University Bulletin 2017-2018

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Physician Assistant Studies (MHS)

The Program

Physician Assistant Studies (MHS)
Degree Earned: Master of Health Science
Length of Program: 27 months
Matriculation Date: Annually in mid-May
Class Type: On site, no online classes
Curriculum: 121 Credit Hours
Advanced Placement, Deceleration, Dismissal

The program does not offer advanced placement or deceleration. Transfer credits, or credit for experiential learning cannot be substituted for any course in the program, and no transfer credit is accepted from other PA programs. In addition, any grade of D or lower will result in academic dismissal from the program, and withdrawal from any course will automatically result in dismissal from the program.

Clinical Rotations

Clinical rotations take place in Mobile, with other locations in Pensacola and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Elective rotations may be considered in other locations. Rural rotations for Primary Care and Pediatrics are required. Other core rotations in rural Alabama and our service area are also considered commutable.


Program policies strictly prohibit the program and all its academic and clinical affiliates and preceptors from employing any PA students, or utilizing them in lieu of administrative office, or clinical staff, while attending the program. PA students are also strongly discouraged from accepting any other employment while attending the program. Employment while in the program has the potential to negatively impact the student's rigorous PA training curriculum.

Measures of Success

Please visit our web site for information about the program's success at

Mandatory Remediation

Mandatory remediation will be required of any student(s) who are in
danger of not meeting the educational goals of the program as stated in student handbooks. The criteria for remediation are set in the "Goal" section below. The student's progress will be subsequently monitored to assure improvement in deficient areas and future remediation will be arranged as needed.

The goal of the didactic remediation policy of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies is to remediate students who are not
performing at the optimal level which is defined as any student who has an average of <80% on two consecutive examinations or a single score of <75%, student cited for lack of professionalism, student receives an end of term grade of less than 80% or fails the Clinical Skills Practicum. The goal of the clinical remediation policy of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies is to remediate students who are not performing at the optimal level during the clinical year, which is defined in three areas:

  1. Individual "Average," or less, score on mid-rotation evaluation
  2. End-of-rotations exam scores less than 65%
  3. A grade of "C" on a final clinical rotation grade.
  4. Lack of professionalism

Those who live in Alabama and in specific counties in Mississippi and Florida are automatically considered residents.  These  counties, defined as Service Areas, include:

  • Mississippi:  George, Greene, Harrison, Jackson, Perry and Stone
  • Florida:  Escambia and Santa Rosa

Additional documents may be required by the Office of the Registrar to verify residency regardless of state or county of residence.  If you have residency questions or wish to establish residency, please visit http:/ or call the Office of the Registrar.

Tuition and Expenses

In addition to USA tuition and fees, students can expect expenses associated with textbooks, food and lodging. Students will also be required to purchase uniforms, laboratory coats, stethoscopes, otoscopes, ophthalmoscopes, sphygmomanometers and blood pressure cuffs, soft reflex hammers, and tuning forks. Also, students should anticipate extra expenses, particularly related to housing, transportation, living expenses, and the patient logging system (Typhon) during the clinical year.

For a detailed list of tuition and expenses related to the program, please visit our web site at
For a list of university tuition rates and fees, please visit
For payment and refund policies, visit

The University reserves the right to change tuition and fees, as deemed necessary by the Board of Trustees, without prior notice.


The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the University of South Alabama Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the University of South Alabama. 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 2024. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

Competencies For The Physician Assistant Profession

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 at

Matriculation Requirements

  1. Acknowledgement of acceptance by deadline on notification, and submission of a signed Statement of Intent Form and a nonrefundable $500 matriculation deposit which will be applied toward the first semester's tuition to guarantee a seat in the class, to be received no later than the deadline stated in acceptance letter.
  2. Completion of outstanding required prerequisite course work with a grade of "C" or higher prior to matriculation into the program. Failure to make a grade of "C" or higher in any required prerequisite course will result in nullification of acceptance into the PA program. Updated transcripts will be required.
  3. Submission to criminal background checks and urine drug screens before matriculation and prior to beginning clinical rotations. The fees are the student's responsibility. Failure to submit to and satisfactorily pass both screenings can result in dismissal from the program.
  4. Completion of immunizations and a physical exam upon acceptance and prior to entering clinical rotations. Forms will be provided after receipt of signed statement of intent and matriculation deposit.
  5. Maintenance of the American Heart Association Health Care Providers BLS Certification throughout the program.
  6. Maintenance of adequate health insurance throughout the program. Information regarding health insurance will be provided upon acceptance, and the fees are the student's responsibility.
  7. Understanding of and the abilities to adhere to the Technical Standards for Physician Assistants as stated. (See below.)

Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) Pass Rates

Please visit our web site at

Program Completion Requirements

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:

  1. Complete 121 hours of graduate course work consisting of 70 credit hours of didactic course work and 51 credit hours of clinical course work.
  2. Obtain an accurate and detailed patient history.
  3. Perform complete and focused physical examinations
  4. Establish working and differential diagnosis
  5. Order and interpret diagnostic evaluations to include: laboratory tests (blood, urine, spinal fluids, cultures); imaging studies (plain film radiography, radiographic contrast studies, ultrasound studies, computerized tomography studies, MRI studies & electrocardiogram.
  6. Develop and manage a treatment plan.
  7. Record patient data: (a) Written notes and charting, and (b)Electronic medical record.
  8. Order and/or administer therapeutic medications (a) in hospitals and clinics and (b) via written or electronic prescription.
  9. Perform therapeutic medical interventions and procedures.
  10. Council and educate patients regarding medical, therapeutic, and behavioral problems.
  11. Interact with patients and the medical community in a professional manner.
  12. Make appropriate referrals.

Technical Standards

Students in the USA Physician Assistant program must be able to fulfill the program's Technical Standards, which include General, Observational, Communication, Motor, Critical Thinking, and Interpersonal abilities as well as possessing certain Behavioral and Social Attributes.  To evaluate whether you meet the criteria, please visit our web site at for details.

Minimum Requirements

Applicants who wish to apply to the USA PA program must meet the following minimum requirements.  Please note that admission to the USA PA program is very competitive and accepted students typically exceed the minimum requirements.

  1. Completion of a Baccalaureate degree in any field from a regionally accredited institution prior to the starting date of the program is required.
  2. A minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale as calculated by CASPA (includes post-baccalaureate undergraduate work).
  3. Completion of prerequisite course work completed with a grade of "C" or higher from a regionally accredited institution.  These courses must be completed successfully by matriculation, failure to do so will result in the student losing their seat in the program. Unless specified, prerequisite courses should be one semester of at least 3 credit hours.  Prerequisite required courses are:
    General Biology plus lab (4 credits). General Chemistry I and II plus lab (8 credits). Human Anatomy and Human Physiology OR Anatomy and Physiology I and II. Microbiology. Organic Chemistry. Mathematics (College Algebra minimum). Statistics. General Psychology. Medical Terminology (2 credits). For guidelines on courses accepted, please visit
  4. Completion of the General Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within the past five (5) years. We require a minimum score of 145 in both the Verbal and Quantitative sections and completion of the Analytical Writing section in one test date.
  5. Completion of at least 500 hours direct patient care experience is required. Applicants will document these hours on their CASPA application. Please see website ( for definition, details and examples.
  6. Submission of at least three (3) reference letters, one of which must be from a Physician Assistant (PA),  Medical Doctor (MD), or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) submitted to CASPA.  Up to five (5) letters will be accepted by CASPA.  Reference letters sent directly to our office will not be accepted.
  7. Submission of completed and verified application materials by October 1. The program will not review applications that are incomplete, received after the deadline, or do not meet the minimum standards.  Please see the website for details
Application Screening Criteria and Interviews

Please see our website for more detailed information:

Applicants are selected based on a holistic evaluation. Many factors are taken into consideration:

  • GPA cumulative undergraduate GPA, science undergraduate GPA. Last 60 hour GPA (both undergraduate and master’s level work).
  • GRE
  • Direct Patient Care/Health Care/PA Experience
  • Community Service
  • Bonus Courses: Points will be added or course work completed with a grade of "C" or higher in Immunology, Genetics, Biochemistry, Physics, Pathophysiology, and Pharmacology.
  • Background and Experience: Points will be awarded for four areas of background and experience, as documented on the CASPA application.
    • Rural/Underserved: born in, graduated high school from, or resided in any rural county as referenced at
    • Additional Degree or Training: additional degree (Master's or Doctorate), or three or more current basic health training certifications or registrations, e.g., CPR, EMT, CNA, MA.
    • Military or Government Service: includes all branches of service, AmeriCorps and Peace Corps, U.S. Public Health Service.
    • Disadvantaged Background:
      • Economically and/or environmentally disadvantaged, as defined by HRSA and detailed on the CASPA application.
  • Please see website for more details,
Residency Preference

Preference is shown to Alabama residents, however, highly qualified Service Area and out-of-state applicants whose academics and experiences indicate that they may be a success in both the program and the PA profession will be given the same consideration as residents. Non-residents will be required to pay the non-resident tuition and fees as set by the University. For information on residency please contact the Office of the Registrar at .


The applicant will attend one interview session to be held in the fall prior to matriculation. Notification of applicant status may be emailed at any time during the interview cycle until the class positions are filled. All applicants should know their status by the end of January.

Our program provides opportunities for placement of qualified military veterans through participation as a PAEA Member Program offering assistance for veteran entry into physician assistant programs. A program goal is also to recruit, select, and educate a highly qualified diverse student body, (to include underrepresented minorities, environmentally or economically disadvantaged, rural, racially, ethnically, culturally, etc.), and provide fair and equitable admission criteria.

How To Apply

All application materials must be received by the deadline. The program will not review applications that are incomplete, received after the deadline, or do not meet the minimum requirements.

The application cycle begins annually on May 1, and those who meet the minimum requirements can apply by completing the following three-step process:

  1. Apply through the Centralized Application Service of Physician Assistants (CASPA). Official transcripts are considered part of the CASPA application and must be sent directly to them. Applications will not be verified until all official transcripts have been received. The CASPA application must be e-submitted, completed and VERIFIED by October 1. Please allow up to four weeks for verification. Contact CASPA for more information.
  2. Submission of at least three (3) reference letters, one of which be from a Physician Assistant (PA), Medical Doctor (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) submitted to CASPA. Up to five (5) letters will be accepted by CASPA. Reference letters sent directly to our office will not be accepted.
  3. Mail the completed Supplemental Application, downloadable on our web site at, along with a check or money order for $110.00. All fees are nonrefundable.
  4. Submit the Graduate Record Examination Score directly and electronically to USA PA Studies Code 2169.  For details, visit
International Students

If an international student, the applicant must also:

  1. Have all international coursework and degrees evaluated by World Education Services (WES) for submission with CASPA.
  2. Have international degree and WES transcript evaluated by the USA Office of International Services to verify that it meets the USA equivalency of a Baccalaureate degree by the October 1 deadline.
  3. Contact the Office of International Services at time of application to verify needed documents for admission to the University of South Alabama. Proof of having required documentation must be presented to the Department of PA Studies by the October 1 deadline to have your application considered for admittance into the program. Application to USA through the Office of International Services is required in addition to completing the Department of Physician Assistant Studies requirements to be admitted into the program.
  4. Take all prerequisites in the U.S. to establish a USA GPA. 
  5. TOEFL –International Students, whose native language is not English, must submit a score of 100 or above on the Test of English as a Second Language (TOEFL-IBT) for admission no later than the October 1 deadline.

Students who are U.S. Citizens with international coursework will follow the same procedures as international students if applicable (steps 1, 2 and 4 only), the applicant should consult CASPA instructions for clarification on evaluations and submission: CASPA Instructions and FAQs. Coursework as part of a regionally accredited institution study abroad program that appears on the transcript as credit granted by that university will not require further evaluation.

It is the applicant's responsibility to monitor the delivery of all materials to the program office and to CASPA and to address any issues with them. For convenience, CASPA now offers a smartphone app for monitoring your application at

Physician Assistant Studies (MHS) Credit Hours
Preclinical Component    
Summer   17
PA 510 3 hrs  
PA 510 L 1 hr  
PA 511 4 hrs  
PA 512 6 hrs  
PA 513 2 hrs  
PA 514 1 hr  
Fall   19
PA 520 6 hrs  
PA 520 L 1 hr  
PA 521 4 hrs  
PA 522 4 hrs  
PA 523 2 hrs  
PA 525 2 hrs  
Spring   19
PA 530  6 hrs  
PA 530 L 1 hr  
PA 531 4 hrs  
PA 532  4 hrs  
PA 533 2 hrs  
PA 534  2 hrs  
Summer   15
PA 540 6 hrs  
PA 540 L 1 hr  
PA 541 2 hrs  
PA 542 2 hrs  
PA 543 2 hrs  
PA 544 2 hrs  
Clinical Component    
Fall, Spring and Summer   51
PA 550 (4 wks) 4 hrs  
PA 555 (4 wks) 4 hrs  
PA 560 (8 wks) 8 hrs  
PA 570 (8 wks) 8 hrs  
PA 580 (4 wks) 4 hrs  
PA 590 (4 wks) 4 hrs  
PA 591 (4 wks) 4 hrs  
PA 592 (4 wks) 4 hrs  
PA 593 (4 wks) 8 hrs  
PA 595  3 hrs  
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.
Physician Assistant Studies Administrative Staff (251) 445-9334
Chair Interim Erin McAdams, PA-C, MHS
Medical Director Shannon Tyler, M.D.
Associate Professor  
Assistant Professor Kestler, McAdams, Pelekanos, Risling-de Jong

Department of Physician Assistant Studies web site

Physician assistant program master of health science degree

What is a physician assistant?

Physician Assistants (PAs) are highly skilled nationally certified and state-licensed medical professionals who practice medicine on healthcare teams with physicians and other members of the health professions. The quality and value of the services they provide is well recognized in virtually all medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties to include: physicians practices (private and group, institutional settings, correctional institutions, rural and urban community health centers, the uniformed services and other federal government agencies, nursing homes, schools and other university-based facilities and retail clinics.

Physician Assistants take medical histories, perform physical examinations, order and analyze diagnostic data(i.e. laboratory and imaging studies), and perform major and minor therapeutic procedures. The Physician Assistant develops and implements a patient-centered treatment plan, to include appropriate decisions regarding referral and interprofessional collaborative with other members of the healthcare team. Physician Assistants prescribe medications in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories, with the exception of Puerto Rico; to include scheduled pharmaceuticals per State law.

Culturally appropriate patient education and counseling are important aspects of a physician assistant's daily activities. Physician Assistants advise patients concerning health promotion and disease prevention, with special emphasis on social determinants of health, health screenings, health disparities and health risk behaviors.

To perform at this level of responsibility, the education of Physician Assistants is provided by physicians and highly skilled physician assistants to assure patient-care functions provided by the Physician Assistant are equivalent in quality to those of the physician who delegates them.

Mission, vision,  and goals


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 health care to patients in various communities and clinical settings with physician supervision including underserved populations in Alabama both rural and urban. 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.


The goals of the program are to:

  1. Emphasize primary care and a desire among physician assistants toward service in rural and medically underserved communities; especially in Alabama
  2. Promote excellence in health care by preparing competent physician assistants to practice evidence-based medicine in all clinical settings; especially in Alabama
  3. Ensure opportunities for placement of qualified military veterans through participation as a PAEA Member Program offering assistance for veteran entry into physician assistant programs;
  4. To recruit, select, and educate a highly qualified diverse student body, (to include underrepresented minorities, environmentally or economically disadvantaged, rural, racially, ethnically, culturally, etc), and provide fair and equitable admission criteria;
  5. Prepare physician assistant students to provide patient-centered health care services as part of an inter-professional, collaborative team in a variety of clinical settings;
  6. Charge physician assistant students to become graduates who reflect high standards of legal, ethical, and moral conduct;
  7. Foster the growth and development of PA education by preparing physician assistant graduates who possess depth of knowledge, clinical skills and abilities for excellence in practice;
  8. Promote in our physician assistant students the importance of lifelong learning skills and ongoing professional development to meet and/or exceed contemporary standards within their area(s) of clinical practice.