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Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)
Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)
The MPAS Program at St. Catherine University is an entry-level, graduate education program that prepares students to be physician assistants. Physician assistants (PAs) are licensed health professionals who practice medicine under the supervision of licensed physicians. They evaluate patients by taking histories, performing physical exams, and ordering and interpreting laboratory and diagnostic studies. PAs also prescribe medication, counsel patients, make referrals to specialists, and certify health status.
This program educates students for general practice in primary care. Students will earn a Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree upon successful completion of the Program and will be prepared to take the National Certification Examination required for licensure and clinical practice.
After 40 years of professional presence, PAs are well respected, valuable contributors to the health care team. The roles and responsibilities delegated to PAs can vary, depending upon the state license, experience and ongoing training of the PA, the needs and preferences of the supervising physicians, and the patient populations served. PAs are certified on a national level, but their scope of practice and legal oversight is regulated at the state level. The America Association of Physician Assistants (AAPA) has issued advisory opinions to state regulatory boards for PA practice standards. Variance of practice regulation still exists among states, ranging from the degree of oversight required to prescriptive authority.
PAs are dependant practitioners of medicine. Regulation of physician assistant practice occurs through supervisory agreements; whereby physicians delegate scope of practice to a PA. This MD-PA supervisory agreement allows for flux in PA responsibility according to differing physician delegation of responsibility. PAs must also practice medicine within the scope of practice of their supervising physicians.
Primary care has been the main practice area for PAs, but as physician specialty practice has increased, so has specialty practice increased for PAs as well. Given the advanced knowledge required for practice in a specialty, PAs who practice in specialty settings may have different roles and levels of responsibility than do their family practice PA colleagues.
St. Catherine's Master of Physician Assistant Studies program is a full time, focused course of study that consists of 110 credits and over 2,000 clinical hours. Courses run full time during fall semester, J-term, spring semester, and summer session. The full-time curriculum takes 29 months to complete and is divided into three sections: 14 months of academic courses, 14 months of supervised clinical experiences and a concluding senior seminar.
The 14-month academic phase of the program covers traditional medical content that is organized around body systems, patient populations and practice settings — with an integrated approach incorporating many traditional “stand-alone” medical courses such as anatomy, pathophysiology, clinical medicine, patient evaluation and management.
The academic phase is followed by 14 months of clinical clerkships. The 14 months of clinical experience time is divided into clinical clerkships of various lengths in the areas of: family medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, general surgery, internal medicine, emergency medicine and mental health. Several weeks of elective time allow St. Kate's students the opportunity to customize their own learning with a focus toward specific areas of interest, global perspectives or strengthening areas of self-assessed weakness. Clinical clerkships take place at several practice locations and students will use an electronic database to log patient encounters during their supervised clinical experiences.
The program concludes with a senior seminar designed to polish and present student portfolios and enhance a student’s preparedness for the national certification exam and for employment as a physician assistant.
The Master of Physician Assistant Studies program strives to:
- Graduate students who have obtained the foundational knowledge, skills and professional attributes necessary for physician assistant certification and practice.
- Provide an innovative curriculum and resources within a supportive learning community.
- Emphasize evidence-based primary care practice, highlighting a holistic, patient-centered approach to health and wellness.
- Promote effective and professional communication and interpersonal skills for interaction with patients, their families, peers, consultants and healthcare team members.
- Incorporate the critical thinking, clinical reasoning and medical decision-making skills reflective of quality patient care.
- Emphasize inter-professional and team relationships across disciplines and health professions.
- Value the highest standards of professionalism and the fundamental importance of ethical practice and social justice, thereby reflecting principals of Catholic social teaching and intellectual inquiry.
- Align with the Liberal Arts Goals of St. Catherine University.
- Promote leadership skills and abilities.
- Foster an appreciation for research and participate in the generation of new knowledge.
- Advance understanding of diversity, global responsibility and competence in providing effective medical care in diverse settings.
- Collaborate with clinical and community partners for reciprocal benefits.
- Recruit, retain and support the development of a highly qualified faculty.
- Remain responsive to the healthcare needs of the community within the context of healthcare reform.
STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES
Students will attain the breadth and depth of curricular and co-curricular content necessary for fulfillment of the MPAS program mission, for first-attempt passing of the NCCPA certification exam, and for successful practice as a physician assistant. The Learning Outcomes reflect the competencies of many professional sources, to include: the NCCPA blueprint, the Physician Assistant Professional Competencies, and the ARC-PA Accreditation Standards within the foundational mission, values and liberal arts goals of St. Catherine University. Students will be expected to demonstrate competency in eight core learning outcome categories.
Graduates of the MPAS Program will:
- Comprehend a wealth of medical knowledge including an understanding of basic and biomedical sciences, clinical medicine, patient presentation, differential diagnosis, patient management, surgical principals, health promotion and disease prevention.
- Demonstrate core knowledge and skills in researching established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care.
Patient Care: Evaluation, Assessment and Management
- Attain knowledge and skills in the area of patient care including age-appropriate assessment, evaluation and management of disease and wellness.
- Demonstrate care that is effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of wellness.
Healthcare Systems Based Practice
- Attain the knowledge and understanding of healthcare systems-based practice, which encompasses the societal, organizational and economic environments in which health care is delivered.
- Demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger system of health care to provide optimal patient care and improvements to community and health care systems.
Interpersonal Skills and Communication (Leadership, Collaboration & Team Based Care)
- Demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills for effective information exchange with patients, their patients’ families, physicians, professional associates, and the health care system.
- Possess interpersonal and communication skills that encompasses verbal, nonverbal and written exchange of information.
- Attain the skills and attributes necessary to participate in team-based care, work in collaboration with others and take on leadership roles in their community, clinic or profession.
PA Practice/Professionalism; Ethics, Social Justice and Catholic Intellectual Teaching
- Demonstrate professionalism, ethical conduct, responsibility, sensitivity to a diverse patient population and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements.
- Demonstrate a solid understanding of Physician Assistant practice, which includes an understanding of professional and personal limitations.
- Explain commitment to Catholic Social Teaching, Intellectual Inquiry and the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services of respect for life, service and advocacy; contribute to common good, and stewardship of resources.
Practice Based Learning
- Apply practice-based learning skills that include critical analysis of self learning, mentorship, analysis of medical resources and literature, and use of technology and resources for implementation of the electronic health record, management of health information, and practice of evidence-based medicine.
Cultural Competence: Patient Populations, Diversity and Global Perspectives
- Demonstrate the knowledge, professional attitude and skills related to cultural competence, its relationship to health, health disparities, disease incidence and prevalence for specific communities and diverse patients.
Clinical Reasoning through Critical Thinking and Creative Inquiry
- Demonstrate effective clinical reasoning skills through critical thinking and creative inquiry.
- Demonstrate an investigatory and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations.
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) is the national accrediting agency of Physician Assistant Programs. The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation - Provisional to the St. Catherine University Physician Assistant Program. This status indicates that the plans and resource allocation for the proposed program appear to demonstrate the program's ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards, if fully implemented as planned. Accreditation - Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status and is limited to no more than three years for any program. The next accreditation site visit is scheduled to take place between February 1st to June 31st, 2015.
Completion of 110 graduate credits with an overall minimum grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Must pass summative exam at the conclusion of the Program.
YEARS TO COMPLETE THE PROGRAM
Students typically complete the program within 2.5 academic years of initial enrollment.
FIRST YEAR (50 CREDITS)
PA 6000 Seminar I: Foundations (1 cr)
PA 6010 Dermatology (3 cr)
PA 6020 Ear/Nose/Throat (3 cr)
PA 6030 Cardiovascular (5 cr)
PA 6040 Pulmonology (4 cr)
PA 6050 Musculoskeletal (4 cr)
PA 6060 Neurology (3 cr)
PA 6070 Gastroenterology (3 cr)
PA 6080 Genitourinary (2 cr)
PA 6090 Hematology and Oncology (2 cr)
PA 6110 Endocrinology (2 cr)
PA 6120 Mental Health (2 cr)
PA 6200 Women's Health (2 cr)
PA 6300 Pediatrics (2 cr)
PA 6400 Aging and Elderly (2 cr)
PA 6500 Special Populations (2 cr)
PA 6600 Outpatient, Chronic and Long Term Care (2 cr)
PA 8010 Research I (2 cr)
PA 8020 Research II (2 cr)
PA 8030 Research III (2 cr)
SECOND YEAR (47 CREDITS)
PA 6700 Surgical and Hospital Care (2 cr)
PA 6800 Urgent, Emergent and Acute Care (2 cr)
PA 7250 Transitions (3 cr)
PA 8040 Research IV (1 cr)
PA 8050 Research V (1 cr)
Clinical Clerkships: Students will register for clerkships in varying order from each other. Any of the following will occur in the second year. All of these, with the exception of 4 credits of a course will occur in the third year. Clerkship courses will be assigned at the conclusion of the first spring term.
PA 7100 Family Medicine (8 cr)
PA 7200 Pediatrics (4 cr)
PA 7300 Women’s Health (2 cr)
PA 7400 Internal Medicine (6 cr)
PA 7500 General Surgery (4 cr)
PA 7600 Emergency Medicine (6 cr)
PA 7700 Mental Health (4 cr)
PA 7800 Elective I (4 cr)
PA 7850 Elective II (4 cr)
THIRD YEAR (13 CREDITS)
Clinical Clerkship Course (4 cr)
PA 7900 Senior Clerkship I (4 cr)
PA 7950 Senior Clerkship II (4 cr)
PA 7999 Senior Seminar/Capstone (1 cr)
GENERAL PROGRESSION and REMEDIATION REQUIREMENTS
In addition to fulfilling University requirements and following all University policies for graduate program standing and progression, students enrolled in the MPAS Program must observe the following progression requirements:
- Adherence to all course prerequisites
- Adherence, as developmentally appropriate, to codes and standards of the physician assistant profession, and demonstration of generic abilities in professional behavior
- Maintenance of good program standing, as defined by the University
- Students must successfully complete the didactic phase of the Program and the cumulative formative evaluation for entrance into the clinical year of the curriculum
- Demonstration, as is developmentally appropriate, of progress toward graduation competencies of the MPAS curriculum
- Students must successfully complete all core clinical clerkship courses prior to taking the Program summative written exam
- Students must successfully complete the research sequence, clinical quality improvement projects, professional phase courses and summative exams for conclusion of the Program
- Approval for graduation through completion of a graduate exit interview with positive recommendation from Program principal faculty
ACADEMIC STANDARDS AND PROGRESSION
Successful academic progression through the Program requires a student receive an 80% or above for every course, or successfully remediates that course. Multiple modalities of assessments are utilized within each of the courses. It is the cumulative score of these assessment measures that must be ≥ 80% to pass. Students with scores less than 80% must remediate the course according to the devised academic mentoring plan. In addition, students are expected to maintain a cumulative GPA greater than or equal to 3.0.
Performance on Course Assessment Components
Students who fail a component of assessment within a course, but do not fail the course, must communicate with their advisor and/or course coordinator to establish an Academic Mentoring Plan. Advisors who identify weaknesses at mid-term advising or consistently low assessment components of a course may use the AMP form for guiding student learning.
Didactic Phase Progression
Students who fail a course in the didactic phase must discuss their performance with the course coordinator and/or faculty advisor who will guide the plan for reassessment by establishing an academic mentoring plan. This immediate remediation may include directed study and/or tutoring. Students who require remediation and course reassessment will retake course assessments within four academic days, which is usually the Thursday after the failed course concluded.
If a student does not pass the course reassessment, they are placed on academic probation and this is considered a course failure. The student must meet with their advisor who will determine and oversee the student’s remediation through an Academic Improvement Plan (AIP). The AIP may require a student to participate in an extended learning activity at the conclusion of the term. Students with a failed course, and a failed first reassessment of that course, will complete a second and final reassessment of the failed course at the conclusion of the term. Failure to pass the second reassessment may result in academic dismissal. Successful completion of the second reassessment allows for continued progression in the Program but does not replace the failed course grade.
Successful completion of the second remediation and the formative cumulative at the end of the didactic phase ensures the student has the foundation necessary in the course material to successfully progress in the Program.
Failure of two courses within the didactic phase may result in academic dismissal from the Program. Students must pass every course or successfully remediate every course in the didactic phase before progressing to the clinical phase.
Students who fail and successfully remediate a course will be assigned a grade no greater than 80%. Students who fail the remediation will receive a failing grade for the course.
Clinical Phase Progression
Students who fail a course in the clinical phase will be placed on academic probation and are required to repeat both the supervised clinical clerkship and the coursework associated with the failed clinical course. Students must discuss their performance with the course coordinator and/or faculty advisor who will guide the plan for remediation through the Academic Improvement Plan (AIP). If the student fails to remediate and pass the clinical clerkship reassessment, they are at risk for academic dismissal. In addition to the ongoing evaluation and discussion of student progress at regular faculty meetings, the overall academic standing of each student will be reviewed at the end of each academic semester.
A student with a failed course and subsequent failed first reassessment shall be placed on academic probation and receive a letter from the Program Director stating such. Students are also expected to maintain an overall cumulative GPA of 3.0. Students will receive a letter of probation if their cumulative GPA falls below 3.0. Students will have one semester to raise their cumulative GPA above 3.0. Program probationary status may remain in effect for up to two consecutive academic terms, defined as two semesters, or two clinical clerkships. Upon completion of each academic term, a student on academic probation will receive in writing, from the Program Director, a notice of his/her current standing.
Each student‘s academic status will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and at the end of each academic semester. Each student‘s cumulative GPA will be determined. A student whose GPA falls below a B average as defined by the Program requirements, for two consecutive academic semesters, may be dismissed from the Program.
Student Evaluation of Clerkship: During the clinical year, students are required to evaluate each clerkship and complete the evaluation at the end of each rotation. The information from these evaluations will be used to update the data on each clinical site, correct deficiencies if present, and as a resource for placing future students in that site. These data will be entered on E*VALUE.
Preceptor Mid-Rotation and Final Evaluation of Student Performance: The student is to remind and encourage the preceptor to perform a mid-rotation evaluation to point out strengths and weaknesses that the student has demonstrated during the first-half of the rotation. In this way, students are able to work on those areas of weakness for the remainder of the rotation. The preceptor is responsible for evaluating student performance during the clerkship at the end of the clerkship as well, and is encouraged (but not required) to discuss this evaluation with the student prior to the completion of the rotation. Students are evaluated on their basic medical knowledge, ability to obtain a medical history, and to perform an appropriate physical examination. In addition, students are evaluated on interpersonal and communication skills, professionalism, practice-based learning and systems-based learning.
Grading: Students are expected to maintain their overall GPA minimum of 3.0 to remain in good academic standing in the MPAS Program. If a student receives a final grade that is below 80%, the student must repeat that clinical clerkship course. The final grade of each rotation is determined by multiple factors including the preceptor evaluations; the oral presentation, attendance, professionalism, completion of required electronic entries, and the end-of-rotation exam grade (see individual syllabi). The Clinical Coordinator will determine the final grade for each rotation.
All required clinical rotations must be satisfactorily completed as judged by the Clinical Coordinator before the student can be recommended for graduation from the Program. If the student is not performing at an acceptable clinical and professional level at the rotation site, and is either removed or dismissed from the site prior to the end of the rotation due to poor performance or unprofessional behavior, an investigatory process will be completed by the Clinical Coordinator. If it is determined that the student earned a less than satisfactory grade for that rotation, that student will have to repeat the rotation in its entirety. Once again, depending on the academic standing status of that student, he/she may be subject to dismissal from the Program.
Students are expected to behave in a professional manner consistent with the Professionalism Guidelines for the PA Student. At the end of the first year, a formative evaluation of each student will be completed. At the end of the second year, a summative evaluation of each student will be completed. Students must achieve competency in all areas of professional behavior, and have an Exit Interview with the Program Director in order to receive a recommendation to graduate from the Program Director. Behaviors indicating difficulty in displaying responsible learning, such as failure to attend class regularly, chronic tardiness, unsatisfactory work, reticence to interact in class, difficulty with interpersonal communication, etc., normally require the student to delineate professional development goals and strategies as a part of the plan for professional development to resolve these problems. Failure to improve or achieve competency in professional behavior may lead to sanctions.
Students will be closely monitored throughout their clinical year. Preceptors are required to notify the Clinical Coordinator immediately upon having concerns about a student in order that necessary remedial work can begin as soon as possible.
Students who fail to meet the academic standards outlined may be subject to academic sanctions including academic probation, suspension, establishment of an Academic Mentoring Plan or an Academic Improvement Plan, and/or dismissal.
Grounds for being placed on academic probation include, but are not limited to:
- Failure to maintain a cumulative GPA above 3.0
- Course failure
- Lapses in professionalism
All courses in the MPAS Program are offered only once an academic year and serve as prerequisites for subsequent courses. In the event of course failure, a student may be suspended from taking subsequent courses until the failed course is successfully retaken. In the event that a student is found to pose a danger to themselves, faculty, staff, or patients at clinical sites, the student may be suspended until the situation is investigated or the student is dismissed from the Program.
The Academic Mentoring Plan (AMP)
Grounds for Program dismissal include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Failure to raise the cumulative GPA above 3.0 at the completion of two academic Program semesters of probation (this includes the summer session)
- Two course failures
- Failure to meet conditions established in an AMP or AIP
- Lapses in professionalism that are not corrected on an improvement plan, or are so severe that the patient is placed in jeopardy
PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT PROGRAM SPECIFIC GUIDELINES
Credits for graduation will be granted only for those courses in which a passing grade is earned as described in that course‘s syllabus. In order to progress in the Program, students must achieve and maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average equivalent to a 3.0.
Students failing a test should consult the course syllabus and instructor for direction. If a student fails a course within the MPAS curriculum, the student will not be allowed to continue into the next semester, nor can he/she enroll in any other PA courses until the failed course has been retaken and successfully completed. Students may not progress to the clinical phase of the MPAS Program without successful completion of all didactic courses.
Academic Difficulties and Progression
The academic progress of students enrolled in the didactic phase of the Program will be evaluated in terms of successful completion of courses as determined by the standards established by each respective course instructors. The MPAS Program curriculum is highly integrated and develops sequentially from coursework done in previous semesters. If a student fails a course within the curriculum, the student will not be allowed to continue in the next semester until the failed course has been successfully remediated. Students who do not successfully remediate the failed course or who fail a second course within the PA curriculum are subject to dismissal. Failure to complete all course requirements will result in a failing grade for the course.
Grade-point-average calculation will be based only on courses taken in the MPAS Program – Professional Phase. Thus, in the first year of the Program, GPA will be based on grades in PA courses.
The MPAS Program curriculum is a rigorous process that requires full commitment from both the students and the faculty. As described earlier, each student is assigned a faculty advisor. During regular faculty meetings, faculty are informed of all student grades across the curriculum. Faculty also share reports on how their advisees are doing throughout the curriculum. Students who are identified as having academic difficulty will be contacted by their advisor who will meet with them to identify problems and offer solutions. Further, faculty will complete a Student Academic Mentoring Form with the student detailing what remediation efforts have been suggested, and will follow the student‘s progress carefully thereafter.