College of Health Sciences

Physician Assistant Program

Course Descriptions

PA 510 - Gross Anatomy I - Lecture 3 credits, Lab 2 credits
(First Year, Fall Term)
This comprehensive course is designed to provide Physician Assistant students with an extensive background in gross human anatomy through lecture, laboratory and independent learning exercises. Presentations will include discussions of the embryologic basis for common clinical findings. The anatomy course will have a clinical emphasis. Lectures and labs will emphasize anatomy and anatomic relationships significant to common clinical medicine topics and surgical procedures.

PA 520 - Physiology & Pathophysiology I – 3.5 credits
(First Year, Fall Term)
This course provides a foundation for the study of diseases in the Clinical Medicine courses and begins with basic science modules in cellular physiology, biochemistry, pathology, and immunology.
Students will learn about organ systems, with presentations emphasizing normal physiology of each system, followed by the pathophysiology of diseases important to that system. For each system, lecturers will discuss normal function, cellular changes and pathological changes, including inflammatory aspects, infectious conditions and any neoplastic presentations where appropriate. In addition, an understanding of the mechanisms that explain patient presentation and the rationale for ordering and interpretation of diagnostic tests will also be included.

PA 521 - Physiology & Pathophysiology II – 5.5 credits
(First Year, Spring Term)
Lectures will proceed through organ systems with presentations emphasizing normal physiology of that system followed by the pathophysiology of diseases important to that organ system. For each system, lecturers will discuss normal function, cellular changes, and pathological changes including inflammatory aspects, infectious conditions, and any neoplastic presentations where appropriate. Genetic mechanisms in health and disease will be integrated into each system where applicable. In addition, an understanding of the mechanisms that explain patient presentation and the rationale for ordering and interpretation of diagnostic tests will also be included. This provides a foundation for the study of diseases in the Clinical Medicine courses. Clinical cases will be utilized and areas of study include: cardiovascular system; respiratory system; renal and urinary systems; gastrointestinal system; dermatology and endocrinology.

PA 522 - Physiology & Pathophysiology III - 2 credits
(First Year, Summer Term)
Lectures will proceed through organ systems with presentations emphasizing normal physiology of that system followed by the pathophysiology of diseases important to that organ system. For each system, lecturers will discuss normal function, cellular changes, and pathological changes including inflammatory aspects, infectious conditions, and any neoplastic presentations where appropriate. Genetic mechanisms in health and disease will be integrated into each system where applicable. In addition, an understanding of the mechanisms that explain patient presentation and the rationale for ordering and interpretation of diagnostic tests will also be included. This provides a foundation for the study of diseases in the Clinical Medicine courses. Clinical cases will be utilized and areas of study include: neurology; rheumatology; orthopedics; women’s health; geriatric medicine. 

PA 530 - Clinical Medicine I – 4.5 credits
(First Year, Fall Term)
This is the first of three Clinical Medicine courses. Using an organ systems approach, Clinical Medicine I presents the diagnosis and management of the most common clinical conditions seen by primary care providers for specific organ systems. The course builds on lectures in normal physiology and pathophysiology in Physiology and Pathophysiology I and precedes an in-depth discussion of treatment modalities in Pharmacology and Clinical Therapeutics I. Areas of study include: anemias; coagulopathies; hematology; infectious diseases by causative organism; infectious diseases of the head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat (HEENT); immune mediated diseases; hematologic oncology.

PA 531 - Clinical Medicine II - 8 credits
(First Year, Spring Term)
This second of three Clinical Medicine courses uses an organ systems approach and presents the diagnosis and management of the most common clinical conditions seen by primary care providers for specific organ systems. The course builds on lectures in normal physiology and pathophysiology in Physiology and Pathophysiology II, and precedes an in-depth discussion of treatment modalities in Pharmacology and Clinical Therapeutics II. Areas of study include: dermatology; endocrinology; cardiovascular system; respiratory system; renal and urinary systems; gastrointestinal system.

PA 532 - Clinical Medicine III - 6 credits
(First Year, Summer Term)
The final of three courses, Clinical Medicine III presents the diagnosis and management of the most common clinical conditions seen by primary care providers for specific organ systems and our geriatric patients. The course builds on lectures in normal physiology and pathophysiology in Physiology and Pathophysiology III and precedes an in-depth discussion of treatment modalities in Pharmacology and Clinical Therapeutics III. The Advanced Clinical Skills II course this semester gives students a hands-on opportunity to learn and practice diagnostic and treatment skills/ modalities specific to these organ systems and patients. Areas of study include: neurology; rheumatology; orthopedics; women’s health; geriatric medicine.

PA 535 - Emergency Medicine - 1 credit
(First Year, Summer Term)
An approach to the diagnosis and management of common emergency conditions for primary care physician assistants. Topics include multiple trauma, chest trauma, abdominal trauma, shock, and cardiac emergencies.

PA 536 - Surgery - 2 Credits
(First Year, Summer Term)
This course is designed to prepare the student for the General Surgery rotation. General surgical concepts needed for the Physician Assistant to function in major surgical areas as well as primary care settings are presented. The course emphasizes surgical techniques and emergency procedures, as well as asepsis, minor procedures, and anesthesia.

PA 537 - Pediatrics - 2 credits
(First Year, Summer Term)
An introduction to the most common health problems affecting the pediatric patient from the newborn period through adolescence. The lectures focus on health promotion, disease prevention and screening, pathology identification and management, and patient education and counseling for the pediatric patient and his/her family.

PA 540 - Pharmacology & Clinical Therapeutics I - 2 credits
(First Year, Fall Term)
This is the first of three courses in Pharmacology and Clinical Therapeutics. This course introduces students to the general principles of pharmacology and the application of these principles to patient care situations. Students will learn the principles of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, pharmacogenetics, dosage forms and dose-response relationships. Classes of pharmaceuticals will be studied, with a focus on the mechanisms of drug action in different therapeutic classes, common side effects of prototypic drugs in each category, drug side effects and drug-drug interactions, the interaction of drugs with the disease state under treatment, polypharmacy, and reputable sources of information about drugs. The classes of pharmaceuticals will parallel the body system being studied in Clinical Medicine I.

PA 541 - Pharmacology & Clinical Therapeutics II - 3 credits
(First Year, Spring Term)
This, the second of a three-course series, teaches the principles of pharmacology and how to apply these principles to patient care situations. The focus is on mechanisms of drug action in different therapeutic classes, common side effects of prototypic drugs in each category, drug side effects and drug-drug interactions, the interaction of drugs with the disease state under treatment, polypharmacy, and reputable sources of information about drugs. The classes of pharmaceuticals will parallel the body system being studied in Clinical Medicine II.

PA 542 - Pharmacology & Clinical Therapeutics III - 2 credits
(First Year, Summer Term)
This final course in a three-course series continues to teach the principles of pharmacology and how to apply these principles to patient care situations. The focus is on mechanisms of drug action in different therapeutic classes, common side effects of prototypic drugs in each category, drug side effects and drug-drug interactions, the interaction of drugs with the disease state under treatment, polypharmacy, and reputable sources of information about drugs. The classes of pharmaceuticals will parallel the body system being studied in Clinical Medicine III.

PA 550 - Medical Microbiology - 1 credit
(First Year, Fall Term)
This course provides an overview of microbiology as it pertains to the practice of clinical medicine. This semester includes instruction focused on pathogenic categories including: bacteria; rickettsia; mycobacteria; viruses; fungi; parasites, and concludes with lectures on the infectious agents of the head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat (HEENT).

PA 560 - Clinical Assessment I – Lecture 2 credits, Lab 2 credits
(First Year, Fall Term)
A two-course series designed to prepare the student for obtaining a complete history and performing a complete physical examination on any adult patient, with special sensitivity to gender, age and cultural background. Students will progress body system by body system during this semester. Lectures, videotape and live demonstrations will be used. Normal, variations and common abnormal physical exam findings will be introduced. An emphasis will be placed on the understanding of the relationship of major signs and symptoms to their physiologic or pathophysiologic origins.
The laboratory portion of the course will allow students to work in pairs, alternating roles as patient or Physician Assistant provider, to develop the history taking and examination skills discussed in lecture. Students also will work in small groups with faculty members to further develop these skills. Documentation of findings will be emphasized.

PA 561 - Clinical Assessment II – Lecture 1 credit, Lab 2 credits
(First Year, Spring Term)
This course utilizes the competencies acquired in learning the complete adult interview and physical examination in PA 560 (Clinical Assessment I) as a base upon which to build learning experiences in this course. Designed to first develop the student’s interview and physical examination skills pertinent to special populations, including: newborn; pediatric; pregnant; geriatric; disabled; adolescent; LGBT; sports participation. Course format will include lecture, small group, seminar, and lab.

PA 565 - Advanced Clinical Skills I – Lab 2 credits
(First Year, Spring Term)
This is the first of a two-course series and is the laboratory component of the Clinical Medicine I, II and III courses. Through lectures, case discussion, demonstrations and practice sessions, students will learn to use a variety of the diagnostic and treatment modalities used in primary care offices or performed via referral. This semester, these clinical skills include the instruction in, use of, or practice in procedures in the areas of: cardiology; pulmonology; nephrology/urology; gastroenterology. Students this semester will also become certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).

PA 566 - Advanced Clinical Skills II – Lab 2 credits
(First Year, Summer Term)
The second of a two-course series teaching advanced clinical skills and the laboratory component of the Clinical Medicine II and III courses. Through lectures, case discussion, demonstrations and practice sessions, students will learn to use a variety of the diagnostic and treatment modalities used in primary care offices or performed via referral. This semester, these clinical skills include the instruction in, use of, or practice in procedures in the areas of: men’s and women’s health, orthopedics/rheumatology, geriatrics and neurology. Students will become skilled in the surgery-related techniques of suturing, preparing a sterile surgical field, gloving and gowning and other surgery suite procedures. Splinting and casting procedures will be taught this semester.

PA 570 - Behavioral Science I – 2.5 credits
(First Year, Fall Term)
This course will cover the normal and abnormal psychological development of pediatric, adult and geriatric patients. The course will use lecture and the small group format to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for the understanding of, communication with, and counseling of patients and their families in the following areas: health promotion and disease prevention; eating disorders; substance abuse; human sexuality; response to illness, injury, and stress; principles of violence identification and prevention (animal, child, spouse, elder); genetic inheritance of disease; geriatrics; end of life issues. Case studies will be presented to enhance student learning.

PA 571 - Behavioral Science II – 2.5 Credits
(First Year, Summer Term)
The second of a two-course series in the area of Behavioral Sciences, this course will provide an overview of the principles of psychiatry and related diseases and an introductory approach to the evaluation and treatment of patients with psychiatric problems. Students will also gain an understanding of the healthcare team as it applies to the mental health patient. This course will use lecture, role-playing exercises and group discussions.

PA 580 – Evidence-Based Medicine - 2 credits
(First Year, Fall Term)
A review of basic statistics precedes statistical application to evidence-based theory, as it pertains to epidemiology, public health, and the practice of clinical medicine. Provides an introduction in accessing computer based medically oriented information and evidence-based medicine databases. The course will emphasize the use of up-to-date evidence-based literature to validate and improve the practice of clinical medicine now and as a lifelong learner. Students will learn to identify, review and critique published literature relevant to their clinical setting. Specifically, students will learn to use medical literature as a tool for clinical decision-making. This course prepares students for the emphasis placed on EBM in Clinical Medicine, Clinical Problem Solving and other courses in the curriculum.

PA 581 - Clinical Problem Solving I – Lab 2 credits
(First Year, Fall Term)
This course uses small group format and problem-based learning theory to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills in the individual student. This class will apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes learned across the curriculum to individual patient cases. The cases presented will relate to the organ system being studied in the Physiology and Pathophysiology, Clinical Medicine, and Pharmacology and Clinical Therapeutics courses and be representative of topics presented in the Behavioral Science courses. This course integrates evidence-based medicine into clinical decision-making and requires information collection skills learned in Clinical Assessment. Students will be expected to spend a minimum of three hours per week in a primary care or family practice setting to observe and participate in the process of healthcare delivery.

PA 582 - Clinical Problem Solving II – Lab 2 credits
(First Year, Spring Term)
A continuation of PA 581, this course uses small group format and problem based learning theory to expand critical thinking and problem solving skills in the individual student. This class will apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes learned across the curriculum to individual patient cases. Throughout the year, the cases presented will relate to the organ system being studied in the Physiology and Pathophysiology, Clinical Medicine and Pharmacology and Clinical Therapeutics courses. Evidence-based medicine is integrated into the weekly research necessary to validate clinical decisions. This course requires information collection skills learned in Clinical Assessment. Students will be expected to spend a minimum of three hours per week in a primary care or family practice setting to observe and participate in the process of healthcare delivery.

PA 583 - Clinical Problem Solving III – Lab 2.5 credits
(First Year, Summer Term)
A continuation of PA 582, this course uses small group format and problem based learning theory to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills in the individual student. Students will apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes learned across the curriculum to individual patient cases. The cases presented will relate to the organ system being studied in the Physiology and Pathophysiology, Clinical Medicine, and Pharmacology and Clinical Therapeutics courses and evidence-based medicine is integrated into the weekly research necessary to validate clinical decisions. This course also requires information collection skills learned in Clinical Assessment. Students will be expected to spend a minimum of four hours per week in a primary care or family practice setting to observe and participate in the process of health care delivery.

PA 590 - Healthcare I - 2 credits
(First Year, Spring Term)
Designed to give students a foundation of practical knowledge about the healthcare system, this course orients students to the basic components of the US healthcare system. Issues and questions are presented and discussed in relation to their impact on citizens as well as the practicing physician assistant. Topics include the history of healthcare policy; the healthcare system; hospitals; ambulatory care; quality assurance and risk management in clinical practice; financing; insurance; managed care; mental health; long term care and other contemporary healthcare issues. Students are expected to evaluate, present and debate pertinent issues presented in the course lectures and readings. The influence of cultural issues on healthcare policy will be discussed and the relationship between socioeconomic issues and healthcare will be explored. This course is taught by an interdisciplinary faculty and by community experts in healthcare organization.

PA 591 - Healthcare II - 1 credit
(First Year, Summer Term)
A presentation of the Physician Assistant (PA) profession in the context of the modern U.S. healthcare system, beginning with a review of the history and evolution of the profession in this country. Examined are the status, trends, and characteristics of PA healthcare providers; their education, regulation, practice patterns, external relations, and professional organizations. Issues related to PA health workforce policy are presented, along with aspects of PA salary and reimbursement and the legal and economic aspects of PA practice. Current professional issues, such as increasing specialization, the globalization of the PA concept, health workforce policy and postgraduate training are addressed. PA career progression and roles in various clinical and professional activities and disciplines will be examined.

PA 601 - Primary Care/Family Medicine Clinical Rotation - 5.33 credits
This course is designed to provide the student with the basics necessary to build a solid foundation for the evaluation, documentation, diagnosis and treatment of problems common in primary care/family medicine. The student will develop proficiency in office procedures commonly performed in a family medicine office.

PA 602 - Psychiatry/Behavioral Medicine Clinical Rotation - 5.33 credits
The student will develop the skills necessary to evaluate and manage patients with a variety of behavioral and psychiatric problems. The rotation will provide students with the opportunity to develop an understanding of the role of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and nurses in the care of the psychiatric patient. Students will learn the appropriate use of selected psychoactive pharmaceuticals. There will be ample opportunity for the student to practice the skills necessary to perform a psychiatric interview and mental status examination and make referrals for specialized psychiatric treatment.

PA 603 - Emergency Medicine Clinical Rotation - 5.33 credits
The student is introduced to triage and the stabilization of patients with life threatening conditions and the procedures performed in the emergency department. Emphasis is placed on skills required to perform and document a problem oriented history and physical; formulate a differential diagnosis; order and interpret the tests necessary to confirm or rule out a primary diagnosis and give appropriate patient education. The student will also learn strategies for interacting with patients and/or families in various levels of stress.

PA 604 - General Surgery Clinical Rotation - 5.33 credits
Students will develop the skills necessary to evaluate and manage patients with a variety of surgical problems. Exposure will include pre-, intra- and post-operative patient care. The rotation will provide students the opportunity to develop an understanding of the role of the surgeon, anesthesiologist, assistant surgeon, circulating nurse, scrub nurse, scrub technician, recovery room and surgical floor nurses, aides and technicians in the care of the surgical patient.

PA 605 - Internal Medicine Clinical Rotation - 5.33 credits
The focus is on in-depth evaluation and ongoing treatment of adult patients with complex problems and/or chronic illness. Students learn the skills necessary to evaluate and manage the effects of chronic disease on multiple body systems and to perform or assist in procedures commonly performed in internal medicine.

PA 606 - Women’s Medicine Clinical Rotation - 5.33 credits
This rotation is designed to provide the student with an outpatient experience in the area of care of the female patient, especially in the areas of women’s health and prenatal care and the impact of disease processes on the reproductive system. The student will develop the skills and knowledge necessary to evaluate, manage and educate the patient in areas such as annual exams, birth control, infertility, menstruation, sexuality, pregnancy, pre- and post-natal care, menopause, and relationships.

PA 607 - Pediatrics Clinical Rotation - 5.33 credits
This clinical rotation is designed to provide the student with outpatient and inpatient experience in pediatrics. The student will learn to perform evaluations of the healthy pediatric patient, recognize, evaluate and treat the common illnesses and problems experienced by the neonate, infant, small child and adolescent to age 18. Additionally, the student will learn to identify and manage problems in growth and development of these age groups and recognize and manage pediatric emergencies.

PA 608 - Geriatrics Clinical Rotation - 5.33 credits
The focus is on in-depth evaluation and ongoing treatment of geriatric patients with complex problems and/or chronic illness. Students learn the skills necessary to evaluate and manage the effects of chronic disease on multiple body systems and to perform or assist in procedures commonly used in providing care to the geriatric population.

PA 609 - Floating Block Clinical Rotation - 5.33 credits
This four-week rotation will represent a repeat of one of the required core areas: Psychiatry/Behavior Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Family Practice, General Surgery, Internal Medicine, OB-GYN/Women’s Health, Pediatrics or Geriatrics. Students will develop a deeper understanding of the complexity of disease processes and differential diagnosis in the area of medicine selected.

PA 610, 611, 612 - Elective Rotations - 5.33 credits each
In association with the Clinical Coordinator, each student will choose from a list of elective rotations (i.e., primary care, hospitalist medicine, nephrology, interventional radiology, etc.). Each student will choose three rotations and be placed according to availability. No student will be required to acquire his/her own clinical rotation site. If a student has a particular clinical rotation site he/she wishes to develop, this may be done in association with and at the discretion of the Clinical Coordinator.

PA 780 - Clinical Problem Solving IV: Capstone Project - 2 credits
This independent study course takes place during the entire clinical year and provides the course structure for the student Capstone Project, a Grand Rounds presentation (an in-depth presentation of a medical topic) and submission of a review article and case write- up by the student. The chief complaint, history and physical findings, and laboratory data of a patient seen during the student’s clinical experiences will be utilized as a point of reference. Epidemiology, public health significance, pathophysiology, clinical signs and symptoms, diagnostic/ clinical laboratory criteria, treatment plan, prognosis, patient counseling, and preventive medicine aspects of the disease will be addressed. The College community is invited to the 25-minute PowerPoint presentation.

PA 710 - Legal and Ethical Aspects of Medicine - 1 credit
This course is designed to give students an appreciation of medical ethics and their legal implications where applicable. Lectures will provide students with a basic understanding of the ethical responsibilities of Physician Assistants as healthcare practitioners and as individuals. This course is designed to provide students with an appreciation of the role of professional ethics in the contemporary practice of medicine and to teach the concepts of privilege, confidentiality, and informed patient consent. Topics will include: Fundamentals of Clinical Ethics; Testing for Genetic Conditions; Ethical Issues in Public Health Emergencies; Shared Decision Making; Decisions About Life-Sustaining Interventions; Provider-Patient Relationship; Conflicts of Interest.

PA 720 - Senior Seminar - 2 credits
This course is one process by which students prepare for the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE). The course includes a series of presentations prepared by students and based on topics identified as weaknesses by Physician Assistant program faculty and through the collective results of the Physician Assistant Clinical Knowledge Rating Assessment Tool (PACKRAT).

PA 740 - Alternative & Complementary Medicine - 1 credit
This course provides an introduction to alternative and complementary medicine modalities. A practitioner of the therapy and/or a person knowledgeable in the area will present each alternative/complementary treatment modality in lecture and discussion format. Hands-on experiences and demonstrations will be included in the course where applicable.

PA 790 - Healthcare III: Transition into Practice - 1 credit
This course will present information required of students as they transition from school to workplace. Topics include: National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA); NCCPA Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE) blueprint; the PANCE examination; Certifying and Re-certifying; Continuing Medical Education (CME); professional liability and medical malpractice; reimbursement issues; political and legal issues, statutes, and regulations governing PA practice; laws and regulations regarding prescriptive practice; licensure; credentialing; professional organizations and community resource networks.