Graduate Catalog: 2021-22

Physician Assistant Studies MS

Program Overview

The Physician Assistant Program is a full-time 27-month cohort curriculum comprised of 98 credits. Students must attend the program on a full-time basis. The first 15 months of the program are spent primarily in the classroom obtaining a foundation of medical knowledge in the areas of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, physical assessment and various medical specialties. Problem-based learning techniques are introduced early in the curriculum and used exclusively in the third and fourth semesters in medical diagnosis and therapeutic courses. During the last 12 months of the program, students are assigned to clinical rotations spending approximately 40 hours per week working with a clinical preceptor in settings such as physician offices, clinics, extended care facilities and hospitals. All students complete a core of rotations in areas of Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, General Surgery, Internal Medicine, and an elective as well as specialized experiences in pediatrics, women’s health, mental health, and long term care. Students also choose from a series of rotations in the areas of trauma/surgery subspecialty, hospital inpatient care, family practice, or internal medicine.

Accreditation

At its September 2019 meeting, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) placed the University of Saint Francis Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the University of Saint Francis on Accreditation-Probation status until its next review in September 2021.

Probation is a temporary status of accreditation conferred when a program does not meet the Standards and when the capability of the program to provide an acceptable educational experience for its students is threatened.

Once placed on probation, programs that still fail to comply with accreditation requirements in a timely manner, as specified by the ARC-PA, may be scheduled for a focused site visit and/or risk having their accreditation withdrawn.

Specific questions regarding the Program and its plans should be directed to the Program Director and/or the appropriate institutional official(s).

Program Goals

  1. Select competent and experienced applicants dedicated to the PA profession.
    • Selecting competent applicants:
      • Measure: Average undergraduate cumulative GPA of each matriculating cohort.
      • Benchmark: Average undergraduate cumulative GPA/cohort of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale.
    • Selecting experienced applicants:
      • Measure: Average the direct patient care hours of the matriculated cohort.
      • Benchmark: Average of 1000 direct patient care hours/cohort.
  2. Provide a quality educational experience in the biomedical and clinical sciences that emphasizes the development of critical thinking/clinical reasoning and evidence-based medical practices necessary for entry-level practice.
    • Development of critical thinking/clinical reasoning:
      • Measure: Item on Preceptor Evaluation of Student Performance (end of rotation) and End of Clinical Phase Survey that asks about the development of these skills.
      • Benchmark: Average of 3.5/5 per cohort.
    • Development of evidence-based medicine practices:
      • Measure: Item on Preceptor Evaluation of Student Performance (end of rotation) and End of Clinical Phase Survey that asks about the development of these skills.
      • Benchmark: Average of 3.5/5 per cohort.
  3. Provide students with clinical skills needed to assess and diagnosis patients appropriately.
    • Provide students with history taking skills:
      • Measure: Item on Preceptor Evaluation of Student Performance (end of rotation) and End of Clinical Phase Survey that asks about the development of these skills.
      • Benchmark: Average of 3.5/5 per cohort.
    • Provide students with physical exam skills:
      • Measure: Item on Preceptor Evaluation of Student Performance (end of rotation) and End of Clinical Phase Survey that asks about the development of these skills.
      • Benchmark: Average of 3.5/5 per cohort.
    • Provide students with procedural skills:
      • Measure: Item on Preceptor Evaluation of Student Performance (end of rotation) and End of Clinical Phase Survey that asks about the development of these skills.
      • Benchmark: Average of 3.5/5 per cohort.
  4. Prepare students to be practitioners who engage in service-learning and care for the underserved.
    • Engaged in service learning:
      • Measure: Calculate average of student submitted service-learning hours.
      • Benchmark: Average of 10 hours of service-learning per student/cohort throughout the program.
    • Engaged in care for the underserved:
      • Measure: Average number of underserved patients seen by each matriculated cohort.
      • Benchmark: Average of 200 visits with underserved patients per student/cohort.
  5. Prepare PA students for successful passage of the PANCE.
    • Prepare students to pass the PANCE:
      • Measure: Calculate the cumulative first-time test taker pass rate.
      • Benchmark: Maintain a cumulative first-time test taker pass rate of 95%.

Certification

Students who graduate from an accredited PA program are eligible to take the certification examination offered by the National Commission on Certification for Physician Assistants. Successful completion of the examination allows the individual to use the title “Physician Assistant-Certified” or PA-C.

Degree Requirements

The Physician Assistant Program requires 98 credit hours.

Program of Study

Students complete 50 credit hours in the didactic year.

  • First Summer Semester, 13 credit hours: PAC 512, PAC 512L, PAC 520, PAC 530
  • First Year Fall Semester, 12 credit hours: PAC 540, PAC 545, PAC 552, PAC 555, PAC 555L
  • First Year Spring Semester, 13 credit hours: PAC 560, PAC 560L, PAC 565, PAC 565L, PAC 572
  • Second Summer Semester, 12 credit hours: PAC 580, PAC 580L, PAC 585, PAC 585L, PAC 590, PAC 605

Students complete 48 credit hours in the clinical year. In the clinical year, all students complete a core of rotations in areas of Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, General Surgery, Internal Medicine, and an elective as well as specialized experiences in pediatrics, women’s health, and mental health. Students also choose from a series of rotations in one of the following the areas:

  • trauma/surgery subspecialty
  • hospital inpatient care
  • family practice
  • internal medicine

Admission Criteria

In addition to University of Saint Francis general admission requirements, the minimum requirements for admission to the Physician Assistant program are:

  • A minimum overall GPA of 3.0.
  • A minimum overall Science GPA of 3.0.
  • Possession of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States or the submission of equivalency verification for foreign credentials. The bachelor’s degree must be completed prior to the beginning of the first full week of May of the matriculation year.
  • Submission of scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) with a minimum score of 4.0 on the Analytical Writing section.
  • Satisfactorily complete 12 credit hours in chemistry with a grade of “C” or better, including one semester of each of the following courses: general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry.
  • Satisfactorily complete, with a grade of “C” or better, 15 credit hours in biology, including the equivalence of two semesters of human anatomy and physiology, and a course in microbiology.
  • Satisfactorily complete, with a grade of “C” or better, six credit hours in the area of psychology.
  • Possess direct patient care experience. The most direct and responsible forms of patient care experience in a compensated position are preferred.
  • Clinical components of the educational experience required for other health care professions are considered but will not totally fulfill this requirement. Volunteer activity and/or appropriate life experiences will be considered but will not totally fulfill this requirement.

Volunteer activity and/or appropriate life experience will be considered but will not totally fulfill this requirement.

Note: The personal computer (PC) is used extensively throughout the program for communication, instruction and assessment. It is advisable for students to own a personal computer with hardware and software compatible with that of the university. A laptop is very helpful in class activities. Being online with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) is also recommended. The university does provide these services on campus for students during normal business hours.

Applications are accepted by the PA Program Admissions Committee from May 1* through December 1 for classes beginning the following May. Selected qualified applicants are offered an interview. All applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible. *Applications are submitted through Centralized Application Service for the Physician Assistant (CASPA) and may be submitted beginning at the opening date for the Physician Assistant cycle published at www.Caspaonline.org.

Up to five seats in each class are reserved for early entry applicants who apply to the undergraduate university with a dual admission to an undergraduate major and the PA Program. An additional two seats may be reserved for dual accept candidates from articulating programs.

Enrollment Requirements

Before an applicant is accepted into the PA program, the following requirements must be met:

The University of Saint Francis has identified non-academic technical standards critical to the success of students in Physician Assistant program. These standards are designed not to be exclusionary, but to establish performance expectations that will enable students to provide safe patient practice with or without accommodations. (The standards are program requirements, not individual functional ability requirements.)

Technical Standards

  • Observation: Candidates and students must be able to observe lectures, demonstrations, research, and patient situations in the practice of health care professions. Observation is necessary to perform competent health assessments and interventions and necessitates functional use of vision, hearing, tactile and somatic senses.
  • Communication: Candidates and students must have the ability to use multiple communication techniques (verbal, written, nonverbal, group processes, and information technology) that enable them to communicate effectively with clients, teachers and all members of the health care team. They must be able to speak, read and write in English. Candidates and students must be able to report to members of the health care team, express appropriate information to others, communicate with sensitivity and teach, explain, direct and counsel clients.
  • Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: Candidates and students must have the ability to measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize data in a timely manner. Problem solving, a critical skill demanded of health care practitioners, requires all these intellectual abilities. Additionally, candidates and students must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures.
  • Motor Skills: : Candidates and students must possess fine and gross motor function necessary to perform patient assessment and therapeutic interventions. Such interventions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, stamina, equilibrium and functional use of touch and vision.
  • Behavioral and Social Attributes: Candidates and students must possess the emotional health required for full use of their intellectual abilities, demonstration of good judgment, prompt and safe completion of all responsibilities, and development of mature and effective relationships with patients. They must be able to work cooperatively with others, adapt to rapidly changing environments, think clearly and tolerate physically and mentally taxing workloads under stressful situations. Additionally they must demonstrate moral reasoning and ethical behaviors.

In addition to the technical standards stated above, students must be able to successfully complete all required components of the curriculum.

It is the policy of University of Saint Francis to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified students with disabilities to provide equal opportunity to meet the performance and technical standards. Determination of a reasonable accommodation will be considered on an individual basis and is an interactive collaboration with the disability services director, the student, faculty advisor, and Program Director when indicated. Students with disabilities will adhere to the same admission, progression, dismissal, and readmission policies as all students.

Clinical Requirements

Background Check Requirement

The University of Saint Francis Physician Assistant Program requires individuals who have been accepted to the Program to complete a Background Check, at the student’s expense prior to enrollment into the program to meet requirements of many of our clinical training affiliates.

Evidence of positive drug screens, any DUI, driving violations or penalties, crimes such as battery or assault, theft or embezzlement, and drug or other substance abuse-related crimes may make students ineligible to participate in clinical experiences and therefore ineligible to be admitted to the PA program.

Substance Abuse Testing

Students are prohibited from the use of illegal (“street”) drugs and use of prescription drugs not supported by a current, valid prescription written for that student. All PA students will annually complete drug testing at their expense and sign a release to have results sent to the department of Physician Assistant Studies.

Further Requirements

  • Completion of Health and Physical Exam form.
  • Acknowledgement of receipt of the PA Program Bulletin which describes the program’s policies and expectations.
  • Acknowledgement of the program’s class and clinical attendance policy.
  • Agreement to a full-time student commitment which does not permit time for extracurricular employment.
  • Completion of “Informed Consent” agreement.
  • Completion of “Student Confidentiality” agreement.
  • Acknowledgement of and commitment to the PA Honor Code.
  • Completion of “Personal Information Release” agreement allowing the PA program to communicate information required by clinical affiliates for student participation.

Progression Criteria

In order to advance in the Physician Assistant program, the student must:

  • Complete all courses with a minimum grade of “C” or equivalent.
  • Comply with the PA Program Attendance Policy.
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
  • Complete all 500 level didactic courses before entry into the clinical year curriculum.
  • Complete any incomplete grades within 8 weeks of the last day of the incomplete course.
  • Satisfactorily complete all clinical rotation objectives.
  • Successfully complete didactic and clinical comprehensive exams.
  • Successfully complete didactic year summative evaluations.
  • Successfully complete clinical year summative evaluations.

Failure to comply with any of the progression criteria standards will result in an academic review by the Physician Assistant Program Director and faculty.

Graduation Requirements

The following requirements must be met in order to graduate with a Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies:

  • Complete all 98 credit hours in the Physician Assistant program curriculum with a minimum of “C” or its equivalent in each course.
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
  • Successfully complete summative evaluations.
  • Fulfill all financial obligations to the University of Saint Francis.

All courses contained within the Physician Assistant curriculum must be completed prior to graduation without exception or exemption. No transfer credit or credit by portfolio is accepted. No students are exempt from classes because of prior courses, training or experience.