Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program - residential
Physician assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Common services provided by physician assistants include taking medical histories and performing physical examinations, ordering and interpreting lab tests, prescribing medications, assisting in surgery and counseling patients. Physician assistants are trained through an intense education program.
Because of their close working relationship with physicians, physician assistants are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training. Upon graduation, physician assistants take a national certification examination developed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
Length of Program
The residential Physician Assistant Program is an entry-level, 26 month course of study that leads to a Master of Science degree upon successful completion. The curriculum includes 154 credit hours.
Tuition and Fees
Tuition is due four times a year at ATSU. It is due at the beginning of each quarter. The tuition amount due is one-fourth 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.
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|Class of 2020, year 1 (summer quarter)
|Class of 2020, year 1
|Class of 2019, year 2
ASHS’ MS in PA program participates in a centralized application processing service called the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Applications may be obtained through CASPA at www.caspaonline.org.
Please refer to the CASPA application instructions for specific details about completing the application, required documents, and processing time. Questions regarding the CASPA account may be directed to CASPA at 617.612.2080 or by email at email@example.com. All other questions may be sent to Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866.626.2878 ext. 2237.
The CASPA application cycle begins in mid-April of the academic year preceding the year in which the applicant plans to matriculate. A completed application must be submitted to CASPA by September 1. All secondary applications must be verified by November 1 to be considered.
Program enrollment is based on a rolling admissions policy. Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are received, thus applicants are encouraged to apply early.
Applicants for admission to the residential Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program must meet the following requirements prior to matriculation.
- Applicants are required to meet all ATSU and ASHS general admission requirements
- The applicant must have achieved a minimum 2.75 cumulative grade point average overall (3.00 or higher strongly recommended) and a minimum 2.75 cumulative science grade point average (3.00 or higher strongly recommended) on a 4.00 scale.
- Candidates accepted for admission to the ASHS PA Program will have earned a baccalaureate degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university (no equivalency will be accepted).
- Applicants must successfully complete all prerequisite courses with a grade of “C” or higher prior to the program start date. All prerequisite coursework must be completed from a regionally accredited institution (no equivalency will be accepted.)
- Human Anatomy with lab (recommended that course be completed within 5 years of application date) minimum 4 semester credits.
- Human Physiology with lab (recommended that course be completed within 5 years of application date) minimum 4 semester credits.
- If you have taken a combined Anatomy & Physiology course, you must have two or more semesters (each with lab).
- Microbiology (recommended that course be completed within 5 years of application date) minimum3 credits.
- Biochemistry - minimum3 credits
- College algebra or statistics - minimum 3 credits
- Medical Terminology (1-3 credits)
- Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation from professionals to CASPA. Please refer to the CASPA application instructions for specific guidelines and requirements for submitting letters of recommendation.
- The first letter should be from an employer or supervisor.
- The second letter should be from a healthcare practitioner (physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner).
- The third letter should come from a science faculty member.
- The Graduate Records Exam (GRE) is NOT required for admission.
- A minimum of 100 community service hours is strongly recommended.
- Applicants are strongly encouraged to obtain patient care experience, sufficient to recognize the physical and psychological demands of dealing with patients and to appreciate the challenges and rewards of being a healthcare professional.
- All students are required to demonstrate proficiency in English when applying to the Arizona School of Health Sciences, A.T Still University. See the ASHS English Proficiency section for more details.
- Applicants are expected to be computer literate and experienced in word processing. All curricula require extensive computer usage. Accepted applicants are required to have a laptop computer prior to the first day of class.
- See the Minimum Technology Specifications under the General Admission Requirements section.
NOTE: Applicants are responsible for notifying the Office of Admissions of any changes in their mailing address or email address. All requests for withdrawing an application must be done in writing via email, fax, or letter. Applicants are encouraged to check all email folders in the rare event our email is filtered into a spam or junk mail folder.
Applicants who are considered potential candidates will be required to visit ASHS to participate in an applicant interview process.
Minimal Technical Standards for PA
In addition to the technical standards established by the University that applies to all students, the program has established the following technical standards:
- Students must be able to observe and participate in all demonstrations, visual presentations in lectures and laboratories, and computer assisted instruction. In addition, students must be able to observe laboratory evidence and microbiologic cultures, microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states.
- Students must be able to observe patients accurately and completely, both at a distance and closely. This ability requires functional vision, hearing and somatic sensation.
- Students must be able to problem solve, collect, organize, prioritize, analyze and assimilate large amounts of technically detailed and complex information within a limited time frame. This information will be presented in a variety of educational settings, including lectures, small group discussions, and individual clinical settings. Students must be able to analyze, integrate, and apply this information appropriately for problem solving and decision-making.
- Students must be able to comprehend three dimensional relationships and the spatial relationships of structures.
- Students must have sufficient use of the senses of vision, hearing and smell necessary in order to elicit information, perceive nonverbal communications, and describe changes in mood, activity and posture in addition to the psychomotor abilities to allow the performance of all skills/tests in the physical exam. Students must be able to perform inspection, palpation, auscultation and percussion.
- Students must be able to relate to patients and family members and establish an empathetic, professional and effective relationship with patients and families including not only speech but reading and writing.
- Students are expected to be able to communicate the results of the examination to the patient and to their colleagues with accuracy, clarity, and efficiency in oral, written and electronic formats.
- Students are expected to possess the ability to work collaboratively with all members of the healthcare team.
- Students must have motor function sufficient to execute movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Such skills require coordination of gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and sensation.
- Students should be able to manipulate equipment and instruments to perform basic laboratory tests and procedures required to attain curricular goals (e.g. needles, stethoscope, ophthalmoscope, tongue blades, intravenous equipment, gynecologic speculum, and scalpel).
- Students must be able to transport themselves from one location to another in a timely fashion in order to facilitate patient care responsibilities and to receive educational training.
- Students must have the emotional health to fully use their intellectual ability, exercise good judgement, and complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients.
- Students must be able to tolerate physical, mental, and emotional stress in training and continue to function effectively.
- Students must possess qualities of adaptability, flexibility and be able to function in the face of uncertainty. A student must have a high level of compassion for others, motivation to serve, integrity, and a consciousness of social values.
- Students must possess sufficient interpersonal skills to interact positively with people from all levels of society, all ethnic backgrounds, and all belief systems.
- Students must be able to accept criticism and respond by appropriate modification of behavior.
- Students are expected to be able to display appropriate judgment in the assessment and treatment of patients. In addition, students must be able to learn and demonstrate the ability to recognize limitations in their knowledge, skills and abilities and to seek appropriate assistance with their identified limitations.
- Students are expected to possess perseverance, diligence, and consistency to complete the physician assistant curriculum and enter into the practice of medicine as a certified and licensed physician assistant.
To earn a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree, all residential students must:
- Complete all prescribed didactic and clinical courses and all requirements as listed in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies Policies, Procedures and Didactic Handbook and Clinical Component Handbook.
- Pass all courses and all comprehensive exams.
- Discharge all financial obligations to ATSU.
- Attend commencement activities.
The curriculum in the PA program includes didactic clinical experiences. The didactic year clinical experience program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to experience the real life application of the information they are being exposed to in the didactic curriculum. The program is also a chance for students to emulate experienced providers as role models in the application of effective interpersonal skills and patient education techniques to patient care. Students should also reflect upon their own emotions and non-clinical awareness and learning.
Body, Mind, and Spirit Seminar Series
The Body, Mind and Spirit Seminar series is a five course series (Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer) that exposes the student to seminal material germane to the role of the practicing physician assistant. Foundational topics in the following areas will be presented over the five terms in this course series: Professionalism (including intellectual honesty); Cross Culturalism and Care of Diverse Patient Populations; Interprofessional Team Concepts; Health Care Delivery Systems; Evaluation of the Medical Literature; Concepts of Public Health; Patient Safety and Prevention of Medical Errors; Ethical Practice; PA Professional Issues; Development and History of the PA Profession and Spirituality in Medicine.
It is important for the student to understand the relationships between material presented in this course and that presented in other courses and experiences in the curriculum. Material presented in one area should be recognized as complementary to and not apart from that presented in other arenas.
The course will present the student with opportunities to accomplish the stated objectives through a variety of methods that may include but are not limited to: lecture, discussion, simulated patient encounters, and performing case presentations. Collaborative and individual exercises will be used to promote retention of presented course material and also to simulate clinical situations to increase critical thinking skills.
- Body, Mind and Spirit I
- Body, Mind and Spirit II
- Body, Mind and Spirit III
- Body, Mind and Spirit IV
- Introduction to Body-Mind-Spirit Seminar
Clinical Medicine Practicum Series
The Clinical Medicine Practicum series is a four course sequence which places students in supervised clinical patient care settings throughout their didactic education. Students will learn the art of medicine from PAs, physicians, and other health care providers in a variety of care environments and specialities. Through a partnership with local rehabilitation centers, students will have the opportunity to complete comprehensive history and physical exams on patients with complex acute and chronic disease profiles, applying their didactic education as they learn. Students will provide readmission prevention patient education for cardiac patients and falls prevention for at-risk adults through ATSU’s Heart Failure Project and Falls Prevention Project.
- Clinical Medicine Practicum I
- Clinical Medicine Practicum II
- Clinical Medicine Practicum III
- Clinical Medicine Practicum IV
Clinical Medicine Series
The Clinical Medicine series is an eleven course series that provides physician assistant students a systems-based education on health promotion and disease prevention, and patient evaluation, diagnosis and management across the life span. Building upon the material that is presented in the foundations of medicine courses, each course in the clinical medicine series will provide instruction covering a system body system, developing an understanding of the pathophysiologic basis of disease (including genetics and molecular mechanisms of disease), generating systems-specific differential diagnoses, ordering and interpreting diagnostic studies, and formulating and implementing pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatment plans. Special emphasis will be given to the major principles of pharmacology, including concepts of drug absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination. Medications covered will include those most commonly used in the care and treatment of the system-specific conditions.
Students will be challenged to apply their knowledge through problem-based case scenarios to develop problem solving and medical decision-making skills in addition to completing written examinations. This program of study will prepare physician assistant students to provide preventive, emergent, acute, chronic, rehabilitative, palliative, and end-of-life care to prenatal, pediatric, adult, and elderly populations.
The Clinical Medicine series has been carefully organized to present material system by system to promote interaction of material from parallel courses in the curriculum, i.e. History and Physical, Pharmacology and Body, Mind &, Spirit.
- Clinical Medicine: Behavioral Health
- Clinical Medicine: Cardiology
- Clinical Medicine: Dermatology
- Clinical Medicine: EENT
- Clinical Medicine: Endocrinology
- Clinical Medicine: Gastroenterology
- Clinical Medicine: Musculoskeletal
- Clinical Medicine: Nephrology & Urology
- Clinical Medicine: Neurology
- Clinical Medicine: Pulmonology
- Clinical Medicine: Women’s Health
Clinical Skills Series
The Clinical Skills series is a four course sequence which provides hands-on training for clinical procedures common in current professional practice. Using low instructor-student ratios and medium- and high-fidelity manikins, students will gain familiarity with a range of clinical procedures while developing their bedside manner and confidence. Team-based care principles will be taught through formative simulation experiences. All students will obtain ACLS certification during this course sequence.
The Clinical Skills series has been carefully organized to present material system by system to promote interaction of material from parallel courses in the curriculum, i.e. Clinical Medicine, History & Physical, and Body, Mind, Spirit.
- Clinical Skills I
- Clinical Skills II
- Clinical Skills III
- Clinical Skills IV
History and Physical Examination Series
The History and Physical Examination series is a four course series that provides physician assistant students with techniques of taking a patient history and performing a physical examination. This course will also teach the PA student the proper use of medical diagnostic equipment, selected clinical procedures and effective skills for communicating with patients, their families and other health professionals. Students will learn and practice basic counseling and patient education skills. The courses will include classroom activities, laboratory sessions and clinical experiences.
Topics will be arranged on a systems basis and complement coursework in the clinical medicine lecture series to the extent possible by the logistics of scheduling. It is important for the student to understand the relationships between material presented in this course and that presented in other courses and experiences in the curriculum. Material presented in one area should be recognized as complementary to and not apart from that presented in other arenas.
The course will present the student with opportunities to accomplish the stated objectives through a variety of methods that may include but are not limited to: lecture, discussion, simulated patient encounters, writing the details of a complete history and physical examination, writing problem specific history and physical examinations in the SOAP note format, and performing case presentations and actual clinical experiences. Collaborative and individual exercises will be used to promote retention of presented course material and also to simulate clinical situations to increase critical thinking skills.
The History and Physical Examination series has been carefully organized to present material system by system to promote interaction of material from parallel courses in the curriculum, i.e. Clinical Medicine, Clinical Skills, and Body, Mind, Spirit.
- History & Physical Examination I
- History & Physical Examination II
- History & Physical Examination III
- History & Physical Examination IV
Supervised Clinical Practices Series
Clinical experiences will average approximately 40 hours per week on site, in patient-related care. Some clinical experiences may involve slightly shorter (no less than 36 hours per week) or longer hours (no more than 80 hours per week), evening, weekend or on-call responsibilities. The preceptor will determine the student’s onsite schedule and clinical responsibilities. Students must adhere to each clinical experience schedule and to all assignments developed by the preceptor. If this is not possible in any given week at a specific clinical site, the student is to notify the clinical team in advance.
Patient-related care includes evaluating and treating patients, charting and appropriate paperwork (written or electronic), case presentations, discussions with the preceptor, and other duties as applicable.
- Behavioral Health
- Emergency Medicine
- Family Medicine
- General Surgery
- Internal Medicine
- Transition to Practices
- Women’s Health
Matter of Balance Falls Prevention
This award winning national program is coordinated by the A.T. Still University (ATSU) Aging Studies Project. Students will participate in a full day training program and then be assigned to Interprofessional Experience (IPE) teams (where possible). Student teams will be placed throughout the greater Phoenix area to conduct the program.
The Heart Failure Project
This program is conducted in association with Banner Health and East Valley Adult Resources, Inc. to supply patient education post hospital discharge focused upon patient self-management and quality of life improvement with the goal of reducing readmission to the hospital for cardiac patients.
Following completion of an online training modules, students are assigned in pairs (IPE where able to deliver the program to an assigned specific patient and follow an approved written education script. It is expected that PA students will participate in the heart failure project two times in the course of the didactic year.