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Didactic Curriculum

The didactic curriculum in the physician assistant program is designed to meet the needs of students who will be working with physicians in primary care and medical specialties and will be enhanced by course work in ethics, health systems, epidemiological principles, research and a graduate project.

The following courses and clinical preceptorships are required of all physician assistant students. Generally, this sequence will be followed, although the faculty reserves the right to make modifications in title, content, and order or length of teaching time. Physician assistant students take courses and follow rotations unique to the program. Faculty are drawn from each of the University’s colleges.

View a typical PA schedule

MSPA 1340 Program to Practice I

This Spring semester course is the prerequisite for the PA student’s preparation of their master’s project.  During this course the student completes the required online modules offered by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative program on human subject research, responsible conduct of research, and health privacy for researchers.  A brief review of APA formatting guidelines and the TurnitinTM software is also provided during this course. (0.5 credit hours). Prerequisites: MSPA 1382, MSPA 1394, MSPA 1395

MSPA 1360 Anatomy – Clinically-Oriented

An integrated anatomical approach to the study of human body structure. Lectures systematically take the student from the microscopic level through the formation of organ systems, with emphasis on the interdependence of these systems. Functional concepts and internal structure are related to surface anatomy as a basis for performing a physical examination. Also included in this course is anatomic radiography, which emphasizes normal radiological structures and prepares students for later clinical lectures that emphasize abnormal radiographs during the Clinical Preventive Laboratory Medicine series. (6.5 credit hours) Prerequisite: Matriculation into Physician Assistant Program

MSPA 1361 Physiology

This clinically oriented course provides instruction on the overall physiology of the human body. Normal physiological states, as well as changes that occur in disease, infection, and trauma will be discussed. Students will be able to use this information to more effectively diagnose and treat their patients, as well as provide students with information that they may use to educate their patients regarding the disease process. (6.0 credit hours). Prerequisites: Matriculation into Physician Assistant Program

MSPA 1362 Flex Care Communication Training

This course is designed to help students understand and value different approaches to communication and through this process, unlock qualities in themselves and others which will allow them to work more effectively and creatively together. Students will be provided a framework that will facilitate their understanding of other people, how they can gain perspective and learn how they can flex their communication style to interact more effectively. This training includes an opportunity for them to complete the Myers – Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  (1.0 credit hour). Prerequisite: Matriculation into Physician Assistant Program

MSPA 1363 Pathology

This clinically oriented course provides instruction on the following pathology topics: cell injury, hemodynamic disorders, neoplasms, and inflammation and repair. Body system pathology will be covered in the Clinical Preventive Laboratory Medicine (CPLM) courses. When combined with Clinically-Oriented Anatomy, Physiology, and the CPLM courses, students will gain a comprehensive view of conditions affecting the human body. Students will be able to use this information to more effectively diagnose, treat and educate future patients. (0.5 credit hours). Prerequisites: Matriculation into Physician Assistant Program

MSPA 1364 Nutrition

Nutrition plays a role in nearly every health condition.  This course is an introduction to clinical nutrition and covers the metabolism of lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins.  Nutritional assessment and clinical topics such as obesity, pregnancy, vitamins and supplements are discussed.  (1.0 credit hour). Prerequisites: MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1384A

MSPA 1371 Medical Pharmacology

Modern medicine relies on pharmacotherapy and this course focuses on providing the students a solid foundation in the basic concepts and scientific principles of clinical pharmacologic decision making.  For each of the major classes of medication, the students will be expected to know the drug’s mechanism of action, clinical uses, adverse effects and pertinent special considerations.  Mastery of this course is paramount to the students’ understanding of disease management throughout the remainder of the didactic year. (5.5 credit hours). Prerequisites: MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1384A

MSPA 1372 Clinical Preventive Laboratory Medicine (CPLM) I

This is the first course in the four-part CPLM series covering the etiology, epidemiology, presentation, evaluation, and management of various diseases and disorders. Students will learn how to appropriately order and interpret diagnostic tests and formulate differential diagnosis and management plans for common diseases found in the primary care setting. Emphasis in this course will be on Behavioral Health, Orthopedic and Rheumatologic conditions, Dermatologic conditions, and Infectious Diseases. (7.0 credit hours). Prerequisites: MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1384A

MSPA 1375 Immunology/Microbiology

This course is an overview of the human immune system and the extrinsic pathogens that contribute to morbidity and mortality.  Topics specifically covered through lecture and lab sessions include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.  There is a clinically oriented emphasis on the etiology of infectious disease, epidemiology, clinical presentation, and diagnosis.  The laboratory exercises focus on techniques performed in modern clinical practice. (2.5 credit hours). Prerequisites: MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1384A

MSPA 1376A Clinical Skills

This is the first course in a series of three focusing on hands-on experiences that will allow the student to obtain a level of knowledge and competence that will ensure a foundation from which to build clinical skills for the future. Competency when performing hands-on skills is essential to the delivery of health care in today’s world. This course will provide instruction and interactive labs in Basic Cardiac Life Support (BLS). (0.0 credit hours). Prerequisites: Matriculation into Physician Assistant Program

MSPA 1376B Clinical Skills

This is the second course in a series of three focusing on hands on experiences that will allow the student to obtain a level of knowledge and competence that will ensure a foundation from which to build clinical skills for the future. Competency when performing hands-on skills is essential to the delivery of health care in today’s world. This course consists of the following laboratory sessions: Ophthalmology Lab, Gynecology Lab, Pulmonary Function Testing Lab, and Blood Borne Pathogens Training. (0.5 credit hours). Prerequisites: MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1384A 

MSPA 1376C Clinical Skills

This is the third course in a series of three focusing on hands on experiences that will allow the student to obtain a level of knowledge and competence that will ensure a foundation from which to build clinical skills for the future. Competency when performing hands-on skills is essential to the delivery of health care in today’s world. This course consists of the following sessions: Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS),  Basic Disaster Life Support™ (BDLS®),  National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS),  Basic Surgical Medical Skills, Casting and Splinting Lab, Wound Care Class, Pediatric Newborn Lab, Blood Borne Pathogens Training, and Child and Dependent Adult Abuse Reporting. (3.0 credit hours). Prerequisites: MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1377, MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1378, MSPA 1389A, MSPA 1393A

MSPA 1377 Clinical Preventive Laboratory Medicine (CPLM) II

This is the second course in the CPLM series coverings the etiology, epidemiology, presentation, evaluation, and management of various diseases and disorders. Students will learn how to properly order and interpret diagnostic tests and formulate differential diagnosis and management plans for common diseases found in the primary care setting. Emphasis in this course will be on Hematology/Oncology, Gastrointestinal Medicine, EKGs, Heart Sounds, Cardiology, and Respiratory Systems. (10.0 credit hours). Prerequisite: MSPA 1372

MSPA 1378 Medical Genetics

This course is an introduction to the basic concepts of human and medical genetics. Through a series of online modules, students will investigate the basics of DNA and genetic disease, modes of inheritance, meiosis, non-Mendelian inheritance, and concepts of genetic epidemiology. A series of case studies will help the student discover the impact of genetics in clinical practice. Utilizing their family history, the students will develop their own family pedigree. (1.0 credit hour). Prerequisites: MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1372, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1384A

MSPA 1381 Introduction to the Health Care Delivery Systems

This course is designed to provide a basic level of knowledge in the structure and function of the healthcare delivery system, medical law, and ethical theories and issues as they apply to the PA and PA/physician team. Issues discussed will include reimbursement, inequality to accessing health care issues, health care policies, and the roles of the different members of the health care professional team. (2.0 credit hours). Prerequisites: MSPA 1377, MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1378, MSPA 1389A, MSPA 1393A

MSPA 1382 Introduction to Ethics

The preparation of a competent medical provider includes not only medical knowledge but an understanding of professionalism and ethical principles.  This course challenges the PA student to analyze, from an ethics perspective, clinical situations such as palliative care, confidentiality, legal issues and other emotionally charged topics.  Instruction is provided via lectures, small group discussions and written assignments. (1.5 credit hours). Prerequisites: MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1377, MSPA 1378, MSPA 1389A, MSPA 1393A

MSPA 1384A Physical Diagnosis I

This course is designed to introduce the student to patient history taking and communication skills. Students will begin using medical diagnostic equipment as they develop the skills needed to perform complete and focused physical examinations. Students will examine assigned lab partners and simulated patients to gain the skills and knowledge to perform a thorough history and physical examination. The pediatric, adult, and geriatric physical examinations will be emphasized. (1.5 credit hours). Prerequisite: Matriculation into Physician Assistant Program

MSPA 1384B Physical Diagnosis II

This course is a continuation of Physical Diagnosis I. Students will learn the components of the physical examination, recognize abnormal and normal findings, and communicate the information in oral and written formats. The pediatric, adult, and geriatric physical examinations will be emphasized. Simulated patients will be used to enhance history taking and physical examination skills. (1.0 credit hour). Prerequisites: MSPA 1384A, MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1376A

MSPA 1389A Clinical Patient Assessment I

This course will build upon the skills from the Physical Diagnosis I & II course to refine the physician assistant student’s ability to efficiently gather a pertinent and relevant medical history as well as introduce the student to the concept of clinical reasoning in the systems of Respiratory, Cardiology, Hematology, Orthopedics, Rheumatology and Infectious Diseases. This information is used to conduct the physical examination and order appropriate diagnostic evaluations thus enabling the student to develop the diagnosis and treatment plan for the patient. (1.0 credit hour). Prerequisites: MSPA 1384B, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1372

MSPA 1389B Clinical Patient Assessment II

This course will build upon the skills from the Physical Diagnosis I & II course to refine the physician assistant student’s ability to efficiently gather a pertinent and relevant medical history as well as introduce the student to the concept of clinical reasoning in the systems of OB/Gynecology, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Renal, Trauma and Pediatrics. This information is used to conduct the physical examination and order appropriate diagnostic evaluations thus enabling the student to develop the diagnosis and treatment plan for the patient. (1.0 credit hour). Prerequisites: MSPA 1389A, MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1377,  MSPA 1378, MSPA 1393A

MSPA 1393A PA Professional Issues I

This course is designed to introduce the student to the PA profession; its history, organizations, current trends in the profession, the physician/PA team. This course explores cultural issues and patient care, quality assurance, and risk management. (0.5 credit hours). Prerequisites: MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1384A

MSPA 1393B PA Professional Issues II

This course is designed to introduce the student to the PA profession; organizations, current trends in the profession, the physician/PA team, professionalism, patient consent, HIPAA, credentialing, and licensure. This course explores cultural issues and patient care, quality assurance, and risk management. (0.5 credit hours). Prerequisites: MSPA 1393A, MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1377, MSPA 1378, MSPA 1389A

MSPA 1394 Clinical Preventive Laboratory Medicine (CPLM) III

This is the third course in the CPLM series covering the etiology, epidemiology, presentation, evaluation, and management of various diseases and disorders. Students will learn how to appropriately order and interpret diagnostic tests and formulate differential diagnosis and management plans for common diseases found in the primary care setting. Emphasis in this course will be on Women’s Health, Endocrine and Neurologic conditions, ENT, Renal Diseases, and Ophthalmology.  (10.5 credit hours). Prerequisites: MSPA 1377, MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1378, MSPA 1389A, MSPA 1393A

MSPA 1395 Research and Epidemiology

The first portion of this course is an introduction to research methodology and the critical evaluation of evidence based publications.  The students will learn the basics of research design, biostatistics, and how to conduct a literature review. It is during this course the PA students will start considering topics for their master’s projects.  The second component of this course prepares the students for practice by teaching epidemiologic principles as a cornerstone of clinical reasoning and diagnosis. (1.0 credit hour). Prerequisites: MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1377, MSPA 1378, MSPA 1389A, MSPA 1393A

MSPA 1398 Clinical Preventive Laboratory Medicine (CPLM) IV

This is the final course in the CPLM series covering the etiology, epidemiology, presentation, evaluation and management of various diseases and disorders. Students will learn how to appropriately order and interpret diagnostic tests and formulate differential diagnosis and management plans for common diseases found in the primary care setting. Emphasis in this course will be on the Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine and Geriatrics. (6.5 credit hours). Prerequisites: MSPA 1394, MSPA 1382, MSPA 1395

PA 2340A Program to Practice

This Summer semester course is the first of 3 courses created to help guide the 2nd year PA student through the process of creating a master’s project.  The initial research will be conducted during this time period and written correspondence with the student’s advisor will take place, outlining the progress to date. (1.0 credit hours). Prerequisites: MSPA 1340, MSPA 1376C, MSPA 1381, MSPA 1389B, MSPA 1393B, MSPA 1398

PA 2340B Program to Practice

This Fall semester course is a continuation of PA 2340A.  The 2nd year PA student will gather more research data and continue to regularly share progress with their advisor.  A preliminary draft of the master’s project should be completed during this course. (1.0 credit hours). Prerequisite: PA 2340A

PA 2340C Program to Practice

It is during this Spring semester course the 2nd year PA student completes their master’s project, delivers an oral presentation, participates in the capstone SIM and SPAL assessments, and prepares for the national certification exam by sitting for individual comprehensive examinations.  Students also meet with their advisors for summative evaluations of their performance during this time. (1.0 credit hours). Prerequisite: PA 2340B