Physician Assistant Studies Program
Teri Bigler, DHEd., PA-C, DFAAPA
The LSUHSC Physician Assistant program consists of a continuous 27-month academic and clinical experience, which begins during the summer semester. Upon successful completion of the program, the graduate is awarded a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree. The mission of the LSUHSC PA program is to train highly competent primary care physician assistants to serve the citizens of Louisiana.
The Physician Assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Incorporated.
The physician assistant is a health care professional who is academically and clinically prepared to provide healthcare services with under the supervision of a doctor of medicine. The functions of the physician assistant include performing diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive and health maintenance services in any healthcare setting. Services performed by physician assistants include but are not limited to the following:
Evaluation: Initially approaching a patient of any age group in any setting to elicit a detailed and accurate history, perform an appropriate physical examination, delineate problems, and record and present the data.
Monitoring: Conducting rounds in acute and long-term inpatient care settings, developing and implementing patient management plans, recording progress notes and assisting in the provision of continuity of care in office-based and other ambulatory care settings.
Diagnostics: Performing and/or interpreting common laboratory, radiologic, cardiographic and other routine diagnostic procedures used to identify pathophysiologic processes.
Therapeutics: Performing routine procedures such as injections, immunizations, suturing and wound care, managing simple conditions produced by infection or trauma, participating in the management of more complex illness and injury, prescribing medications, and taking initiative in performing evaluation and therapeutic procedures in response to life-threatening situations.
Counseling: Instructing and counseling patients regarding compliance with prescribed therapeutic regimens, normal growth and development, family planning, situation adjustment reactions and health maintenance.
Referral: Facilitating the referral of patients to the community’s health and social service agencies when appropriate.
The first 12 months of the curriculum includes intensive didactic education taught by the LSUHSC faculty of Basic and Clinical Sciences and Allied Health Professions. The clinical phase of the program includes 15 months of clinical rotations throughout the State of Louisiana. Upon graduation from the Physician Assistant program, graduates are eligible for licensure as a Physician Assistant by state licensing boards and are also eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE).
Competencies for Program Completion
Upon completion of the PA Program, graduates should understand and be able to meet the Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession as published jointly by the AAPA and NCCPA. These include:
Medical knowledge includes an understanding of pathophysiology, patient presentation, differential diagnosis, patient management, surgical principles, health promotion and disease prevention. Physician assistants must demonstrate core knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care in their area of practice. In addition, physician assistants are expected to demonstrate an investigatory and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations. Physician assistants are expected to:
- understand etiologies, risk factors, underlying pathologic process, and epidemiology for medical conditions
- identify signs and symptoms of medical conditions
- select and interpret appropriate diagnostic or lab studies
- manage general medical and surgical conditions to include understanding the indications, contraindications, side effects, interactions and adverse reactions of pharmacologic agents and other relevant treatment modalities
- identify the appropriate site of care for presenting conditions, including identifying emergent cases and those requiring referral or admission
- identify appropriate interventions for prevention of conditions
- identify the appropriate methods to detect conditions in an asymptomatic individual
- differentiate between the normal and the abnormal in anatomic, physiological, laboratory findings and other diagnostic data
- appropriately use history and physical findings and diagnostic studies to formulate a differential diagnosis
- provide appropriate care to patients with chronic conditions
Interpersonal & Communication Skills
Interpersonal and communication skills encompass verbal, nonverbal and written exchange of information. Physician assistants must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, their patients’ families, physicians, professional associates, and the health care system. Physician assistants are expected to:
- create and sustain a therapeutic and ethically sound relationship with patients
- use effective listening, nonverbal, explanatory, questioning, and writing skills to elicit and provide information
- appropriately adapt communication style and messages to the context of the individual patient interaction
- work effectively with physicians and other health care professionals as a member or leader of a health care team or other professional group
- apply an understanding of human behavior
- demonstrate emotional resilience and stability, adaptability, flexibility and tolerance of ambiguity and anxiety
- accurately and adequately document and record information regarding the care process for medical, legal, quality and financial purposes
Patient care includes age-appropriate assessment, evaluation and management. Physician assistants must demonstrate care that is effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of wellness. Physician assistants are expected to:
- work effectively with physicians and other health care professionals to provide patient- centered care
- demonstrate caring and respectful behaviors when interacting with patients and their families
- gather essential and accurate information about their patients
- make informed decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient information and preferences, up-todate scientific evidence, and clinical judgment
- develop and carry out patient management plans
- counsel and educate patients and their families
- competently perform medical and surgical procedures considered essential in the area of practice
- provide health care services and education aimed at preventing health problems or maintaining health
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 assistants must know their professional and personal limitations. Professionalism also requiresthat PAs practice without impairment from substance abuse, cognitive deficiency or mental illness. Physician assistants must demonstrate a high level of responsibility, ethical practice, sensitivity to a diverse patient population and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements. Physician assistants are expected to demonstrate:
- understanding of legal and regulatory requirements, as well as the appropriate role of the physician assistant
- professional relationships with physician supervisors and other health care providers
- respect, compassion, and integrity
- responsiveness to the needs of patients and society
- accountability to patients, society, and the profession
- commitment to excellence and on-going professional development
- commitment to ethical principles pertaining to provision or withholding of clinical care, confidentiality of patient information, informed consent, and business practices
- sensitivity and responsiveness to patients’ culture, age, gender, and disabilities
- self-reflection, critical curiosity and initiative
Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
Practice-based learning and improvement includes the processes through which clinicians engage in critical analysis of their own practice experience, medical literature and other information resources for the purpose of self-improvement. Physician assistants must be able to assess, evaluate and improve their patient care practices. Physician assistants are expected to:
- analyze practice experience and perform practice-based improvement activities using a systematic methodology in concert with other members of the health care delivery team
- locate, appraise, and integrate evidence from scientific studies related to their patients’ health problems
- obtain and apply information about their own population of patients and the larger population from which their patients are drawn
- apply knowledge of study designs and statistical methods to the appraisal of clinical studies and other information on diagnostic and therapeutic effectiveness
- apply information technology to manage information, access online medical information, and support their own education
- facilitate the learning of students and/or other health care professionals
- recognize and appropriately address gender, cultural, cognitive, emotional and other biases; gaps in medical knowledge; and physical limitations in themselves and others
Systems-based practice encompasses the societal, organizational and economic environments in which health care is delivered. Physician assistants must demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger system of health care to provide patient care that is of optimal value. PAs should work to improve the larger health care system of which their practices are a part. Physician assistants are expected to:
- use information technology to support patient care decisions and patient education
- effectively interact with different types of medical practice and delivery systems
- understand the funding sources and payment systems that provide coverage for patient care
- practice cost-effective health care and resource allocation that does not compromise quality of care
- advocate for quality patient care and assist patients in dealing with system complexities
- partner with supervising physicians, health care managers and other health care providers to assess, coordinate, and improve the delivery of health care and patient outcomes
- accept responsibility for promoting a safe environment for patient care and recognizing and correcting systems-based factors that negatively impact patient care
- apply medical information and clinical data systems to provide more effective, efficient patient care
- use the systems responsible for the appropriate payment of services
Minimum Requirements for Admission
Admission to the Physician Assistant program is on a highly competitive basis. Satisfactory completion of the minimum requirements identified below is required. Meeting the following requirements does not guarantee admission into the program. Informational sessions are held at LSU Health Shreveport several times each year to assist applicants with this process. Notices regarding date and time are posted on the Allied Health website.
The prerequisites are:
- Baccalaureate degree must be received from a regionally accredited United States college or university by the day the student begins the PA program
- Minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 (as calculated by CASPA) on a 4.0 scale by the application deadline
- Minimum science GPA of 3.0 (as calculated by CASPA) on a 4.0 scale by the application deadline
- Minimum GRE combined score of 290 (Quantitative + Verbal) within 5 years of the application deadline
- Enter GRE scores into the CASPA online application. Do not request your score report to be mailed to the PA program during the application period.
- Course prerequisites (credit hours in parenthesis) -
- All prerequisite course work must be completed at a regionally accredited United States college or university by the day the student begins the PA program
- All science courses must be for science majors
- Prerequisite courses must be satisfactorily completed with a grade of C or better prior to entering the program; pass/fail grades are not accepted
- NOTE: each course can only count toward one prerequisite criterion (for example, an upper level physiology course can count towards the physiology requirement or the upper level biology requirement but not both)
- Anatomy (4 hours) - human or comparative with a lab
- Part I of A&P with lab only if A&P II is also taken
- Physiology (3 hours) - general or human
- Part II or A&P II with lab only if A&P I is also taken
- Microbiology (4 hours) - Sophomore level or higher (200/2000 level) with a lab
- Chemistry (8 hours) - general or inorganic or organic with labs
- Upper Level Biology Electives (8 hours) -
- Course must have a BIO course name and number
- Number must begin with a 3 or 4 (300/400 or 3000/4000 level)
- Highly suggested courses (but not required): Advanced anatomy, advanced physiology, cell biology, genetics, immunology, parasitology, virology, and other similar courses.
- The following courses will not be counted towards this requirement: Seminar, selected topics, special topics, research courses, and other similar courses.
- Statistics (3 hours) - bio, psyc, math or business course number
- Medical Terminology (3 hours)
- Healthcare direct patient contact experience (80 contact hours)
- Volunteer, observation, or work in a human patient care environment with direct patient contact
- Examples include: shadowing PAs or physicians, observing in patient care settings, student worker positions directly dealing with patients, patient life volunteer, any credentialed positions (LPN, RN, EMT, etc.).
- It is strongly recommended that a substantial amount of time be spent observing and talking to practicing PAs.
Due to the wide variety of experiential learning that can occur prior to admission, the LSUHSC Physician Assistant program does not award credit or advanced placement for any previous work or scholastic experience. All course work must be completed within the PA curriculum without exception. This is also true of prerequisite course work. Please contact the Office of Admissions for more information.
Method of Application
Procedures for applying to the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program are as follows:
- Application to the program is two-fold. Applicants must complete the electronic application online at www.caspaonline.org and the supplemental application available at http://www.lsuhscshreveport.edu/AlliedHealth/AHDepartments/PhysicalAssistant/index
- Application materials will be available late April through October for the class entering each summer.
- All materials must be completed and returned to the PA Program by October 1.
- Applications will be evaluated based on GPA, science GPA, GRE (verbal, quantitative, and writing) score, application quality, healthcare experience quality and quantity, life experience, and essay.
- Generally, all applicants will be notified via CASPA email of their application status by December 15th.
- Interviews are held in the fall semester. Due to the large number of applicants interviewed, alternative interview times are difficult to schedule and might not be available.
- An admission committee makes decisions regarding student admissions. This committee consists of program faculty. The program director and Dean of the School of Allied Health Professions approve the final decision of the admissions committee.
- Accepted applicants receive an official letter of offer in the mail. Applicants are expected to notify the program, in writing, of their acceptance of the offer, and send a deposit for the position in the program. The deadline for this will be delineated in the notification of acceptance. Any applicant who fails to respond by the deadline will forfeit their slot.
- Each accepted applicant must sign a copy of the Technical Standards and return them to the program acknowledging their intent and ability to abide by them.
- Accepted applicants will be required to pass a criminal history background check and a drug screening prior to enrolling into the program.
- Applicants may be notified they have been placed on the alternate list. This is the list that is used to replace an accepted student that decides not to attend the program. Applicants on the alternate list can be contacted until registration is complete for the first day of class.
Transfer of Credit
Graduate credit earned from another recognized institution will not be accepted to take the place of any of the required PA curriculum. The only exception occurs if the student has attended another program at LSUHSC - Shreveport within the last 24 months. In this instance, credit received for similar coursework may be granted at the discretion of the program director.
Advising for Potential Applicants
The Physician Assistant program offers Information sessions twice a year and are open to the public. Notices of dates and times are on the website. Attendance at these sessions is not required for admission. However, attendance is suggested to ensure the applicant is up-to-date on changing prerequisites and requirements. The applicant is held responsible for knowing program prerequisites and requirements. An information session video is available for viewing on the webpage by clicking here.
Academic Progression Requirements
The following requirements pertaining to academic progression apply to students enrolled in the Physician Assistant program.
1. A minimum semester and cumulative GPA of 3.0 must be maintained, with a maximum of 9 credits of C allowed.
2. The minimum scholastic requirement for course work is a grade of “C” or better. In courses designated “Pass/Fail”, a grade of “Pass” is required to maintain good academic standing.
3. All didactic courses must be taken in the sequence found elsewhere in this description. All didactic course work must be successfully completed before the student may move into the clinical year.
4. The program does not offer remediation for its didactic courses. During the didactic year, the program considers the course work in each didactic semester to be absolute prerequisites to courses offered in successive semesters. Therefore, if an unacceptable grade is recorded in any didactic course, the student will be dismissed from the program.
5. A student must successfully complete a summative evaluation that tests didactic knowledge and clinical skills knowledge before progressing to the clinical year. This exam can be written, oral, practical, or a combination of the three and is administered at the end of the didactic year. Failure of the summative evaluation will result in the student being dismissed from the program, regardless of overall GPA.
6. A policy regarding the Clinical Year is made available to students before they embark on their clinical rotations. If an unacceptable grade is earned in a clinical rotation or the preceptorship course, the rotation must be repeated. This will delay graduation from the program.
7. As a requirement for accreditation, every student must successfully complete a summative evaluation in the summer semester prior to graduation. The summative evaluation tests didactic and clinical knowledge. This exam can be written, oral, practical, or a combination of the three. Failure of the summative evaluation will result in a grade of F in the Preceptorship course.
8. All clinical courses and the preceptorship course may be repeated one time only. Students who repeat a course but earn an unacceptable grade will be dismissed from the program.
9. Students are subject to scholastic probation and dismissal based on GPA requirements set forth for graduate students in the School of Allied Health Professions. Students on scholastic probation are not eligible for graduation from the program.
10. Students dismissed from the program must reapply to the program on a competitive basis.
In order to achieve the status of academic progression, the student must meet the following minimum standards:
1. Satisfy the scholastic requirements listed above and in the SAHP general section of this catalog/bulletin.
2. Satisfactorily complete the required number of credit hours per semester established by the Program.
The Program will review students’ academic progress after completion of each semester. Appeals may be made in accordance with procedures set forth in the section of the catalog/bulletin entitled Student Academic Appeals.
Technical Standards of The Physician Assistant Program
In addition to proven academic ability and other relevant personal characteristics, the LSUHSC Shreveport School of Allied Health Professions, Physician Assistant Program expects all applicants for admission to possess and be able to demonstrate the skills, attributes and qualities set forth below without unreasonable dependence on technology or intermediaries. If accommodations are needed by a student in order to perform the technical standards, he or she must notify the Office of Student Affairs after being accepted into the program.
Physical Health: : A physician assistant student must possess the physical health and stamina needed to carry out the program of medical education. This includes mental stress, extended work hours, weekends, and holidays.
Intellectual Skills: A physician assistant student must have sufficient powers of intellect to acquire, assimilate, integrate and apply information. A physician assistant student must have the intellectual ability to solve problems. A physician assistant student must possess the ability to comprehend three-dimensional and spiral relationships.
Motor Skills: A physician assistant student must have sufficient use of motor skills to carry out all necessary procedures, both those involved in learning the fundamental sciences and those required in the hospital and clinical environment. This includes the ability to participate in relevant educational exercises and to extract information from written sources. This includes the ability to stand/walk for long periods, move and communicate while in a sterile surgical field, and handle sharp instruments safely.
Communication: A physician assistant student must have sufficient use of the senses of speech, hearing and vision to communicate effectively with patients, teachers and peers in both oral and written forms.
Sensory Abilities: A physician assistant student must have sufficient use of the senses of vision, hearing, touch and smell to observe effectively in the classroom, laboratory and clinical setting. Students must possess the ability to observe both close at hand and at a distance with both eyes including depth perception.
Behavioral Qualities: A physician assistant student must possess emotional health sufficient to carry out the tasks above, must have good judgment, and must behave in a professional, reliable, mature, ethical and responsible manner. A physician assistant student must be adaptable, possessing sufficient flexibility to function in new and stressful environments. A physician assistant student must possess appropriate motivation, integrity, emotional stability, compassion and a genuine interest in caring for others.
Physician Assistant Studies Expenses
The Physician Assistant student may have additional expenses that are not required by other Allied Health programs. This includes, but is not limited to, the cost of certain required medical instruments, the cost of housing for 4-8 week rotations throughout Louisiana, exam fees and fees for membership to professional organizations such as the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the Louisiana Academy of Physician Assistants.