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Our Two-Year Physician Assistant Program

College of Saint Mary’s physician assistant studies program is a master’s level degree curriculum with a focus on the prevailing role of the physician assistant in health care. The physician assistant performs the same functions as a physician but does so under the direction and supervision of a licensed physician. The physician assistant sees patients independently, examines patients, makes diagnoses and treatment decisions, and performs medical procedures (such as suturing, casting, and assisting in surgical procedures). Our physician assistant program provides the didactic scientific foundation and essential experiences in clinical practice, research and professional services to prepare you for this role.

This degree is a demanding program of study and is full-time only. The program of study begins with didactic instruction in the basic and clinical sciences as applied in medicine (Level IV). Direct patient encounters begin early and will comprise the majority of Level V program of study.

You may apply to pursue this program combined with our bachelor of science degree in human biology to complete both degrees in only five years — the only such program in our five-state region — Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas and South Dakota!

College of Saint Mary's master of science degree in physician assistant studies is a 24-month program that begins in August with a maximum class size of 40 students.

Physician Assistant Program Mission Statement

The mission of the College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Studies Program is to establish an educational environment fostering academic excellence and leadership, which prepares students to become competent Physician Assistants who possess the knowledge, compassion and clinical skills necessary to provide high quality medical care to all patient populations, including those that are underserved.

​Physician Assistant Program Goals, Competencies and Outcomes

College of Saint Mary Estimated Net Tuition for the Physician Assistant Program

Accreditation Statement

Physician assistant education is accredited through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

At its March 2019 meeting, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) placed the College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the College of Saint Mary on Accreditation-Probation status until its next review in March 2021.  

Probation is a temporary status of accreditation conferred when a program does not meet the Standards and when the capability of the program to provide an acceptable educational experience for its students is threatened. 

Once placed on probation, programs that still fail to comply with accreditation requirements in a timely manner, as specified by the ARC-PA, may be scheduled for a focused site visit and/or risk having their accreditation withdrawn.  

Specific questions regarding the Program and its plans should be directed to the Program Director and/or the appropriate institutional official(s). College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Studies Program Director Clare Kennedy can be reached at ckennedy [at] csm.edu.

 

Required Courses in Your Major

Pre-Professional Phase (Levels 1-3)

Professional (PA) Phase Curriculum — leading to a Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies

Curriculum Plan of Study

106 credit hours of graduate coursework

Didactic Year (Level 4)

PAS 500 Clinical Anatomy (5 credits)

The Clinical Anatomy course will expose the Physician Assistant student to gross anatomy and its clinical applications. The student will develop an advanced understanding of typical anatomical relationships in the human body and pathologies associated with atypical gross anatomical presentation and/or deficient functioning of gross anatomical structures due to disease, injury, etc. Emphasis will be placed on clinical correlations related to the practice of a Physician Assistant. Using whole-body dissection, specimens, models, images, online resources, and lectures, the student will be able to identify gross anatomical structures, recall their functions, and discuss associated clinical information.

PAS 502 Physiology (5 credits)

This course is an advanced study of the fundamental principles of physiology and their clinical application to human organ systems. Emphasis will be placed on the study of cellular, neural, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, renal, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, and reproductive physiology and their integration.

PAS 504 Medical Pathology (5 credits)

This course focuses on the pathologic changes that occur in different organ systems of the body. The underlying biochemical, cellular, and physiological changes and their relationships to the human disease is examined. The course will provide an understanding of the pathologic processes that lead to chemical signs and symptoms of the disease and the application to clinical practice.

PAS 506 Immunology/Hematology (3 credits)

A study of normal immune system function (both acquired and innate), normal hematological function and common diseases and derangements of both.

PAS 508 PA Professional Practice (1 credit)

This course will introduce the students to the physician assistant profession.  Students will gain an understanding of professionalism and the role of the physician assistant. In addition, students will also learn the history of the profession, the profession’s organizations, the credentialing and certification process, as well as an introduction to the health care system.

PAS 513 Clinical Medicine I (8 credits)

The Medicine I course is designed to introduce students to the process of clinical decision making by utilizing critical reasoning skills to diagnosis and treat illness and disease.  Students will develop their knowledge base in the etiology, clinical presentation, differential diagnoses, and therapeutic approach to disease processes.  This course will focus on the most commonly diagnosed medical problems. In addition to lectures and reading assignments, Problem Based Learning sessions in a small group format will allow for increased focus on the critical reasoning process.

PAS 517 Pharmacotherapy I (3 credits)

This course provides basic and applied instruction into the pharmacotherapeutic management of major medical diseases with incorporation of pathophysiologic, pharmacologic, and pharmacokinetic principles in a medication therapy management model. Introductory topics will be followed with a series of organ system or disease-focused topics. Application of basic principles through appropriate medication selection and use will be covered for the latter. The judicious use of drugs in physician assistant practice will be emphasized. This course will be continued in Pharmacotherapy II. 

PAS 519 Communication in Medicine I (2 credit)

This course is designed to provide students the skills necessary to become proficient in communication – including verbal communication, non-verbal communication and medical writing skills. Communication is a core component in the practice of medicine.  Good communication between patient and provider improves patient outcomes.  To effectively build communication skills, the course will address the basic fundamentals and integrate these skills into the clinical curriculum.

PAS 521 Neuroanatomy (2 credits)

An overview of the structure and function of the central and peripheral nervous systems,  with a focus on principles related to clinical neurology and interpretation of the neurobiological examination.

PAS 527 Clinical Lab Science (2 credits)

This course will provide the student with an overview of commonly ordered laboratory tests, accurate application of the tests, and interpretation of the data.  Proper laboratory technique for selected tests will also be covered along with quality control measures.  Additionally, evaluation and correlation of laboratory data used in the diagnosis and treatment of common infectious disease states will be covered.

PAS 528 Healthcare Systems (1 credit)

An overview of healthcare delivery systems in the United States, the Physician Assistant’s role, and the coordination of care will be presented with a focus on the past, present, and future of healthcare systems. Reimbursement, access to care, and quality performance standards will be discussed, as well as concepts related to public health.

PAS 529 Clinical Skills I (2 credits)

This course is designed to provide instruction and practice in the fundamental clinical skills necessary for patient care. A primary focus will be on performance of a complete physical examination of patients throughout the lifespan. There will be weekly lectures as well as small group instruction focused on the development of physical examination skills. Summative evaluation will include the student demonstrating complete physical examination competency.

PAS 533 Clinical Medicine II (8 credit)

This course builds material presented in the Medicine I course and prepares students for the clinical phase of their education.  The course focuses on etiology, risk factors, underlying pathologic processes, and epidemiology for disease processes encountered in the practice of medicine.  Recognition of signs and symptoms of medical conditions, appropriate diagnostic work-up, development of differential diagnoses, treatment options, patient education, and prevention are focused topics in the course.  The course will follow a systems-based approach. 

PAS 537 Pharmacotherapy II (3 credits)

This course is designed to build upon the material presented in the Pharmacology I course and will emphasize pharmacotherapeutic practice.  Commonly prescribed drugs will be examined with the focus on appropriate drug selection based on individual patients, common adverse reactions, and drug interactions.  The cost and efficacy of drugs will be studied. Prescribing for special patient populations will be addressed to include pregnancy, lactation, pediatrics, and geriatrics.

PAS 539 Communication in Medicine II (1 credit)

This course allows students to build upon the knowledge and skills obtained in Communication in Medicine I and continue to increase their competency level.  Patient education and counseling skills are emphasized, as is more complex communication such as giving bad news.  Significant emphasis is placed on interdisciplinary communication.  The skills learned in this course will be integrated into the clinical curriculum, thereby allowing the student to become more familiar with medical communication.

PAS 540 Behavioral Medicine (4 credits)

This course will focus on neurobiological, psychobiological, emotional, social, and cultural influences and their effect on health and illness in the practice of primary care medicine.  Human development across the lifespan will be presented, as well as end of life issues.  Normative and maladaptive responses to developmental tasks and life stressors in relation to physical and emotional health will be covered.  Health disparities and societal issues are examined. Psychiatric disorders are covered to include psychotic disorders, personality disorders, mood and anxiety disorders.  The importance of practicing biopsychosocial medicine is stressed throughout the course.  In addition, preventive healthcare and patient counseling will be emphasized.

PAS 549 Clinical Skills II (1 credit)

This course is a continuation of Clinical Skills I and the student is introduced to technical skills of increased complexity to include suturing, casting, splinting, IVs/injections, gowning, gloving, and a general orientation to the operating room. Students will learn proper sterile technique.  Students are given an introduction to common minor procedures.  In addition, Basic Life Support, Advanced Life Support, and Pediatric Life Support classes will be part of this course so as to certify the student prior to clinical rotations.

PAS 550 Medical Ethics (1 credit)

This course examines the application of human and professional values, judgments, and choices to selective ethical dilemmas arising in clinical practice.  Students will be introduced to a structured approach for identifying, analyzing, and resolving ethical issues in clinical medicine.  Topics related to patient rights, medical practice laws, professional liability, and medical malpractice are explored.

PAS 552 Research (1 credit)

This course is the first in a two course series that covers topics relevant to clinical research and the principals of evidence-based practice.  Topics include research design, sound measurement principles, basic descriptive statistics, and an introduction to the efficient use of information systems.  A major portion of the course will emphasize the critical appraisal and synthesis of the findings of clinical research.

Clinical Year (Level 5)

During the clinical phase (Level V), students are required to complete 8 required rotations in Family Practice (2), Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Women’s Health, Psychiatry, General Surgery and Emergency Medicine. Students will also complete 3 elective rotations.  Students are trained in a variety of clinical settings to assure that they are well prepared to practice medicine with excellence as a part of the PA-physician team. Clinical rotations may occur away from the Omaha metropolitan area, according to rotation availability and the student’s individual rotation schedule. Students are not required to provide their own clinical sites. Students may arrange some of their rotations; however, a discussion with the Clinical Faculty must occur prior to any arrangements being made. Approval is not automatically guaranteed. Students are responsible for their own individual transportation to their clinical rotation sites.

PAS 660 Family Practice Rotation I (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in family medicine will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 670 Family Practice Rotation II (4 credits)

A second four-week clinical preceptorship in family medicine will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 671 Internal Medicine Rotation (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in internal medicine will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 672 Pediatric Rotation (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in pediatrics will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 673 Women's Health Rotation (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in OB/GYN will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 674 Emergency Medicine Rotation (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in emergency medicine will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 675 Behavioral Health Rotation (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in psychiatry will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 676 General Surgery Rotation (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in general surgery will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 677 Elective Rotation I (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in an elective will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Electives may include a specialty or repeat of a core rotation.  Readings, assignments, and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 678 Elective Rotation II (4 credits)

A second four-week clinical preceptorship in an elective will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Electives may include a specialty or repeat of a core rotation.  Readings, assignments, and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 679 Elective Rotation III (4 credits)

A third four-week clinical preceptorship in an elective will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Electives may include a specialty or repeat of a core rotation.  Readings, assignments, and examinations during the preceptorship will be required. Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 691 Elective Rotation IV (4 credits)

A fourth four-week clinical preceptorship in an elective will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Electives may include a specialty or repeat of a core rotation.  Readings, assignments, and examinations during the preceptorship will be required. Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year.

Advanced Placement

You must complete all components and requirements of the physician assistant studies program as a College of Saint Mary students. There are no exemptions or advanced placement from course work, clinical skills, laboratories, or clinical education regardless of prior experience, degree or credential during the professional phase of the program.

To graduate from the PAS Program and earn a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree, students must:

  • Successfully complete all course work according to program defined academic standards (88 credit hours of graduate coursework).

  • Achieve a minimum cumulative 3.0 G.P.A. (Grade Point Average).

  • Successfully pass all components of the final summative evaluation assessing all PAS program competencies.

  • Submit a completed graduation application to the Office of the Registrar.

  • Be in good academic standing. In the event that a student is on academic probation as he/she enters the final semester, he/she must still have the required cumulative G.P.A. of 3.0.

  • Be in good standing in areas of professionalism.

  • Complete all requirements for graduation within 5 years of the original date of matriculation.

  • Have no incomplete grades.

  • Have no current financial or library obligations to the College of Saint Mary.

All graduates will be eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).

Accreditation Status

Regional accreditation means that our degrees have been evaluated for their outcomes — including how well they prepare you to meet the needs of your employers, yourself and our global society. College of Saint Mary is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Physician assistant education is accredited through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

At its March 2019 meeting, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) placed the College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the College of Saint Mary on Accreditation-Probation status until its next review in March 2021.  

Probation is a temporary status of accreditation conferred when a program does not meet the Standards and when the capability of the program to provide an acceptable educational experience for its students is threatened.

Once placed on probation, programs that still fail to comply with accreditation requirements in a timely manner, as specified by the ARC-PA, may be scheduled for a focused site visit and/or risk having their accreditation withdrawn.  

Specific questions regarding the Program and its plans should be directed to the Program Director and/or the appropriate institutional official(s). College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Studies Program Director Clare Kennedy can be reached at ckennedy [at] csm.edu.

 

 

Requirements for Admission to College of Saint Mary's Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

Pre-Professional Phase (Levels 1-3)

CASPA Admission Requirements 

  • A complete and verified CASPA application submitted by October 1, 2019, 11:59 EST
  • A baccalaureate degree from a United States regionally accredited college or university
    • A baccalaureate degree from outside the United States will be accepted if the student can document equivalency of a U.S. bachelor's degree through a foreign transcript evaluation service and completion of an additional 24 credit hours in biology or chemistry departments at a U.S. regionally accredited college or university prior to application.
  • Minimum cumulative PAS prerequisite GPA* (Cumulative GPA of all prerequisite courses below) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Minimum grade of “C” in all prerequisite courses
  • Minimum cumulative overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale​
  • PAS prerequisite coursework older than 7 years will be reviewed on an individual basis
  • 300 hours of hands on healthcare clinical experience is required
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is required with scores at or above the 25th percentile on each of all three categories; verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing
    • May take the exam multiple times – highest scores used in each category
    • Send score to Institution Code 4413 (CASPA applicants only)
  • Three professional references (academic and supervisory individuals are preferred)
  • Must complete the CASPer Admissions Assessment provided after CASPA application is received (cost is $20)
  • Ability  to complete all MSPAS matriculation requirements within 4-6 months of entry.
    • Includes requirements for immunizations, tuberculosis screening, physical examination, criminal background check, urine drug screening, and health insurance requirements
  • Achieve all PAS program admission criteria and follow the PAS admissions process and decisions

 

PAS Program Technical Standards

Preferences

CSM alumni, previous Master’s degree, first generation and fluency in a second language will receive special consideration on the application evaluation.

PAS Program Prerequisite Course Requirements 

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology with lab (minimum 8 semester credits)
    • Minimum of one semester of each or two semesters of a combined sequenced course
  • Microbiology with lab
  • Upper-level Biology course with lab
  • General Chemistry with lab (minimum 8 semester credits)
    • Two semesters in a sequenced course
  • Organic Chemistry with lab (minimum 4 semester credits)
    • At least one semester as required for Biochemistry (two semesters preferred)
  • Biochemistry with lab
    • Acceptable course must at a minimum require Organic Chemistry 1 as a prerequisite
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Developmental/Lifespan Psychology
  • Statistics
  • Medical Terminology
    • Either a college/university course or certificate program will be acceptable
       

Prerequisite courses must be completed with a 2.0 “C” or higher grade.  In progress or planned courses must be reflected on the CASPA application and must be successfully completed by July 1, 2020.  There is no minimum on the amount of in progress or planned courses. 

Repeated Course Work

A course repeated at the same institution will have the most recent grade used in the GPA calculations.  If the course is repeated more than once, only one grade (the lowest received) will be replaced by the most recent grade received. 

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Applicants whose native language is not English must meet one of the following requirements to be eligible for admission to the CSM PAS program.  Minimum scores are based on language skills needed to successfully complete the PA curriculum, including clinical education requirements, as well as sit for the certification exam.

Paper-based TOEFL exam, minimum score of 600
Internet-based TOEFL exam, minimum score of 100, minimum of 20 in each sub test
Internet-based IELTS exam, minimum of 7.5, minimum of 7.5 for each sub-test

Results should be sent directly from ETS to College of Saint Mary institutional code 6106.

**The requirements for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies is subject to change as CSM is currently in the provisional accreditation process and will make necessary adjustments to meet the accreditation standards. 

PASS Admissions Process and Decisions 

Admission to the PAS graduate program is competitive with a limited number of seats in each cohort.  Meeting the minimum admission requirements above does not ensure acceptance into the PAS program.  The PAS program does not award or grant advanced placement. Admission decisions are made by the PAS Admissions Committee and will be made based on the following:

  • Past academic performance (GPA and completed courses, particularly science and math courses)
  • Documented academic aptitude (collegiate GPA)
  • Extra- and co-curricular activities
  • Medical and/or clinical experiences (shadowing, volunteering, etc.)
  • Recommendations from qualified individuals with knowledge of the applicant’s character and performance
  • Communication, professionalism, and interpersonal skills via essay, interview, and review of letters of reference
     

CASPA Application Process

  1. Submit CASPA application by October 1, 2019, 11:59 EST
  2. Send official transcripts from all college credit institutions to CASPA
  3. Send Non-U.S. transcripts evaluated through the World Education Services, Inc. (preferred agency) to CASPA
  4. Request 3 letters of recommendation (evaluations) through CASPA – if more than 3 are submitted, we will ask you to identify 3 for our review (no family or friends)
  5. Send Official GRE General Test scores to Institution Code 4413
  6. References, transcripts and GRE scores submitted by November 1, 2019
  7. Complete CASPer Admissions Assessment.  Information sent once CASPA application is received.
  8. Review of application by the PAS Admissions Committee
  9. If selected, participate in an on-campus interview with the PAS Admissions Committee.  The PAS program technical standards attestation form must be signed during the interview stating the ability to meet all required technical standards.
  10. Admission decision by the PAS Admissions Committee following a complete application and interview.

 

Student Employment 

Due to the rigorous nature of the PAS Program during both the didactic and the clinical phases of training, it is advised that students are not employed during their professional training. Employment demands will not justify an excused absence from any academic or clinical requirements of the program nor will any special accommodations be made.  

Academic Description

Our Two-Year Physician Assistant Program

College of Saint Mary’s physician assistant studies program is a master’s level degree curriculum with a focus on the prevailing role of the physician assistant in health care. The physician assistant performs the same functions as a physician but does so under the direction and supervision of a licensed physician. The physician assistant sees patients independently, examines patients, makes diagnoses and treatment decisions, and performs medical procedures (such as suturing, casting, and assisting in surgical procedures). Our physician assistant program provides the didactic scientific foundation and essential experiences in clinical practice, research and professional services to prepare you for this role.

This degree is a demanding program of study and is full-time only. The program of study begins with didactic instruction in the basic and clinical sciences as applied in medicine (Level IV). Direct patient encounters begin early and will comprise the majority of Level V program of study.

You may apply to pursue this program combined with our bachelor of science degree in human biology to complete both degrees in only five years — the only such program in our five-state region — Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas and South Dakota!

College of Saint Mary's master of science degree in physician assistant studies is a 24-month program that begins in August with a maximum class size of 40 students.

Physician Assistant Program Mission Statement

The mission of the College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Studies Program is to establish an educational environment fostering academic excellence and leadership, which prepares students to become competent Physician Assistants who possess the knowledge, compassion and clinical skills necessary to provide high quality medical care to all patient populations, including those that are underserved.

​Physician Assistant Program Goals, Competencies and Outcomes

College of Saint Mary Estimated Net Tuition for the Physician Assistant Program

Accreditation Statement

Physician assistant education is accredited through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

At its March 2019 meeting, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) placed the College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the College of Saint Mary on Accreditation-Probation status until its next review in March 2021.  

Probation is a temporary status of accreditation conferred when a program does not meet the Standards and when the capability of the program to provide an acceptable educational experience for its students is threatened. 

Once placed on probation, programs that still fail to comply with accreditation requirements in a timely manner, as specified by the ARC-PA, may be scheduled for a focused site visit and/or risk having their accreditation withdrawn.  

Specific questions regarding the Program and its plans should be directed to the Program Director and/or the appropriate institutional official(s). College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Studies Program Director Clare Kennedy can be reached at ckennedy [at] csm.edu.

 

Accreditation

Accreditation Status

Regional accreditation means that our degrees have been evaluated for their outcomes — including how well they prepare you to meet the needs of your employers, yourself and our global society. College of Saint Mary is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Physician assistant education is accredited through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

At its March 2019 meeting, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) placed the College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the College of Saint Mary on Accreditation-Probation status until its next review in March 2021.  

Probation is a temporary status of accreditation conferred when a program does not meet the Standards and when the capability of the program to provide an acceptable educational experience for its students is threatened.

Once placed on probation, programs that still fail to comply with accreditation requirements in a timely manner, as specified by the ARC-PA, may be scheduled for a focused site visit and/or risk having their accreditation withdrawn.  

Specific questions regarding the Program and its plans should be directed to the Program Director and/or the appropriate institutional official(s). College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Studies Program Director Clare Kennedy can be reached at ckennedy [at] csm.edu.

 

 

Admissions Requirements

Requirements for Admission to College of Saint Mary's Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

Pre-Professional Phase (Levels 1-3)

CASPA Admission Requirements 

  • A complete and verified CASPA application submitted by October 1, 2019, 11:59 EST
  • A baccalaureate degree from a United States regionally accredited college or university
    • A baccalaureate degree from outside the United States will be accepted if the student can document equivalency of a U.S. bachelor's degree through a foreign transcript evaluation service and completion of an additional 24 credit hours in biology or chemistry departments at a U.S. regionally accredited college or university prior to application.
  • Minimum cumulative PAS prerequisite GPA* (Cumulative GPA of all prerequisite courses below) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Minimum grade of “C” in all prerequisite courses
  • Minimum cumulative overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale​
  • PAS prerequisite coursework older than 7 years will be reviewed on an individual basis
  • 300 hours of hands on healthcare clinical experience is required
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is required with scores at or above the 25th percentile on each of all three categories; verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing
    • May take the exam multiple times – highest scores used in each category
    • Send score to Institution Code 4413 (CASPA applicants only)
  • Three professional references (academic and supervisory individuals are preferred)
  • Must complete the CASPer Admissions Assessment provided after CASPA application is received (cost is $20)
  • Ability  to complete all MSPAS matriculation requirements within 4-6 months of entry.
    • Includes requirements for immunizations, tuberculosis screening, physical examination, criminal background check, urine drug screening, and health insurance requirements
  • Achieve all PAS program admission criteria and follow the PAS admissions process and decisions

 

PAS Program Technical Standards

Preferences

CSM alumni, previous Master’s degree, first generation and fluency in a second language will receive special consideration on the application evaluation.

PAS Program Prerequisite Course Requirements 

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology with lab (minimum 8 semester credits)
    • Minimum of one semester of each or two semesters of a combined sequenced course
  • Microbiology with lab
  • Upper-level Biology course with lab
  • General Chemistry with lab (minimum 8 semester credits)
    • Two semesters in a sequenced course
  • Organic Chemistry with lab (minimum 4 semester credits)
    • At least one semester as required for Biochemistry (two semesters preferred)
  • Biochemistry with lab
    • Acceptable course must at a minimum require Organic Chemistry 1 as a prerequisite
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Developmental/Lifespan Psychology
  • Statistics
  • Medical Terminology
    • Either a college/university course or certificate program will be acceptable
       

Prerequisite courses must be completed with a 2.0 “C” or higher grade.  In progress or planned courses must be reflected on the CASPA application and must be successfully completed by July 1, 2020.  There is no minimum on the amount of in progress or planned courses. 

Repeated Course Work

A course repeated at the same institution will have the most recent grade used in the GPA calculations.  If the course is repeated more than once, only one grade (the lowest received) will be replaced by the most recent grade received. 

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

Applicants whose native language is not English must meet one of the following requirements to be eligible for admission to the CSM PAS program.  Minimum scores are based on language skills needed to successfully complete the PA curriculum, including clinical education requirements, as well as sit for the certification exam.

Paper-based TOEFL exam, minimum score of 600
Internet-based TOEFL exam, minimum score of 100, minimum of 20 in each sub test
Internet-based IELTS exam, minimum of 7.5, minimum of 7.5 for each sub-test

Results should be sent directly from ETS to College of Saint Mary institutional code 6106.

**The requirements for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies is subject to change as CSM is currently in the provisional accreditation process and will make necessary adjustments to meet the accreditation standards. 

PASS Admissions Process and Decisions 

Admission to the PAS graduate program is competitive with a limited number of seats in each cohort.  Meeting the minimum admission requirements above does not ensure acceptance into the PAS program.  The PAS program does not award or grant advanced placement. Admission decisions are made by the PAS Admissions Committee and will be made based on the following:

  • Past academic performance (GPA and completed courses, particularly science and math courses)
  • Documented academic aptitude (collegiate GPA)
  • Extra- and co-curricular activities
  • Medical and/or clinical experiences (shadowing, volunteering, etc.)
  • Recommendations from qualified individuals with knowledge of the applicant’s character and performance
  • Communication, professionalism, and interpersonal skills via essay, interview, and review of letters of reference
     

CASPA Application Process

  1. Submit CASPA application by October 1, 2019, 11:59 EST
  2. Send official transcripts from all college credit institutions to CASPA
  3. Send Non-U.S. transcripts evaluated through the World Education Services, Inc. (preferred agency) to CASPA
  4. Request 3 letters of recommendation (evaluations) through CASPA – if more than 3 are submitted, we will ask you to identify 3 for our review (no family or friends)
  5. Send Official GRE General Test scores to Institution Code 4413
  6. References, transcripts and GRE scores submitted by November 1, 2019
  7. Complete CASPer Admissions Assessment.  Information sent once CASPA application is received.
  8. Review of application by the PAS Admissions Committee
  9. If selected, participate in an on-campus interview with the PAS Admissions Committee.  The PAS program technical standards attestation form must be signed during the interview stating the ability to meet all required technical standards.
  10. Admission decision by the PAS Admissions Committee following a complete application and interview.

 

Student Employment 

Due to the rigorous nature of the PAS Program during both the didactic and the clinical phases of training, it is advised that students are not employed during their professional training. Employment demands will not justify an excused absence from any academic or clinical requirements of the program nor will any special accommodations be made.  

Curriculum

Required Courses in Your Major

Pre-Professional Phase (Levels 1-3)

Professional (PA) Phase Curriculum — leading to a Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies

Curriculum Plan of Study

106 credit hours of graduate coursework

Didactic Year (Level 4)

PAS 500 Clinical Anatomy (5 credits)

The Clinical Anatomy course will expose the Physician Assistant student to gross anatomy and its clinical applications. The student will develop an advanced understanding of typical anatomical relationships in the human body and pathologies associated with atypical gross anatomical presentation and/or deficient functioning of gross anatomical structures due to disease, injury, etc. Emphasis will be placed on clinical correlations related to the practice of a Physician Assistant. Using whole-body dissection, specimens, models, images, online resources, and lectures, the student will be able to identify gross anatomical structures, recall their functions, and discuss associated clinical information.

PAS 502 Physiology (5 credits)

This course is an advanced study of the fundamental principles of physiology and their clinical application to human organ systems. Emphasis will be placed on the study of cellular, neural, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, renal, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, and reproductive physiology and their integration.

PAS 504 Medical Pathology (5 credits)

This course focuses on the pathologic changes that occur in different organ systems of the body. The underlying biochemical, cellular, and physiological changes and their relationships to the human disease is examined. The course will provide an understanding of the pathologic processes that lead to chemical signs and symptoms of the disease and the application to clinical practice.

PAS 506 Immunology/Hematology (3 credits)

A study of normal immune system function (both acquired and innate), normal hematological function and common diseases and derangements of both.

PAS 508 PA Professional Practice (1 credit)

This course will introduce the students to the physician assistant profession.  Students will gain an understanding of professionalism and the role of the physician assistant. In addition, students will also learn the history of the profession, the profession’s organizations, the credentialing and certification process, as well as an introduction to the health care system.

PAS 513 Clinical Medicine I (8 credits)

The Medicine I course is designed to introduce students to the process of clinical decision making by utilizing critical reasoning skills to diagnosis and treat illness and disease.  Students will develop their knowledge base in the etiology, clinical presentation, differential diagnoses, and therapeutic approach to disease processes.  This course will focus on the most commonly diagnosed medical problems. In addition to lectures and reading assignments, Problem Based Learning sessions in a small group format will allow for increased focus on the critical reasoning process.

PAS 517 Pharmacotherapy I (3 credits)

This course provides basic and applied instruction into the pharmacotherapeutic management of major medical diseases with incorporation of pathophysiologic, pharmacologic, and pharmacokinetic principles in a medication therapy management model. Introductory topics will be followed with a series of organ system or disease-focused topics. Application of basic principles through appropriate medication selection and use will be covered for the latter. The judicious use of drugs in physician assistant practice will be emphasized. This course will be continued in Pharmacotherapy II. 

PAS 519 Communication in Medicine I (2 credit)

This course is designed to provide students the skills necessary to become proficient in communication – including verbal communication, non-verbal communication and medical writing skills. Communication is a core component in the practice of medicine.  Good communication between patient and provider improves patient outcomes.  To effectively build communication skills, the course will address the basic fundamentals and integrate these skills into the clinical curriculum.

PAS 521 Neuroanatomy (2 credits)

An overview of the structure and function of the central and peripheral nervous systems,  with a focus on principles related to clinical neurology and interpretation of the neurobiological examination.

PAS 527 Clinical Lab Science (2 credits)

This course will provide the student with an overview of commonly ordered laboratory tests, accurate application of the tests, and interpretation of the data.  Proper laboratory technique for selected tests will also be covered along with quality control measures.  Additionally, evaluation and correlation of laboratory data used in the diagnosis and treatment of common infectious disease states will be covered.

PAS 528 Healthcare Systems (1 credit)

An overview of healthcare delivery systems in the United States, the Physician Assistant’s role, and the coordination of care will be presented with a focus on the past, present, and future of healthcare systems. Reimbursement, access to care, and quality performance standards will be discussed, as well as concepts related to public health.

PAS 529 Clinical Skills I (2 credits)

This course is designed to provide instruction and practice in the fundamental clinical skills necessary for patient care. A primary focus will be on performance of a complete physical examination of patients throughout the lifespan. There will be weekly lectures as well as small group instruction focused on the development of physical examination skills. Summative evaluation will include the student demonstrating complete physical examination competency.

PAS 533 Clinical Medicine II (8 credit)

This course builds material presented in the Medicine I course and prepares students for the clinical phase of their education.  The course focuses on etiology, risk factors, underlying pathologic processes, and epidemiology for disease processes encountered in the practice of medicine.  Recognition of signs and symptoms of medical conditions, appropriate diagnostic work-up, development of differential diagnoses, treatment options, patient education, and prevention are focused topics in the course.  The course will follow a systems-based approach. 

PAS 537 Pharmacotherapy II (3 credits)

This course is designed to build upon the material presented in the Pharmacology I course and will emphasize pharmacotherapeutic practice.  Commonly prescribed drugs will be examined with the focus on appropriate drug selection based on individual patients, common adverse reactions, and drug interactions.  The cost and efficacy of drugs will be studied. Prescribing for special patient populations will be addressed to include pregnancy, lactation, pediatrics, and geriatrics.

PAS 539 Communication in Medicine II (1 credit)

This course allows students to build upon the knowledge and skills obtained in Communication in Medicine I and continue to increase their competency level.  Patient education and counseling skills are emphasized, as is more complex communication such as giving bad news.  Significant emphasis is placed on interdisciplinary communication.  The skills learned in this course will be integrated into the clinical curriculum, thereby allowing the student to become more familiar with medical communication.

PAS 540 Behavioral Medicine (4 credits)

This course will focus on neurobiological, psychobiological, emotional, social, and cultural influences and their effect on health and illness in the practice of primary care medicine.  Human development across the lifespan will be presented, as well as end of life issues.  Normative and maladaptive responses to developmental tasks and life stressors in relation to physical and emotional health will be covered.  Health disparities and societal issues are examined. Psychiatric disorders are covered to include psychotic disorders, personality disorders, mood and anxiety disorders.  The importance of practicing biopsychosocial medicine is stressed throughout the course.  In addition, preventive healthcare and patient counseling will be emphasized.

PAS 549 Clinical Skills II (1 credit)

This course is a continuation of Clinical Skills I and the student is introduced to technical skills of increased complexity to include suturing, casting, splinting, IVs/injections, gowning, gloving, and a general orientation to the operating room. Students will learn proper sterile technique.  Students are given an introduction to common minor procedures.  In addition, Basic Life Support, Advanced Life Support, and Pediatric Life Support classes will be part of this course so as to certify the student prior to clinical rotations.

PAS 550 Medical Ethics (1 credit)

This course examines the application of human and professional values, judgments, and choices to selective ethical dilemmas arising in clinical practice.  Students will be introduced to a structured approach for identifying, analyzing, and resolving ethical issues in clinical medicine.  Topics related to patient rights, medical practice laws, professional liability, and medical malpractice are explored.

PAS 552 Research (1 credit)

This course is the first in a two course series that covers topics relevant to clinical research and the principals of evidence-based practice.  Topics include research design, sound measurement principles, basic descriptive statistics, and an introduction to the efficient use of information systems.  A major portion of the course will emphasize the critical appraisal and synthesis of the findings of clinical research.

Clinical Year (Level 5)

During the clinical phase (Level V), students are required to complete 8 required rotations in Family Practice (2), Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Women’s Health, Psychiatry, General Surgery and Emergency Medicine. Students will also complete 3 elective rotations.  Students are trained in a variety of clinical settings to assure that they are well prepared to practice medicine with excellence as a part of the PA-physician team. Clinical rotations may occur away from the Omaha metropolitan area, according to rotation availability and the student’s individual rotation schedule. Students are not required to provide their own clinical sites. Students may arrange some of their rotations; however, a discussion with the Clinical Faculty must occur prior to any arrangements being made. Approval is not automatically guaranteed. Students are responsible for their own individual transportation to their clinical rotation sites.

PAS 660 Family Practice Rotation I (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in family medicine will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 670 Family Practice Rotation II (4 credits)

A second four-week clinical preceptorship in family medicine will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 671 Internal Medicine Rotation (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in internal medicine will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 672 Pediatric Rotation (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in pediatrics will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 673 Women's Health Rotation (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in OB/GYN will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 674 Emergency Medicine Rotation (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in emergency medicine will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 675 Behavioral Health Rotation (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in psychiatry will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 676 General Surgery Rotation (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in general surgery will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Readings, assignments and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 677 Elective Rotation I (4 credits)

A four-week clinical preceptorship in an elective will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Electives may include a specialty or repeat of a core rotation.  Readings, assignments, and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 678 Elective Rotation II (4 credits)

A second four-week clinical preceptorship in an elective will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Electives may include a specialty or repeat of a core rotation.  Readings, assignments, and examinations during the preceptorship will be required.  Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 679 Elective Rotation III (4 credits)

A third four-week clinical preceptorship in an elective will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Electives may include a specialty or repeat of a core rotation.  Readings, assignments, and examinations during the preceptorship will be required. Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year

PAS 691 Elective Rotation IV (4 credits)

A fourth four-week clinical preceptorship in an elective will be completed by the student after successfully completing the didactic curriculum.  Electives may include a specialty or repeat of a core rotation.  Readings, assignments, and examinations during the preceptorship will be required. Prerequisite: Successful completion of MSPAS Didactic Year.

Advanced Placement

You must complete all components and requirements of the physician assistant studies program as a College of Saint Mary students. There are no exemptions or advanced placement from course work, clinical skills, laboratories, or clinical education regardless of prior experience, degree or credential during the professional phase of the program.

Degree Requirements

To graduate from the PAS Program and earn a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree, students must:

  • Successfully complete all course work according to program defined academic standards (88 credit hours of graduate coursework).

  • Achieve a minimum cumulative 3.0 G.P.A. (Grade Point Average).

  • Successfully pass all components of the final summative evaluation assessing all PAS program competencies.

  • Submit a completed graduation application to the Office of the Registrar.

  • Be in good academic standing. In the event that a student is on academic probation as he/she enters the final semester, he/she must still have the required cumulative G.P.A. of 3.0.

  • Be in good standing in areas of professionalism.

  • Complete all requirements for graduation within 5 years of the original date of matriculation.

  • Have no incomplete grades.

  • Have no current financial or library obligations to the College of Saint Mary.

All graduates will be eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE).