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University of South Alabama
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USA Undergraduate/Graduate Bulletin 2011-2012


Chair: Zarrintaj Aliabadi (251) 445-9334
Medical Director: Thomas Martinko
Associate Professor: Henderson
Assistant Professors: Vetrosky, Abercrombie, Smith
Senior Instructor: Click
Department of Physician Assistant Studies web site
The Physician Assistant Program serves as an entry into the profession and is designed for the student who holds a baccalaureate degree. Although the student's undergraduate major is not specified, certain prerequisites are required. These prerequisites are delineated under the section "Prerequisite Requirements and Criteria for Admission."
The program is designed to prepare the student for Physician Assistant practice in a variety of clinical practice settings following graduation. The mission of the program is to educate highly qualified physician assistants who will provide quality health care services to the citizens of Alabama and the surrounding region.
Physician assistants are highly skilled practitioners who work under the general supervision of a physician. Physicians play a major role in the teaching program in order to assure that the patient-care provided by physician assistants is equivalent in quality to that of the physician. Physician assistants provide many medical services traditionally performed only by physicians. The services provided by physician assistants are both diagnostic and therapeutic. Diagnostic procedures can include taking medical histories, performing physical examinations, ordering and analyzing diagnostic studies such as laboratory tests, electrocardiograms and imaging studies. Therapeutic procedures such as suturing, removal of minor lesions and casting are also part of the services provided by physician assistants. Once diagnostic procedures are completed, the physician assistant reports pertinent findings to the supervising physician and develops a diagnosis. A treatment plan is implemented and appropriate referrals are made, if necessary, to other health professionals. Physician assistants are also able to prescribe medication in all 50 states.
Patient education and counseling are important aspects of a physician assistant's daily activities. Physician assistants educate and advise patients concerning disease prevention, health promotion, and help direct patients toward appropriate psychological and social resources.
The complete program consists of seven consecutive semesters (27 continuous months) of study and is divided into two components: The Preclinical Component and the Clinical Component. The Preclinical Component consists of four semesters (15 consecutive months) of basic and clinical medical sciences. The Clinical Component is three semesters (12 continuous months) in length and consists of clinical rotations in each of the major areas of medicine and surgery. During the clinical component, the student increases medical knowledge and refines clinical skills which are needed for professional practice as a physician assistant.
In addition to the academic standards of the Graduate School, any grade of "D" or lower will result in academic dismissal from the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. Withdrawal from any course in the Physician Assistant Program automatically results in dismissal from the program.
EARLY ADMISSION: Candidates who have a minimum GRE score of 1100 and GPA of 3.5 and meet all other prerequisite minimum requirements for admission may apply during the application period of May 1 to September 1. These students will be invited for an interview in October and notified of their status by November 1. All other applicants must apply by the deadline of November 1.
The application is a three-step process. The first step is to complete the online application via the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) at http://www.caspaonline.org. The deadline for applying through CASPA is November 1 (September 1 for Early Admission). Transcripts and references are considered part of the CASPA application and should be sent directly to them. The second step is to submit the supplemental application directly to the USA PA Program, with payment. The third step is to send GRE scores to institution code 1880. The deadline for submission of all application materials is November 1 (September 1 for Early Admission). Timely and complete submission of all required materials is the applicant's responsibility. Applicants are strongly encouraged to complete all application materials at least one month prior to the deadline. The supplemental application, along with other detailed information is available by visiting our web site at http://www.southalabama.edu/alliedhealth/pa. Prior to matriculation, international applicants must submit an application and meet the criteria for acceptance to the University as stipulated by the Office of International Services (http://www.southalabama.edu/intnatsrv/).
Listed below are minimum criteria including course prerequisites necessary to be considered for admission to the Physician Assistant Program. The Department of Physician Assistant Studies and the Office of Academic Advising can address questions concerning these prerequisites. All prerequisite and/or bonus courses, even if earned through advanced placement or experiential learning, must appear as an official course on a transcript from a regionally accredited institution. Transfer credits, or credit for experience learning cannot be substituted for any course in the program. No transfer credit is accepted from other PA Programs. The selection of students for entry into the program is competitive. Successful applicants will generally exceed the minimum criteria listed below for admission.
The following are minimum criteria for admission:
  1. Completion of a Baccalaureate degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for regular admissions and 3.5 for early admissions on a 4.0 scale from an accredited institution prior to the starting date of the program. Individuals with less than 3.0 GPA who are eligible for admission to the university's graduate school may apply and will be ranked with others.
  2. Coursework with a minimum grade of "C" in science and mathematics including the following: one semester each in general biology, anatomy, microbiology, organic chemistry, medical terminology, and physiology; two semesters in general chemistry (general chemistry 1 and general chemistry 2); one semester in mathematics (college level algebra minimum); one semester in psychology, one semester in statistics. Extra points will be given to applicants who have completed any of the following courses with a minimum grade of "C": immunology, genetics, biochemistry, physics, pathophysiology, and pharmacology.
  3. Completion of the verbal, quantitative and analytical writing components of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within the last 5 years. A minimum quantitative and verbal score of 1,000 for regular admissions and minimum quantitative and verbal score of 1100 for early admissions is required. The minimum GRE scores will be modified after August 2011, when the new GRE format is adopted. Official scores must be submitted electronically to the University (Institution Code 1880) before the application deadline. Students should plan to take the GRE no later than early October to ensure that official scores are received by the November 1st deadline.
  4. At least one of the three required references must be from a Medical Doctor (MD), Doctor of Osteopathy (DO), or Physician Assistant (PA) and can be submitted directly to CASPA when completing your application.
  5. Interview: Following the initial review of applications, a limited number of applicants will be invited for a personal interview. Verbal and written communication skills and previous healthcare experience will be assessed during the interview. The interview score is an important component for determining admission to the program.
  6. Residents of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in Florida, and George, Green, Harrison, Jackson, Perry and Stone counties in Mississippi live within the 50-mile Service Area and qualify for in-state tuition.
  7. The program does not offer advanced placement.
Technical Standards, which are fundamental tasks that must be performed to successfully complete the program, have been outlined and are available upon request from the program and on the department web site.

Twenty-seven consecutive months.

Mid-May of each year.
The program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA). Graduates are eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). Certification is required by most State Boards of Medical Examiners to practice as a PA.
The program consists of preclinical and clinical components. The preclinical component is designed to provide a solid foundation for the clinical component. During the clinical component the student refines the medical knowledge and clinical skills needed for professional practice. Successful completion of the program requires that the student be able to:
  • complete 121 hours of graduate coursework consisting of 73 credit hours of preclinical coursework and 48 credit hours of clinical coursework.
  • obtain an accurate and detailed patient history.
  • perform complete and focused physical examinations.
  • establish working and differential diagnosis.
  • order and interpret diagnostic evaluations to include: (a) laboratory tests (blood, urine, spinal fluids, cultures); (b) imaging studies (plain film radiography, radiographic contrast studies, ultrasound studies, computerized tomography studies, and MRI studies) and (c) electrocardiogram.
  • develop and manage a treatment plan.
  • record patient data: (a) written notes and charting and (b) electronic medical record.
  • order and/or administer therapeutic medications (a) in hospitals and clinics and (b) via written or electronic prescription.
  • perform therapeutic medical interventions and procedures.
  • council and educate patients regarding medical, therapeutic, and behavioral problems.
  • interact with patients and the medical community in a professional manner.
  • make appropriate referrals.
Graduates are expected to demonstrate the highest level of professionalism, be able to provide excellent comprehensive patient care and have the highest level of medical knowledge and communication skills as outlined by the competencies for Physician Assistant Profession, http://nccpa.net/PAC/competencies_home.AspX.
Program requirements and course sequence are listed below.
Preclinical Component
Summer   Fall  
PA 510
  PA 520
PA 511
  PA 521
PA 512
  PA 522
  PA 523
    PA 524 1  
Spring   Summer  
PA 530
  PA 540
PA 531
  PA 541
PA 532
  PA 542
PA 533 1    
Clinical Component
Fall, Spring and Summer
PA 550 (4 wks)
  PA 560 (8 wks)
PA 555 (4 wks) 4   PA 580 (4 wks)
PA 570 (8 wks)
  PA 591 (4 wks)
PA 590 (4 wks)
  PA 593 (4 wks)
PA 592 (4 wks)
  PA 595  
PA 594  
At least 16 weeks of the clinical rotations must serve rural/urban underserved populations.
Students admitted in the Physician Assistant program will be charged a matriculation deposit of $500 required to secure a seat in the entering class. This amount is not refundable but will be applied towards tuition expenses after registration.
GTA Fee: $100 (one time charge).
Lab Fee for Human Gross Anatomy: $275.00 (one time charge).
The most current estimates for tuition and fees required for attending the program is found on, http://www.southalabama.edu/studentaccounting/tuition.html. In addition to USA tuition and fees, students are responsible for department-specific fees and can expect expenses associated with textbooks, food and lodging. Students will also be required to purchase their own laboratory coats, stethoscope, otoscope, ophthalmoscope, sphygmomanometer and blood pressure cuff, soft reflex hammer, and tuning forks. Also, students should anticipate extra expenses, particularly related to housing and transportation, during the clinical year.
The University reserves the right to change tuition and fees, as deemed necessary by the Board of Trustees, without prior notice.

University of South Alabama - Mobile Alabama 36688-0002 / 1 (251) 460-6101
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Date last changed: February 28, 2011 4:15 PM

University of South Alabama