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MUSC Bulletin | College of Health Professions

Physician Assistant Studies | Curriculum

The Physician Assistant Studies Program curriculum is a 27-month masters program which meets qualifications for sitting for the national physician assistant licensure examination.  Ninety-one semester hours of prerequisite requirements, as described previously, will provide both the general education orientation and the foundation courses required for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. After admission, the student will complete a 109-hour professional curriculum at the Medical University of South Carolina to meet degree requirements.

The professional curriculum is divided into two separate and distinct phases.  The didactic phase represents fifteen months (four semesters) of numerous courses in addition to clinical and laboratory work.  Courses offered include many of the basic medical science areas: physiology, anatomy, and pharmacology. The pre-clinical content areas include: physical diagnosis and interviewing skills, fundamentals of clinical medicine, pharmacotherapeutics, pathophysiology, pediatrics, research methods, patient evaluation and clinical problem-solving skills. An effort is made to integrate related medical subjects to provide sequential lectures, laboratory, and clinical experience. Behavioral sciences are emphasized in context with special attention to courses in medical ethics and professionalism. Coursework related to cultural diversity, medical decision-making, research methodologies, and the business of medicine enhance the disease focused topics covered throughout the curriculum. The Introduction to the PA Profession course is designed to provide the PA student an understanding of the origin and development of the PA concept, analysis of the health care systems, legal considerations, PA utilization, state laws, and role acceptance. In addition to the traditional lecture-presentation format, students will be assisted in achieving specific course objectives using a variety of instructional techniques including laboratory exercises, demonstrations, web-based instruction, small group problem solving, and audiovisual materials. The acquisition of clinical problem-solving skills is facilitated by a course utilizing problem-based learning.

In the second phase, or the clinical phase (3 semesters), the PA student completes 45 weeks of clinical clerkships. The clinical component is designed to facilitate the student’s application of the theoretical knowledge to practical situations in the evaluation of patient problems, and to allow the student to interact with patients and practitioners in a variety of settings.  Students are assigned to office practice settings, ambulatory care units, inpatient services, emergency services, and mental health agencies.

Student progress and patient activities are monitored by responsible physician, physician assistant, and/or nurse practitioner supervision.  Each clinical clerkship and preceptorship requires a student performance evaluation, which is completed by the supervising clinician. Clinical clerkship areas consist of internal medicine, women’s health, family medicine, pediatrics, mental health, surgery, emergency medicine, a primary care elective, and an elective preceptorship.

The didactic and clinical phases of the program emphasize primary health care delivery and the use of physician assistants as members of the medical team.

Clinical resources and facilities at the Medical University complement and enhance the desired learning experiences sought for PA education.  In addition to the teaching resources of the Medical University of South Carolina, the program assigns students to a variety of medical practices located in South Carolina for support of the clinical educational experience.  In addition, with the assistance of the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and Office of Rural Health, the program assigns students in designated underserved areas for selected clerkships and preceptorships.


Summer SemesterCredits
PA-606Human Anatomy6
PA-607Introduction to the PA Profession1
PA-632Principles of Pharmacology1
PA-643Human Physiology & Basic Pathophysiologic Concepts2
PA-630Bioethics and Behavioral Medicine1
Fall Semester
PA-614Fundamentals of Clinical Medicine I4
PA-617Clinical Problem Solving I1
PA-627Physical Diagnosis & Clinical Applications I4
PA-640Community Health and Preventive Medicine2
PA-695Research Methods for Health Professionals       3
PA-624Pharmacotherapeutics I2
PA-662Pathophysiology I2
Spring Semester
PA-615Fundamentals of Clinical Medicine II4
PA-618Clinical Problem Solving II1
PA-625Pharmacotherapeutics II2
PA-628Physical Diagnosis & Clinical Applications II4
PA-646Pediatrics I3
PA-690Graduate Project I1
PA-663Pathophysiology II2
IP-710Transforming Healthcare2
Summer Semester
PA-616Fundamentals of Clinical Medicine III3
PA-619Clinical Problem Solving III1
PA-626Pharmacotherapeutics III2
PA-650Emergency Medicine and Surgical Care4
PA-648Pediatrics II1
PA-691Graduate Project II1
Total Didactic Credits                     62
Clinical YearCredits
PA-635Rural Interprofessional Student Experience(RISE)2
PA-670Clinical Clerkship I5
PA-672Clinical Clerkship II5
PA-674Clinical Clerkship III5
PA-676Clinical Clerkship IV5
PA-678Clinical Clerkship V5
PA-679Clinical Clerkship VI5
PA-680Clinical Clerkship VII5
PA-682Clinical Clerkship VIII5
PA-685Clinical Clerkship Elective5
PA-692 Graduate Project III                                 1


Total Curriculum Credits 109
Last Published with Edits:July 7, 2014 1:29 PM
Last Comprehensive Review: July 2014

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