2023-2024 University Catalog 
    
    Feb 26, 2024  
2023-2024 University Catalog

Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Handbook



Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Handbook

Offered by: Master of Science: Physician Assistant Program

Program Director: Melanie Catalano, MSPA, PA-C

Program Overview

The Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program is a full-time, 28-month program. The Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program is the first of its kind to expose Physician Assistant students to integrative healthcare practices. The Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program will prepare students to participate in integrative healthcare teams and deliver healthcare with a primary care focus to a diverse population by providing evidence-based instruction. The Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program consists of two phases: didactic and clinical. The didactic phase of the program is 16 months in duration and focuses on basic medical sciences, clinical medical knowledge, clinical and technical skills, research, and interprofessional education. The clinical phase of the program is 12 months in duration and consists of 10, four-week clinical rotations. Successful graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE).

Program Goals 

Please refer to our website for information about our program goals. 

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Medical Knowledge: Analyze and integrate foundational information in basic sciences, pathophysiology, and pharmacotherapeutics and apply it to patient-centered quality care.
  2. Patient Care: Develop and implement age-appropriate assessment, evaluation, and management, utilizing clinical and technical skills to demonstrate competent, efficient patient-centered care, including health promotion and disease prevention.
  3. Interpersonal and Communication Skills: Demonstrate interpersonal communication through verbal, nonverbal, and written skills and effectively engage with patients, patients’ families, colleagues, and other interdisciplinary team members.
  4. Professionalism: Demonstrate professional behaviors, ethical values, respect, compassion, empathy, trust, integrity, and self-reflection in all patient care, community interactions, and the business of healthcare.
  5. Evidence-Based Learning: Utilize and engage in critical analysis of one’s own practice experience, scientific literature, and other information sources, develop clinical reasoning and problem-solving abilities, and apply to patient-centered health management plans.
  6. Integrative Healthcare: Demonstrate collaboration with other professionals as an effective member of an interdisciplinary healthcare team to improve patient outcomes including community health and disease prevention.

Application Requirements

Applicants for the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program must submit the following:

  • A verified application through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA)
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended, including Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) score reports
  • Three Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) evaluations

Admissions Standards

Applicants for the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program must meet the following admissions standards:*

  • A bachelor’s degree or higher from a U.S. regionally accredited college or university
  • Successful completion of the following core science prerequisite courses completed within 7 years
    • Chemistry (minimum 8 semester or quarter credits)
    • Human Anatomy (minimum 4 semester or quarter credits)
    • Human Physiology (minimum 4 semester or quarter credits)
    • Microbiology (minimum 4 semester or quarter credits)
  • Successful completion of the following general prerequisite courses
    • Mathematics (minimum 2 semester or quarter credits)
    • Psychology (minimum 3 semester or quarter credits)
    • English Composition (minimum 3 semester or quarter credits)
    • Sociology or Anthropology (minimum 3 semester or quarter credits)
    • Statistics (minimum 3 semester or quarter credits)
    • Medical Terminology (minimum 1 semester or quarter credit)
  • 2,000 paid hours of healthcare experience
  • A minimum overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • A minimum core science prerequisite grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale

*Please refer to our website for more detailed information on our admissions standards.

Prematriculation Requirements

Upon acceptance, students must submit program-specific documentation through the University’s clinical documentation management system, Exxat. Prematriculation requirements must be fulfilled prior to matriculation unless stated otherwise.

  • A physical examination completed by a licensed healthcare provider confirming the student’s ability to perform duties as outlined in the program’s technical standards
  • Proof of current immunization status as outlined in the Physician Assistant Student Screening and Immunization Requirements form
  • Active medical insurance
  • Criminal background check
  • Drug screen
  • Pre-matriculation reading and/or assignments

Degree Completion Requirements

The Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) degree may be conferred upon those who have fulfilled the following requirements:

  1. Completed 145 credits within the required categories of coursework:
    • 18 credits in foundational health sciences
    • 41 credits in clinical sciences
    • 16 credits in Physician Assistant health sciences
    • 3 credits in research and capstone
    • 4 credits in interprofessional education
    • 63 credits in clinical clerkship
  2. Successfully completed all required didactic and clinical coursework
  3. Successfully completed the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) Preparedness Intersession
  4. Successful demonstration of the medical knowledge, interpersonal, clinical and technical skills, professional behaviors, and clinical reasoning and problem-solving abilities required for PA practice
  5. Earned a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00
  6. Met residency requirements
  7. Submitted a Petition to Graduate

Program Sequence

  

Clinical Rotation Requirements

Clinical rotations are designed to provide clinical students with approximately 1,800 hours of supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPEs) that reinforce medical knowledge gained in the didactic year of the program. Supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPEs) allow clinical students to refine clinical and technical skills through clinical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving in clinical encounters. The clinical experience exposes students to evidence-based medicine through patient care experiences. The clinical experience allows students to begin to develop into the professional role of the Physician Assistant and work with other members of the interprofessional healthcare team. The supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPEs) courses occur in Terms 5-7 (PACR501-510; Clinical Rotation 1-10) and are designed to provide students with the opportunity to achieve program learning outcomes and course learning outcomes under the supervision of a preceptor in the assigned field, usually in off-campus health settings. Students will participate in the care of patients across the lifespan, including infants, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. Students will also participate in a variety of different aspects of medicine, including acute, chronic, emergent, and preventative care, and in various clinical settings, including outpatient, inpatient, operating room, and emergency department.

Each student in the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program must complete eight core rotations in the following specialties:

  1. Internal Medicine
  2. Pediatrics
  3. Family Medicine
  4. Women’s Health: Obstetrics and Gynecology
  5. General Surgery
  6. Behavioral Medicine
  7. Emergency Medicine
  8. Integrative Medicine

Additionally, students must complete two elective rotations, which may variably include, but are not limited to, the following specialties:

  1. Cardiology
  2. Dermatology
  3. Otolaryngology (ENT)
  4. Nephrology
  5. Orthopedics/Sports Medicine
  6. Neurosurgery
  7. Gastroenterology
  8. Hematology Oncology
  9. Radiation Oncology
  10. Pain Management
  11. Plastic Surgery
  12. Vascular Surgery
  13. Urology
  14. Cardiothoracic Surgery
  15. Endocrinology
  16. Interventional Radiology
  17. Pediatric Allergy/Immunology
  18. Critical Care
  19. Urgent Care

Comprehensive Examinations

Each student is expected to complete two series of two exams each. The first series is the Physician Assistant Clinical Knowledge Rating and Assessment Tool (PACKRAT). The Physician Assistant Clinical Knowledge Rating and Assessment Tool (PACKRAT) is a self-assessment exam that is used to guide student learning and to aid in the development of study plans for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). The first Physician Assistant Clinical Knowledge Rating and Assessment Tool (PACKRAT 1) is administered before students enter clinical rotations (Term 5) and the second Physician Assistant Clinical Knowledge Rating and Assessment Tool (PACKRAT 2) is administered within four months of graduation (Term 7). Students will receive a score for each of these exams; however, this score is used strictly for informational purposes, including prediction of Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) performance and placement in the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) Preparedness Program.

The second series is the Physician Assistant Comprehensive Examination (PACE). The first Physician Assistant Comprehensive Examination (PACE 1) is a formative assessment designed to evaluate a student’s mastery of program learning outcomes and consists of a written Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE)-like exam that covers all content learned in the didactic phase and an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) that includes assessment of interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, and technical skills. The second Physician Assistant Comprehensive Examination (PACE 2) is a summative assessment designed to assess the student’s total fund of knowledge for the didactic and clinical phases of the program. The first Physician Assistant Comprehensive Examination (PACE 1) is administered before students enter clinical rotations (Term 5) and the second Physician Assistant Comprehensive Examination (PACE 2) is administered within four months of graduation (Term 7). 

Class and Clinical Schedule

Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program courses are typically held:

  • Didactic: Classes are generally held Monday through Friday during the day, although classes may be scheduled at any time, including evenings and weekends.
  • Clinical: Hours vary by clinical rotation

Transfer Credit Eligibility

The Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program does not accept transfer credits.

Residency Requirement

The Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program requires that students complete all credits at Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) to qualify for degree completion.

Licensure

In compliance with 34 CFR §668.43, the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program at Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) provides information pertaining to professional licensure for the program. Students should refer to the information below and contact the appropriate licensing board to ensure they will meet the licensure requirements in the state(s) in which they intend to practice upon graduation.

Upon completing an Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) accredited program, graduates are eligible to sit for the professional board exam given by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Upon passing the exam, candidates are given the designation of Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C). The candidate may then apply for state licensure and for a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) certificate to prescribe controlled medication. The Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program at Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) meets the educational requirements for licensure in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Some states have requirements in addition to educational requirements - prospective and enrolled students are encouraged to research licensure requirements for the state that they intend to practice in. These licensure requirements vary from state to state.

Neither acceptance for admission into the program nor the subsequent earning of a Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) degree guarantees that a state or foreign country will grant a graduate a license to practice. Each state and foreign country, through its legislative and administrative process, defines the standards of competency and scope of practice of Physician Assistants within its jurisdiction. The American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA) maintains a list of licensing boards at their website.

Please note that licensure requirements are always subject to change. Although Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) will confirm the licensure requirements on a routine basis, we strongly recommend that you inquire with the licensing agency to confirm that you understand and will meet the requirements for licensure before enrolling in your program of choice. Additionally, while progressing through the program, we recommend that you check licensing agency requirements regularly to monitor whether they have changed in a manner that impacts your licensure plans.

Upon program completion and successfully passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE), students are eligible to apply for licensure in their desired state. Licensing requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and may require a background check and/or other additional steps. Information about state-specific licensing requirements can be found on the American Academy of Physician Associates’ (AAPA) website.

To practice medicine within the designated scope of practice and have services reimbursed by third-party payors, graduates may be required to have the following:

  • Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) number. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) number is valid for three years. A fee is required to obtain a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) number.
  • National Provider Identifier (NPI) number. The National Provider Identifier (NPI) number is required to bill Medicare. There is no fee to obtain a National Provider Identifier (NPI) number.

Faculty Advisors

Each student is assigned a Faculty Advisor for their duration in the program. The Faculty Advisor serves as the first point of contact for general program questions and academic concerns. Faculty Advisors are student advocates, in that they are a resource for providing information about selecting rotations, areas of specialization, and understanding program policies and degree completion requirements. They also provide information, guidance, and support to enable students to explore, define, and realize their aspirations throughout their time in the program. If at any time a student would like to request a change of Faculty Advisor, they may submit their request in writing to the Program Director. All requests will be considered; however, a change of Faculty Advisor cannot be guaranteed.

It should be noted that the program works collaboratively with the Student Support Office (SSO) to ensure that students are achieving their academic goals and to provide resources for school-life balance. Students are encouraged to contact their Faculty Advisor first, then the Student Support Office (SSO) if they are having academic difficulties. Students should meet with their Faculty Advisor at least once per term.

Student Mentors

Each student is assigned a student mentor. Student mentors are selected from the previous cohort to provide advice, guidance, and support to students during their time in the program.

Dress Code

Students should wear business casual attire or scrubs on campus and at program-related events. Students who violate the dress code may be asked to leave the campus or clinical site. Whenever a student wears scrubs on campus or at their clinical site, they must be clean, of a solid color, and not have any hospital affiliation printed on them. Students should confirm dress codes with their course instructors or preceptors.

Throughout the clinical phase of the program, students must wear their school assigned name badge that clearly identifies them as a Physician Assistant student and distinguishes them from other health profession students and practitioners. The name badge is to be attached to their waist-length white coat, which should be neat, clean, pressed, and of appropriate size. Each clinical site may have specific regulations regarding personal attire that may not be included above. Students should adhere to the dress code (i.e., business attire or scrubs) that is specified by their clinical site, in addition to their white coat.

Any student who violates the dress code may be subject to disciplinary action, which may include referral to the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC). To comply with the University’s Non-Discrimination Statement located in the University Catalog, any concerns regarding religious freedom and professional attire should be discussed with a student’s Faculty Advisor, Program Director, or senior University official.

Attendance

The program expects that all students will be punctual for all required activities. Failure to do so is a discourtesy to course instructors, preceptors, and patients. Required activities may occur outside of regular campus hours, including nights and weekends. Therefore, students should be flexible and available for participation as required by the program.

Didactic

Students are expected to be present for all in-person and online class sessions, including those occurring during the clinical phase of the program. Any student who turns their camera off during an online session and does not respond to the instructor or proctor after one attempt to reach them will be marked absent. Faculty have the right to review all online rosters; if it is deemed that a student was not present for the entire class session, the student will be marked absent.

To obtain credit for a didactic course, a student must be present for at least 90% of scheduled class sessions for each course. Students will not receive credit for classes in which they are reported absent. If a student cannot attend a didactic class (e.g., due to illness) or will be late (e.g., due to a transportation problem), it is the student’s responsibility to contact the appropriate faculty member and provide all appropriate documentation to the program. If a student can provide a verified justifiable cause for the absenteeism, the student may be permitted to complete missed assignments and maintain enrollment in the course. Only assessments missed for an excused absence will be allowed an opportunity for make-up. Students who miss assessments due to an unexcused absence will receive a zero for that assessment; taking the assessment at a later date will not be permitted in these circumstances.

Clinical

Attendance is mandatory during the clinical year. To receive credit for a clinical rotation, students must be present for all scheduled shifts. Clinical students are expected to mirror the schedule of their assigned preceptor, which may include weekends, nights, and holidays. If the assigned preceptor for any reason cannot supervise the student or must be away from the clinical rotation site, the student should notify the Associate Program Director of Clinical Education and/or Clinical Coordinators immediately by phone or email. Students who violate this policy will be referred to the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) for review.

Students are expected to attend all learning activities (e.g., grand rounds, lectures, workshops) assigned by their preceptor. Attendance is mandatory at all scheduled clinical year activities unless otherwise approved by the Associate Program Director of Clinical Education and/or Clinical Coordinators. If a student misses any of the scheduled events, the student’s grade may be affected, and they may not be able to begin their next rotation.

Students in the clinical year must adhere to the program-approved calendar for clinical rotations. Students are expected to be present at the assigned site on all University holidays, provided that the site is operational, unless otherwise approved by the Associate Program Director of Clinical Education and/or Clinical Coordinators.

Students will not be given time off or vacation time while on clinical rotations and a clinical site cannot approve the student to take time off outside of what is usual for the practice or setting. Students do not accrue time off. Any absences during the clinical year, whether excused or not excused, will need to be made up to ensure that the clinical student has met the required number of hours for the clinical rotation and has satisfactorily completed the assigned course learning outcomes for the rotation. 

If a student will be absent, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the appropriate preceptor and the Associate Program Director of Clinical Education and/or Clinical Coordinators and provide all appropriate documentation to the program. If a student cannot attend an assigned clinical day (e.g., due to illness) or will be late (e.g., due to a transportation problem), the student must notify their assigned supervisor immediately. Students who are habitually late and/or absent will be referred to the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) for review. Depending upon the situation, the student may be recommended for dismissal from the program.

Any student who a preceptor requests be removed from a clinical rotation will be suspended from clinical rotations pending investigation by the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC). Removal from a clinical rotation will result in automatic failure of the clinical course and may result in dismissal from the program.

Student Code of Conduct

The program adheres to and upholds the University Student Code of Conduct. Please refer to the University Catalog for more information. Students who violate the Student Code of Conduct are subject to discipline up to and including dismissal from the University. Additionally, the program calls attention to the following elements, which are reviewed by the program (and does not preclude University investigation or discipline as appropriate per the University Student Code of Conduct): professionalism and communication.  

Professionalism

Professionalism is the expression of positive values and ideals as care is delivered. Foremost, it involves prioritizing the interests of those being served above one’s own. Physician Assistant students must acknowledge their professional and personal limitations. Physician Assistant students must demonstrate a high level of responsibility, ethical practice, sensitivity to a diverse patient population, and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements. As future healthcare professionals, it is imperative that each student is familiar with all areas that lead to professionalism, such as to communication, attendance, and conduct. Students will be evaluated on professionalism regularly throughout the program.

Professionalism Honors Program

The Physician Assistant Professionalism Honors Program supports student motivated efforts to maintain professionalism honors status through completion of the Master of Science: Physician Assistant Program. If accomplished, the student will receive Physician Assistant Professionalism Honors upon graduation, a distinctive cord, and a letter from the Program Director indicating the student graduated with Physician Assistant Professionalism Honors.

Communication

All official program and University correspondence will be conducted through the University email system, using official University email addresses. The program’s primary mode of communication will be University email accounts. In addition, the program may also use text messaging, phone calls, voicemail, or mail to contact students when necessary. Faculty are not required to respond to or communicate with students who send email via the student’s personal email addresses.

Students are expected to respond to all University communication within 2 business days of the time communication is made, unless otherwise stated. A failure to respond in a timely manner is considered unprofessional behavior. Students may contact program faculty and staff by email or phone during business hours. Faculty and staff are expected to return all messages within 2 business days, when reasonable. Students who cannot open their University email or log in to any of the program’s required sites (e.g., Exxat, ExamSoft) due to technical difficulties must immediately contact Synoptek before the end of the next business day.

If a student is sent a request by program faculty or staff and fails to respond with 2 business days or by the stated deadline, whichever is later, the faculty or staff who sent the original communication will send a second communication to the student about the missed deadline and include the student’s Faculty Advisor. The Faculty Advisor will then contact the student via email urging them to complete the requested information and copy the original requestor. If the student still fails to submit the requested information, the Faculty Advisor will schedule a meeting with the student to discuss the unprofessional behavior. The Faculty Advisor’s interaction regarding professionalism should be documented in the student’s academic record.

If a Faculty Advisor has had two conversations with a student regarding late or missing submission of information and a third infraction occurs, the student will be referred to the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) by the Faculty Advisor.

Student Mistreatment

For information about student mistreatment, please refer to “Disrespectful or Abusive Behavior” under the Student Code of Conduct in the University Catalog.

Student Allegations of Harassment

For information related to student allegations of harassment, including definitions, policies, and procedures for processing student allegations of harassment, please review the Campus Safety Manual located in the University Catalog.

Alcohol and Drug Policy

The program follows the University’s Drug and Alcohol Awareness Program; however, the Master of Science: Physician Assistant MSPA) Program reserves the right to mandate random drug screens for their students. The program contracts with Universal to provide criminal background checks and drug screens. If a positive result is received on a drug screen, Universal will contact the student to request an explanation and/or documentation to support their results. If the student does not respond within five days, Universal will release those results to the program. A failure to respond within the allocated period may result in recension of an enrollment offer or dismissal from the program.

Student Progress Committee

The Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) is a Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program-specific recommending body whose primary purpose is to review and monitor overall student academic and professional progress. The Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) is composed of program faculty and staff and works in collaboration with the University’s Student Support Office (SSO) to ensure that students have the resources and support needed to successfully complete the Master of Science: Physician Assistant Program. In alignment with the University’s policy on Academic Warning, Academic Probation, and Academic Dismissal, the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) may create an Academic Development Plan (ADP) for the student.

The Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) reviews each student’s case and makes recommendations to the Program Director regarding student academic progression; remediation of course, assignment, or assessment failures; and Academic Development Plans. The Program Director reviews the recommendation and can either accept the recommendation or amend the recommendation.

Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination Preparedness Program

The Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) Preparedness Program enrolls Physician Assistant students at high-risk for a Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) failure based on a predefined set of criteria. All Physician Assistant students are monitored throughout the didactic and clinical phases and are selected for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) Preparedness Program based on a variety of criteria, including but not limited to performance on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (quantitative, verbal, and analytical), Physician Assistant Clinical Knowledge Rating and Assessment Tools (PACKRAT), Physician Assistant Comprehensive Examinations (PACE), and End of Rotation (EOR) exams and the number of courses in which a student received a C grade or below within the didactic phase of the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program. The Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) Preparedness Program is a mandatory program that begins in Term 5 and continues until completion of the Master of Science: Physician Assistant Program. Students may be required to join the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) Preparedness Program at anytime throughout the clinical phase of the the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program. Students who join the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) Preparedness Program are assigned a Faculty Mentor from the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) Preparedness Program Committee, in addition to their Faculty Advisor, to support their success. To successfully complete the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) Preparedness Program, a student must attend all scheduled tutoring sessions, satisfactorily complete all assignments, complete a National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) practice exam, and meet with their Faculty Mentor at least once per term.

Remediation

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) defines remediation as the program defined and applied process for addressing deficiencies in a student’s knowledge and skills, such that the correction of these deficiencies is measurable and can be documented. 

The program’s remediation process is based on the concept of the University’s policy on “In-Term Academic Monitoring,” which is a proactive set of interactions with students and is intended to identify and connect with a student before they experience failure or create an academic situation that cannot be resolved. Therefore, the remediation process is designed to help faculty identify and assist the student who may experience academic or professional difficulty. The process is proactive, with the goal of identifying an at-risk student as early as possible. The goal of this approach is to help the student assimilate and master the material, not to improve the grade. The program will use the following process to identify and remediate students deemed at-risk. Student performance is reviewed weekly during faculty meetings to identify occurrences, patterns, or trends. 

Methods of Identification and Evaluation 

The student is expected to be proactive and notify the course instructor if they are having difficulty with a course. The course instructor, Faculty Advisor, or other faculty member may identify the at-risk student through the process of In-Term Academic Monitoring and may mandate interventions, including an Academic Development Plan (ADP). A student who fails to achieve course learning outcomes may be referred to the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) for further evaluation and intervention.

Didactic Phase Evaluation and Remediation

Consistent with the University’s In-Term Academic Monitoring policy and Academic Warning, Academic Probation, and Academic Dismissal policies, remediation in the didactic phase will occur as outlined below.

Written Assessments and Practicums

If a student fails a written exam or a practicum, the following process will be followed:

  1. The course instructor will notify the student of the failure.
  2. The course instructor and student will meet to discuss the failed course learning outcomes.
  3. The course instructor will assess the student’s performance and develop a method of remediation tailored to address the failed course learning outcomes. This may consist of, but is not limited to: a verbal or written assessment, assigned reading, a keyword feedback assignment, referral for tutorial assistance, and/or utilizing Student Support Office (SSO) resources.
  4. In all cases, the student’s Faculty Advisor will be notified of the student’s deficiency by the course instructor, and the outcome of the remediation will be documented on the appropriate form in the student’s academic record..

Professionalism and Interpersonal Skills

All students are evaluated on professionalism during the didactic year. If areas of deficiency in professionalism or interpersonal skills are identified, the following process will be followed:

  1. The referring faculty member will notify the student and the Associate Program Director of Didactic Education.
  2. The student will be referred to the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC). The Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) will complete a review to confirm the faculty’s assessment of the situation or incident(s). The Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) will meet with the student and other individuals involved with the situation as warranted, to evaluate the situation and provide the student with an opportunity to discuss the factors that lead to the failure or stated deficiency. The Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) will render a recommendation to the Program Director.
  3. The student will be notified by the Associate Program Director of Didactic Education or the Program Director regarding next steps.
  4. In all cases, the student’s Faculty Advisor will be notified of the outcome by the Associate Program Director of Didactic Education, and the outcome of the remediation will be documented on the appropriate form in the student’s academic record.

Clinical Phase Evaluation and Remediation 

Remediation during the clinical phase occurs when a student fails an End of Rotation (EOR) exam, fails a Preceptor Evaluation of Student Performance, or fails to demonstrate professionalism (e.g., failure to complete assignments on time, breach of the attendance policy, failure to follow policies and procedures, interactions with faculty are disrespectful).

End of Rotation Exams

If a student fails an End of Rotation (EOR) exam, the following process will be followed: 

  1. The Associate Program Director of Clinical Education and/or a Clinical Coordinator will notify the student.
  2. The Associate Program Director of Clinical Education and/or a Clinical Coordinator will meet with the student to discuss the failed exam.  
  3. The Associate Program Director of Clinical Education and/or a Clinical Coordinator will assess the student’s performance and create an assignment that will be tailored to address the failed End of Rotation (EOR) exam. This may consist of, but is not limited to: a verbal or written assessment, assigned reading, a keyword feedback assignment, test bank practice questions, viewing of assigned videos using on-demand platforms, the use of a simulated platform, referral for tutorial assistance, and/or utilizing Student Support Office (SSO) resources.  Additionally, students with consistently low but passing EOR exam scores may be required to complete additional assignments to achieve competency in low performing areas. 
  4. After the required remediation assignment(s) are complete, the student will repeat the failed End of Rotation (EOR) exam.
  5. Failure to successfully remediate the failed End of Rotation (EOR) exam will result in a failure of the clinical rotation (refer to Course Failure below).
  6. In all cases, the student’s advisor will be notified of the student’s deficiency by the course instructor and the outcome of the remediation will be documented on the appropriate form in the student’s academic record.

Preceptor Evaluation of Student Performance

The Preceptor Evaluation of Student Performance is an evaluation that is completed by the assigned preceptor at the end of a student’s clinical rotation and evaluates the student’s performance during their clinical rotation.

  1. All students who receive a score consistent with low performance on a Preceptor Evaluation of Student Performance will be evaluated by the Associate Program Director of Clinical Education or a Clinical Coordinator.
  2. The Associate Program Director of Clinical Education or a Clinical Coordinator will meet with the student to discuss the low scoring area(s).
  3. The Associate Program Director of Clinical Education or a Clinical Coordinator will assess the student’s performance and create an assignment that will be tailored to address the area of low performance. This may consist of, but is not limited to: a verbal or written assignment, assigned reading, test bank practice questions, viewing of assigned videos on on-demand platforms, and/or use of a simulated platform. Additionally, students with consistently low but passing evaluation scores may be required to complete additional assignments to achieve competency in low performing areas. Deficient outcomes will be assessed for mastery following remediation.
  4. In all cases, the student’s advisor will be notified of the student’s deficiency by the course instructor and the outcome of the remediation will be documented on the appropriate form in the student’s academic record.

Professionalism and Interpersonal Skills 

All students are evaluated on professionalism during the clinical year. If areas of deficiency in professionalism or interpersonal skills are identified, the following process will be followed:

  1. All students who earn a score consistent with a failed evaluation of professionalism or interpersonal skills will be reviewed by the Associate Program Director of Clinical Education and/or a Clinical Coordinator. 
  2. The Associate Program Director of Clinical Education and/or a Clinical Coordinator will meet with the student to discuss the low scoring area(s).
  3. The student may be referred to the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) and a further review will be completed to confirm the faculty’s assessment of the situation or incidence. The Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) will meet with the student to provide the student with an opportunity to discuss the factors that led to the failure or deficiency.
  4. In all cases, the student’s advisor will be notified of the student’s deficiency by the course instructor and the outcome of the remediation will be documented on the appropriate form in the student’s academic record.

Course Failure

For students in the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program, course failures may result in Academic Warning, Academic Probation, or Academic Dismissal, as outlined in the University Catalog. Students who have earned a failing grade for any course will be referred to the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) for review and disposition, including creation of an Academic Development Plan (ADP). Their Faculty Advisor will also be notified.

Students who fail a course and are eligible to continue in the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program must successfully remediate the course, before progressing. Students will be given only one opportunity to remediate the course by taking a cumulative exam. A failed remediation is considered another failed course. While students who successfully remediate a failed course will receive a passing grade, the course will still be counted as a course failure for the purposes of Academic Warning, Academic Probation, and Academic Dismissal, as outlined in the University Catalog.

A failed course remediation will result in interruption of progression in the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program. The Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program follows a cohort model, therefore, if a student fails a course remediation, the student must halt progression until the failed course (or the course equivalent) is next offered in the curriculum sequence. The student cannot progress in the curriculum until the failed course (or its equivalent) is passed.  

The Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program may allow students to remediate F grades immediately after completion of the course; students that remediate courses in the Physician Assistant program are awarded an RC or RF grade. An RC (Remediation - Minimum Pass) grade indicates that a course was failed and then successfully remediated to a minimum pass grade. The original F grade is replaced on the transcript with the RC grade; both the original F and the RC grade count towards Academic Warning, Academic Probation, and Academic Dismissal. An RF (Remediation - Fail) grade indicates that a course was failed and then unsuccessfully remediated. The original F grade is replaced on the transcript with the RF grade; both the original F and the RF grade count towards Academic Warning, Academic Probation, and Academic Dismissal.

Leave of Absence

For information about Leave of Absence, please refer to the “Leave of Absence” policy in the University Catalog. A Leave of Absence may result in deceleration and a delay in the student’s anticipated graduation date. Please see the “Deceleration Policy” below for more information.

Deceleration Policy

Deceleration is defined as a student enrolling with a later cohort to complete the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program. Any student who fails to demonstrate satisfactory academic progress after a comprehensive review by program faculty and the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) may be recommended for deceleration, depending upon the factors that resulted in the student’s unsatisfactory progress. Deceleration may also occur when a student is unable to complete the course of study as planned. Deceleration may be the result of a course failure or a Leave of Absence. 

Additionally, in some circumstances, deceleration may be offered in lieu of dismissal, depending on the student’s academic and professionalism history. Should a student decline the deceleration plan, the student will be dismissed from the program. Students who accept the deceleration agreement may be required to audit courses during deceleration to ensure that the student’s knowledge remains current. Additionally, a student may be required to repeat a criminal background check and drug screen before re-joining the program. The student is responsible for all costs associated with deceleration and remediation. Students who decelerate must complete the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program within 4 years of matriculation.

Patient Privacy 

All students must display the utmost respect for the privacy of patients, while performing thorough and appropriate physical exams. Patients must be undressed and gowned as needed for a physical exam. Breast, pelvic (male and female), and rectal exams may only be conducted with the presence of a chaperone, and only after permission from the patient and preceptor has been obtained. Students are expected to maintain professional behavior at all times and respect patient privacy, which includes judicious use of social media. Prior to entering any patient clinical experience, including shadowing, all students will be required to complete Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) training. Students will not be allowed to participate in any clinically related activities until proof is submitted that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) training has been completed. For more information about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), visit www.hhs.gov/hipaa.

Medical Advice and Evaluations

Students are required to maintain an active health insurance policy while enrolled in the program. Students should not ask faculty or staff of the University or the program for advice on personal medical problems. The Program Director, Medical Director, and faculty are not allowed to provide medical advice or healthcare to students in the program, including COVID screening and diagnosis, except in an emergency. Students who wish to seek medical attention should go to the University Health Center or their personal healthcare provider for non-clinical-rotation-related health concerns or problems. Additionally, students who need assistance with personal matters are to contact their Faculty Advisor, any available faculty member, the Student Support Office (SSO), or AllOne Health (www.mylifeexpert.com code: scuhs).

Student Employment

Physician Assistant students are not required to hold any position of employment in the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program. Program employment is not a term of acceptance or continuation in the program. Students may not work as instructional faculty or administrative staff for the program. Physician Assistant students are not employees of the hospitals or clinical sites at which they are placed for clinical rotations and, therefore, train entirely under the preceptor’s supervision. Students may not substitute for paid clinicians, clerical staff, or other workers at their assigned clinical sites. Students are strongly discouraged from working while enrolled in the program. Course and clinical rotation schedules will not be modified for students who are employed.

Student Exposure to Infectious and Environmental Hazards

Bloodborne Pathogen and Hazardous Waste Exposure Policy

This policy provides students with a clearly defined process to address bloodborne pathogen and hazardous or environmental waste exposures in terms of prevention methods, procedures for care and treatment after exposure, and financial responsibility. All students are to adhere to standard precautions to prevent contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials. When differentiation between body fluid types is difficult or impossible to determine, all body fluids shall be considered potentially infectious materials. 

Prevention Methods

All students are required to practice measures that prevent the exposure and spread of bloodborne pathogens and other potentially infectious diseases. As a result of this mandate, the program requires all enrolled students to:

  • Have the immunizations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for healthcare workers, as well as those required by clinical sites, including titers to prove immunity when indicated, and annual tuberculosis screening. Immunization status must be submitted at the time of enrollment and updated periodically as required for clinical assignments.
  • Complete the University-sponsored bloodborne pathogen training course during fall orientation. This course is repeated during the orientation to clinical rotations.
  • Understand and apply the concepts and necessity of hand hygiene procedures and protocols.
  • Understand and apply the procedure for disposal of sharps and the associated precautions to prevent needlesticks.
  • Understand and use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks, shields, gowns, and gloves to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Adhere to the University COVID-19 policies located on the University website.

Exposure Process 

Students who have been potentially exposed to a bloodborne pathogen, infectious disease, or environmental hazard must do the following: 

  • Wash their hands and any other affected skin area with soap and water and flush mucous membranes with water as soon as feasible.
  • Immediately seek care at the site or the nearest emergency department or medical facility.
  • Contact the course instructor.
  • Complete the program’s Incident Report form on Exxat.
  • Receive written clearance from the treating provider to return to school or clinic.

Failure to report a bloodborne pathogen, infectious disease, or environmental hazard incident within 72 hours of the incident may result in a referral to the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) for review of professionalism.

Additionally, students who have questions or concerns should contact the program and follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for appropriate treatment and follow-up regarding exposure to possible bloodborne pathogens. This information can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/bbp/emergnedl.html.

Students are required to maintain an active health insurance policy while enrolled in the program. Students are responsible for the financial costs associated with the exposure, treatment, and follow-up of post-exposure care.

Insurance

Medical Insurance

Students are required to maintain an active health insurance policy while enrolled in the program. Insurance cards must be uploaded to Exxat and approved prior to matriculation. Health insurance must remain valid for the duration of the program. If a student changes to another health insurance policy during their time in the program, a new insurance card must be uploaded at that time.

General Liability Insurance

Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) provides professional liability insurance for all students while enrolled as a student in a course involving patient contact. This insurance covers non-medically related accidents. Students are not employees and therefore are not covered by the University’s worker compensation insurance. 

Solicitation of Clinical Sites and Preceptors

Prospective and currently matriculated students are not expected or required to provide or solicit clinical rotation sites or preceptors. Students may recommend a new rotation site; however, the site must be approved by the program before the student may be assigned to the clinical site and/or preceptor. Students must submit the proper paperwork at least six months in advance for clinical site approval (depending on the facility, it can take up to one year or more to gain site approval). The program will attempt to accommodate these requests; however, approval is not automatically granted. The Associate Program Director of Clinical Education will deem whether the site is appropriate and approved. Students who choose this option must observe the following guidelines when attempting to arrange for a potential preceptor and/or clinical site:

  • Students should allow at least six months for the necessary paperwork to be completed and approved before the site may be used.
  • The student is responsible for forwarding the preceptor’s contact information (including phone, fax, and email) to the Associate Program Director of Clinical Education and/or a Clinical Coordinator.
  • The Associate Program Director of Clinical Education or a Clinical Coordinator will review and validate all information to determine if the site is appropriate for student placement.
  • A student’s relative cannot serve as a preceptor.
  • Students are prohibited from contacting any other Physician Assistant programs to inquire about their clinical placements.
  • Students are prohibited from contacting the current site placement department to seek approval; all clinical site contact must be handled through the program’s clinical team.

Service

The program is dedicated to promoting service with the goal of preventing burnout, giving back to the community, and promoting the Physician Assistant profession. With the assistance of our Physician Assistant Student Society (PASS) representatives and leadership, our students are encouraged to provide service in the community, at pre-PA student clubs and schools, with other healthcare workers, and those in underserved areas. Our faculty actively support our students in this effort, as we believe that service is a vital part of promoting our mission.

Curriculum



Courses identified as *IPE are either taken with students from other programs, or are clinical courses offered in integrative healthcare settings.

Foundational Health Sciences


Physician Assistant Health Sciences


Research and Capstone


Interprofessional Education


Clinical Clerkship