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The Master of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Studies program is housed within the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine in the Department of Health Sciences.

School of Medicine Mission Statement

We are proud to support the mission of the UNC School of Medicine, and grateful to serve the people of North Carolina.

PANCE Performance

To become a certified Physician Assistant (PA-C), a graduate from an accredited program must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).  The PANCE is provided by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, Inc. (NCCPA) and is the only certifying organization for PAs in the United States.

Five Year PANCE First-Time Pass Rates

 Class of UNC Pass Rate National Pass Rate
 2019 94% 93%
 2020 94% 95%
 2021 100% 93%
 2022 100% 92%
 2023 100% 92%



Attrition Rates


Graduated Classes

Class of 2021 Class of 2022 Class of 2023
Maximum entering class size (as approved by ARC-PA) 20 20 20
Entering class size 20 20 20
Graduates 17 19 17
* Attrition rate 15% 5% 15%
** Graduation rate 85% 95% 85%

*Attrition rate calculation: Number of students who attritted from cohort divided by the entering class size.
**Graduation rate: Number of cohort graduates divided by the entering class size.

Program Specific Competencies

For successful completion of the course of study for the degree of Master of Health Sciences (MHS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Physician Assistant Studies program, candidates for graduation must possess the knowledge, skills, attitudes and judgment to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. Candidates must demonstrate the capacity to develop academic and emotional maturity and leadership skills to function in a medical team.

In 2019, the Physician Assistant Education Association released its Core Competencies for New Physician Assistant Graduates. This document serves as a foundation from which the UNC Chapel Hill PA Program has developed its program learning outcomes and objectives.

Medical Knowledge

Student learning experiences include basic science skills such as normal anatomy & physiology, pathophysiology, and the mechanisms of disease. Through a variety of learning modalities, including case-based learning, lectures, and hands-on activities, students will learn to use critical thinking and reasoning to evaluate patients, develop a sound differential diagnosis, and provide competent patient management. Health promotion and disease prevention are prioritized to improve health outcomes.

  • MK1: Demonstrate comprehension of basic sciences as it pertains to the human body and overall health, from contraception to death, including anatomy, physiology and genetics.
  • MK2: Apply understanding of human physiology and the pathophysiology of commonly presenting disorders to identify signs and symptoms of these disease states across the lifespan.
  • MK3: Apply clinical reasoning and critical thinking to develop both a differential diagnosis and most likely diagnosis by discerning between normal and abnormal features of commonly presenting disorders.
  • MK4: Formulate and recommend and appropriate, efficient and cost-conscious diagnostic workup.
  • MK5: Formulate and recommend an appropriate pharmacologic and/or non-pharmacologic management strategy in caring for healthy and ill patients across the lifespan.
  • MK6: Formulate and recommend appropriate health maintenance, care and screening strategies for patients across the lifespan.

Patient Care

Students will be exposed to patients who are representative of the cultures and diversity of North Carolina. Students will also learn to care for patients of all ages. Students will be exposed to age-appropriate patient assessment, evaluation and management and acquire skills for caring for patients in a variety of settings (e.g. age spectrum, operative spectrum, ambulatory vs. acute). Patient and provider safety is emphasized throughout their training.

  • PC1: Apply comprehension of human anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology to obtain complete and focused medical histories and perform comprehensive and focused physical examinations.
  • PC2: Employ clinical knowledge in patient care settings to develop differential and most likely diagnoses and appropriately utilize clinical findings and/or diagnostics to promote medical decision-making.
  • PC3: Formulate and recommend patient-centered plans with consideration of each individual patient and their circumstances.
  • PC4: Provide effective patient education and counseling emphasizing the promotion of personal and public health in accordance with the patient’s circumstances and values.

Professionalism and Cultural Humility

Professional and ethical behavior in the classroom and clinic is demonstrated though role modeling of the faculty and staff, in lectures and workshops, and during clinical clerkships. Students will learn skills that support collaboration with patients, their families, and other health professionals, emphasizing the team approach to patient-centered care.

  • PCH1: Consistently exhibit respect in interactions with peers, faculty, staff, patients, families and members of the healthcare team.
  • PCH2: Foster collaboration with team members to enhance learning and optimize patient care.
  • PCH3: Display personal accountability and engage in self-reflection, recognizing limitations and embracing constructive feedback.
  • PCH4: Consistently practice cultural humility with peers, faculty, staff, patients, families and healthcare team members.
  • PCH5: Apply ethical principles and adhere to state and federal laws in both educational and clinical settings, adhering to professional standards in the physician assistant profession.

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

Students will be presented with learning opportunities to develop their communication skills, encompassing verbal, nonverbal and written exchanges of information, in a culturally/ethnically sensitive manner and among diverse communities of patients.

  • ICS1: Effectively communicate information and ideas with peers, faculty, staff, patients, families and healthcare team members.
  • ICS2: Deliver concise and accurate patient information in the form of an oral presentation.
  • ICS3: Compose concise and accurate medical documentation that demonstrates clear clinical reasoning and promotes comprehension by peers.

Systems-Based Practice

Students will be exposed to the current trends in health care delivery, including methods of coding and reimbursement, North Carolina healthcare systems, North Carolina PA rules and regulations, and both national and local PA organizations.

  • SBP1: Appreciate and navigate the influences that affect patients’ access to and utilization of healthcare, including payor systems, health literacy and cultural, societal, environmental, socioeconomic and legal factors.
  • SBP2: Effectively collaborate with healthcare team members within various practice environments to deliver high quality, patient-centered care.

Self-Assessment and Ongoing Professional Development

Students will be exposed to and expected to demonstrate skills in the elements of using peer-reviewed evidence to evaluate the best practices of health care. Students will learn to search, interpret and evaluate medical literature, and apply this knowledge to individualized patient care.

  • SAPD1: Engage in practice-based and self-directed learning using peer-reviewed and evidence-based resources.
  • SAPD2: Demonstrate a systematic approach to develop clinical questions, interpret novel medical literature and promote evidence-based clinical practice in both academic and healthcare settings.