet the criteria for acceptance to the University as stipulated by the Office of International Services
). See PA department website for additional requirements.
CRITERIA FOR ADMISSION
Listed below are minimum criteria including course prerequisites necessary to be considered for admission to the Physician Assistant Program. Please call the PA department or Office of Academic Advising for course clarification.
All prerequisite and/or bonus courses, even if earned through advanced placement or experiential learning, must appear as an official course on a transcript from a regionally accredited institution. Transfer credits, or credit for experience learning cannot be substituted for any course in the program. No transfer credit is accepted from other PA Programs and no advanced placement is offered.
The selection of students for entry into the program is competitive. Successful applicants will generally exceed the minimum criteria listed below for admission.
The following are minimum criteria for admission:
- Completion of a Baccalaureate degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for regular admissions and 3.5 for early admissions on a 4.0 scale from an accredited institution prior to the starting date of the program. Individuals with less than 3.0 GPA who are eligible for admission to the university's graduate school may apply and will be ranked with others.
- Coursework with a minimum grade of "C" in the following: one semester each in general biology, anatomy, microbiology, organic chemistry, medical terminology, and physiology; two semesters in general chemistry (general chemistry 1 and general chemistry 2); one semester in mathematics (college level algebra minimum); one semester in psychology, one semester in statistics. Extra points will be given to applicants who have completed any of the following courses with a minimum grade of "C": immunology, genetics, biochemistry, physics, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. Science courses should count toward a major in that area.
- Completion of the verbal, quantitative and analytical writing components of the new Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as specified above. Official scores must be submitted electronically to the University (Institution Code 1880) before the application deadline. Students should plan to take the GRE no later than mid-September to ensure that official scores are received by the October 15 deadline.
At least one of the three required references must be from a Medical Doctor (MD), Doctor of Osteopathy (DO), or Physician Assistant (PA). All references must be submitted directly to CASPA when completing your application.
- Interview: Following the initial review of applications, a limited number of applicants will be invited for a personal interview. Verbal and written communication skills and previous healthcare experience will be assessed during the interview. The interview score is an important component for determining admission to the program.
Standards, which are fundamental tasks that must be performed to successfully complete the program, have been outlined and are available upon request from the program and on the department web site.
LENGTH OF STUDY
Twenty-seven consecutive months.
PROGRAM ENTRANCE DATE
May of each year.
The program is accredited
by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA). Graduates are eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). Certification is required by most State Boards of Medical Examiners to practice as a PA.
REQUIREMENTS FOR DEGREE
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 coursework consisting of 73 credit hours of preclinical coursework and 48 credit hours of clinical coursework.
- 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: (a) laboratory tests (blood, urine, spinal fluids, cultures); (b) imaging studies (plain film radiography, radiographic contrast studies, ultrasound studies, computerized tomography studies, and MRI studies) and (c) 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.
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 by the competencies for Physician Assistant Profession, http://nccpa.net/PAC/competencies_home.AspX
Program requirements and course sequence are listed below.
PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS AND COURSE SEQUENCE
PA 524 1
PA 533 1
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 underserved populations.
Students admitted in the Physician Assistant program will be charged a matriculation deposit of $500 required to secure a seat in the entering class. This amount is not refundable but will be applied towards tuition expenses after registration.
Upon matriculation to the program, and repeated prior to the clinical year, all students are required to submit to a national criminal background check and urine drug screen. The costs incurred by these screening are the responsibility of the student. Failure to submit to and satisfactorily pass both screenings can result in dismissal from the PA Program.
GTA Fee: $100 (one time charge).
Fee changes pending approval
Lab Fee for Human Gross Anatomy: $275.00 (one time charge).
The most current estimates for tuition and fees required for attending the program is found on, http://www.southalabama.edu/studentaccounting/tuition.html
. In addition to USA tuition and fees, students are responsible for department-specific fees and can expect expenses associated with textbooks, food and lodging. Students will also be required to purchase their own laboratory coats, stethoscope, otoscope, ophthalmoscope, sphygmomanometer and blood pressure cuff, soft reflex hammer, and tuning forks. Also, students should anticipate extra expenses, particularly related to housing and transportation, during the clinical year.
The University reserves the right to change tuition and fees, as deemed necessary by the Board of Trustees, without prior notice.