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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.

Course NumberCourse Name and DescriptionCredit Hours
MSPA 1340Program 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 Turnitin™ software is also provided during this course. Prerequisites: MSPA 1382, MSPA 1394, MSPA 1395
0.5
MSPA 1360Anatomy – 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
MSPA 1361Physiology
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
MSPA 1362Flex 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
MSPA 1363APathology
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
MSPA 1363BPathology
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.
0.0
MSPA 1363CPathology
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.
2.0
MSPA 1364Nutrition
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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1384A
1.0
MSPA 1371Medical 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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1384A
5.5
MSPA 1372Clinical 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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1384A
7.0
MSPA 1375Immunology/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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1384A
2.5
MSPA 1376AClinical Skills I
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
MSPA 1376BClinical Skills II
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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1384A
0.5
MSPA 1376CClinical Skills III
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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1377, MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1378, MSPA 1389A, MSPA 1393A
3.0
MSPA 1377Clinical 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. Prerequisite: MSPA 1372
0.0
MSPA 1378Medical 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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1372, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1384A
1.0
MSPA 1381Introduction to the Health Care Delivery Systems
This course is designed to provide a basic level of knowledge in the structure and function of the health care 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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1377, MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1378, MSPA 1389A, MSPA 1393A
2.0
MSPA 1382Introduction to Ethics
The preparation of a competent medical provider includes not only medical knowledge but also 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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1377, MSPA 1378, MSPA 1389A, MSPA 1393A
1.5
MSPA 1384APhysical 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
MSPA 1384BPhysical 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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1384A, MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1376A
1.0
MSPA 1389AClinical Patient Assessment I
This course will build upon the skills from the Physical Diagnosis I and II courses 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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1384B, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1372
1.0
MSPA 1389BClinical Patient Assessment II
This course will build upon the skills from the Physical Diagnosis I and II courses 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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1389A, MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1377, MSPA 1378, MSPA 1393A
1.5
MSPA 1393APA Professional Issues I
This course is designed to introduce the student to the PA profession: its history, organizations, current trends in the profession, and the physician/PA team. This course explores cultural issues and patient care, quality assurance, and risk management. Prerequisites: MSPA 1360, MSPA 1361, MSPA 1362, MSPA 1363, MSPA 1376A, MSPA 1384A
0.5
MSPA 1393BPA 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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1393A, MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1377, MSPA 1378, MSPA 1389A
0.5
MSPA 1394Clinical 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.  Prerequisites: MSPA 1377, MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1378, MSPA 1389A, MSPA 1393A
0.5
MSPA 1395Research 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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1364, MSPA 1371, MSPA 1375, MSPA 1376B, MSPA 1377, MSPA 1378, MSPA 1389A, MSPA 1393A
1.0
MSPA 1398Clinical 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. Prerequisites: MSPA 1394, MSPA 1382, MSPA 1395
6.5