text only
University of South Alabama
Home Index Search Directories Faq
USA Undergraduate/Graduate Bulletin 2013-2014


Chair: Diane D. Abercrombie (251) 445-9334
Medical Director: Shannon Tyler, M.D.
Professor: Aliabadi
Associate Professor: Abercrombie, Vetrosky
Assistant Professor: Risling-de Jong
Senior Instructor: Davis
Department of Physician Assistant Studies web site
Mission Statement
The mission of the University of South Alabama Physician Assistant Program is to educate compassionate and competent individuals from diverse backgrounds to become highly qualified physician assistants in accordance with the highest professional standards to provide a broad spectrum of preventative and curative healthcare to patients in various communities and clinical settings with physician supervision. The emphasis of the program is one of primary care, including a broad foundation in the medical and surgical specialties.

The Physician Assistant Studies program curriculum is closely related to the goals of the University of South Alabama as well as to the degree. The program fosters an environment that promotes the acquisition and application of culturally sensitive, patient-oriented clinical knowledge and skills to produce a diverse workforce of primary care physician assistants who practice medicine with competence, professionalism, and compassion driven by academic excellence and a spirit of service to the community

Physician assistants are healthcare professionals who are authorized by the state to practice medicine as part of a team with physicians. Physician assistants are certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), and are licensed, certified or registered in the state in which they practice. Physician assistants deliver a broad range of medical and surgical services which include obtaining medical histories, conducting comprehensive and focused physical examinations, diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, counseling on health promotion and disease prevention, make appropriate patient referrals and assist in a variety of surgical settings. Physician assistants are authorized to prescribe medications in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The complete program admits 40 students each year, consists of seven consecutive semesters (27 continuous months) of study and is divided into two components: The Preclinical Component and the Clinical Component. The Preclinical Component consists of four semesters (15 consecutive months) of basic and clinical medical sciences. The Clinical Component is three semesters (12 continuous months) in length and consists of clinical rotations in each of the major areas of medicine and surgery. During the clinical component, the student increases medical knowledge and refines clinical skills which are needed for professional practice as a physician assistant.
In addition to the academic standards of the Graduate School, any grade of "D" or lower will result in academic dismissal from the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. Withdrawal from any course in the Physician Assistant Program automatically results in dismissal from the program.
The following requirements are necessary to be considered for admission into the program. For course clarification, please contact the Department. of Physician Assistant Studies.

Transfer credits, or credit for experience learning cannot be substituted for any course in the program. No transfer credit is accepted from other PA programs and no advanced placement is offered. The selection of students for entry into the program is competitive. Successful applicants will generally exceed the minimum criteria listed below for admission. 

1. Completion of a Baccalaureate degree in any field with a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, as calculated by CASPA, our online application service, from a regionally accredited institution prior to the starting date of the program. You may have courses in progress through the spring semester as long as they are completed when the program begins in mid-May.

2. Completion of prerequisite course work completed with a grade of “C” or higher, with one semester of at least 3 credits each in:

  • General Biology
  • General Chemistry I and II
  • Human Anatomy and Human Physiology OR Anatomy and Physiology I and II
  • Microbiology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Mathematics (College Algebra minimum)
  • Statistics
  • General Psychology
  • Medical Terminology (at least 2 credits)

Extra points will be given for the completion of the following courses, with a grade of C or better:

  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry
  • Physics
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology

All prerequisite and/or bonus courses must appear as an official course on a transcript from a regionally accredited institution.  All official transcripts must be directly submitted to CASPA (caspaonline.org).  See the Applications section below for details.

Extra points will also be given if the last 64-hour GPA is higher than the cumulative GPA, as calculated by CASPA.

3. Completion of the General Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within the past five (5) years. The department accepts a score of 150 in the Verbal and 150 in the Quantitative sections and a 3.5 in Analytical Writing or an old combined score of 1000 in the Verbal and Quantitative and a 3.5 in Analytical Writing.  The highest complete exam score from one test date is used in the ranking of applicants:  For details, visit www.ets.org.
The GRE should be taken at least three weeks prior to the application deadline to ensure that official test scores are received by the deadline.
Also required are direct patient care, PA shadowing and/or related healthcare or work experience. Although we do not require a certain number of hours, you must show that you are interested in and capable of providing care to patients, and that you understand the role of a physician assistant. Examples of direct patient care are occupational therapy, physical therapy, respiratory therapy, Emergency Medical Technicians, Certified Nursing Assistant, Medical Assistant, any related healthcare fields involving the hands-on care of patients, or any paid or non-paid work experience.
One (1) bonus point will be given for each of the following as evidenced in the application:
  • Born in/Graduated high school from/Resides in any rural county as listed on HRSA website: ftp://ftp.hrsa.gov/ruralhealth/elibility2005.pdf
  • Additional degree training (advanced degree(s), CPR, EMT, CAN, PALS, etc.)
  • Military or Government Service (includes all branches of service, AmeriCorps and Peace Corps)
  • Research, Publications, and Presentations (includes all professional work)
  • Disadvantaged Background
    • Overcoming significant adversities and struggles. Must provide written statement.
    • Worked with underserved population (Must provide details)
    • Economically and/or environmentally disadvantaged (see HRSA website: http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/scholarshipsloans/tools/guidelines/sds.pdf Section: Recruiting and Retaining Disadvantaged Students, pgs 8-9).
The application cycle begins annually on May 1, and those who meet the minimum requirements and wish to apply must submit all materials by November 1ALL APPLICATIONS MATERIALS, INCLUDING CASPA AND SUPPLEMENTAL APPLICATION MUST BE SUBMITTED, COMPLETED, AND VERIFIED BY CASPA BY NOVEMBER 1ST. Timely and complete submission of all required materials are the applicant’s responsibility, and it is advisable to submit all materials at least one month prior to the deadline.  Steps to a complete application are:
1. Completed and verified CASPA application.  Applicants can file online at www.caspaonline.org. Official transcripts and letters of reference, one of which must be from a MD, DO, or PA, are part of the CASPA application and must be sent directly to CASPA.   When the CASPA application is verified, it is electronically available to the program and is therefore considered received.
2. Completed Supplemental Application with non-refundable application fee of $110.00.  The form is included in the downloadable Application Guide located on the program web site, www.southalabama.edu/alliedhealth/pa.
3. Submission of GRE scores by submitting directly and electronically to Institution Code 1880.  Accepted score must meet the program minimum of 150 verbal, 150 quantitative, and 3.5 analytical writing or an old combined score of 1000 in the Verbal and Quantitative and a 3.5 in Analytical Writing. The old combined GRE scores must be within the past 5 years.

If an international student, the applicant must also:
  • apply by October 1 to the Office of International Services at www.southalabama.edu/intnatsrv
  • take all prerequisites in the U. S. to establish a USA GPA.
  • have all international coursework evaluated by World Education Services for submission with the CASPA application.

Following the initial review of applications, a limited number of applicants will be invited for a personal interview. The USA PA program interview is a two-day process. In addition to academic credentials, students will participate in a group case scenario interview on Day 1 designed to evaluate the applicant’s emotional intelligence (EI): leadership skills, ethical behavior, and maturity. On Day 2 applicants participate in a face-to-face interview with a minimum of three (3) interviewers.

Students admitted in the Physician Assistant program will be charged a matriculation deposit of $500 required to secure a seat in the entering class. This amount is not refundable but will be applied towards tuition expenses after registration.
In addition to USA tuition and fees, students are responsible for department-specific fees and can expect expenses associated with textbooks, food and lodging. Students will also be required to purchase their own laboratory coats, stethoscope, otoscope, ophthalmoscope, sphygmomanometer and blood pressure cuff, soft reflex hammer, and tuning forks. Also, students should anticipate extra expenses, particularly related to housing and transportation, during the clinical year.
Please visit www.southalabama.edu/alliedhealth/pa/tuition.html for the most recent list of estimated program tuition and expenses.
The University reserves the right to change tuition and fees without prior notice, as deemed necessary by the Board of Trustees. For the most recent list, visit www.southalabama.edu/bulletin/tuition.htm.
Upon matriculation to the program, and repeated prior to the clinical year, all studentsare required to submit to a national criinal background check and urine drug screen. The costs incurred by these screening are the responsiblity fo the student. Failure to submit to and satisfactorily pass both screenings can result in dismissal from the PA Program.
Technical Standards, which are fundamental tasks that must be performed to successfully complete the program, have been outlined and are available upon request from the program and on the department web site.

Twenty-seven consecutive months.

Mid-May of each year.
The program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA). Graduates are eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). Certification is required by most State Boards of Medical Examiners to practice as a PA.
The program consists of preclinical and clinical components. The preclinical component is designed to provide a solid foundation for the clinical component. During the clinical component the student refines the medical knowledge and clinical skills needed for professional practice. Successful completion of the program requires that the student be able to:
  • complete 121 hours of graduate coursework consisting of 73 credit hours of preclinical coursework and 48 credit hours of clinical coursework.
  • obtain an accurate and detailed patient history.
  • perform complete and focused physical examinations.
  • establish working and differential diagnosis.
  • order and interpret diagnostic evaluations to include: (a) laboratory tests (blood, urine, spinal fluids, cultures); (b) imaging studies (plain film radiography, radiographic contrast studies, ultrasound studies, computerized tomography studies, and MRI studies) and (c) electrocardiogram.
  • develop and manage a treatment plan.
  • record patient data: (a) written notes and charting and (b) electronic medical record.
  • order and/or administer therapeutic medications (a) in hospitals and clinics and (b) via written or electronic prescription.
  • perform therapeutic medical interventions and procedures.
  • council and educate patients regarding medical, therapeutic, and behavioral problems.
  • interact with patients and the medical community in a professional manner.
  • make appropriate referrals.
Graduates are expected to demonstrate the highest level of professionalism, be able to provide excellent comprehensive patient care and have the highest level of medical knowledge and communication skills as outlined by the competencies for Physician Assistant Profession, http://nccpa.net/PAC/competencies_home.AspX.
Program requirements and course sequence are listed below.
Preclinical Component
Summer   Fall  
PA 510
  PA 520
PA 511
  PA 521
PA 512
  PA 522
PA 513
  PA 525
PA 514
Spring   Summer  
PA 530
  PA 540
PA 531
  PA 541
PA 532
  PA 542
PA 534
  PA 543
Clinical Component
Fall, Spring and Summer
PA 550 (4 wks)
  PA 560 (8 wks)
PA 555 (4 wks) 4   PA 580 (4 wks)
PA 570 (8 wks)
  PA 591 (4 wks)
PA 590 (4 wks)
  PA 593 (4 wks)
PA 592 (4 wks)
  PA 595  
At least 16 weeks of the clinical rotations must serve rural/urban under served populations. The USA PA program is a participant with Alabama Statewide Area Health Education Center Program (AHEC) to assist with rural/MUA rotation placement.


Students admitted in the Physician Assistant program will be charged a matriculation deposit of $500 required to secure a seat in the entering class. This amount is not refundable but will be applied towards tuition expenses after registration.
Upon matriculation to the program, and repeated prior to the clinical year, all students are required to submit to a national criminal background check and urine drug screen. the costs incurred by these screening are the responsibility of the student. Failure to submit to and satisfactorily pass both screenings can result in dismissal from the PA Program.
  • General Clinical Medicine Lab Fee: $100 (one time charge).
  • BLS/ACLS Fee: $100 (one time charge).
  • Lab Fee for Human Gross Anatomy: $275.00 (one time charge).

University of South Alabama - Mobile Alabama 36688-0002 / 1 (251) 460-6101
For questions or comments Contact Us
Date last changed: November 12, 2013 12:04 PM

University of South Alabama