Degree Requirements 2017-2018

Mission

The mission of the Augsburg University Department of Physician Assistant Studies is based on a foundation of respect and sensitivity to persons of all cultures and backgrounds and oriented toward providing care to underserved populations. Students are well educated in current medical theory and practice, and graduates are encouraged to work in primary care settings. The program promotes dedication to excellence in performance, with the highest standards of ethics and integrity, and commitment to lifelong personal and professional development.

Accreditation

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Continued Accreditation to the Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Augsburg University. Continued accreditation is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.

Continued Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next comprehensive review of the program by ARC-PA will be Spring 2019.

About PA

As defined by the American Academy of Physician Assistants:

“PAs are health professionals licensed or, in the case of those employed by the federal government, credentialed to practice medicine in association with designated collaborating physicians. PAs are qualified by graduation from an accredited PA educational program and/or certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants … Within the physician-PA relationship, PAs provide patient-centered medical care services as a member of a healthcare team. PAs practice with defined levels of autonomy and exercise independent medical decision making within their scope of practice.”

In the state of Minnesota, a PA is licensed with the Board of Medical Practice. In Minnesota, and most other states, the PA must be NCCPA (National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants) certified and hold a delegation agreement with a licensed physician.

Curriculum

The Physician Assistant program at Augsburg is 28 months long with studies beginning each year in the summer semester (late May or early June). The program accepts up to 30 students for each new class. Graduates will receive a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and a PA certificate.

Approximately 16 months of the program is didactic, or classroom work, including courses in human gross anatomy, pathophysiology, clinical medicine, pharmacotherapy, history and physical exam skills, research, and professional issues. The academic phase of the program also includes development of practical skills through the use of case studies, simulated patients, and technical skills workshops (i.e. suturing, casting/splinting).

The clinical phase is completed in approximately 12 months. The clinical phase of the program is designed to effectively train students for practice by providing them with rotation experiences in different specialties and a variety of practice settings. To that end, each student will be required to complete rotations outside the metropolitan area. Each student is required to successfully complete clinical rotations in family medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, behavioral health, emergency medicine, internal medicine, surgery, and two elective rotations by choosing from various specialties. The clinical phase will culminate with a preceptorship that is designed to solidify the student’s skills and potentially place them in a setting that might be interested in recruiting a graduate PA. Clinical instructors include Physicians, Physician Assistants and other health care providers.

 

A student will be required to complete the clinical phase at site(s) determined by the Program to provide the student with the best educational experience. Clinical rotation sites will be located throughout the state of MN and other cities in the 5 state area.

The Augsburg PA program includes time away from the program at varying times which may or may not differ from the traditional breaks at Augsburg University; these breaks contribute to the overall 28 month length of the program.

PA Program Sample Calendar

YEAR 1

Summer

PA 501 – Human Anatomy and Neuroanatomy

PA 503 – Human Pathophysiology

Fall

PA 511 – History and Physical Exam Skills I

PA 521 – Pharmacotherapy I

PA 531 – Clinical Medicine I

PA 542 – Professional Issues

PA 546 – Clinical Practice Seminar I

Spring

PA 512 – History and Physical Exam Skills II

PA 522 – Pharmacotherapy II

PA 532 – Clinical Medicine II

PA 547 – Clinical Practice Seminar II

PA 555 – Research Tools for the Physician Assistant

YEAR 2

Summer

PA 533 – Clinical Medicine III

PA 545 – Clinical Phase Transition

Master’s Project course, one of the following*:

PA 599 – Directed Study

ML 577 – International Experience

Fall

PA 6XX – Clinical Rotations 1, 2, 3

Spring

PA 6XX – Clinical Rotations 4, 5, 6

YEAR 3

Summer

PA 6XX – Clinical Rotations 7, 8

PA 62X – Preceptorship

PA 690 – Capstone

*Other program-approved options may be available

For a complete list of courses and descriptions, see the Course Description Search.

Admission to the PA Program

Admission Requirements

Complete and current-year admission guidelines can be found on our website at www.augsburg.edu/pa.

Admission to any physician assistant program is a highly competitive process.

Qualified applicants will have:

  • Bachelor’s degree (in any major) from a regionally-accredited four-year institution
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 as calculated by CASPA at the time of application
  • Minimum science GPA of 3.0 as calculated by CASPA at the time of application
  • Completed the prerequisite courses listed below

Prerequisite Courses

To be an eligible applicant for the physician assistant studies program, you must have completed the prerequisite courses listed below. These courses must have been completed within 10 years of the year you are applying for admission.

Applicants completing their first undergraduate degree in the spring term may complete prerequisite coursework in the summer, fall, and spring term of the academic year they apply as long as the degree and prerequisite coursework will be completed by the start date for the program. Applicants who already have an undergraduate degree, or who will complete their degree in a term other than spring, have the summer and fall semesters of the year they apply by which to complete prerequisites.

All course prerequisites must have been passed with a grade of C or higher. Meeting minimum prerequisites does not guarantee admission into the program.

  • One full course of psychology
  • One full course of physiology* (human/vertebrate/organ)
  • One full course of microbiology*
  • One full course of biochemistry*
  • One full course of statistics
  • One course of medical terminology

*Labs are recommended but not required.

The following are strongly recommended but not required:

  • Direct patient care is the best type of experience to obtain in order to strengthen an application. We recommend at least 2000 hours of paid, direct, hands-on clinical patient care to be competitive in this category.
  • Additional science courses such as anatomy, genetics, immunology, other biology courses, and organic chemistry
  • Demonstration of motivation for the PA profession by formally shadowing a PA or other health care provider.
  • Demonstration of a commitment to, and involvement with, underserved communities

Note: The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required.

PA Studies Application Process

The Augsburg Physician Assistant Studies program has a two-step application process—applying through CASPA and to Augsburg’s PA Studies Program.

The Augsburg PA Program participates in the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) which is sponsored by the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). All applications to the PA Program for the entering class must be processed through CASPA, following all guidelines and regulations set forth by CASPA. Application forms with detailed instructions can be obtained online at portal.caspaonline.org.

You will be considered an eligible applicant if you have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 at the time of application (as calculated by CASPA), if you have a minimum science GPA of 3.0 at the time of application (as calculated by CASPA), if you have completed or will complete your undergraduate degree prior to the start date of the program, and if you have completed or will complete your prerequisite courses within the timeline specified for your degree status.

Additional Application Details:

The Augsburg PA Program requires three letters of recommendation submitted through the CASPA process. We strongly recommend that one be from an employer/colleague (a professional reference), one letter be from a professor or adviser (an academic reference), and the third from a person of your choice. Be sure that your letter writers are able to tell the committee about you as well as his/her experiences with you and observations about you.

Your Supplemental Application must be submitted electronically on or before August 1 in order to be considered.

We use the CASPA “Complete Date” to determine if you have met the application deadline of August 1. The “Complete Date” on your application must be August 1 or prior in order to be considered meeting the deadline. CASPA assigns a “Complete Date’ when they have received your electronic application, transcripts from all schools attended, 2 of your 3 letters of reference, and payment. Until those criteria are met, your application will not be given a “Complete Date.”

Your GPA (cumulative and science) is set at the time of your CASPA submission. The Augsburg PA Program will not recalculate GPAs as additional coursework is completed post CASPA submission. We will request grade reports for your prerequisite courses and add them to your file as they are completed, but your official GPA, as calculated by CASPA, will be the GPA of record for your application.

Selection Process

Competitive files will be reviewed by the admissions committee.

The selection committee looks for a balanced application by reviewing key criteria such as cumulative GPA, science GPA, and direct patient care experience followed by overall academic record, service to underserved (meaning disadvantaged, minority, or underrepresented populations), essay responses, knowledge of the profession, fit with the program goals and mission, and recommendation letters.

As the committee completes file review, candidates are selected for an interview. The interviews are generally conducted during the months of October, November, and January. Candidates come to campus to meet program faculty, staff and current students, and to view the facilities.

As interviews are completed, seats in the incoming class are offered. The cohort class will be filled between the months of October and May. A list of alternates will be selected in January to fill seats that accepted candidates may not claim. All applicants are notified of their final status by mid-February.

Accepted candidates must complete and pass a background check prior to matriculation and annually through the program. Failure of the background check may result in dismissal from the program.

Academic Policies

Please see the PA program website at www.augsburg.edu/pa for further details about policies outlined here.

Technical Standards

The physician assistant must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. They must be able to integrate all information received by whatever sense(s) employed, consistently, quickly, and accurately, and they must have the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data.

Candidates for physician assistant certification offered by the Physician Assistant Studies Department at Augsburg University must have, with or without reasonable accommodation, multiple abilities and skills including: perception/observation, communication, motor/tactile function, cognition and professionalism.

Candidates for admission and progression must be able to perform these abilities and skills in a reasonably independent manner.

Perception/observation

Students must be able to perceive, by the use of senses and mental abilities, the presentation of information through:

  • Small group discussions and presentations
  • Large-group lectures
  • One-on-one interactions,
  • Demonstrations (physical exam maneuvers)
  • Laboratory experiments (cadaver dissection)
  • Patient encounters (at a distance and close at hand)
  • Diagnostic findings (EKGs, laboratory results, x-rays and ultrasound)
  • Procedures (suturing, casting/splinting, IV access))
  • Written material (powerpoints, textbooks, and readings)
  • Audiovisual material (slides, medical videos)

Communication

Students must be able to skillfully communicate (in English) verbally and in written form with faculty members, other members of the healthcare team, patients, families, and other students, in order to:

  • Elicit information
  • Convey information
  • Clarify information
  • Create rapport
  • Develop therapeutic relationships
  • Demonstrate competencies

Motor/tactile function

Students must have sufficient motor function and tactile ability to meet the competencies required for graduation and to:

  • Attend (and participate in) classes, groups, and activities which are part of the curriculum
  • Communicate in a written format
  • Examine patients (including observation, auscultation, palpation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers)
  • Do basic laboratory procedures and tests
  • Perform diagnostic procedures
  • Provide general and emergency patient care (airway management, placement of intravenous catheters, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and application of pressure to control bleeding)
  • Function in outpatient, inpatient, and surgical venues (standing and actively assisting the surgical team)
  • Perform in a reasonably independent and competent way in sometimes stressful clinical environments

Cognition

Students must be able to demonstrate higher-level cognitive abilities, which include:

  • Rational thought
  • Measurement
  • Calculation
  • Visual-spatial comprehension
  • Conceptualization
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Organization
  • Representation (oral, written, diagrammatic, three dimensional)
  • Memory
  • Application
  • Clinical reasoning
  • Ethical reasoning
  • Sound judgment

Professionalism

Students must possess the emotional health required for the full utilization of their intellectual abilities, for the exercise of good judgment, for the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and for the development of effective relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of patients. In summary, PA students must be able to:

  • Consistently display integrity, honesty, empathy, caring, fairness, respect for self and others, diligence, and dedication
  • Promptly complete all assignments and responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients
  • Develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships, not only with patients but with all members of the Augsburg community and healthcare teams
  • Tolerate physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding workloads
  • Function effectively under stress, and proactively make use of available resources to help maintain both physical and mental health
  • Take responsibility for themselves and their behaviors

Documentation of a Disability

The Augsburg University Department of Physician Assistant Studies is pledged to the admission and matriculation of qualified students and wishes to acknowledge awareness of laws which prohibit discrimination against anyone on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age or disability.

Regarding disabled individuals, the Physician Assistant Studies department will not discriminate against such individuals who are otherwise qualified but will expect all applicants and students to meet certain minimal technical standards.

All Augsburg students have been accepted by the college based on their ability to succeed academically and are required to meet the same academic and technical standards. Disability Resources (CLASS Office) provides academic support and accommodations to students with disabilities or temporary conditions. Accessing accommodations is an ongoing and interactive process where information can be gathered from the student and from other relevant sources. We ask that students interview with a Disability Specialist to discuss their requests. We prefer students to present any documentation that describes their disability and the impact on educational experiences and in the educational environment early in the process. Each student’s requests will be evaluated on an individual basis.

The purpose of documentation is to assist in providing information and understanding about how the courses or facilities might present barriers and to what degree the disability affects the student, and to plan for accommodations to facilitate access.

Some Examples of Disabilities

  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD)
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Psychiatric Disabilities
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Head Injury/Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Physical Disabilities and Systemic Illnesses
  • Deafness/Hearing Impairment
  • Blindness/Low Vision
  • Disabilities that are sporadic or degenerative in nature
  • Temporary conditions

The first step in accessing services is to call CLASS to schedule an appointment with a Disability Specialist, (612) 330-1053.

Experiential Learning Policy

The Augsburg Physician Assistant Program does not award academic credit to an individual for experiential learning. Applicants desiring admission to Augsburg’s PA Program must satisfactorily complete all prerequisite courses. Experiential learning will be considered separately from prerequisite courses. Experiential learning prior to and during admittance to the Augsburg PA Program will not substitute for any part of the clinical phase.

Employment while in the Program

Program faculty discourage outside employment while in the Physician Assistant Program. Faculty recognize that employment may be an issue that some students will face. Given this recognition, realize that program obligations will not be altered due to a student’s work obligations. It is further expected that work obligations will not interfere with the physician assistant students’ learning progress or responsibilities while in the program.

Withdrawal and Readmission Policies

Voluntary withdrawal from the Physician Assistant Program may be initiated by a student after submission of a letter to the Program Director requesting withdrawal. In the letter, the student should outline the circumstances and reasons for withdrawal. Students will be requested to conduct an exit interview with the Program Director prior to leaving the program. For information on withdrawal, see the Academic Policies section.

Readmission

Students may request readmission after voluntary withdrawal by submitting a letter to the Program Director stating the reasons the student wishes readmission and the anticipated date for readmission. The submission of a letter and previous enrollment does not constitute automatic acceptance and/or reentry into the program. Reapplication to the PA Program after dismissal from the program will be considered only under extremely unusual circumstances.

For the full readmission policy and reapplication process, please contact the program.

Advanced Placement

The Department of PA Studies does not offer advanced placement to admitted students. All students admitted to the PA Program must complete the entire curriculum.

Costs of the PA Program

For tuition information, go to www.augsburg.edu/pa.

For complete and current payment options go to the Student Financial Services website at www.augsburg.edu/studentfinancial.