Jun 05, 2023  
2023-2024 Academic Catalog 
    
2023-2024 Academic Catalog

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies


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Program Description

The Physician Assistant program prepares graduates to become licensed medical clinicians who practice medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician. Admission to the program is a selective process and will matriculate 30 new students to begin a 27-month intensive program of study. The curriculum consists of 107 graduate-level credit hours of instruction in a faith-based environment of scientific and medical evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of the ill and injured patient. Clinical internships will be conducted in a variety of medical specialties including: primary care, surgery, OB/GYN, emergency medicine, and psychiatry.

Program Requirements

Application Requirements

Submit Application through CASPA

All applicants to the Physician Assistant program must submit an application directly to the online Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA), accessible at CASPA. The application cycle will open in April and the deadline for a verified application is November 1. Applications that are not verified by the application deadline will not be considered for admittance. The program does not accept applications through our website.

Supplemental Application

In addition to the CASPA application, all applicants must submit an AdventHealth University (AHU) supplemental application by the CASPA application deadline. There is a $50 supplemental application fee. Once you submit your verified CASPA application you will receive an email with instructions on completing the supplemental application including a payment link.

Official Transcripts

Transcripts from each regionally accredited college and university attended, whether or not a degree was awarded, must be submitted directly to CASPA. Failure to disclose all colleges and universities previously attended could result in denial or dismissal. We do not accept transcripts delivered to our campus.

Transcript Evaluations

Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applicants, we are unable to provide individual transcript evaluations. If you have questions or concerns regarding specific courses and if those courses fulfill our pre-requisite requirements, you are welcome to email your inquiry to our program admissions team. In this email, please include the course description(s) with the course code(s) and the name of the institution(s) where the course(s) was completed. Please indicate which requirement you are looking to fulfill with each course that you submit. Email course inquiries to PA.info@ahu.edu.

International Transcripts

We require course-by-course transcript evaluations of college or university work that has been completed outside of the Unites States. All non-U.S. transcript evaluations must be completed through World Education Services (WES) and sent directly to CASPA. You can contact WES at 212-966-6211, info@wes.org, or at www.wes.org.

International Medical Graduates

International Medical Graduates (IMGs) are welcome to apply to AdventHealth University’s (AHU) Physician Assistant (PA) program and are required to meet the same minimum standards as all other applicants. IMGs must follow the same application process as all other applicants to AHU’s PA program. No exceptions to this policy will be granted.

Policy on Pass/Fail Grades

Pre-requisite courses:
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the AHU PA program will allow an applicant up to 8-credit hours of prerequisite pass/ fail grades received during the Spring and Summer terms of 2020 only. Any prerequisite course that has not received an alphanumeric grade must earn a “Pass” grade or equivalent. If the applicant has more than 8-credit hours of prerequisites with a pass/fail grade during this timeframe, their application will not be complete or considered for admittance until the applicant retakes the course(s) for an alphanumeric grade prior to matriculation. Prerequisite pass/fail credit hours will not be accepted outside of the Spring and Summer terms of 2020. Please note that courses taken for a pass/fail grade will not impact the applicant’s GPA. With this in mind, all applicants are still required to meet the minimum science and overall GPA for their application to be considered.

Non pre-requisite courses:
There is not a cap for non-prerequisite pass/fail credit hours as long as the applicant has a minimum of a conferred bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university at the time of matriculation.

Degree Requirements

All applicants must have a minimum of a conferred bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university prior to matriculation into the program. Selection preference is not granted to any specific fields of study. All fields of study are equitable and competitive.

Minimum GPA Requirements

We require a 3.00 minimum cumulative and overall science GPA on a 4.00 scale as calculated by CASPA at the time of application. All prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of “C” or above.

Professional Essay

In addition to the CASPA essay requirement, we require an additional essay be submitted as part of each applicants CASPA application. The essay should detail the applicant’s reasons for choosing to become a physician assistant, experiences or interactions they have had with a physician assistant, reasons for choosing to attend a faith-based institution, and why they have specifically chosen to apply to AHU.

Standardized Test Requirements

Physician Assistant College Admission Test (PA-CAT)

All applicants are required to take the Physician Assistant College Admission Test (PA-CAT®). The PA-CAT is a specialized test designed to measure applicant knowledge in key prerequisite science subjects typically required for PA school. For information about the PA-CAT and to schedule your exam, visit their website at www.PA-CAT.com. Applicants should schedule and complete the PA-CAT by the application deadline. Please ensure that AdventHealth University is selected as the institution to receive your official PA-CAT transcript score report. The PA-CAT results will be sent directly to the University, not to CASPA. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that AdventHealth University’s PA program has received the PA-CAT official transcript score report.  

CASPer

All applicants are required to complete the CASPer online test as part of our admissions process. CASPer is an online test which assesses non-cognitive skills and interpersonal characteristics that we believe are important for successful students and graduates of our program and will complement the other tools that we use for applicant screening. In implementing CASPer, we are trying to further enhance fairness and objectivity in our selection process.

In order to take CASPer, you will be responsible for securing access to a computer with audio capabilities, a webcam, and a reliable internet connection on your selected test date. CASPer can be taken practically anywhere that you can satisfy the aforementioned requirements.

Please go to www.takeCASPer.com, and select current Admissions Cycle to sign up for the USA Professional Health Sciences test (CSP10101) and reserve a test using your CASPA ID and a government-issued photo ID. You will be provided with a limited number of testing dates and times. Please note that these are the only testing dates available for your CASPer test. There will be no additional tests scheduled. Please use an email address that you check regularly; there may be updates to the test schedule.

Prerequisites and Undergraduate Credit Hours

Science prerequisites

(all must include a lab component with the exception of Genetics)

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology I, II or Human Anatomy and Human Physiology – 8 credit hours
  • Organic Chemistry I – 4 credit hours
  • Organic Chemistry II or Biochemistry I – 4 credit hours
  • General Microbiology – 4 credit hours
  • Genetics – 3 credit hours

TOTAL – 23 credit hours

(We do not have a time requirement for our prerequisite courses)

Other prerequisite courses

  • *General Psychology or Developmental Psychology or Abnormal Psychology – 3 credit hours
  • *General Statistics or Elementary Statistics or Biostatistics – 3 credit hours
  • Medical Terminology – 1 credit hour (certification acceptable)

TOTAL – 7 credits

(We do not have a time frame requirement for any of our prerequisite courses, including science prerequisites)

*Advanced Placement (AP) courses will be accepted in place of the above referenced courses. The AP course must be listed on the applicants conferred bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.

Policy regarding Outstanding pre-requisite courses

An applicant is allowed up to 8-credit hours of outstanding prerequisites at the time of application. However, all prerequisite courses must be completed prior to matriculation in addition to a minimum of a conferred bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university.

Recommended Experience

We strongly recommend that applicants present documentation of at least one year – or 2000 hours – of direct patient care experience, including exposure to the PA profession. Quality and quantity of patient care hours will be considered on a per-applicant basis. Applicants who undertake a wide variety of patient responsibilities and demonstrate excellent critical thinking skills are competitive during the consideration process.

Examples of preferred patient care experience (hours counted at 100%) include:

  • Registered nurse or Licensed practical nurse
  • Surgical technician
  • Certified nursing assistant
  • Paramedic/Emergency medical technician
  • Military medical corpsman
  • Respiratory therapist
  • Radiology technologist
  • Physical therapist/Physical therapy assistant
  • Occupational therapist/Occupational therapy assistant
  • Phlebotomist
  • Nurse coordinator/navigator
  • Perfusionist
  • Cardiac monitor technician
  • Audiologist
  • Clinical pharmacy technician – hospital based
  • Registered dietician
  • Clinical researcher
  • Athletic trainer
  • Dental hygienist

Examples of Related Healthcare experience (hours counted at 50% up to a maximum of 1000 hours) include:

  • Social worker
  • Patient care advocate
  • Medical laboratory technician
  • Medical scribe
  • Pharmacy technician – retail/compound, non-hospital based
  • Non-clinical researcher/Non-clinical research assistant
  • Peace corps
  • Nutritionist
  • Ophthalmic technician
  • Medical assistant (administrative)

The above list of direct patient care and related healthcare experiences is not all inclusive. Additional types of direct patient care and related healthcare experience submitted on an application will be critically evaluated for depth and breadth of the experience.

Please note, shadowing healthcare providers and any hours credited as part of a training, educational, or internship/externship program will not be considered direct patient care or related healthcare experience.

PA Shadowing

We do not have a minimum requirement for shadowing hours; however, we highly recommend shadowing a variety of Physician Assistants in order to acquire a solid understanding of the PA profession.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required and must be submitted through CASPA. If more letters of recommendation are provided, we will only consider three. Please do not submit additional recommendations on the AHU supplemental application. Two letters of recommendation must be from practicing Advance Practice Providers or practicing Physicians. These individuals should be able to attest to your potential as a physician assistant. We highly recommend that the third letter come from a college or university professor who can strongly attest to your academic ability. We do not accept letters of recommendation from family members or friends.

English Proficiency

International applicants, where English is not the primary language must demonstrate English proficiency by providing one of the following:

  • A score of 90 or higher on the internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language iBT (TOEFL iBT), as well as appropriate evidence of temporary or permanent U.S. residency. These requirements are supplemental to the general education requirements.
  • Successful completion of a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from an institution where English is the primary language of instruction.
Selection Preferences

The following are the groups of applicants who receive preference for an invitation to interview. Applicants who meet any of these preferences AND meet the minimum academic and clinical prerequisites will be automatically invited to interview. Additionally, the presence of one or more of these preferences does not guarantee admission to the program. Applicants who do not meet any of these preferences are still considered for admission to the program.

  • Graduates of AdventHealth University or other Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities
  • Seventh-day Adventists
  • Applicants with current or previous documented military experience
State Residence Preference

Preference is not given to in-state applicants. Regardless of the state of residence, admission to the AHU PA program is equitable and competitive.

Interview

We offer interviews by invitation only, applicants who are selected for an interview will be contacted via email. Interviews, a required part of the admissions process, are conducted after the November 1 CASPA application deadline. Please understand that meeting our minimum requirements does not guarantee an interview invitation. Additionally, all applicants who are interviewed are not guaranteed admission.

Student Selection

The admissions committee will consider the cumulative data collected, strength of the interview, and the applicant’s firm and clear commitment to the profession and the program. Due to the competitive nature of our admissions process, meeting the minimum standards does not guarantee admittance.

Immunizations and Verification Requirements

Matriculating students must have:

  • Proof of Hepatitis B vaccine and positive Hepatitis B Antibody test
  • Proof of MMR vaccine or immunity
  • Proof of Varicella history or vaccination
  • Proof of tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis vaccine
  • Proof of Influenza vaccine or signed declination form
  • Proof of COVID vaccine or an authorized exemption
Physical Examination

All accepted students must complete and validate the University’s physical examination form.

Tuberculosis Screening

All accepted students must provide evidence of a tuberculosis screening test annually. Proof of negative TB skin or serum test (positive results (including BCG vaccine history) will require the student to receive a chest x-ray or negative QuantiFERON Gold and further evaluation. In the event of a positive test result, please refer to the Communicable Disease Policy in the AHU Student Handbook for more information. 

Health Insurance

All accepted students must provide proof of health insurance at the time of matriculation and maintain health insurance throughout the duration of the program.

Drug Screening

All accepted students will be required to complete a drug screening prior to matriculation.

Deposit

We require that accepted applicants place a nonrefundable $500 deposit to reserve your program seat. Your acceptance letter will provide a deadline indicating when we must receive the deposit. Once enrolled in the program, these funds will be applied to your account. Those who paid the deposit but decline to enroll in the program will forfeit the deposit; if that student is admitted to the same program at a later date, AHU will require another full deposit. A professional program deposit is not transferable to another department.

Background Check

A criminal background check will be conducted upon acceptance into the program. Criminal convictions of any nature may create difficulty placing the student in clinical rotations, as well as potentially resulting in ineligibility for the national board examination and licensing in many states. It is the student’s responsibility to address any such issues and determine the continued viability of their program candidacy. Please refer to NCCPA and Florida Board of Medicine for further information.

Progression
  1. The progression requirements for advancement from the didactic phase to clinical phase: 
    1. Cumulative GPA of ≥3.0.
    2. Must meet expectations of professionalism competencies assessed using the Professionalism Assessment Development Tool (PDAT) and remain in good professionalism standing. 
    3. Completion of all didactic phase academic requirements. 
  2. The progression requirements for advancement from the clinical phase to the summative phase:
    1. Cumulative GPA of ≥3.0.
    2. Must meet expectations of professionalism competencies assessed using the Professionalism Assessment Development Tool (PDAT) and remain in good professionalism standing. 
    3. Completion of all academic requirements of core rotations. 
  3. The progression requirements for advancement from the summative phase to completion:
    1. Cumulative GPA of ≥3.0.
    2. Must meet expectations of professionalism competencies assessed using the Professionalism Assessment Development Tool (PDAT) and remain in good professionalism standing. 
    3. Completion of End of Curriculum Exam (EOC) with a score ≥1450. 
    4. Completion of all summative assessments demonstrating all MSPAS Program Graduation Competencies have been met. 

All of the above progression requirements for advancement will be reviewed by the academic director or clinical director for completion and signed by the program director. Failure to complete the requirements will result in delayed advancement and dismissal from the program. 

Readmission

Any student who has previously been dismissed from the PA program due to academic failure or voluntarily withdrawal may reapply during any normal application cycle.  This includes submitting an online application directly to the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) and completing the application requirements outlined in the Application Checklist on the website www.ahu.edu/pa.

A student may also be offered a Life Event if they have been maintaining satisfactory academic progress and experience significant academic deterioration secondary to an unavoidable life event. If the student would like to request a life event, the student must notify the Program Director. The Program Director reserves the right to evaluate these instances on a case-by-case basis.

Completion

AdventHealth University will consider students for graduation with the degree of Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) when they have:

1. Met all general requirements for the MSPAS degree.

2. Completed the program curriculum successfully.

3. Completed a Capstone Project that has met or exceeds the standards of the University and the program.

Curriculum

Program Sequence


The following curriculum is sequential and is expected to be taken in the order listed.

Total: 14 Credit Hours


Total: 18 Credit Hours


Total: 19 Credit Hours


Total: 17 Credit Hours


Total: 13 Credit Hours


Total: 15 Credit Hours


Total: 11 Credit Hours


Cumulative Credit Hours: 107


Clinical Rotation Descriptions


Supervised clinical practice is paramount, as it becomes the primary focus of the program in Year II. By the completion of the Year II program, each student will have completed clinical rotations in:

In addition, students will have completed a clinical elective rotation in the medical field of their interest. The AHU PA program Clinical Director assigns all students to their respective clinical rotations. Rotation assignment and order of focus or specialty is predicated on preceptor and/or clinical site availability.

Family Medicine Clinical Rotation


This 6-week clinical rotation will focus on primary care medicine. This rotation may include family practice and rural healthcare settings. The student will learn about evaluation, diagnosis and therapeutic planning related to a variety of acute and chronic illnesses and injuries. Students will develop their skills in dealing with patients and patient education.

Women’s Health Clinical Rotation


This 6-week clinical rotation exposes students to the practice of women’s health. Students will learn about evaluation and treatment of a variety of gynecologic and obstetrical problems as well as other issues which are specific to women.

Pediatric Clinical Rotation


This 6-week rotation will focus on pediatric patients. Students will learn about this specialty of medical practice and how to differentiate presentations in the pediatric population from those in an adult population.

Internal Medicine Clinical Rotation


This 6-week clinical rotation focuses on the practice of internal medicine. Students will have the opportunity to deal with a variety of complex adult acute and chronic diseases and discover best practice methods for diagnosis and treatment of these issues.

Emergency Medicine Clinical Rotation


In this 6-week rotation, students will experience a wide variety of clinical presentations common in emergency medicine practice. Students will learn methods for determining critical versus noncritical presentations and methods of patient stabilization. Students will have the opportunity to apply many of the procedures and techniques learned in their medical procedures course.

Behavioral Health Clinical Rotation


In this 6-week rotation, students will have the opportunity to participate in the evaluation and treatment of patients with a variety of behavioral and psychiatric conditions. Students will gain knowledge about the intricacies of psychiatric illness through active involvement in the diagnosis and management of patients.

General Surgery Clinical Rotation


This 6-week rotation introduces students to practical concepts and principles in surgery. The students will have the opportunity to interact with surgeons in a variety of surgical cases and to explore a range of surgical therapeutics.

Clinical Elective Rotation


This 6-week rotation is structured to provide the student with clinical experience in the primary care area of personal interest. The program reserves the right to design an individualized curriculum for the student to provide enhancement of knowledge and to facilitate student performance at a higher level of supervised practice.

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