Curriculum

The Physician Assistant program curriculum is a 24-month, full-time, year-round model.

The proposed curriculum is divided into two phases:

  • Academic Phase: Year I
  • Clinical Phase: Year II

The first 12 months of the program are devoted to didactic courses before students advance to clinical experiences in the remaining 12 months. The didactic phase provides students with core medical knowledge in preparation for supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPE) and consists of clinical preparatory instruction in clinical medicine across the life span.

The clinical phase in the second year includes experiences in primary care and the medical and surgical specialties.  Students complete 9 rotations (seven required and two electives).

 

* The order of rotations varies for each student.
** Evidence Based Medicine Course is interwoven throughout the second year. Credits are awarded in the Fall semester after presentation of Capstone Project.

Course Descriptions

PASC 701 Human Anatomy
Credit: 4 hours
This one semester clinical anatomy unit prepares the student for clinical practice with an understanding of the functional and applied anatomy stressing the normal landmarks and common clinical findings.  Cadaver gross dissections and prosections, anatomical models, lectures and electronic resources are utilized in this course.  

PASC 702 Physiology
Credit: 2 hours
This foundation course for the clinical medicine courses will provide an understanding of human physiology at the cellular, tissue and organ levels. The importance of physiology and pathophysiology to the study of clinical medicine will be reinforced. This course lays the foundation foundations for disease etiology, management and prevention.

PASC 703 Foundations of Medical Science
Credit: 2 hours
An introduction to the genetic and molecular mechanisms of disease; biochemistry; microbiology; and basic principles of pharmacology. Instruction in the genetic basis of disease and clinical genetic disorders will serve as a foundation for the Clinical Medicine Courses (PASC 710,720, 730) to understand genotypic specific diagnoses, prevention, and therapy. The biochemistry and microbiology modules will additionally prepare students to apply the knowledge and principles to gain an improved understanding of organ systems and related diseases in the Clinical Medicine Courses (PASC 710,720, 730).  Basic pharmacology concepts will prepare students for the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Courses (PASC 711, 721, 731).  
 
PASC 704 History & Physical Examination
Credit: 4 hours
This semester long course introduces the student to the art of acquiring a patient history and performing the physical examination. Instruction in interpersonal and communication skills resulting in effective acquiring of patient history and collaboration with patients, families and other health professionals will be incorporated. Using weekly lecture and laboratory format the course will detail how to obtain a medical history, and perform a complete physical examination. The small group labs will allow the student to learn history taking and physical examination skills, after they are demonstrated by the faculty. Simulated patient encounters will provide the student with the opportunity to practice their clinical skills. At the conclusion of each lab students will perform a case-based clinical scenario exercise with their lab partner and receive faculty feedback on their performance. A summative physical exam will be performed and graded.
 
PASC 705 Professional Practice and the Health System I
Credit: 1 hour
This is part one of a two part course provides an introduction to the social, regulatory, ethical and professional aspects of the PA profession. The history, development and current status of the PA profession within the context of the US health care system including professional conduct, legal issues, scope of PA practice, and economic aspects. Instruction in intellectual honesty, academic and professional conduct will be covered.
 
PASC 710 Clinical Medicine I
Credit: 4 hours
This is the first of three didactic Clinical Medicine courses presented in the first year and will cover infectious diseases, cardiology including EKG, hematology/oncology and pulmonology. The course will concentrate on the etiology, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of disease across the human life span; organized into an organ system approach. Clinical information will be correlated with information taught in Diagnostic Methods I (PASC 713) and Pharmacology and Therapeutics (PASC 711). Course format includes lectures, small group case studies, assessment of standardized patients. Small group cases and assessment of standardized patients will be selected to provide understanding of disease presentation, opportunities for prevention, medical ethics, interpersonal and communication skills that result in the effective exchange of information and collaboration with patients, their families and other health professionals. Problem solving and medical decision-making skills will be emphasized.
 
PASC 711 Pharmacology and Therapeutics I
Credit: 3 hours
This first in a series of three courses begins with an introduction to the principles of pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, drug metabolism, drug interactions, adverse reactions and human behavior impacting adherence and therapeutics.  Patient safety will be addressed through understanding of the risks and benefits of drug treatment, drug interactions and adverse reactions. The student will also be introduced to the drug reference resources. Drugs will be introduced in conjunction with the clinical medicine units that are taught this semester and students will learn to individualize pharmacologic regimens based on drug specific parameters, clinical evidence, drug safety and cost.
 
PASC 713 Diagnostic Methods I
Credit: 2 hours
The essentials of ordering, interpreting and performing diagnostic studies used in the screening, diagnosis, management and monitoring of disease. Topics for this course are congruent with Clinical Medicine I (PASC 710). Course format includes lectures, small group discussions and hands-on laboratory sessions.
 
PASC 720 Clinical Medicine II
Credit: 8 hours
This is the second of three didactic Clinical Medicine courses presented in the first year and will cover Nephrology, Gastroenterology, Neurology, Endocrinology, and Obstetrics/Gynecology. The course will concentrate on the etiology, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of disease across the human life span; organized into an organ system approach. Clinical information will be correlated with information taught in Patient Assessment (PASC 722) and Pharmacology and Therapeutics (PASC 721). Course format includes lectures, small group case studies, assessment of standardized patients. Small group cases and assessment of standardized patients will be selected to provide understanding of disease presentation, opportunities for prevention, medical ethics, interpersonal and communication skills that result in the effective exchange of information and collaboration with patients, their families and other health professionals. Problem solving and medical decision-making skills will be emphasized.
 
PASC 721 Pharmacology and Therapeutics II
Credit: 2 hours
This second in a series of three courses will build on the principles in PASC 711.  The course will concentrate on therapeutic applications of drugs for various organ systems integrated with the clinical medicine (PASC 720) units being taught during this semester. Patient safety will be addressed through understanding of the risks and benefits of drug treatment, drug interactions and adverse reactions. The course format includes lecture, case studies and small group sessions.
 
PASC 722 Patient Assessment I
Credit: 3 hours
This course builds on the history and physical diagnosis course by adding a practical component. Working with preceptors in diverse clinic and hospital settings students will gain hands on experience in performance of a complete history and physical exam; documentation of the exam in the medical record; and formal/complete oral presentation. Students will understand the purpose of the oral presentation is to provide other clinicians with patient information in such a way that it tells the patient's story in a logical, clear and complete fashion yet is neither cumbersome nor too long. The student will interact with a team of health care professionals (nurses, pharmacists, radiologists, laboratory technicians and others) and learn the importance of collaborative inter-professional patient care.  Students will be exposed to patients from diverse populations, be assigned to interview patients, obtain a complete medical history, perform a detailed physical exam and understand patient safety within this framework. Formal history and physical write-ups will be evaluated by program faculty and course preceptors. Professional conduct will be an important component of patient assessment. 
 
PASC 723 Diagnostic Methods II
Credit: 1 hour
This course provides instruction in the essentials of ordering, interpreting and performing diagnostic studies used in the screening, diagnosis, management and monitoring of disease. Topics for this course are congruent with Clinical Medicine II (PASC 720) and Pharmacology and Therapeutics II (PASC 721). Course format includes independent review of modules, in class case discussions, small group discussions and hands-on laboratory work. Completion of this course enables students to order, interpret, supervise, and perform laboratory procedures commonly utilized in a primary care, out-patient or hospital setting for screening, diagnosing and managing common disease states.
  
PASC 727 Behavioral Medicine
Credit: 2 hours
This course is an introduction to psychiatric disorders and behavioral medicine. Presented in lecture and seminar format the major psychiatric disorders are studied. DSM-V classification is covered, as is interviewing and office counseling. Clinical reasoning exercises include small-group clinical case study discussions, led by experienced clinicians, which are utilized to develop problem solving skills. Through standardized patients and/or objective structured clinical examinations the student will learn basic counseling and patient education skills and become prepared for clinical patient interactions in year 2.
 
PASC 730 Clinical Medicine III
Credit: 5 hours
This is the third didactic Clinical Medicine courses presented in the first year and will cover Genito-urology, Orthopedics, HEENT, Pediatrics, Geriatrics and dermatology. The course will concentrate on the etiology, pathophysiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of disease; organized into an organ system approach. Clinical information will be correlated with information taught in Pharmacology and Therapeutics (PASC 731) and Patient Assessment II (PASC 732). Course format includes lectures, small group case studies, assessment of standardized patients. Small group cases and assessment of standardized patients will be selected to provide understanding of disease presentation, opportunities for prevention, medical ethics, interpersonal and communication skills that result in the effective exchange of information and collaboration with patients, their families and other health professionals. Problem solving and medical decision-making skills will be emphasized.
 
PASC 731 Pharmacology and Therapeutics III
Credit: 3 hours
This third in a series of four courses will build on the principles in PASC 711.  The course will concentrate on therapeutic applications of drugs for various organ systems integrated with the clinical medicine (PASC 730) unit being taught during this semester. Patient safety will be addressed through understanding of the risks and benefits of drug treatment, drug interactions and adverse reactions. The course format includes lecture, case studies and small group sessions.
 
PASC 732 Patient Assessment II
Credit: 3 hours.
Working with preceptors in diverse clinic and hospital settings students will gain hands on experience in performance of a complete history and physical exam on all patients with special emphasis on the pediatric and geriatric population; documentation of the exam in the medical record; and formal/complete oral presentation. The student will interact with the team of health care professionals (nurses, pharmacists, radiologists, laboratory technicians and others) and learn the importance of collaborative inter-professional patient care.  Students will understand the purpose of the oral presentation is to provide other clinicians with patient information in such a way that it tells the patient's story in a logical, clear and complete fashion yet is neither cumbersome nor too long. Students will be exposed to patients from diverse populations, be assigned to interview patients and obtain a complete medical history and perform a detailed physical exam. Formal history and physical write-ups will be evaluated by program faculty and course preceptors.
 
PASC 733 Diagnostic Methods III
Credit: 2 hours
The essentials of ordering interpreting and performing diagnostic studies used in the screening, diagnosis, management and monitoring of disease. Topics for this course are congruent with Clinical Medicine III (PASC 730) and Pharmacology and Therapeutics III (PASC 731).  Course format includes lectures, small group discussions and hands-on laboratory sessions.  Completion of this course enables students to order, interpret, supervise, and perform laboratory procedures commonly utilized in primary care, out-patient or hospital settings for screening, diagnosing and managing common disease states.
 
PASC 734 Fundamentals of Surgery
Credit: 3 hours
This course is designed to orient the student to the fundamentals of surgical practice including basic clinical procedures, sterile procedure, anesthesia, suturing, and common office procedures. Pre-operative and post-operative patient care is presented. Hands-on-laboratory training of surgical skills required for performing minor procedures is a component of this course
 
PASC 735 Professional Practice and the Health System II
Credit: 1 hour
This second part of a two part course will introduce the students to providing medical care to racial, ethnic and socioeconomically diverse patients in a fluid and changing health care system. This course continues the discussion on professional development topics pertinent to employment and practice including medical ethics, licensing and credentialing, medical coding and billing, malpractice issues, career growth and leadership.
 
PASC 736 Evidence-Based Medicine I
Credit: 2 hours
This one semester course is an introduction to Evidence-based Medicine (EBM), and prepares the student for EBM II which is the master’s project. Intellectual and academic professionalism are incorporated into this course. Evidence based-medicine provides tools to assist clinicians to make accurate diagnoses and select optimal treatment for their patients. This course will review statistical concepts, the epidemiologic basis for clinical research, and research ethics, and will teach students to formulate clinical questions, search and critically appraise the medical literature, and incorporate best evidence into their practice. The course content is presented in lecture format with small group discussions.

PASC 800 Family Medicine
Credit: 6 hours 
Students are introduced to the principles and practice of family medicine with emphasis on disease prevention and health maintenance across the lifespan. The student will refine techniques in history taking, physical examination, health behavior counseling. Many of these sites provide care for disadvantaged and underserved populations exposing students to the diversity of community and family health needs and the occupational and environmental issues that influence health and health care decision making. 
 
PASC 801 Internal Medicine
Credit: 6 hours
This rotation provides the student the opportunity to understand the principles of general internal medicine. Students apply knowledge and skills learned in the didactic year to patient evaluation, and begin to apply patient management strategies to patients in an assigned clinical setting. Under the direction a preceptor the student will analyze the patient chart, monitor the patient’s progress, perform history and physicals, and plan therapeutic interventions. The student will learn to order specialty tests, write orders, and request specialty consultation. Students will participate in discharge planning and disposition regarding home care and follow up.
 
PASC 802 General Surgery
Credit: 4 hours
This rotation provides experience in the management of patients with surgical problems.  The student will learn pre-operative, intra-operative, and post-operative patient care. The student will scrub into surgical cases and assist the surgeon as indicated. The student will participate in the management of the surgical inpatient, and assist with discharge planning. The student will work as part of a surgical on-call team and respond to emergency situations in the emergency department and the operating room with the team.
 
PASC 803 Pediatrics
Credit: 4 hours
This rotation provides the student exposure to the care of neonates, infants, children and adolescents. The student will further refine the skills of history taking and physical examination specific to the pediatric population. The student will recognize normal development and appreciate common abnormalities of growth and development. Students will become familiar with the evaluation and treatment of common pediatric disorders. Emphasis will be on preventive care and family dynamics.
 
PASC 804 Obstetrics & Gynecology
Credit: 4 hours
This course provides the student an opportunity to gain experience in common gynecological conditions. The student learns about screening for breast and gynecologic cancers, normal and abnormal menstrual patterns, infectious diseases, and family planning. The student participates in providing routine prenatal and obstetrical care.
 
PASC 805 Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
Credit: 4 hours
The student will be exposed to and participate in the care of patients with psychiatric illnesses and psychosocial disorders.  The student will develop skill counseling patients, communicating with family members of patients living with these conditions, and managing common out-patient illnesses. Under the direction of the preceptor the student will become familiar with the use of psychotropic therapeutics. Students will learn to identify and refer “at-risk” patients.
 
PASC 806 Evidence-Based Medicine II
Credit: 4 hours
This second EBM course extends the content presented in EBM I. EBM II through the entire Clinical year allowing students exposure to clinical setting where EBM is a strong component. In EBM II students formulate a clinical question, research and assess the medical literature, and analyze the selected research studies for validity. There are bi-monthly small group lectures and discussions. The students meet on an individual basis with a faculty mentor to refine their clinical questions and develop a final paper. The students will create a PowerPoint presentation to present findings to the faculty in the final 2 months of the program. Credit will be assigned in the Fall semester..

PASC 807 Emergency Medicine
Credit: 4 hours
This rotation provides in-depth exposure to the illnesses and injuries that necessitate emergency care across the continuum of life.  Students will participate in all aspects of emergency medical care. The student will interview, evaluate and examine patients presenting to the Emergency Department. Students will present all patients cared for to the precepting clinician. Emergency procedures and treatment will be guided by the clinical preceptor.
 
PASC 808/809 Electives
Credit: 4 hours each
In addition to the above required core rotations students are given the option of electing 2 rotations of their choice.  Examples include:
  • Cardiology
  • Pulmonology
  • Family Medicine
  • Inpatient Medicine
  • Burn and Trauma Surgery
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine
  • OB/GYN
  • Dermatology
  • Orthopedics