2021-2022 University Catalog 
    
    Oct 21, 2021  
2021-2022 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 while focusing on 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 Exam (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) transcripts
  • 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 with lab (minimum 8 semester or quarter credits)
    • Human Anatomy with lab (minimum 4 semester or quarter credits)
    • Human Physiology with lab (minimum 4 semester or quarter credits)
    • Microbiology with lab (minimum 4 semester or quarter credits)
  • Successful completion of the following general prerequisite courses*
    • Mathematics (minimum 2 semester or quarter credits) - must be algebra or higher
    • Psychology (minimum 3 semester or quarter credits)
    • English Composition (minimum 3 semester or quarter credits)
    • Sociology or Anthropology (minimum 3 semester or quarter credits) - must be a course taken within the Sociology or Anthropology departments
    • Statistics (minimum 3 semester or quarter credits) - must be within the math, social science, or health science departments
    • 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

*All prerequisite courses must be completed with a C grade or above. Pass/fail grades will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses will be considered with a score of 3 or higher.

 

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.

  • 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:
    • 27 credits in foundational health sciences
    • 28 credits in clinical sciences
    • 16 credits in Physician Assistant health sciences
    • 3 credits in research and capstone
    • 8 credits in interprofessional education
    • 63 credits in clinical clerkship
  2. Successfully completed all required didactic and clinical coursework
  3. Earned a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75
  4. Met residency requirements
  5. Submitted a Petition to Graduate

 

Curriculum

Master of Science: Physician Assistant Program

Course Number

Course Name

IPE*

Modality

Hours

Credits

Foundational Health Sciences

GAPH101

Anatomy and Physiology with Lab 1

 

Online Interactive, On-Campus

60

3

GAPH201

Anatomy and Physiology with Lab 2

 

Online Interactive, On-Campus

60

3

GAPH301

Anatomy and Physiology with Lab 3

 

Online Interactive, On-Campus

60

3

PAPP101

Pathophysiology 1

 

Online Interactive

45

3

PAPP201

Pathophysiology 2

 

Online Interactive

45

3

PAPP301

Pathophysiology 3

 

Online Interactive

45

3

PAPH101

Pharmacology 1

 

Online Interactive

45

3

PAPH201

Pharmacology 2

 

Online Interactive

45

3

PAPH301

Pharmacology 3

 

Online Interactive

45

3

Total Foundational Health Sciences

450

27

Clinical Sciences

CMPA101

Clinical Medicine 1

 

Online Interactive

75

5

CMPA201

Clinical Medicine 2

 

Online Interactive

75

5

CMPA301

Clinical Medicine 3

 

Online Interactive

75

5

PAEM401

Emergency Medicine, Trauma, and Surgery

 

Online Interactive

30

2

PAPD401

Pediatrics

 

Online Interactive

45

3

PAGR401

Geriatrics

 

Online Interactive

30

2

XRPA201

Diagnostic Imaging 1

 

Online Interactive

60

3

XRPA301

Diagnostic Imaging 2

 

Online Interactive

60

3

Total Clinical Sciences

450

28

Physician Assistant Health Sciences

PA100

Physician Assistant Clinical Applications 1

 

Online Interactive, On-Campus

75

4

PA102

Physician Assistant Clinical Applications 2

 

Online Interactive, On-Campus

75

4

PA103

Physician Assistant Clinical Applications 3

 

Online Interactive, On-Campus

75

4

PA104

Physician Assistant Clinical Applications 4

 

Online Interactive, On-Campus

75

4

Total Physician Assistant Health Sciences

300

16

Research and Capstone

CRE0201

Research and Evidence-Based Healthcare

 

Online Interactive

30

2

PA500

PA Pre-Capstone 1

 

Online Interactive

0

0

PA600

PA Pre-Capstone 2

 

Online Interactive

0

0

PA700

PA Capstone

 

Online Interactive

15

1

Total Research and Capstone

45

3

Interprofessional Education

IHP100

Integrative Health Promotion 1

X

Online Interactive

30

1

IHP200

Integrative Health Promotion 2

X

Online Interactive

30

1

IHP300

Integrative Health Promotion 3

X

Online Interactive

30

1

IHP400

Integrative Health Promotion 4

X

Online Interactive

30

1

PAPH409

Public Health

 

Online Interactive

30

2

PAJP401

Professional Practice Seminar

 

Online Interactive

30

2

Total Interprofessional Education

180

8

Clinical Clerkship

PACLIN1

Clinical Integration Week 1

X

Blended

15

1

PACLIN2

Clinical Integration Week 2

X

Blended

15

1

PACLIN3

Clinical Integration Week 3

X

Blended

15

1

PACR501

Clinical Rotation 1

X

On-Campus

180

6

PACR502

Clinical Rotation 2

X

On-Campus

180

6

PACR503

Clinical Rotation 3

X

On-Campus

180

6

PACR504

Clinical Rotation 4

X

On-Campus

180

6

PACR505

Clinical Rotation 5

X

On-Campus

180

6

PACR506

Clinical Rotation 6

X

On-Campus

180

6

PACR507

Clinical Rotation 7

X

On-Campus

180

6

PACR508

Clinical Rotation 8

X

On-Campus

180

6

PACR509

Clinical Rotation 9

X

On-Campus

180

6

PACR510

Clinical Rotation 10

X

On-Campus

180

6

Total Clinical Clerkship

1,845

63

TOTAL PROGRAM

3,270

145

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

 

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 experience 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 clinical 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 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. Pain Management
  10. Plastic Surgery
  11. Vascular Surgery
  12. Urology
  13. Cardiothoracic Surgery
  14. Endocrinology
  15. Interventional Radiology

 

Course Sequence

Students are assigned their schedule of courses each term by the program. For a schedule of program curriculum by term, please visit the “Curriculum Summary and Clinical Experiences” page of the program website.

 

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 solely to guide student learning and to aid in the development of study plans for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (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.

 

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 Exam (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). Students must ultimately earn a score of at least 75% on both the written and Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) portions of these exams.

 

Class and Clinical Schedule

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

Didactic: Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm

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.

 

Certification Examination Eligibility

Graduates who successfully complete the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program are eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam (PANCE).

 

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 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 PAs (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 Certification Exam (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 PAs’ (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.

 

Accreditation

For information on the accreditation status of the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program, please see the “Programmatic Accreditation” section of the University Catalog.

 

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. Advisors are student advocates, in that they are a resource for providing information about selecting rotations, areas of specialization, and understanding program policies and program 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 in 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.

 

Student Support Services

The University’s Office of Student Services supports students through a variety of services. For information on student services, please see the “Student Support Services” section of the University Catalog.

 

Tuition and Fees

For information related to tuition and fees, including definitions and policies and procedures for refunds, please review the University Catalog and the program website.

 

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 clinical 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, clinical 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. 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.

 

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 or Clinical Coordinators immediately by phone or email. Students who violate this policy may receive an Academic Warning.

 

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 training 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 outcomes for the rotation. 

 

If a student will be absent, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the appropriate clinical 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 transportation problems), 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 to 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.

 

Academic Integrity Code

The academic community functions best when its members treat one another with honesty, fairness, respect,

and trust. The program expects high standards of academic integrity from all members of its community,

including students. Please refer to the Academic Integrity Code outlined in the University Catalog for more information. Students who violate the Academic Integrity Code are subject to discipline up to and including dismissal from the University.

 

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.

 

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 48 business hours 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 48 business hours, when reasonable. Students who cannot open their University email or log on 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.

 

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 on mySCU.

 

Alcohol and Drug Policy

The program follows the University’s Drug and Alcohol Awareness Policy; however, the program reserves the right to mandate random drug screening for students in the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program. The program contracts with Universal to provide background and drug screening. If a positive result is received on a drug screen, Universal will contact the student to request an explanation and/or documentation to help support those 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 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 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.

 

Tutoring

Refer to the University Catalog’s section on “Tutoring Services” for information on University and programmatic tutoring.

 

Remediation

The 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 Monitoring,” which is a proactive set of interactions with students and is intended to identify and connect with them 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 students who may experience academic or professional difficulty. The process is proactive, with the goal of identifying at-risk students 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 Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) 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 in-term academic monitoring and may mandate interventions, including an Academic Development Plan (ADP). Students who fail a didactic exam or an End of Rotation (EOR) exam may be referred to the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) for further evaluation and intervention and the student’s faculty advisor will be notified of the student’s performance. 

 

Didactic Phase Evaluation and Course Remediation

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

 

Written Exams 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.
  2. The student will then meet with the course instructor.
  3. The course instructor will assess the student’s performance and develop an assignment that will be tailored to address the failed learning outcomes that may consist of appropriate reading, program tutorial assistance, and/or utilizing Student Support Office (SSO) resources. In all cases, the student’s advisor and the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) will be notified of the student’s deficiency by the course instructor.

 

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 course instructor, faculty advisor, or Program Director will notify the student and the referring faculty member will notify the Associate Program Director of Didactic Education.
  2. The student will be referred to the Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) who 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.

 

Clinical Phase Evaluation and Course 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, breech 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), the following process will be followed: 

  1. The Associate Program Director of Clinical Education or the Clinical Coordinators will notify the student.
  2. The student will then meet with Associate Program Director of Clinical Education or Clinical Coordinators. The Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC) and the student’s faculty advisor will be notified.
  3. The Associate Program Director of Clinical Education or Clinical Coordinators will assess the student’s performance and create an assignment that will be tailored to address the failed End of Rotation (EOR) exam. The assignment may consist of one or more of the following depending on each student’s situation: appropriate reading, keyword feedback assignments, program tutorial assistance, referral to Physician Assistant Student Progress Committee (PA SPC), test bank practice questions, viewing of assigned videos on on-demand platforms, simulated platforms, and/or Student Support Office (SSO) academic resources for additional assistance. 
  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).

 

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.

 

All students who receive scores consistent with low performance on a Preceptor Evaluation of Student Performance will be evaluated by the Associate Program Director of Clinical Education or Clinical Coordinators. Students with consistently low but passing evaluation scores may be required to complete additional assignments to achieve competency in low performing areas. 

 

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. The Program Director, Associate Program Director of Clinical Education, or Clinical Coordinators will notify the student.
  2. Students who earn a failed evaluation on professionalism or interpersonal skills will be reviewed by the Associate Program Director of Clinical Education or Clinical Coordinators. 
  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. 

 

Course Failure

Course failures may result in an Academic Warning, Academic Probation, or Academic Dismissal, as outlined in the University Catalog. All failed courses (prior to a third failure, which leads to Dismissal) must be successfully remediated to progress in the program. 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.

 

Any student who fails a course, and is eligible to continue in the program, must remediate the course. Students will be given only one opportunity to remediate the course. A failed remediation is considered another failed course - which will lead to Probation for a second failure or Dismissal for a third. 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.

 

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. Deceleration is a form of remediation and will be accompanied by an Academic Development Plan (ADP) to support student success.

 

Additionally, in some circumstances, deceleration may be offered in lieu of dismissal, dependent 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. 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.

 

Withdrawal and Dismissal Policy

Please refer to the University Catalog for policies on Withdrawal and Academic Dismissal.

 

Student Grievances and Appeals

Students who are dismissed from the program may submit a written request for appeal to the Office of the Provost per the “Appeal of Academic Dismissal” policy described in the University Catalog.

 

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 supervising 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 HIPAA training/certification. Students will not be allowed to participate in any clinically related assignment(s) until proof the HIPAA training has been completed is submitted. For more information about 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 directors, and principal 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 All One Health (www.mylifeexpert.com code: scuhs).

 

Student Employment

Physician Assistant students are not required to hold any position of employment in the 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, 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. The 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 actual 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 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

The 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 Clinical Coordinators.

The Associated Program Director of Clinical Education or Clinical Coordinators 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.

 

COVID-19 Policies

The program follows the COVID-19 Policies set forth by the University. The entire policy can be found at

https://www.scuhs.edu/wp-content/uploads/Covid-Protection-Plan.pdf. Clinical students will be required to follow site-specific policies regarding COVID-19.