Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies: Additional Details

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

The AdventHealth University Physician Assistant Program’s mission is to educate knowledgeable and compassionate individuals as spiritually cognizant healthcare providers who embrace a mission of service to others.

Mission Supported Goals Measures of Success Outcomes
Recruit outstanding educators Years of teaching and clinical practice of faculty Our faculty average 13 years of teaching and 20 years of clinical practice.
Number of Faculty publications and invited presentations1 Our faculty average 14 publications and 30 invited presentations.
Student Exit Survey2 72% of students reported that the PA program provided faculty and instructional personnel who were outstanding educators. (Class of 2021)
Support a nurturing and spiritually enriching learning environment. AHU campus size and enrollment AHU is set in a small enclave adjacent to AdventHealth Orlando (formerly Florida Hospital), one of the largest hospital facilities in Florida.
PA class size and student to faculty ratio The PA program admits only 30 students annually. We maintain a student to faculty ratio of 9:1. This allows the faculty to get to know students and support them through the rigors of PA education.
Academic courses that address the role of spirituality in healthcare PA students are required to take two courses (Identity & Mission and Role Fidelity and the Exercise of Power) that address the role of spirituality in healthcare.
Active campus ministry AHU employs three chaplains to tend to the spiritual needs of its students. Students are invited to participate in daily prayer services and weekly fellowship gatherings.
Student Exit Survey3 78% of students indicated that the PA program provided quality education in a safe, nurturing, and spiritually enriching environment. (Class of 2021)
Graduate students who will all be successful on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) All-Time PANCE performance4
Graduating Class First-time pass Rate All-time Pass Rate
2018 100% 100%
2019 87% 96%*
2020 96% 100%
2021 93% 100%

*A student in the class of 2019 has not retaken the test.

Promote students’ commitment to service learning Student volunteer hours5 Each year our students complete more than 1,200 hours of community service. PA students are required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of community service.
International mission trips AHU sponsors two international mission trips annually. PA students are encouraged to participate and apply the medical knowledge they have learned to care for individuals in underdeveloped countries. The global pandemic has necessitated that these trips be suspended until it is safe to resume international travel.
Prepare highly qualified individuals6 from diverse backgrounds6 to provide exceptional whole-person care Student demographic data
Matriculated Students (Classes of 2021 - 2023)
Age 27 (average age). Students ranged from 21 to 49 at the time of admission.
GPA 3.45 (average undergraduate science)
3.47 (average undergraduate overall)
17% of students possess a graduate degree at the time of admission
Gender 71% female and 29% male
Race* 72% White, 15% Asian and 13% Black or African American, 0% American Indian or Alaskan Native
Ethnicity* 26% Hispanic
Clinical Experience 4,400 (average hours of clinical experience)

*Race and ethnicity data are self-reported by students on their CASPA application. 6% of the students for the Classes of 2021 – 2022 elected not to provide information about their race or ethnicity.

Whole-person care Throughout the educational program, our students learn how to care for the whole-person – body, mind, and spirit. Students demonstrate competency in whole-person care during Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs).
  1. The expectation for the metric used regarding this information is that the program data will be comparable to or exceed the National data as reported and published by the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). Physician Assistant Education Association, By the Numbers: Faculty Report 4: Data from the 2019 Faculty & Directors Survey. Washington, DC: PAEA; 2020. doi: 10.17538/FR4.2020. (46.9% of faculty, 72.3% of program directors, and 30.6% of medical directors report having ever had a research or scholarly publication over the span of their academic career. Amongst those who have published, the average number of peer-reviewed publications was 7.2 for faculty, 5.2 for program directors, and 10.2 for medical directors.)
  2. The program defined benchmark of > or = to 85% for the student exit survey report that the PA program provided faculty and instructional personnel who were outstanding educators.
    The Class of 2021 was the first cohort to be below the program's benchmark. The program has taken steps to address student concerns and will monitor this metric for expected improvement with subsequent cohorts.
  3. The program defined benchmark of > or = to 85% of students indicate that the PA program provided quality education in a safe, nurturing, and spiritually enriching environment on the student exit survey.
    The Class of 2021 was the first cohort to be below the program's benchmark. The program has taken steps to address student concerns and will monitor this metric for expected improvement with subsequent cohorts.
  4. The program seeks a 100% all-time pass rate on PANCE. We recognize that some students may require more than one attempt to be successful on the exam.
  5. The program defined a benchmark of 40 hours for of community service during the program.
  6. The program seeks to enroll highly qualified individuals who have demonstrated academic prowess and a commitment to providing patient care. The program recognizes that diversity in all dimensions ensures that our students bring a range of backgrounds and perspectives to the classroom and profession. We believe that diversity can be exemplified through the variety of differences within and between groups of people that contribute to variations in habits, practices, beliefs and/or values, personal experiences, and world views that arise from differences of culture and circumstance. Such differences include race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geographic region, and more. The program has published some of the data (see chart above) that we feel highlight the preparedness and diversity of our matriculated students. The expectation for the metric used regarding this information is that the program data will be comparable to or exceed the national data as reported and published annually by the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). Physician Assistant Education Association, By the Numbers: Program Report 35: Data from the 2019 Program Survey, Washington, DC: PAEA; 2020. doi: 10.17538/PR35.2020. (National Averages: Overall Undergraduate GPA – 3.58, Science GPA – 3.52, Patient Contact Experience – 3,240 hours, Age – 25.2, Female – 74%, Male – 26%, Hispanic – 10%, Asian – 11%, Black or African American – 7%, White – 78%, American Indian or Alaskan Native – 3%.)

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.

2022-2023 Physician Assistant Program Policy Manual, ARC-PA 5th Edition Standards

View Program Policy Manual (PDF)


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 →