Physician Assistant Studies

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The purpose of the Program is to create and maintain an educational environment that promotes critical thinking as well as clinical knowledge and skills necessary to exercise sound medical decision-making and to provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services to patients across the lifespan, in diverse settings. The program also strives to develop compassionate, professional and ethically-minded clinicians.

School
School of Health Professions
Career
Physician Assistant (PA)
Program Contacts

What is a Physician Assistant?

A Physician Assistant (PA) is a nationally certified and state licensed medical professional. PAs practice medicine on healthcare teams with physicians and other providers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and the uniformed services.

The United States is currently facing a shortage of health care professionals, and PAs are needed to fill the void. From 2014 to 2024, it is projected that the PA field will grow at a rate of 30 percent, which translates into 28,700 new jobs PAs. Currently this PA profession is ranked as the #3 in the best 100 jobs in the nation per US News and World Report.

PA Program Mission

Guided by the tradition of compassionate health care exemplified by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady, the Physician Assistant Program will develop graduates who will provide evidence based, patient centered medical care in diverse settings, and who are committed to serving all God’s people.

PA Program Purpose

The purpose of the Program is to create and maintain an educational environment that promotes critical thinking as well as clinical knowledge and skills necessary to exercise sound medical decision-making and to provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services to patients across the lifespan, in diverse settings. The program also strives to develop compassionate, professional and ethically-minded clinicians.

While PA practice is primarily centered on patient care, PAs will also be prepared to take on educational, research and administrative roles as well. As such, PA students must have an understanding of biostatistics, research methodology and other research principals.

Enrollment

Applicants to the PA program must complete an application specific to the program through CASPA. Applications must be in verification status by August 1 for a January start. Enrollment is limited to 30 students and admission is via a competitive selection process.

Length of Program

The program is a 28 month continuous program. The program consists of 108 credit hours (68 of those hours are in the didactic phase and 40 of those hours are in the clinical phase). Due to the intensity of the program, it is recommended that students do not work while enrolled in this program.

Application Information

Applications for the PA program must be submitted through (CASPA) Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants. Applications must be received and in verified status by CASPA by the published August 1 deadline. To submit an application please visit www.caspaonline.org.

Transfer of College Credits

All credits for the Master of Medical Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies must be earned at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University. The PA program will not accept credit hours earned from other PA programs, graduate programs or medical schools.

Tuition

Total Costs for the Physician Assistant Program

SemesterCredit HoursTuition/FeesCourse FeesTotal
116$14,768.48$14,768.48
217$15,663.51
$15,663.51
316$14,768.48
$360.00$15,128.48
414$12,978.42$45.00$13,023.42
512$11,188.36$247.50$11,435.86
616$14,768.48$14,768.48
717$15,663.51$45.00$15,708.51
Total108$100,496.74

Click here for an estimate of other costs associated with the PA program.

Financial Assistance

Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University has financial aid counselors available to assist students with the financial aid process. All students are encouraged to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form available at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Once enrolled, students are eligible for a number of scholarship awards offered by professional PA organizations.

Outcomes and Goals

Physician Assistant Student Learning Outcomes

The PA Program strives to educate future PAs to be competent, compassionate, professional lifelong learners of medicine. As such, the program has identified seven learning outcomes based on core Physician Assistant competencies developed by the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants and the American Academy of Physician Assistants.  As such, upon completion of the program, the PA graduate should:

  1. Demonstrate a foundation of medical knowledge by applying biomedical, clinical and social sciences to patient care. (MK)
  2. Exhibit interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, patient's families, and other healthcare professionals (IPC)
  3. Provide patient care that is compassionate, appropriate, and effective for the treatment of medical problems and the promotion of health. (PC)
  4. Manifest professionalism as evidenced by commitment to carrying out professional and clinical responsibilities, ethical practice, sensitivity to diverse patient populations, and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements. (P)
  5. Demonstrate the ability to provide high quality team-based patient care that is safe, effective and efficient. (SBP)
  6. Develop practice based learning techniques which include the review of medical literature, scientific evidence, and other medical and professional resources. (PBL)
  7. Demonstrate servant leadership by emulating Franciscan values in clinical practice and service to individuals and communities. (SLFV)

Indicators of how well the Program is meeting its goals:

Please click the blue link below to see how the program is meeting its goals.

  1. The first time pass rate for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) will be at or above the national average
  2. 100% of the program’s graduates will be employed within 6 months of graduation
  3. PA graduates will serve diverse patient populations in a variety of clinical settings/specialties 
  4. Students and Faculty will participate in at least 150 community service hours per academic year
  5. At least 15% of graduates from the program will remain engaged in the program in a meaningful way
    • As of end of year 2016, 17% of the program’s graduates participate in student admissions processes, didactic instruction, simulation activities, skills labs or as clinical preceptors

Technical Standards

Physician assistants must have the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to render a wide spectrum of patient care services in a broad variety of clinical situations. Consequently, it is essential that in its admission process, the Physician Assistant Program assesses an applicant’s physical and emotional capabilities as well as his/her scholastic accomplishments and academic potential in order to assure that the applicant can meet the full demands of the Program’s curriculum and graduate as a skilled and effective healthcare provider. In making this assessment, the Program must consider the applicant’s current physical and emotional status, any cumulative or progressive disability, and any drug-induced impairment that may pose obstacles to the safe application of his/her knowledge and skills to the provision of quality care or prevent effective interaction with patients.

Applicants will be reviewed individually in this regard on a case-by-case basis. No otherwise qualified individual with a handicap will be automatically excluded from admission.

Students are expected to meet the technical standards throughout their enrollment. Any student found in violation of the Technical Standards at any time is at risk for dismissal from the program. As such, PA students must continually demonstrate skills and abilities in the following areas prior to, and throughout enrollment:

  1. Observation:  Students must be able to demonstrate sufficient capacity to observe demonstrations and experiments in basic and clinical sciences (including computer-assisted instruction), and must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance or close at hand.
  2. Communication: Students must be able to demonstrate sufficient capacity to communicate accurately and with clarity, in oral and written forms, with appropriate respect and sensitivity towards faculty, patients, and all members of the healthcare team.
  3. Motor:  Students must have sufficient fine and gross motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. They must be able to grasp and manipulate tools and equipment using proper technique and stand, sit, walk and move as needed in a patient care setting.
  4. Senses: Students must have sufficient use of the senses of vision, hearing, touch, and smell necessary to directly perform a physical examination.
  5. Problem solving:  Students must demonstrate sufficient ability to learn to measure, calculate, analyze, and synthesize data to reach diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical judgments.
  6. Clinical skills:  Students must demonstrate sufficient ability to learn and perform routine laboratory tests and diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical procedures.  All students will be expected to perform physical examinations on both males and females.
  7. Behavioral attributes:  Students must possess the emotional health necessary for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of sound judgment, the prompt completion of responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with faculty, clinical staff and patients.
  8. Judgment:  Students must be able to learn and demonstrate the ability to recognize limitations to their knowledge, skills and abilities, and to seek appropriate assistance with their identified limitations.
  9. Stability:  Students must be able to learn to respond with precise, efficient, and appropriate action in emergency situations.
  10. Perseverance:  Students are expected to possess the humility to accept criticism, and the diligence to successfully complete the physician assistant curriculum and enter the practice of medicine as a certified physician assistant.
  11. Cognition:  The physician assistant program is a concentrated and fast-paced program.  In addition, physician assistants must often make critical decisions when evaluating patients and must make these decisions in a timely manner.  Students must be able to assimilate large amounts of information quickly and efficiently, as well as gather and analyze patient data in a timely manner.  Health conditions and/or drugs (prescription, over the counter or "recreational") that alter perceptions, slow responses, or impair judgment are not compatible with success in the program.  These may also affect the student's ability to obtain a license or to practice as a physician assistant.
  12. Capability:  Physician Assistants work in a variety of clinical settings and may be required to stand for extended periods of time, assist in major surgery, hold retractors, place invasive devices, assist in labor and delivery, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, perform minor surgical procedures, or help move patients. Therefore, students must demonstrate sufficient capability to function safely, effectively, and efficiently in a classroom, laboratory, or clinical facility without any of the following: a surrogate, intermediate, companion (animal or human), translator, or assistive device that would interfere with or not be usable in a surgical or other patient care setting

The students’ compliance with standards, policies, and practices set forth in the PA Handbook and Code of Ethics of the Physician Assistant Profession is both critical and mandatory. The ability to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical practice, adaptability, flexibility, compassion, integrity, motivation, interpersonal skills, and concern for others are all characteristics demanded of the PA.

Students will acknowledge understanding of the Technical Standards by signing the Technical Standards Student Attestation upon matriculation into the program.

Admission Requirements

Application Deadline: August 1

Minimum Admission Requirements

  1. Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited, U.S. college or university or equivalent prior to the time of matriculation:
    • Early admission will be considered for students enrolled in, and in good standing in Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University's 3+2 Biology degree program. All 3+2 applicants must meet all other PA program criteria.
    • Candidates who attended an accredited college or university outside of the United States must have their baccalaureate degree confirmed and coursework evaluated by an approved international transcript evaluation center at the candidate's expense. A list may be obtained by contacting the Office of Admissions, 225-490-1619.
    • Applicants who have graduated from, or attended, foreign or U.S. medical schools, or who have advanced degrees in biological sciences or similar programs, will not be granted automatic acceptance into the PA program. Nor will transfer credits from graduate or post-graduate programs be accepted.
  2. Successful completion of all pre-requisite courses. Please note, "Survey" course do not satisfy the pre-requisite requirements. "online" courses may be considered, however, are not preferred with the exception of medical terminology.
    • Human Anatomy with lab
    • Human Physiology (combined anatomy and physiology I and II with labs are acceptable alternatives)
    • General Microbiology
    • Organic Chemistry I
    • Organic Chemistry II (2000 level or higher) or Biochemistry (3000 level or higher)
    • General Psychology
    • Statistics
    • Genetics
    • Medical Terminology (certificate or other courses acceptable)
  3. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) completed within the previous five years submitted directly to CASPA;
    • OLOL/CASPA GRE code is: 7348
  4. Three letters of recommendation: Letters are uploaded via the CASPA portal and should be from individuals who can attest to the individual applicant's educational success, ambition, drive or personal attributes that set the candidate apart from others. Former teachers, medical professional or employers are recommended. Letters of recommendations from friends and family are STRONGLY discouraged.
  5. Personal statement: The personal statement should summarize why the individual desires to be a Physician Assistant and what they personally can contribute to the profession.
  6. Personal Interview: All candidates are screened via personal interview made up of multiple faculty members as well as practicing PAs.
  7. Students must meet and maintain all technical standards in order to be enrolled in, and progress through, the PA program.

The PA program strives to accept a diverse, mature, compassionate and community service-oriented student body. Therefore, in addition to excellence in academics, the admissions committee considers many other individual factors when considering each applicant:

  1. Hands-on patient care experience (generally a minimum of 80 hours to be considered competitive)
  2. Shadowing one or more PAs
  3. Licensed healthcare worker
  4. Previous military experience
  5. Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University graduate
  6. Student from medically underserved areas
  7. Mission work/Community Service

Acceptance into the PA program is competitive. In order to be considered for admission into the PA program, candidates must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in the following areas: cumulative undergraduate GPA, undergraduate science GPA and pre-requisite GPA (as calculated and verified by CASPA). Additionally, candidates must have a combined verbal/quantitative GRE score of 290 and a minimum of a 3 on the writing section of the GRE.

The following table should give the applicant guidance as to how competitive he/she is in comparison to prior PA classes. The competitive candidate has a “B” or better in all defined pre-requisite course work. Repeated attempts at pre-requisite coursework will be noted and weaken candidate’s overall application packet.

Class

Average GPA (cumulative)

Average GPA (pre-requisite)

Average GRE (V)

Average GRE (Q)

Average GRE (W)

2016

3.25

3.47

152 (483)

151 (638)

3.77

2017

3.45

3.60

154 (504)

152 (660)

3.78

2018

3.37

3.39

150 (450)

150 (632)

3.67

20193.483.541521513.87
20203.53.461521523.9

V = verbal Q = Quantitative W= Writing
(Scoring based on scale prior to 8/1/2011 in parenthesis)

Application Process

  1. Candidate must create a CASPA account. The application cycle opens April 27th. The application must be received and in verified status by CASPA by the published application deadline of August 1st* (www.caspaonline.org)
  2. The candidate is responsible for ensuring all application materials are received prior to the application deadline in order to be verified by CASPA. The PA program will not track, or notify individual candidates of any missing items.
  3. Any additional unrequested application documents provided by the candidate will not be considered for admission or returned.
  4. The candidate is responsible for all CASPA application fees.
  5. Beginning in 2017, the PA program will now require a supplemental application. Prospective students will receive the supplemental application from the program once their CASPA application has been made COMPLETE. The deadline for the supplemental application is September 1.
  6. The Admissions subcommittee will review all completed applications and determine based on admission criteria and individual factors previously discussed, which candidates will be granted a personal interview.  The following represents the general time frame of the admissions decision process, but is subject to change:
    • Personal interview invitations are generally mailed between September 1st and September 15th of each application cycle.
    • Any candidate who fails to RSVP for the interview by the published deadline, forfeits their interview and potential acceptance into the program.
    • Generally,75-100 candidates will be interviewed for 30 positions in the class
    • Personal Interviews may be conducted from September 15 through mid-October.
    • The candidate is responsible for travel arrangements/fees associated with interview.
  7. Generally, acceptance and alternate notifications will be mailed by November 1
    • Candidates are required to acknowledge and accept their position in the class by the stated deadline in their acceptance letter, or forfeit their position in the class.
    • A non-refundable tuition deposit is required and must be paid prior to deadline or the candidate forfeits their position in the class.
  8. Candidates who did not meet criteria for an interview will be notified in writing after September 1st.
  9. Candidates who were interviewed but not accepted will be notified in writing by November 1.

*Exceptions to the August 1st application deadline may be made by the Admissions subcommittee on a case-by-case basis.

Acceptance

The PA program currently accepts 30 students per year. There are a number of ways in which a candidate may be accepted:

  • Acceptance: Following personal interview, and ranking by the Admissions Subcommittee. This candidate meets all admissions criteria, and will be notified in writing. Admission will be dependent upon the candidate’s acknowledgement of acceptance and intent to accept invitation. A deposit will be required to secure the candidate’s position in the class. A failure to communicate intent to join the PA class or to submit deposit by published deadline may result in forfeiture of position. This category also applies to all 3+2 Biology Candidates who are in good standing in their degree program and complete the personal interview.
  • Conditional Acceptance: This candidate meets all admissions criteria, but has not completed all undergraduate coursework at the time of application deadline. A final transcript will be required prior to matriculation. If admissions criteria standards are not met, the candidate will forfeit his/her position.
  • Alternate List: A number of candidates may be placed on an alternate or “waiting” list. These candidates will be contacted in writing, in the event an automatically admitted student declines his/her acceptance for any reason. Alternates MAY be contacted for admission up to the first day of Spring classes. The PA program cannot disclose the order of rankings of the alternate list.

Deadline for Application: August 1 (verification date for CASPA)

Accreditation

Regional Accreditation

Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees.  Contact the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University.

ARC-PA Accreditation

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.

Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be September 2023. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.


Resources for Current PA Students

Curriculum Notes:

Clinical Rotation Courses

PHAS 5771 Primary Care I 
PHAS 5772 Primary Care II 
PHAS 5773 Hospital Medicine  
PHAS 5774 Medical Elective I 
PHAS 5775 Medical Elective II  
PHAS 5776 General Surgery
PHAS 5777 Musculoskeletal Medicine
PHAS 5778 Pediatrics
PHAS 5779 Emergency Medicine
PHAS 5780 Focused Topics: Behavioral Health/ Women's