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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
 2018 94% 98%
 2019 94% 93%
 2020 94% 95%
 2021 100% 93%
 2022 100% 92%



Attrition Rates


Graduated Classes

Class of 2020 Class of 2021 Class of 2022
Maximum entering class size (as approved by ARC-PA) 20 20 20
Entering class size 20 20 20
Graduates 18 17 19
* Attrition rate 10% 15% 5%
** Graduation rate 90% 85% 95%

*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

  • Acquire and demonstrate 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.

Patient Care

  • Develop and demonstrate patient care skills.
  • Demonstrate proficient knowledge and skills of Primary Care practice.

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.

Professionalism and Cultural Sensitivity & Humility

  • Demonstrate and model professionalism and ethical behavior.
  • Demonstrate respect and awareness of the impact of cultural considerations in the provision of healthcare delivery.

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.

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

  • Develop effective interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Communicate effectively through telehealth modalities.

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.

Systems-Based Practice

  • Develop knowledge of healthcare delivery systems and health policy.

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.

Self-Assessment and Ongoing Professional Development

  • Acquire practice-based learning and life-long improvement skills.

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.