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Degree Requirements 2018-2019

Mission

The mission of the Augsburg University PA Program 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remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards.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 27 months long with studies beginning each year in the summer semester (late May or early June). The program accepts up to 33 students for each new class. Graduates will receive a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and a PA certificate.

Approximately 15 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 will gain clinical experience in family medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, behavioral health, emergency medicine, internal medicine, surgery, and various specialties. The clinical phase will culminate with a preceptorship that is designed to solidify the student’s skills. Clinical instructors include Physicians, PAs and other health care providers.

 

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

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 27-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 Augsburg University PA Program Supplemental Application
  • Completed the prerequisite courses listed below

Prerequisite Courses

To be an eligible applicant for the PA 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.

The following six (6) prerequisite courses must be completed with grades of C or higher at a regionally accredited two-year or four-year college or university (within the timeline specific to your degree status as defined below).

  • 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.

  • Online prerequisite courses from accredited institutions are also accepted.
  • Prerequisites must have been completed within 10 years of the start date of the program and, in general, must be completed by May 1 of the year of matriculation.
  • The Augsburg PA Program does NOT accept advanced placement (AP credit) or experiential learning in place of required prerequisite courses.
  • GRE and MCAT are not required for application to this program.

Strongly Recommended

Highly competitive applicants to the Augsburg PA Program will also have:

  • Direct patient care experience. This 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

PA Program Application Process

The Augsburg PA Program has a two-step application process—first applying through CASPA and then through the Augsburg University PA Program supplemental application.

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 completed the Augsburg University supplemental application, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 at the time of application (as calculated by CASPA), have a minimum science GPA of 3.0 at the time of application (as calculated by CASPA), have completed or will complete your undergraduate degree prior to the start date of the program, and 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 and is calculated by CASPA. 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 applicants will be reviewed by the admissions committee.

The admissions 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 application review, candidates are selected for an interview. The interviews are generally conducted during the fall months. Candidates come to campus to interview with program faculty, staff, and current students, and to view the St. Paul campus.

As interviews are completed, seats in the incoming class are offered. 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 the inability to participate in clinical rotations, failure to obtain licensure, and/or 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

All PA students must possess those intellectual, ethical, physical, and emotional capabilities necessary to undertake and achieve levels of competence in the full curriculum required by the faculty. A stated intention to only practice in a narrow field of medicine does not alter the requirement that all students take and achieve full competence across the entire curriculum.

Essential characteristics and abilities prescribed here are requisite for admission, promotion and graduation from the program. All matriculates, students and graduates must meet all prescribed essential characteristics and abilities, either with or without reasonable accommodations.

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 PA Program at Augsburg University must have, with or without reasonable accommodation, multiple abilities and skills including: perception/observation, communication, motor/tactile function, cognition, and behavioral and social attributes.

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)
  • Patient encounters (at a distance and close at hand)
  • 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. These communication skills must enable the candidate to obtain a medical history in a timely fashion from a wide variety of patients, and to communicate effectively, efficiently and sensitively with faculty, fellow students, all members of the health care team, other professionals, patients and their families. The student must be able to produce a written write-up in the clinical rotations, which includes patient history, physical exam and assessment. Also, the candidate must be able to comprehend written material sufficiently well to understand accurately common medical records, laboratory reports, and pharmacological prescriptions.

Specifically, students are expected to:

  • Received communication
  • Observe changes in mood, activity and posture
  • Perceive nonverbal affective and gesture communication
  • 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
  • Dissect cadavers
  • Examine gross specimens in gross anatomy and pathology laboratories
  • Prepare microbiologic cultures, and microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states (e.g., streak plates, perform gram stains and use a microscope) necessary for such studies
  • Observe gross and microscopic structures necessitates the functional use of the senses of vision and touch and is enhanced by the functional sense of smell
  • Perform a complete physical examination, including observation, palpation and percussion and auscultation
  • Use instruments such as, but not limited to, a stethoscope, an ophthalmoscope, an otoscope, and a sphygmomanometer
  • Perform basic laboratory tests, using a calculator and a computer, placing electrodes and reading an EKG, and interpreting common imaging tests
  • Function in outpatient, inpatient, and surgical venues (standing in a sterile environment and gown while actively assisting the surgical team)
  • Move in the clinical setting so as to act quickly in emergencies
  • Perform clinical procedures such as, but not limited to, the following: pelvic examination, genital examination, digital rectal examination, drawing blood from veins and arteries and giving intravenous injections, basic cardiopulmonary life support, spinal puncture, suturing and wound care, casting/splinting, and simple obstetrical procedures

Cognition

Students must have sufficient cognitive (mental) capacities to assimilate the technically detailed and complex information presented in formal lectures, small group discussions, medical literature and individual teaching settings and in clinical settings.

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

  • Rational thought
  • Measurement
  • Calculation
  • Conceptualization
  • Analysis of information
  • Synthesis of information
  • Organization of information
  • Representation (oral, written, diagrammatic)
  • Appreciate three dimensional spatial relationships among structures
  • Appreciate logical sequential relationships among events
  • Memory
  • Application
  • Clinical reasoning (form and test hypotheses in order to enable effective and timely problem-solving in diagnosis and treatment of patients)
  • Ethical reasoning
  • Sound judgment

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Students must possess the emotional health and maturity 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
  • Positively represent the Augsburg University PA Program and the PA Profession

Documentation of a Disability

The Augsburg University PA Program is committed to the admission and matriculation of qualified students. Augsburg University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religious belief, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, familial status, genetic information, status with regard to public assistance, or citizenship in its educational policies, admissions policies, employment, scholarship and loan programs, athletic and/or school-administered programs, except in those instances where there is a bona fide occupational qualification or to comply with state or federal law.

The PA Program will not discriminate against such individuals who are otherwise qualified but will expect all applicants and students to meet the published 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 reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities or temporary conditions. If you have ADHD, a mental health disability, a learning disability, a physical/sensory impairment, a chronic health condition, are on the autism spectrum, or have another disability, the CLASS office can provide you with reasonable accommodations and support.

Disability Specialists provide:

  • Determination of appropriate accommodations
  • Individual support
  • Instruction in learning strategies
  • Help with time management and organizational skills
  • Assistance with course selection

Accommodations may include:

  • Alternative testing (extended time, limited distraction)
  • Assistive technology
  • Alternative format textbooks and course materials
  • Notetaking support
  • Housing accommodations
  • Classroom accommodations

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

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 directly to the CLASS office. We encourage students to seek support early. Each student’s requests will be evaluated on an individual basis.

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

Advanced Placement and Experiential Learning Policy

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

The Augsburg PA Program does not award academic credit to an individual for experiential learning. Applicants desiring admission to the Augsburg 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 Augsburg PA 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 PA 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.

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.