PA Curriculum

  • Pre-PA Curriculum Years

    • For the first three years, Saint Francis University Physician Assistant 5-yr students prepare for the PA curriculum phase of their training. This training is designed to provide a solid foundation in the preparatory science courses, introduction to medicine classes and all the components for a liberal arts education.
    • Provides the students with the knowledge base required to be successful in the professional phase of the Program.
    • The arrangement of the introductory PA courses allows for role concept and knowledge base development, while providing a bridge to the professional phase of the curriculum.
    • Requires completion of 100 hours of health care experience (volunteer or paid) prior to entry into the professional phase. This experience will help to develop a role concept by providing a clinical PA role model to emulate; 40 of the 100 hours must be spent working with a PA.

    Didactic and Clinical Years

    • Consists of three didactic semesters and three clinical semesters (see below).
    • The didactic portion commences in the summer semester (late May, early June)and proceeds through the following spring.
    • The clinical portion begins with the subsequent summer semester and includes 45 weeks of clinical rotations.
    • A continually evolving curriculum that provide students with new modes of learning experiences that supplement the traditional lecture format. Among these are:
      • small-group critical-thinking sessions
      • simulated patient encounters
      • stress management seminars
      • student/faculty feedback sessions
      • alternative/complementary medicine lectures
    • Various components of the didactic curriculum are integrated to develop a holistic approach to the delivery of primary patient care.
    • Utilizes new technologies in medical education including computer-based learning modules, video tele-conferences, and on-line testing.
    • Students must have a negative urine drug screen and have been cleared by Student Health in order to attend clinical experiences. Not attending clinical experiences may affect your progression in the PA Program and prevent or delay graduation.
    • A criminal background check and pediatric abuse clearance will be required prior to entrance into the professional phase of the Program. Failure to complete the process in a timely manner may delay your progression in the PA Program and prevent or delay graduation.

    Didactic Semesters

    The didactic year is designed on the medical model to prepare students to become primary care clinicians. Please note that the didactic year is currently being revised. Beginning in the Summer of 2013, the three-semester curriculum will offer the heart of the curriculum in medicine modules. Other courses of study include introduction to U.S. health care, history-taking and patient education skills, clinical skills, well child, public health and evidence-based medicine. As part of medicine modules, the anatomy portion utilizes cadaver dissection to complement lecture presentation. On average, didactic students are in class from 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM (M-F) with occasional weekend and evening responsibilities. Please note, the Program does not grant any type of advanced placement for courses within the didactic or clinical year. The didactic curriculum is as follows:

    Didactic Semesters Curriculum
    Didactic Semesters Curriculum
    Summer Semester (16 credits) Fall Semester (18 credits) Spring Semester
    Introduction to Medicine Module (2 credits) Musculoskeletal Medicine Module (5 credits) Pulmonary Medicine Module (4 credits)
    Hematology Medicine Module (1.5 credits) Eyes, Ears, Nose, Throat Medicine Module (3 credits)  Gastrointestinal/Nutrition Medicine Module (5 credits)
    Endocrine Medicine Module (2 credits) Behavioral Medicine Module (3 credits) Genitourinary Medicine Module (2 credits)
    Neurology Medicine Module (3 credits) Cardiovascular Medicine Module (5 credits) Reproductive Medicine Module (5 credits)
    Dermatology Medicine Module (2.5 credits) Clinical Skills (2 credits) Well Child (2 credits)
    History Taking and Patient Education Skills (2 credits) Clinical Experiences and Medical Documentation (0 credit) Clinical Experiences and Medical Documentation (0 credit)
    Evidence Based Medicine (1 credit)   Didactic Comprehensive Evaluation (0 credit)
    Public Health (1 credit)    
    Introduction to U.S. Health Care (1 credit)    
    Graduate Physical Examination - for graduate students only (0 credit)    

    Clinical Semesters

    The clinical curriculum constitutes a full-time off-campus experience which allows students to develop their clinical skills under the supervision of physicians and other allied health personnel. The rotations are divided into nine, 5-week blocks. Each 5-week rotation period equals four credits and is composed of the following:

    • Behavioral Medicine
    • Emergency Medicine
    • Family Practice I
    • Family Practice II or Primary Care
    • General Surgery
    • Internal Medicine
    • Women's Health
    • Pediatrics
    • Elective

    Other Duties

    • During rotations, students work as team members, interacting with physicians, graduate physician assistants, and other health professionals in all aspects of patient care. Students work in a variety of clinical sites, including private practices and hospitals; in a variety of settings - from rural family practices to inner-city clinics to major medical centers.
    • During the clinical year, students will complete the Ethical Issues (two credits) course via distance learning. This course will provide the student with the opportunity to understand the relationships between important ethical schools of thought and to utilize this ethical framework in the analysis of contemporary societal and medical issues.
    • The clinical year students are also required to complete a Transition to Clinical Practice course (four credits). This course is designed to provide a bridge experience for the student who is completing clinical rotations by addressing issues germane to everyday PA practice. Included within this course is a capstone experience which must be completed at a satisfactory level.
    • Toward the end of clinical year, students must successfully pass a summative exam.  This exam includes a written exam, as well as a patient encounter simulation.
    • At the end of each 5-week block, students return to campus for scheduled Transition to Practice (TP) Days. Multiple activities are planned for these Transition Days, including problem-solving and review sessions, physical exam simulations, post-graduate career counseling, and end-of-rotation tests. These TP Days allow students to practice both their clinical and didactic skills and allow faculty to review their progress.
    • It is strongly suggested that students complete at least one rotation in a medically under-served area.
    • Although the Department faculty make the final decision concerning clinical year placement, student input is solicited on where they would like to perform their rotations.
    • The majority of clinical sites are in Pennsylvania and the surrounding states, however placement at clinical sites may require travel to sites elsewhere in the United States (e.g. Florida, Arizona). The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (US Department of Education) specifies in the State Authorization Regulation that educational institutions must acquire authorization from any state in which it "operates". As such, The University administration may not authorize clinical rotations or internships in all states. Please consult the  State Authorization and Licensure web page: (http://francis.edu/state-authorization/) for further information.
    • Housing during this clinical year is the student's responsibility.

    For questions concerning the clinical year please contact: Jill Cavalet, PA-C, Melissa Hall, MPAS, PA-C or Tracy Wright, MPAS, PA-C

    The paradigm for the clinical year is as follows:

    Clinical Semesters
    Clinical Semesters
    Summer Semester (12 credits) Fall Semester (14 credits) Spring Semester (16 credits)
    Clinical Rotation (4 credits) Ethical Issues (2 credits) Clinical Rotation (4 credits)
    Clinical Rotation (4 credits) Clinical Rotation (4 credits) Clinical Rotation (4 credits)
    Clinical Rotation (4 credits) Clinical Rotation (4 credits) Clinical Rotation (4 credits)
      Clinical Rotation (4 credits) Transition to Practice (4 credits)
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