Physician Assistant
Bachelor of Science Degree (B.S.)

Physician assistants (PAs) are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. The clinical role of physician assistants includes primary and specialty care in medical and surgical settings in rural and urban areas. Students will learn to work successfully in the health care environment, provide treatment for patients, problem solve, and value their professionalism.

The role of the physician assistant demands intelligence, sound judgment, intellectual honesty, appropriate interpersonal skills and the capacity to react to emergencies in a calm and reasoned manner. An attitude of respect for others, adherence to the concepts of privilege and confidentiality in communicating with patients, and a commitment to the patient's welfare are essential attributes. Individuals who can meet those requirements and become physician assistants will be able to provide the following services:

  • EVALUATION
  • MONITORING
  • THERAPEUTICS
  • PATIENT EDUCATION
  • REFERRAL

A master's degree is offered to interested students via distance learning from NOVA Southeastern University.

Program Specs

Open House

Open House

Learn more
During Health Careers Camp, Physician Assistant students practice casting techniques with high school students as 'patient campers'.
A Physician Assistant student examines a patient’s ear to look for signs of infection.
A Physician Assistant student removing a cast during Health Careers Camp.

About the curriculum

Classes

View the classes you will be attending in the College Catalog.

Accreditation & Industry Connections

Program accreditation.

NCCPA Pass Rates

The NCCPA 5-year pass rate summary compares the pass rate of Penn College first time takers (PANCE) to the national average. Read More

After graduation

List of jobs via the College Catalog.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for physician assistants was $90,930 in May 2012. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $62,430, and the top 10 percent earned more than $124,770.

Industries with the highest levels of employment in this occupation:

Industry Employment Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Offices of Physicians 48,140 $44.73 $93,040
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 18,380 $45.01 $93,630
Outpatient Care Centers 6,040 $45.35 $94,330
Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation) 2,460 $40.27 $83,770
Employment Services 1,910 $46.98 $97,720

*Statistics reported in May 2012

Estimate of Expenses

Tuition and Costs

Refund Policy

Special Equipment Needs

Students accepted into the Physician Assistant major will incur expenses for tools/instruments, uniforms, malpractice insurance, clearances and certifications, etc. See the complete list.

Clubs & Activities

PA Club

Pre-PA students are encouraged to join the PA Club. All PA major students are expected to participate in PA Club activities and strongly encouraged to join the state and national PA societies – PSPA and SAAAPA.

View the entire student organizations listing or Greek Life listing.

Physician Assistant Program Technical Standards

All candidates accepted into the Physician Assistant major must have the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze and synthesize data. They must have functional use of the senses of vision, hearing, equilibrium and taste. Their exteroceptive and proprioceptive senses must be sufficiently intact to enable them to carry out all activities required for a rigorous education. Candidates must have the functional motor capabilities to meet the demands of PA education and the demands of total patient care. In the pursuit of academic and clinical responsibilities, students must exhibit flexibility, sensitivity and interpersonal maturity.

Observation

Candidates must have sufficient sensory capacity to observe in the lecture hall, the laboratory, the outpatient setting, and the patient's bedside. Sensory skills adequate to perform a physical examination are required. Functional vision, hearing and tactile sensation must be adequate to observe a patient's condition and to elicit information through procedures regularly required in a physical examination, such as inspection, auscultation and palpation.

Motor

The ability to participate in basic diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers and procedures (e.g. inspection, auscultation, palpation, and percussion) is required. Candidates must have sufficient motor function to execute movements required to provide routine and emergent care to patients. The strength and coordination necessary may include lifting patients and responding promptly to patients needs in emergency situations. Candidates must be able to negotiate patient care environments and must be able to move between settings, such as clinic, classroom building, and the hospital. Physical stamina sufficient to complete the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study is required. Long periods of sitting, standing, or moving are required in classroom, laboratory, and clinical internships.

Communication

Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively in both academic and health care settings. Candidates must show evidence of effective written, verbal, non-verbal and electronic communication skills. A candidate should be able to effectively speak and listen to patients in order to elicit information, perceive nonverbal communications, and discuss changes in mood, activity and status. Students must be able to communicate with patients and their families concerning the patient's needs in a sensitive and professional manner. Communication via oral, written, and electronic form with faculty, supervisors, and the health care team must be open, effective and efficient.

Intellectual

Candidates must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize. Problem solving, a critical skill demanded of Physician Assistants, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, candidates should be able to comprehend three‑dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures. Candidates must be able to read, appraise, analyze, critique, and understand medical literature. A candidate must be able to collect, organize, prioritize, analyze and assimilate large amounts of technically detailed and complex information within a limited time frame. In order to complete the Physician Assistant degree, candidates must be able to then analyze, integrate, and apply this information appropriately for problem solving and decision-making in patient care.

Behavioral and Social

Candidates must possess the emotional health and maturity required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the prompt completion of all academic and patient care responsibilities. The development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients, supervisors and other members of the health care team are essential. A candidate must possess the qualities of adaptability and flexibility and they must be able to function in the face of uncertainty.  Candidates must have a high level of compassion for others, motivation to serve, integrity, and a consciousness of social values. A candidate must possess the necessary interpersonal skills to interact positively with people from all levels of society, all ethnic backgrounds, and all belief systems. Moreover, students must be able to accept feedback and criticism and respond professionally to faculty and supervisors, including an appropriate modification of behavior.

Health and Safety Requirements

CPR Certification

The School of Health Sciences requires that all students be certified in Basic Life Support. All students are required to provide the program secretary a copy of the Basic Life Support (CPR) by August 15 of the didactic year the student is enrolled. Re-certification may be necessary if students are not certified through the American Heart Association course, which is valid for two years.

Health Requirements

All students entering into the PA major MUST fully comply with the following prior to the start date:

  1. Matriculating students must complete and submit the required Health Questionnaire and Physical Exam Form.
  2. Complete all the immunizations required, including titers.
  3. Submit documentation of health care coverage/insurance.

Student Participation in Evaluation of Faculty and Curriculum

Due to the School of Health Sciences’ desire for, and commitment to, improvement of the educational environment, we value student feedback. Students’ perceptions of the educational process provide much of the information to assess faculty, staff, courses, and internships.

It is critical to improve the quality of assessment and, therefore, the expectations exists that ALL students take assessment seriously and participate in the process. Because of the nature of the educational experience, all students in the PA major are REQUIRED to participate in assessments of courses, staff, faculty, and internships.

Confidentiality

It is essential that the confidentiality of patients, health care providers, and fellow students is adhered to at all times. Any discussions that occur during the educational process, including small group exercises, competency exams, and at clinical settings, must remain confidential unless explicitly instructed otherwise.

Discussing a patient’s medical condition, or providing any information to unauthorized persons, may have serious consequences for the disclosing party. Patients should not be discussed in public, with friends, or with families.

Medical records are also strictly confidential and may not be released to anyone except with the written consent of the patient or in other limited circumstances. Students who have access to medical records must be certain that care is taken to preserve the patient’s confidentiality. No medical charts may be removed from clinical internship sites.

Physician Assistant Program Malpractice / Health Insurance

Students are responsible for purchasing and maintaining both health and malpractice insurance coverage. The minimum acceptable coverage for professional liability is 1 million per incident and 6 million aggregate. Students must submit documentation of liability insurance coverage to the PA Program office at the start of the PA major. Documentation must be current; therefore, any changes in insurance coverage must be provided to the Program immediately. The PA Program can assist students in this endeavor once accepted into the major.

All Internships require professional liability insurance along with health and immunization information. The program must provide documentation to clinical preceptors 4-6 weeks prior to the start of the internship.

Please note that students without health or malpractice insurance cannot be permitted to participate in patient contact activities, and therefore cannot successfully complete the program.

Notice of Conviction

Notice of Conviction via the College Catalog.

Physician Assistant Advisory Committee

View Advisory Committee.

Advisory committees, which act as recommending bodies to the faculty and administration, consist of in-field professionals who act as partners in the development of curriculum. Their curricular and equipment advice as well as their industry connections and internship opportunities are invaluable to our students and to the growth of our institution.

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