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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

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Program sponsored by College of Saint Mary.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

Pre-physician assistant status students are currently being accepted and under all circumstances will be eligible to complete a degree in their current program of study.

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)

This intense course covers advanced study of the structure and development of the human body. Structural features are studied by gross dissection, demonstration, and cross section, and radiology.  Embryology lectures provide an understanding of the development of definitive anatomical structures.  Emphasis is placed on structure and the relationship of anatomic configuration to diagnosis clinical problems.  The format of the course includes lectures, laboratories, and demonstrations. Student evaluation is accomplished through written and practical examinations.

PAS 502 Physiology (5 credits)

This course will cover, at an advanced level, the fundamental principles of physiology.  The course will cover cell physiology, neurophysiology, musculoskeletal system physiology, renal physiology, respiratory physiology, gastrointestinal physiology, endocrinology, and reproductive physiology.

PAS 504 Medical Pathology (5 credits)

This course will examine the underlying biochemical, cellular, and physiological changes which occur in human disease.  Emphasis will be placed on the most common conditions.  This course integrates general pathology and laboratory medicine to prepare the student for the clinical medicine course.

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 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 521 Neuroanatomy (2 credits)

An overview of the structure and function of the central nervous system will be discussed with a focus on principles related to clinical neurology and interpretation of the neurobiological examination.

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 528 Healthcare Systems (1 credit)

This course will provide the physician assistant student an overview of the major types of healthcare systems along with clinical management practices.  Coding and reimbursement will be reviewed as well as quality assurance and risk management. Access to care, socioeconomics, and legal issues will be covered.

PAS 517 Pharmacotherapy I (3 credits)

This course provides the physician student the general principals of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of various classes of drugs.  Drug actions on the various biochemical pathways and physiological systems will be discussed.  The judicious use of drugs in physician assistant practice will be emphasized.  This course will lay the foundation for the Pharmacology II course.

PAS 529 Clinical Skills I (2 credits)

This course is designed to provide students instruction in the fundamental clinical skills necessary for patient care. A primary focus of instruction is on performance of complete examinations of patients across the lifespan.  Weekly lectures combined with small group instruction ensure students learn proper exam techniques, recognize and appropriately describe physical findings, and use the clinical data to formulate differential diagnoses.

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 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.

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 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 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 550 Medical Ethics (2 credits)

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.

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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 OB/GYN Rotation (3 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 (3 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 Psychiatry Rotation (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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

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.

The nationally recognized accrediting agency for physician assistant programs in the territorial United States is the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc (ARC-PA). The purpose of accreditation is to protect the public’s interest and promote excellence in physician assistant education.  A physician assistant must graduate from an accredited program to be eligible for the national board certification examination following graduation.

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Program sponsored by College of Saint Mary.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

Pre-physician assistant status students are currently being accepted and under all circumstances will be eligible to complete a degree in their current program of study.

The ARC-PA can be contacted at ARC-PA, Inc., 12000 Findley Road, Suite 150, Johns Creek, Georgia 30097, 770-476-1224 or FAX 770-476-1738.

 What is the accreditation process?

Physician assistant education is accredited through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). College of Saint Mary has been granted developmental status by the ARC-PA with a provisional accreditation decision in March 2016. Accreditation - Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.  College of Saint Mary may officially start the physician assistant studies portion of the curriculum once provisionally accredited. Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status, but any student beginning in a provisionally accredited program qualifies to take the national board certification examination following graduation.

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

Pre-Professional Phase (Levels 1-3)

Professional Physician Assistant Phase Admissions Requirements - August 2018 Cohort

CURRENT COLLEGE OF SAINT MARY PRE-PA STUDENTS

Current CSM students accepted as pre-PA students are assigned to a specific future PAS cohort upon admission as a pre-PA student and will have a guaranteed seat in their assigned PAS cohort as long as all progression requirements are followed and the applicant meets the minimum technical standards for the PAS program.  College of Saint Mary does not offer advanced placement for the PAS program.

Acceptance and Progression Requirements

PAS Program Technical Standards

COLLEGE OF SAINT MARY NON-PRE-PA APPLICANTS

The College of Saint Mary PAS program may admit up to 30 students in each yearly cohort.  The seats in the PAS cohorts will be filled with current CSM students classified as pre-PA students.  Additional applicants will be considered for seats that remain open at the beginning of the PAS program (level 4).  Those applicants selected will begin as graduate students and upon successful completion of the PAS program, will receive a M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies degree.  College of Saint Mary does not offer advanced placement for the PAS program.

Admission requirements for non-pre-PA applicants (all requirements must be met):

  • 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* of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • All PAS prerequisite coursework must be completed within the last 7 years from the year starting the PAS program (level 4), except for General Chemistry and Developmental/Lifespan Development Psychology
    • Preference will be given to prerequisite coursework completed at 4-year institutions through biology and chemistry departments.
  • 300 hours of hands on healthcare clinical experience is required
  • All students will need to take the GRE General Test.  Please send scores to Institution Code 6106
  • Must meet the minimum technical standards for the PAS program
  • Able to complete all MSPAS matriculation requirements within 6 months of entry into level 4.  This 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
  • Ability to meet college admission criteria to attend College of Saint Mary as graduate student
  • CSM alumni, previous Master’s degree, military service, and fluency in a second language will receive special consideration on application evaluation
  • College of Saint Mary PAS program does not offer advanced placement

*Prerequisite GPA – Cumulative GPA of all PAS program prerequisite courses

 

PAS PROGRAM PREREQUISITE COURSE REQUIREMENTS

Prerequisite coursework must be completed within the last 7 years from the year starting the PAS program (level 4), except for General Chemistry and Developmental/Lifespan Development Psychology

  • General Chemistry with lab
    • Two semesters in a sequenced course
  • Developmental/Lifespan Development Psychology
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology with lab (minimum 8 semester credits)
    • Minimum of one semester of each or two semesters of a combined sequenced course
  • Statistics
  • Abnormal Psychology

 

The following must be completed at 4-year institutions through biology and chemistry departments.

  • Organic Chemistry with lab
    • Two semesters in a sequenced course
  • Microbiology with lab
  • Genetics
  • Pathophysiology or upper-level Biology course
  • Biochemistry
    • Acceptable course must at a minimum require Organic Chemistry 1 as a prerequisite

 

*Prerequisite GPA – Cumulative GPA of all PAS program prerequisite courses

**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.

PAS PROGRAM ADVANCED PLACEMENT

The PAS program does not award or grant advanced placement.  The PAS program does not accept transfer credit from a student previously enrolled in another PA program or experiential credit.  All PAS program courses must be taken at CSM due to the variations in graduate, PA and medical curriculums across different universities.

PAS 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.  Admission decisions are made by the PAS Admissions and Progression 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

 

PAS Application Process

  1. Apply On-Line for pre-PA or through CASPA for MSPAS.
  2. Submit Application Fee
  3. Submit required transcripts
    1. If CSM pre-PA applicant, high school and college transcripts if applicable
    2. All other applicants require college transcripts
  4. Submit Names, Phones and E-mail Addresses of 3 References
  5. Submit any previous medical and clinical experiences and extra- and co-curricular activities (form attached to electronic application)
  6. Submit essay (attach to electronic application)
  7. Review of application by the PAS Admissions and Progression Committee
  8. If selected, participate in an on-campus interview with the PAS Admissions and Progression Committee.  Initial application review and interview may occur prior to receiving all application materials. The PAS program technical standards attestation form must be signed during the interview stating the ability to meet all required technical standards.
  9. Admission decision by the PAS Admissions and Progression Committee following a complete application and interview.

 

CRITERIA FOLLOWING ADMISSIONS

If you are accepted into the PAS program, you will be provided a username and password for our Physician Assistant Community page.  This page will list important information you will need before you start in the PAS program.  The information will include requirements for immunizations, tuberculosis screening, physical examination, criminal background check, urine drug screening, and health insurance requirements.  You may review those requirements now in section 4 of the PAS Program Handbook.

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.  If you would like more information, please review the Student Employment Policy.

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

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Program sponsored by College of Saint Mary.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

Pre-physician assistant status students are currently being accepted and under all circumstances will be eligible to complete a degree in their current program of study.

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.

The nationally recognized accrediting agency for physician assistant programs in the territorial United States is the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc (ARC-PA). The purpose of accreditation is to protect the public’s interest and promote excellence in physician assistant education.  A physician assistant must graduate from an accredited program to be eligible for the national board certification examination following graduation.

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the College of Saint Mary Physician Assistant Program sponsored by College of Saint Mary.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

Pre-physician assistant status students are currently being accepted and under all circumstances will be eligible to complete a degree in their current program of study.

The ARC-PA can be contacted at ARC-PA, Inc., 12000 Findley Road, Suite 150, Johns Creek, Georgia 30097, 770-476-1224 or FAX 770-476-1738.

 What is the accreditation process?

Physician assistant education is accredited through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). College of Saint Mary has been granted developmental status by the ARC-PA with a provisional accreditation decision in March 2016. Accreditation - Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.  College of Saint Mary may officially start the physician assistant studies portion of the curriculum once provisionally accredited. Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status, but any student beginning in a provisionally accredited program qualifies to take the national board certification examination following graduation.

Admissions Requirements

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

Pre-Professional Phase (Levels 1-3)

Professional Physician Assistant Phase Admissions Requirements - August 2018 Cohort

CURRENT COLLEGE OF SAINT MARY PRE-PA STUDENTS

Current CSM students accepted as pre-PA students are assigned to a specific future PAS cohort upon admission as a pre-PA student and will have a guaranteed seat in their assigned PAS cohort as long as all progression requirements are followed and the applicant meets the minimum technical standards for the PAS program.  College of Saint Mary does not offer advanced placement for the PAS program.

Acceptance and Progression Requirements

PAS Program Technical Standards

COLLEGE OF SAINT MARY NON-PRE-PA APPLICANTS

The College of Saint Mary PAS program may admit up to 30 students in each yearly cohort.  The seats in the PAS cohorts will be filled with current CSM students classified as pre-PA students.  Additional applicants will be considered for seats that remain open at the beginning of the PAS program (level 4).  Those applicants selected will begin as graduate students and upon successful completion of the PAS program, will receive a M.S. in Physician Assistant Studies degree.  College of Saint Mary does not offer advanced placement for the PAS program.

Admission requirements for non-pre-PA applicants (all requirements must be met):

  • 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* of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • All PAS prerequisite coursework must be completed within the last 7 years from the year starting the PAS program (level 4), except for General Chemistry and Developmental/Lifespan Development Psychology
    • Preference will be given to prerequisite coursework completed at 4-year institutions through biology and chemistry departments.
  • 300 hours of hands on healthcare clinical experience is required
  • All students will need to take the GRE General Test.  Please send scores to Institution Code 6106
  • Must meet the minimum technical standards for the PAS program
  • Able to complete all MSPAS matriculation requirements within 6 months of entry into level 4.  This 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
  • Ability to meet college admission criteria to attend College of Saint Mary as graduate student
  • CSM alumni, previous Master’s degree, military service, and fluency in a second language will receive special consideration on application evaluation
  • College of Saint Mary PAS program does not offer advanced placement

*Prerequisite GPA – Cumulative GPA of all PAS program prerequisite courses

 

PAS PROGRAM PREREQUISITE COURSE REQUIREMENTS

Prerequisite coursework must be completed within the last 7 years from the year starting the PAS program (level 4), except for General Chemistry and Developmental/Lifespan Development Psychology

  • General Chemistry with lab
    • Two semesters in a sequenced course
  • Developmental/Lifespan Development Psychology
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology with lab (minimum 8 semester credits)
    • Minimum of one semester of each or two semesters of a combined sequenced course
  • Statistics
  • Abnormal Psychology

 

The following must be completed at 4-year institutions through biology and chemistry departments.

  • Organic Chemistry with lab
    • Two semesters in a sequenced course
  • Microbiology with lab
  • Genetics
  • Pathophysiology or upper-level Biology course
  • Biochemistry
    • Acceptable course must at a minimum require Organic Chemistry 1 as a prerequisite

 

*Prerequisite GPA – Cumulative GPA of all PAS program prerequisite courses

**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.

PAS PROGRAM ADVANCED PLACEMENT

The PAS program does not award or grant advanced placement.  The PAS program does not accept transfer credit from a student previously enrolled in another PA program or experiential credit.  All PAS program courses must be taken at CSM due to the variations in graduate, PA and medical curriculums across different universities.

PAS 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.  Admission decisions are made by the PAS Admissions and Progression 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

 

PAS Application Process

  1. Apply On-Line for pre-PA or through CASPA for MSPAS.
  2. Submit Application Fee
  3. Submit required transcripts
    1. If CSM pre-PA applicant, high school and college transcripts if applicable
    2. All other applicants require college transcripts
  4. Submit Names, Phones and E-mail Addresses of 3 References
  5. Submit any previous medical and clinical experiences and extra- and co-curricular activities (form attached to electronic application)
  6. Submit essay (attach to electronic application)
  7. Review of application by the PAS Admissions and Progression Committee
  8. If selected, participate in an on-campus interview with the PAS Admissions and Progression Committee.  Initial application review and interview may occur prior to receiving all application materials. The PAS program technical standards attestation form must be signed during the interview stating the ability to meet all required technical standards.
  9. Admission decision by the PAS Admissions and Progression Committee following a complete application and interview.

 

CRITERIA FOLLOWING ADMISSIONS

If you are accepted into the PAS program, you will be provided a username and password for our Physician Assistant Community page.  This page will list important information you will need before you start in the PAS program.  The information will include requirements for immunizations, tuberculosis screening, physical examination, criminal background check, urine drug screening, and health insurance requirements.  You may review those requirements now in section 4 of the PAS Program Handbook.

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.  If you would like more information, please review the Student Employment Policy.

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)

This intense course covers advanced study of the structure and development of the human body. Structural features are studied by gross dissection, demonstration, and cross section, and radiology.  Embryology lectures provide an understanding of the development of definitive anatomical structures.  Emphasis is placed on structure and the relationship of anatomic configuration to diagnosis clinical problems.  The format of the course includes lectures, laboratories, and demonstrations. Student evaluation is accomplished through written and practical examinations.

PAS 502 Physiology (5 credits)

This course will cover, at an advanced level, the fundamental principles of physiology.  The course will cover cell physiology, neurophysiology, musculoskeletal system physiology, renal physiology, respiratory physiology, gastrointestinal physiology, endocrinology, and reproductive physiology.

PAS 504 Medical Pathology (5 credits)

This course will examine the underlying biochemical, cellular, and physiological changes which occur in human disease.  Emphasis will be placed on the most common conditions.  This course integrates general pathology and laboratory medicine to prepare the student for the clinical medicine course.

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 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 521 Neuroanatomy (2 credits)

An overview of the structure and function of the central nervous system will be discussed with a focus on principles related to clinical neurology and interpretation of the neurobiological examination.

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 528 Healthcare Systems (1 credit)

This course will provide the physician assistant student an overview of the major types of healthcare systems along with clinical management practices.  Coding and reimbursement will be reviewed as well as quality assurance and risk management. Access to care, socioeconomics, and legal issues will be covered.

PAS 517 Pharmacotherapy I (3 credits)

This course provides the physician student the general principals of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of various classes of drugs.  Drug actions on the various biochemical pathways and physiological systems will be discussed.  The judicious use of drugs in physician assistant practice will be emphasized.  This course will lay the foundation for the Pharmacology II course.

PAS 529 Clinical Skills I (2 credits)

This course is designed to provide students instruction in the fundamental clinical skills necessary for patient care. A primary focus of instruction is on performance of complete examinations of patients across the lifespan.  Weekly lectures combined with small group instruction ensure students learn proper exam techniques, recognize and appropriately describe physical findings, and use the clinical data to formulate differential diagnoses.

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 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.

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 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 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 550 Medical Ethics (2 credits)

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.

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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 OB/GYN Rotation (3 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 (3 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 Psychiatry Rotation (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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 (3 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

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).