Apr 14, 2024  
2022-23 ATSU University Catalog 
    
2022-23 ATSU University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physician Assistant Studies (Central Coast), MS


Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies - Central Coast


The Central Coast Physician Assistant (CCPA) program educates culturally-humble, diverse physician assistants (PAs) to serve the primary care needs of medically underserved communities. The program prepares highly competent professionals in the science of medicine steeped in the osteopathic tradition of body, mind, and spirit care for the whole person and service to underserved populations.

ATSU has developed the CCPA program to meet the needs of the nationwide network of community health centers providing compassionate care to medically underserved populations. CCPA participates in ATSU’s Hometown Scholars program, which helps the University meet these needs by identifying, attracting, and educating dedicated, motivated, and qualified community-minded healers.

The CCPA program goals are:

  • Recruit, matriculate and graduate a diverse class of culturally humble students.
  • To develop life-long learners with the requisite medical knowledge and skills ready to deliver evidence-based, patient-centered health care.
  • Foster recognition of ways in which the social determinants of health affect individuals and their respective communities.
  • Utilize innovative evidence-based educational methods aided strongly by technology and focused on equity and inclusion.

From their first day, CCPA students are immersed in engaged scholarship, threading the philosophy of whole person healthcare and serving the underserved through classes and activities designed to foster critical thinking. Program curriculum is grounded in this philosophy and emphasizes the sociocultural dimension of the practice and delivery of healthcare. The learning environment is active and learner-centered, designed around guided independent study and small group case analysis and problem-solving.

Length of Program

The CCPA program is a 24-month residential master’s degree program based in Santa Maria, California. Students will spend one year on campus in Santa Maria for the pre-clinical phase of the program. Then, students will enter the clinical phase, including 35 weeks of supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPEs) in various medical disciplines. Students will spend the entire clinical phase primarily at one of the partnered Community Health Centers (CHC) located in California and across the U.S. The curriculum includes 105 credit hours.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition is due twice a year at ATSU. It is due at the beginning of the first and second semesters. Each payment is half the cost for the entire year. Tuition may be paid any time during the week that it is due. Delinquent tuition penalties accrue at 1.5% per month, which is 18% per year. For more information on Student Account Collection, please reference ATSU Policy #50-112 within the Financial Policies  section of this catalog.

Class/Year Tuition Student Technology Fee Medical Equipment & Lab Fee Student Tuition Recovery Fee
Class of 2024, year 1 $37,854 $1,150.00 $1,928 $262.50
Class of 2023, year 2 $50,470 $1,150.00    
Class of 2023, year 3 $12,618      

Estimated non-institutional expenses include: Background Check $51.50; and Student Health Insurance $2,874/per year (based on 21/22 premium amount).

For the 2022-23 academic year, total program cost is estimated to be $44,120.00.

Cost for the entire program is estimated at $114,154.00.

Student Tuition Recovery Fund Information

The State of California established the Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) to relieve or mitigate economic loss suffered by a student in an educational program at a qualifying institution, who is or was a California resident while enrolled, or was enrolled in a residency program, if the student enrolled in the institution, prepaid tuition, and suffered an economic loss. Unless relieved of the obligation to do so, you must pay the state-imposed assessment for the STRF, or it must be paid on your behalf, if you are a student in an educational program, who is a California resident, or are enrolled in a residency program, and prepay all or part of your tuition.

You are not eligible for protection from the STRF and you are not required to pay the STRF assessment, if you are not a California resident, or are not enrolled in a residency program.

It is important that you keep copies of your enrollment agreement, financial aid documents, receipts, or any other information that documents the amount paid to the school. Questions regarding the STRF may be directed to the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, 1747 N. Market Blvd, Suite 225, Sacramento, CA 95834, 916.431.6959 or 888.370.7589.


To be eligible for STRF, you must be a California resident or are enrolled in a residency program, prepaid tuition, paid or deemed to have paid the STRF assessment, and suffered an economic loss as a result of any of the following:

  1. The institution, a location of the institution, or an educational program offered by the institution was closed or discontinued, and you did not choose to participate in a teach-out plan approved by the Bureau or did not complete a chosen teach-out plan approved by the Bureau.
  2. You were enrolled at an institution or a location of the institution within the 120 day period before the closure of the institution or location of the institution, or were enrolled in an educational program within the 120 day period before the program was discontinued.
  3. You were enrolled at an institution or a location of the institution more than 120 days before the closure of the institution or location of the institution, in an educational program offered by the institution as to which the Bureau determined there was a significant decline in the quality or value of the program more than 120 days before closure.
  4. The institution has been ordered to pay a refund by the Bureau but has failed to do so.
  5. The institution has failed to pay or reimburse loan proceeds under a federal student loan program as required by law, or has failed to pay or reimburse proceeds received by the institution in excess of tuition and other costs.
  6. You have been awarded restitution, a refund, or other monetary award by an arbitrator or court, based on a violation of this chapter by an institution or representative of an institution, but have been unable to collect the award from the institution.
  7. You sought legal counsel that resulted in the cancellation of one or more of your student loans and have an invoice for services rendered and evidence of the cancellation of the student loan or loans. 

To qualify for STRF reimbursement, the application must be received within four (4) years from the date of the action or event that made the student eligible for recovery from STRF.

A student whose loan is revived by a loan holder or debt collector after a period of noncollection may, at any time, file a written application for recovery from STRF for the debt that would have otherwise been eligible for recovery. If it has been more than four (4) years since the action or event that made the student eligible, the student must have filed a written application for recovery within the original four (4) year period, unless the period has been extended by another act of law.

However, no claim can be paid to any student without a social security number or a taxpayer identification number.

Admissions

As a prospective student, you are encouraged to review this catalog prior to signing an enrollment agreement. You are also encouraged to review the School Performance Fact Sheet, which must be provided to you prior to signing an enrollment agreement.

Application Process

Admissions to the Central Coast Physician Assistant (CCPA) program is a multi-step process. Applicants apply to CCPA through the University directly, not through CASPA. Applications which meet the application requirements will qualify an applicant to interview. Interviews are conducted in three parts. After an applicant completes the interview process, a meeting of the CCPA Admissions Committee will review application materials and information gathered during interviews and award a seat in the program or decline to award a seat in the program.

It is advantageous for applicants to complete the admissions process in a timely manner, as seats in the program are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

The program prefers applications from those who are:

  • First generation college student
  • Hometown Scholar
  • Underrepresented minority student
  • Economically disadvantaged student

Step 1: Application

Applicants will submit an application to the University, https://apply.atsu.edu/. Upon receipt of a completed application, the University admissions department will verify the application demonstrates fulfillment of the application requirements. Applications which meet the program’s requirements will be forwarded to the program for interviews.

Step 2: Interviews

Interviews will be conducted online; no travel is required. Applicants living or traveling near an ATSU campus will not be able to interview in person. Interviews will proceed linearly through three parts.

Step 2a: Asynchronous Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs)

Applicants receive an invitation from the program by email to participate in self-paced MMIs using Canvas, the University’s learning management system. Applicants are supported by program staff during Step 2a. Completion of Step 2a is not structured or timed; applicants may be able to complete Step 2a in one day, or may take multiple days or weeks to complete all MMIs. Timeliness is advantageous to applicants.

Step 2b: Synchronous MMIs

Applicants who complete Step 2a will be invited in an email from the program to participate in Step 2b. Applicants are supported by program staff during Step 2b. Applicants sign up for one interview day and time and attend the interview in Zoom using a computer with a webcam and microphone. (Applicants do not need a Zoom account to attend.) This interview day will consist of multiple short interviews between an applicant and faculty person(s). Step 2b usually requires less than 2 hours to complete.

Step 2c: Directors Interview

Applicants who complete Step 2b will be invited in an email from the program to participate in Step 2c. Applicants are supported by program staff during Step 2c. Applicants sign up for one interview day and time and attend the interview in Zoom using a computer with a webcam and microphone. (Applicants do not need a Zoom account to attend.) This interview day will consist of one longer interview between the applicant and the program director and (when available) the medical director. Step 2c usually requires 1 hour or less to complete.

Step 3: Admissions Committee

Applicants who complete Step 2 (a, b, & c) will be advanced to Step 3 as considered applicants. The program faculty convene as the Admissions Committee and review information from each considered applicant’s submitted application, information from Step 2 interviews, and then recommends or declines awarding seats in the program based on this review of information.

Committee decisions will be communicated to applicants promptly. The program will establish a waitlist once all the seats for a cohort are filled.

Admissions Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled prior to application to the Central Coast Physician Assistant (CCPA) program:

  • Demonstrate a minimum 2.5 cumulative overall grade point average*
  • Demonstrate a minimum 2.5 cumulative science grade point average*
  • Successfully complete all prerequisite courses with a grade of “C” or higher**
    • Human Anatomy & Physiology with or without lab – 6 semester credits
    • Microbiology with or without lab – 3 semester credits
    • General Chemistry with or without lab – 6 semester credits
    • College Statistics – 3 semester credits
    • Medical Terminology – 1 semester credits
  • Complete an application through ATSU application service
  • Demonstrate graduate level proficiency in English, the program’s language of instruction, through the successful completion of a baccalaureate degree from a United States regionally accredited institution. ***

  • Provide three letters of recommendation through ATSU application service
    • One letter should be from a physician assistant who you have shadowed
    • One letter should be from another healthcare practitioner (DO, MD, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner) who can attest to your potential as a healthcare professional based on direct observation
    • One letter should come from a faculty member, employer, or supervisor

The following requirement must be fulfilled prior to matriculation to the ATSU-CCPA program:

  • Complete a baccalaureate degree from regionally accredited institution** with a minimum 2.5 cumulative overall grade point average*

* Grade point average calculated and reported on a 4.00 scale

** All prerequisite coursework and degree must be completed from a United States regionally accredited institution. Prerequisite courses completed at foreign or other institutions that are not regionally accredited in the United States are not accepted. Course and transcript evaluations of equivalency are not accepted. The Central Coast Physician Assistant Program (CCPAP) supports all educational experiences from either U.S. regionally accredited colleges and universities, by residential, hybrid, online instruction, or credit by examination.

*** CCPA does not provide English language services, including instruction such as ESL.

Application Recommendations

In addition to the requirements stated above, the CCPA program highly recommends applicants meet the following:

  • Patient care experience
    • Experience in healthcare delivery sufficient to be able to recognize the physical and psychological demands of dealing with patients and to appreciate the challenges and rewards of being a healthcare professional
  • Volunteering and/or community service
    • Providing social services to underserved or disadvantaged communities and/or persons
  • Medical mission experience
    • Providing medical services to underserved or disadvantaged communities and/or persons

Transferability of Credits

The transferability of credits you earn at A.T. Still University of Health Sciences is at the complete discretion of an institution to which you may seek to transfer. Acceptance of the degree you earn in Physician Assistant Studies is also at the complete discretion of the institution to which you may seek to transfer. If the credits or degree that you earn at this institution is not accepted at the institution to which you seek to transfer, you may be required to repeat some or all of your coursework at that institution. For this reason you should make certain that your attendance at this institution will meet your educational goals. This may include contacting an institution to which you may seek to transfer after attending A.T. Still University to determine if your credits or degree will transfer.

For more information, please visit the Transferability of ATSU Credits section in ATSU Policies .

Transfer Credit

CCPA does not offer advanced placement, prior experiential learning credits, or transfer credits. CCPA has not entered into any articulation or transfer agreements with any other college or university.

International Student Admission

Students who are non-citizens or not permanent residents of the United States are not eligible to apply for the CCPA program at this time.

Graduation Requirements

Students must successfully complete the items below in order to complete the program and progress to graduation.

  • Successfully completed all courses in the preclinical component
  • Gained patient exposure, evidenced by documentation of patient encounters, through supervised clinical experience with patients seeking:
    • Medical care across the life span to include infants, children, adolescents, adults and the elderly
    • Women’s health (including prenatal and gynecologic care)
    • Care for conditions requiring surgical management, including pre- operative, intra- operative, and post-operative care
  • Gained supervised clinical practice experience in settings including: outpatient, emergency department, inpatient and operating room
  • Completed supervised clinical practice experiences in the core areas of family medicine, internal medicine, surgery, women’s health, pediatric medicine, behavioral health, and emergency medicine
  • Successfully completed all courses in the clinical component
  • Achieved passing score on program summative exam within 4 months of anticipated graduation (in Transition to Practice Course)
  • Resolved outstanding deficits in the program’s professionalism expectations
  • Demonstrated meeting program competencies during program summative assessments
  • Completed the program in good academic standing

Curriculum

Students will spend one year on campus in Santa Maria for the pre-clinical phase of the program. Then, students will enter the clinical phase, including 35 weeks of supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPEs) in various medical disciplines. Students will spend the entire clinical phase primarily at one of the partnered Community Health Centers (CHC) located across the U.S.

Students are expected to complete their degree within the program’s standard plan of study. In circumstances where additional time is needed, and with approval of the program chair, students will have a maximum degree completion timeline of five (5) years from the time of initial enrollment. Failure to complete the degree program within the specified period will lead to a loss of some or the entire student’s previously earned course credits, or dismissal from the program.

Courses

Descriptions and Credit Values


Year 1, Fall Semester


Program begins the second block of the Fall Semester.

Year 3, Fall Semester


Program is completed after the first block of the Fall Semester.

Special Topics Courses


The Special Topics series courses are to be used for students requiring extra time to complete their training, due to factors such as need for remediation, deceleration, etc. Students may not enroll in these courses on their own, or request enrollment in a special topics course. The program is solely responsible for listing a special topics course and enrolling a student based on need.