Physician Assistant: Additional Details

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Applicants and students of the Physician Assistant Program should be aware of the following:

Our program seeks to educate individuals in becoming knowledgeable, compassionate and spiritually uplifting healthcare providers. Whether they practice locally, nationally, or globally, the PA program graduates individuals who embrace a mission of service to others.


The Physician Assistant program epitomizes our university's concepts of nurture, excellence, faith, and stewardship. These pillars embody our mission and the goals for our program and graduates.


AdventHealth University PA Program Goals and Outcomes

We recognize that our program goals and outcomes are of particular interest to prospective applicants. It is important that a program’s priorities, as outlined in their goals, closely mirror those of their students. Below you will find our eight program goals and the results and achievements towards which our efforts have been directed. The program revisits its goals annually and updates its outcomes utilizing the most recent program data. We are pleased with where we are, but we see opportunities for betterment and remain committed to a process of continual program improvement.

Goal 1 - Ensure that admissions requirements are clearly communicated to potential students and that admission decisions are made in accordance with those requirements.

Applying to PA school is a major undertaking and we seek to facilitate your application to AdventHealth University (AHU) by ensuring that our admissions policy and requirements are clearly stated on our website. Additionally, we update our admissions information with the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) and the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) annually to ensure congruence with the policies and requirements detailed on our website.

Recognizing that aspiring PA students apply to multiple programs, we participate in CASPA. Our utilization of this service eases the burden placed on applicants to prepare multiple applications for graduate school. Unlike many universities, AHU does not require a supplementary application as part of the admissions process.

As a reference for prospective applicants, we publish the following details regarding our applicant pool and admitted students over the past several years.

Graduating Class of 2019 Class of 2020 Class of 2021 National Average
Number of Verified CASPA Applicants 116 271 296 Not Reported
Number of Admitted Students 30 29 30 46
Male 23% 21% 27% 27%
Female 77% 79% 73% 73%
Average Age 29 29 28 25
Average GPA 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.6
Average Science GPA 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.5
Average GRE Score 300 296 300 307
Average Number of Hours of Patient Contact Experience 4,197 8011 3883 2982

AHU cohort data as reported in CASPA. National Averages taken from PAEA’s Program Report 33. Each year we invite to campus approximately 75 applicants for an interview. The interview allows the program to learn things about the applicant that cannot be assessed through a paper application. Once all of the interviews have been completed, the Admissions Committee reviews the file of each applicant to ensure that they have fully satisfied all of the program’s requirements for admission. Seats in the upcoming class are then offered to those candidates who show the most promise of success in the AHU PA Program.

Goal 2 - The program will define, publish and make readily available to students upon admission, academic performance and progression information.

The program is committed to making certain that our students understand what is expected of them throughout the course of their graduate program. To this end, we publish a policy manual which is provided to each student during orientation. Along with the AHU Student Handbook, the program’s policy manual clearly articulates our expectations of PA students and specifies the requirements for degree completion.

Students are required to thoroughly review the document and sign an acknowledge-ment form indicating their understanding of and commitment to adhere to AHU and PA program policies. A copy of the signed acknowledgement is collected from each student during the orientation process and retained as part of their permanent file.

95% of the most recent graduating class of PA students reported that they felt the program did a good job of defining policies and making them readily available. (2019 PA Student Exit Survey)

Goal 3 - Provide a quality educational program in a safe, nurturing and spiritually enriching environment.

As an Adventist institution, it is our mission to develop skilled medical professionals who live the healing values of Christ. We believe that healthcare is a calling and that PAs fill an instrumental role in delivering patient-centered care. We are very proud that all of our graduates have passed the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) and are caring for patients across Florida and the nation. A testament of the outstanding education that we provide is the 100% first-time PANCE pass rate achieved by the Class of 2018. We anticipate a similar stellar performance from the Class of 2019 who will be testing this fall.

All of the students in our most recent graduating class felt that the AHU PA Program provided them with a quality education in a safe, nurturing and spiritually enriching environment. 73% of students reported that the program was “very strong” in its ability to deliver on this goal. (2019 PA Student Exit Survey)

The physical safety of our students is of paramount importance to the program. We are pleased that AHU students report a high degree of satisfaction with their safety on campus (2018 Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Survey) and that these scores have improved year-to-year since 2016. No safety or security concerns have been identified at the clinical sites during student rotations or faculty site visits.

Goal 4 - Monitor and document the progress of each student in a manner that promptly identifies deficiencies in knowledge or skills and establishes means for remediation.

With only 30 students in a class, our faculty and staff are able to personally nurture your development as a medical professional. The curriculum is difficult and we are available to help you be successful in your academic, personal and spiritual growth. Students’ grades are closely monitored throughout the didactic and clinical phases of the program so that academic deficiencies can be identified early. Working directly with program faculty, students remediate their deficiencies so that they will graduate with the requisite knowledge to be capable PAs. University support for students includes a Tutoring Center, mental health counselor, and chaplains.

The program has identified a number of variables including didactic GPA, performance on the Physician Assistant Clinical Knowledge Rating and Assessment Tool (PACKRAT), and PAEA End of Rotation (EOR) exams that allow it to predict student performance on the PANCE. This permits the program to intervene on behalf of students to ensure that they are poised for success on PANCE and entry to clinical practice.

All of the students in our most recent graduating class felt that the AHU PA Program closely monitored their progress in a manner that promptly identified deficiencies in knowledge or skills and established a means for remediation. 82% of students reported that the program was “very strong” in its ability to deliver on this goal. (2019 PA Student Exit Survey)

Goal 5 - Provide faculty members and instructional personnel who have appropriate credentials and are outstanding educators.

We recognize that at the heart of an exceptional PA program is an outstanding faculty. To this end, great care has been taken in selecting members of the faculty. We encourage you read about our faculty’s broad clinical and academic experience. Our faculty members average 23 years of clinical practice and 10 years of teaching experience. Faculty continually develop their expertise as educators through participation in workshops and conferences. 95% of the most recent graduating class of PA students reported that they felt the program provided faculty members and instructional personnel who are outstanding educators. (2019 PA Student Exit Survey)

Faculty teach in their areas of expertise and outside physicians and PAs are brought in to supplement the faculty when necessary. Our affiliation with the AdventHealth hospital system provides us access to specialists in all fields who enjoy teaching our students. The program maintains a copy of each faculty member and instructor’s CV which are updated annually.

Goal 6 - Maintain a curriculum which covers all required instructional areas and prepares students for clinical rotations.

Curriculum mapping allows the program to ensure that all required content is covered. The program’s Medical Director is instrumental in determining how material can best be taught and where it should be placed in the curriculum. The program utilizes the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) PANCE blueprint and PAEA EOR topic lists when formulating clinical medicine lectures, designing clinical simulations, and writing standardized patient cases.

Clinical preceptors rate our students’ preparedness to undertake clinical rotations very highly. In fact, our preceptors rated our most recent clinical class at 4.63 on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest score. (Class of 2019 Preceptor Evaluations)

PACKRAT scores are highly correlated with PANCE performance. We are very pleased that our Class of 2020 students achieved an average score 17 points above the national average. This speaks to the thoroughness of our curriculum, expert teaching, and excellent students.

Goal 7 - Provide supervised clinical practice experiences which enable students to meet program expectations and acquire the competencies needed for entry into clinical practice.

Our clinical students complete six-week rotations in each of the seven required disciplines. They also select an elective rotation in a medical field of their choosing. Because of our strong affiliation with AdventHealth and local physicians, all of our students received their first choice discipline for the elective rotation.

EOR and PACKRAT scores are highly correlated with PANCE performance. We are proud of our students in the Classes of 2018 and 2019 whose average score on each of the seven EOR exams and the clinical year PACKRAT were above the national average. This is a testament to the outstanding education provided by our gifted clinical preceptors.

All of the students in our most recent graduating class felt that the AHU PA Program provided clinical practice experiences that enabled them to meet the program’s learning objectives and acquire the competencies needed to enter clinical practice. 95% of students report feeling very confident in their abilities and readiness to enter clinical practice. (2019 PA Student Exit Survey)

Goal 8 - Graduate professionally competent PA students who are prepared to enter the PA workforce.

We have graduated two cohorts of students who were successful on PANCE and have subsequently become licensed and are now practicing medicine across the United States. Our graduates average more than 2.3 job offers when they enter the workforce. (2019 Alumni Survey)

Our first cohort of students did not achieve our desired first-time pass rate on the PANCE exam. Several graduates needed to retake the exam and were successful on their second attempt. Since that time, the program has made several adaptations to better prepare our graduates to pass PANCE on their first attempt. 100% of the second cohort successfully passed the exam on their first attempt. We want our graduates to be able to secure employment as a PA as soon as possible following graduation. We believe that the changes that were enacted will benefit each of our future classes.

Clinical preceptors’ evaluation of our students also speaks to their readiness to enter clinical practice. Below you will find the average score assigned to our students in each of their seven required rotations. The score is on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being “does not meet expectations” and 5 being “exceeds expectations”.

Required Clinical Rotations Class of 2017 Class of 2018 Class of 2019
Primary Care 4.68 4.28 4.26
Internal Medicine 4.88 4.71 4.60
Pediatrics 4.70 4.78 4.39
General Surgery 4.53 4.60 4.26
Emergency Medicine 4.56 4.51 4.17
Behavioral Health/Psychiatry 4.98 4.94 4.94
Women’s Health 4.53 4.71 4.68

In accordance with the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant requirement, all of our students undergo a comprehensive series of examinations during their final three months in the program. These practical and written exams measure students’ medical knowledge, interpersonal skills, patient care skills, and professionalism. Students must pass this summative evaluation in order to graduate from the program. Successful completion of these exams attests to a student’s readiness to enter clinical practice. We feel confident that each of our graduates is fully prepared to enter clinical practice as a proficient medical provider committed to healing.

Student Learning Outcome 1 - Caring

Students in the Master of Science in PA Studies program will demonstrate caring and respectful behaviors including sensitivity and responsiveness to patients’ culture, age, gender, and disabilities when interacting with patients and their families.

Student Learning Outcome 2 - Communication

Students in the Master of Science in PA Studies program will use interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, their patients’ families, physicians, professional associates, and the health care system.

Student Learning Outcome 3 - Critical Thinking

Students in the Master of Science in PA Studies program will be critical thinkers who demonstrate an investigatory and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations.

Student Learning Outcome 4 - Ethical/Moral

Students in the Master of Science in PA Studies program will demonstrate a commitment to ethical principles pertaining to provision or withholding of clinical care, confidentiality of patient information, informed consent, and business practices. Students will also demonstrate the capacity to address the spiritual needs of patients.

Student Learning Outcome 5 - Life-long Learning

Students in the Master of Science in PA Studies program will be life-long learners who engage in practice-based learning and improvement by engaging in critical analysis of their own practice experience, medical literature, and other information resources for self- improvement.

Student Learning Outcome 6 - Professional Expertise

Students in the Master of Science in PA Studies program will Demonstrate professional expertise by applying core knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences to patient care in their area of practice.

Student Learning Outcome 7 - Service to the Community

Students in the Master of Science in PA Studies program will engage in socially responsible voluntary service to the community


Medical Procedures Objectives

Upon completion students will:

  1. Understand the components and necessity of informed consent.
  2. Understand and apply all aspects of standard universal precautions.
  3. Demonstrate appropriate concepts associated with injections.
  4. Demonstrate the technique of administering sub Q and IM injections.
  5. Understand concepts associated with venipuncture including indications, contraindications, and complications.
  6. Demonstrate successful insertion of an IV line.
  7. Understand indications, contraindications, and complications associated with urinary bladder catheterization.
  8. Demonstrate successful insertion and removal of a urinary catheter.
  9. Understand the indications, contraindications, and complications of arterial puncture.
  10. Demonstrate successful performance of arterial puncture.

Suturing and Wound Objectives

Upon completion students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate hemostasis of a wound.
  2. Understand and demonstrating effective measures for the evaluation and removal of retained foreign bodies.
  3. Demonstrate effective exploration of a wound to determine damage of deep tissue structures such as tendon and muscle.
  4. Understand categories of wound healing to include: primary, secondary, and tertiary closure.
  5. Demonstrate choice and utilization of appropriate anesthetics.
  6. Understand choice of the needles for specific anesthetic purposes.
  7. Demonstrate appropriate procedure for wound preparation.
  8. Understand and recognize various wound repair instruments and their proper use.
  9. Understand and recognize various suture materials, needles, and their appropriate application.
  10. Demonstrate basic suture skill techniques to include: simple interrupted, running, vertical and horizontal mattress sutures.
  11. Understand and demonstrate principles of strapping, splinting and a casting of extremity injuries.

General Surgical Objectives Physician assistants are often in need of various surgical skills in the practice of medicine. Understanding the complexities and special circumstances often encountered in a surgical setting and when dealing with surgical patients is an essential aspect of training. Graduates of the AdventHealth University Master of Science in Physician Assistant studies will:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of perioperative patient care.
  2. Understand surgical suite procedures and at various common surgical treatments and interventions.

This program strives to develop competent primary care physician assistants who evaluate, manage, and impart exemplary health care to the general population. We expect students to complete all the program's academic and clinical requirements. The following technical standards specify which attributes our PA faculty consider necessary to thrive in the program.

  1. Observation: Students must be able to demonstrate sufficient capacity to observe demonstrations and experiments in basic and clinical sciences (including computer-assisted instruction), and must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance or close at hand.
  2. Communication: Students must be able to demonstrate sufficient capacity to communicate accurately and with clarity, in oral and written forms, with appropriate respect and sensitivity towards faculty, patients, and all members of the healthcare team.
  3. Motor: Students must have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. They must be able to grasp and manipulate tools and equipment, stand, sit, walk and move as needed in a patient care setting.
  4. Senses: Students must have sufficient use of the senses of vision, hearing, touch, and smell necessary to directly perform a physical examination.
  5. Problem solving: Students must demonstrate sufficient ability to learn to measure, calculate, analyze, and synthesize data to reach diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical judgments.
  6. Clinical skills: Students must demonstrate sufficient ability to learn and perform routine laboratory tests and diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical procedures. All students will be expected to perform physical examinations on both males and females.
  7. Behavioral attributes: Students must possess the emotional health necessary for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of sound judgment, the prompt completion of responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with faculty, clinical staff and patients.
  8. Judgment:Students must be able to learn and demonstrate the ability to recognize limitations to their knowledge, skills ,and abilities, and to seek appropriate assistance with their identified limitations.
  9. Stability: Students must be able to learn to respond with precise, efficient, and appropriate action in emergency situations.
  10. Perseverance: Students are expected to possess the humility to accept criticism, and the diligence to successfully complete the physician assistant curriculum and enter the practice of medicine as a certified physician assistant.
  11. Cognition: The physician assistant program is a concentrated and fast-paced program. In addition, physician assistants must often make critical decisions when evaluating patients and must make these decisions in a timely manner. Students must be able to assimilate large amounts of information quickly and efficiently, as well as gather and analyze patient data in a timely manner. Health conditions and/or drugs (prescription, over the counter or "recreational") that alter perceptions, slow responses, or impair judgment are not compatible with success in the program. These may also affect the student's ability to obtain a license or to practice as a physician assistant.
  12. Capability: Physician Assistants work in a variety of clinical settings and may be required to stand for extended periods of time, assist in major surgery, hold retractors, place invasive devices, assist in labor and delivery, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, perform minor surgical procedures, or help move patients. Therefore, students must demonstrate sufficient capability to function safely, effectively, and efficiently in a classroom, laboratory, or clinical facility without any of the following: a surrogate, intermediate, companion (animal or human), translator, or assistive device that would interfere with or not be usable in a surgical or other patient care setting. Individuals with disabilities may be provided reasonable accommodations to fully participate in the program, as long as their condition does not interfere with patient care or safety, or lead to a high likelihood of absenteeism.

Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA)

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) is the accrediting agency that protects the interests of the public and PA profession by defining the standards for PA education and evaluating PA educational programs within the territorial United States to ensure their compliance with those standards.

The ARC-PA is an independent accrediting body authorized to accredit qualified PA educational programs leading to the professional credential, Physician Assistant (PA). Accreditation is a process of quality assurance that determines whether the program meets established standards for function, structure and performance. The ARC-PA does not accredit any academic degree awarded by the sponsoring institution of the PA program.

The ARC-PA encourages excellence in PA education through its accreditation process by establishing and maintaining standards of quality for educational programs. It awards accreditation to programs through a peer review process that includes documentation and periodic site visit evaluation to substantiate compliance with the Accreditation Standards for Physician Assistant Education. The accreditation process is designed to encourage sound educational practices and innovation by programs and to stimulate continuous self-study and improvement.

In addition to establishing educational standards and fostering excellence in PA programs, the ARC-PA provides information and guidance to individuals and organizations regarding PA program accreditation.

American Academy of Physician Assistants

Founded in 1968, the American Academy of Physician Assistants is the national professional society for physician assistants. It represents a profession of more than 95,000 certified PAs across all medical and surgical specialties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the majority of the U.S. territories and the uniformed services.

AAPA advocates and educates on behalf of the profession and the patients PAs serve. We work to ensure the professional growth, personal excellence and recognition of physician assistants. We also enhance their ability to improve the quality, accessibility and cost-effectiveness of patient-centered healthcare.

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants

NCCPA is the only certifying organization for physician assistants in the United States. Established as a not-for-profit organization in 1975, NCCPA is dedicated to assuring the public that certified physician assistants meet established standards of clinical knowledge and cognitive skills upon entry into practice and throughout their careers. All U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories have decided to rely on NCCPA certification as one of the criteria for licensure or regulation of physician assistants. More than 100,000 physician assistants have been certified by NCCPA since 1975, and more than 95,000 are certified today.

Florida Academy of Physician Assistants

The Florida Academy of Physician Assistants (FAPA) is a fully authorized state chapter of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. FAPA dedicates itself to pursuing and maintaining the practice rights of Physician Assistants within the State of Florida through a strong lobbying effort. The organization also provides multiple continuing medical education opportunities and strives to keep all Physician Assistants practicing in the State of Florida up to date with the most current news. FAPAs website is a repository of information and forms required for practice in the state of Florida.


If you already have a Bachelor's degree but are missing some prerequisites, Post-Baccalaureate courses are available for you. Once admitted for Post-Baccalaureate studies, you'll be allowed to enroll in a minimum of 6 credits per trimester for up to one year in general education courses at AHU. Financial aid is available for up to one year.

Being admitted for Post-Baccalaureate studies does not guarantee admission into the program.

More Info about Post-baccalaureate Studies →


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