A career as a physician assistant is inherently collaborative, working alongside physicians and other health care professionals to provide exemplary care through optimal team practice.

Anchored in Christian understanding, the mission of the Samford University's Department of Physician Assistant Studies is to nurture and develop students both spiritually and academically to provide empathetic, compassionate medical care and service to the community. --Department of Physician Assistant Studies Mission Statement

The School of Health Professions' newest program will offer students a personalized education experience with a low student-to-faculty ratio in both classroom and clinical settings. Future students will be able to complete the program within 27 months of enrollment and sit for national certification and state licensure exams upon graduation.

Samford will begin enrolling students for August 2019, pending achieving accreditation-provisional status from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

Like many careers within the health professions, physician assistant is a career in great demand. U.S.. News & World Report ranked the profession no. 3 on its list of The 100 Best Jobs in 2017, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor and Statistic reports physician assistant should see a 30 percent expected job growth before 2024. (The average for all occupations is only seven percent.)

Program anticipated to begin August 2019

Admission Requirements

Application Opens: April 23, 2019
Application Deadline: August 1, 2019
Entry Month: August 2019 [see Accreditation] 

Minimum requirements for admission include:

  • Baccalaureate degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university (degree in any field) or be in the senior year of undergraduate study.
  • Cumulative GPA minimum of 3.0 (4-point scale) on all undergraduate and graduate work completed at a regionally accredited university or college.
    • A science GPA of 3.0 (4-point scale) on all undergraduate and graduate work completed at an accredited university or college within the United States.
    • A non-science cumulative GPA of 3.0 (4-point scale) on all undergraduate and graduate work completed at an accredited university or college within the United States.
  • Minimum of C letter grade in all prerequisite courses from a regionally accredited college or university within the United States; these include
    • General Psychology or Abnormal Psychology or Developmental Psychology—two of the three required (6 semester hours)
    • Human Anatomy & Human Physiology with labs, or Anatomy & Physiology I and II with labs or Comparative Anatomy and Mammalian physiology with labs. (Must complete a full sequence. Substitutions for separate course sequence will not be accepted.) (6-8 semester hours)
    • General biology I and II (6-8 semester hours) *Survey and intro courses not acceptable
    • Microbiology with lab  (3-4 semester hours) *Survey and intro courses not acceptable
    • General Chemistry I and II with labs or higher Chemistry (Organic I or Organic II) (8-9 semester hours) *Survey and intro courses not acceptable
    • Statistics, including statistical tests and analysis (3 semester hours)
    • Medical Terminology  (1 semester hour)
  • If coursework is completed in an institution outside of the United States, an international credential evaluation is required reporting prior university. Samford accepts evaluations from World Education Services (WES), found at wes.org or AACRAO International Education Services (IES), found at ies.aacrao.org.
    • International applicants or American citizens who learned English as a second language must score at least 550 (paper), 213 (computer) or 80 (Internet) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Must complete 24 credit hours as a full-time student in a U.S. regionally accredited institution. We cannot issue an I-20 for this program at this time.
  • GRE or MCAT is required. No minimum score. Students will be evaluated on a competitive basis.
    • Submit GRE scores to CASPA using code 2733
    • Contact the Association of American Medical Colleges for submission of MCAT scores to CASPA
  • The program is a lock-step program, we do not grant or award advanced placement.
    • Samford's School of Health Professions does not uphold any admission or enrollment practices that favor specific individuals or groups. 
  • Direct patient care experience in strongly encouraged but not required. 
  • Applicants may have 6 prerequisite credits in progress at the time the application is submitted.
  • Upon acceptance, a non-refundable fee of $500 is required to secure admission into the program. The fee is applied to the first semester's tuition.
Exceptions to any admission requirements will be handled on an individual basis.

Application Process

The steps below outline the application process for Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program. To apply, you are required to submit both an application through CASPA as well as a physician assistant supplemental form. The link to the supplemental form will be e-mailed when your application is submitted. Before starting these applications, we recommend that you complete the following steps:

  • Obtain student copies of your college transcripts to assist you in completing the coursework section for the application.
  • Please review the application instructions at https://help.liaisonedu.com/CASPA_Applicant_Help_Center
  • The CASPA application must be submitted and completed by August 1. Please allow up to four weeks for verification, contact CASPA for more information.
  • Official transcripts from every college or university attended are considered part of the CASPA application and must be sent directly to:
    CASPA Transcript Processing Center
    P.O. Box 9108
    Watertown, MA 02471
  • Applications will not be verified until all official transcripts have been received by CASPA.  Please do not send transcripts to Samford University.
  • CASPA only accepts electronic transcripts from Credentials Solutions and Parchment. If your school does not offer either of these services, your transcript must be sent by mail. CASPA cannot accept transcripts sent via email.
  • Pay the initial service fee of $110 when submitting the CASPA application.
  • Obtain three letters of recommendation from 1) current or previous professor; 2) supervisor; and 3) PA, MD, DO or CRNP. These letters of recommendation must be submitted through CASPA. The references should attest to the applicant's academic ability and potential.
  • Please fill out all sections of the application.
  • Submit Graduate Record Examination Score electronically to CASPA, Institution Code 2733 no later than the August 1 deadline. For details, visit ETS. Applicants can self-report unofficial scores on their CASPA application, but this does not replace official score reports. Contact the Association of American Medical Colleges for submission of MCAT scores to CASPA.

Accreditation

The School of Health Professions at Samford University has applied for Accreditation - Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The School of Health Professions at Samford University anticipates matriculating its first class in August 2019, pending achieving Accreditation - Provisional status at the March 2019 ARC-PA meeting. Accreditation - Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Student Outcome Data

As students graduate from our programs, outcome data will be published regarding:

  • PANCE Examination Results
  • Graduation/Completion Rate
  • Employment Rate

Plan of Study

Tuition and Fees

The total projected cost for the Samford University's Physician Assistant Studies program, including tuition, fees, etc., is $97,000. This is an estimate and will be dependent on approval by the Samford University's Board of Trustees.  The projected cost is subject to change.

Technical Standards

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, is an intense and rigorous program that requires knowledge in all fields of medicine and the basic skills needed within these fields to practice effectively. The objective of this program is to prepare graduates to enter a variety of employment settings and to render care to a diverse patient population. Students must exhibit both the mental and cognitive capabilities to complete the program including all of its didactic and clinical components. Students are expected to graduate in good standing and successfully complete the board examination obtaining licensure. Samford University will provide the necessary accommodations to prepare our students from both the didactic and technical aspects preparing them for their future careers as physician assistants.

Physical Requirements

Candidates must meet certain physical requirements for acceptance and completion of the program. The program has the ethical responsibility to assure that patients will be provided with safe and appropriate medical care.  With this in mind, patient safety is a major consideration in determining the physical, cognitive and emotional capabilities of students both through admission and matriculation through the program. All students must possess those intellectual, ethical, physical and emotional capabilities necessary to achieve levels of competence in the full curriculum required by the faculty. A student’s intention to practice in a narrow area of clinical medicine will not alter the technical and didactic requirements needed to successfully graduate. All students will be required to demonstrate competency in both the didactic and technical curriculum in order to complete the program.

Motor Skills

The skills needed to practice as a physician assistant are numerous. Graduates will have training in many of these skills to prepare them for the clinical year and future careers. Once properly oriented, students must be able to observe and participate in demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences. The students should have sufficient postural and neuromuscular control, sensory function, and coordination to perform appropriate physical examinations using accepted techniques. Students will be able to accurately, safely and efficiently use equipment and materials during the assessment and treatment of patients. The motor skills required from students include but are not limited to dissection of cadavers, examination of gross specimens in gross anatomy and pathology laboratories, preparation of microbiologic cultures, and microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues. Observation of gross and microscopic structures necessitates the functional use of the senses of vision and touch and is enhanced by the functional sense of smell. After reasonable training and experience, the candidate must be capable of performing a complete physical examination, including observation, palpation, percussion, and auscultation. The candidate must be capable of using instruments such as, but not limited to: a stethoscope, an ophthalmoscope, an otoscope and a sphygmomanometer. Again, students will need to demonstrate motor skills needed to perform each of these tasks. The candidate must also possess the motor skills needed to perform numerous clinical procedures such as, but not limited to, the following: pelvic examination, digital rectal examination, lumbar punctures, central venous lines, suturing, drawing blood from veins and arteries and giving intravenous injections, basic cardiopulmonary life support, and simple obstetrical procedures. The student must be capable of performing basic laboratory tests, using a calculator and a computer, reading an EKG, and interpreting common imaging tests. The student must be able to move in the clinical setting so as to act quickly in emergencies. At the conclusion of the didactic phase, the student should demonstrate proficiency in the skills described above. By the conclusion of the clinical clerkships, the student should achieve full competence in the skills described above including the ability to synthesize and organize these skills.

Communication

A student must be able to communicate with patients, families and the health care team. From eliciting patient histories to preventative care, clear and concise communication is essential in patient care. Students must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and colleagues, including individuals from different cultural and social backgrounds; this includes, but is not limited to, the ability to establish rapport with patients and communicate judgments and treatment at a level consistent with competent professional practice.

Sensory and Observational Skills 

Students must be able to observe classroom demonstrations and participate in technical procedures as required by the curriculum. They must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance, as well as, close at hand and be able to obtain a medical history directly from the patient, while observing the patient's medical condition. This observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision, hearing and other sensory modalities in order to elicit accurate patient information, make diagnoses, and perceive both verbal and non-verbal communication. 

Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Skills

Students will demonstrate the skills and ability to critically think. These skills include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Both problem solving and critical thinking require such skills, and essential to clinical practice. Students must exhibit the mental capacity to assimilate, analyze, synthesize, integrate concepts and problem solve to formulate assessment and therapeutic judgments and to be able to distinguish deviations from the norm.

Behavior and Professionalism

Candidates must possess key components needed to be a physician assistant. Empathy, integrity, work ethic, motivation, and interpersonal skills, will be assessed during the admission process and throughout the program. Candidates must possess the emotional well-being required for the full use of their intellectual abilities; the exercise of sound judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients; and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively when stressed. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainty inherent in the clinical problems of many patients.

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