A Curriculum Organized by Body Systems

This 24-month program engages students through an innovative systems-organized curriculum that employs large and small group discussion, hands-on clinical skills labs, simulated patient experiences, lecture and patient scenario discussions. Over the course of the academic year, the patient scenarios and simulated patient experiences will increase in complexity. These will culminate in an Advanced Clinical Reasoning course in the fall that builds on existing learner-centered models by guiding students to reapply knowledge and build competence in all areas of the Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession.

The required Master’s Project supports and promotes professional development in the area of accessing, critically appraising, and applying the best evidence to address a research, patient care, service/education or quality improvement question relevant to PA practice or education. The clinical education phase consists of seven required rotations (Adult Primary Care, Pediatrics, Emergency Medicine, Inpatient Medicine, General Surgery, Women’s Health and Behavioral Medicine) and one elective.

Year I (beginning January)

Year I consists of a four-week introductory module followed by two progressive modules covering anatomy, pathophysiology, clinical medicine, pharmacology and physical diagnosis of the various body systems and medicine disciplines. The fall modules include population and special populations medicine courses, as well as advanced clinical reasoning, a master’s project and a clinical phase preparation course.

Year II

In Year II, the students begin supervised clinical experiences (SCPEs) in January. Each experience is three to 6 weeks in duration. Concurrently, clinical year students also begin their master’s project under the mentorship of faculty. There are two call-back weeks during the clinical year. One coincides with the national AAPA conference so students can participate. The other is dedicated to professional development to prepare students for transition to clinical practice. The clinical year culminates in a board review course and presentation of their final master’s project. Students graduate in mid-December.

Students are NOT required to secure or arrange their own supervised clinical experiences. At this time, most clinical sites are located within a 1.5-hour radius of campus. This is considered a standard commute in the clinical year. However, some travel may be needed during the clinical phase to ensure students meet program outcomes which may result in the need for housing in other areas. Additional sites may be in other regions of NC (such as Charlotte, Greenville, Wilmington, Raleigh, Asheville areas) but may also be out of state. To the extent possible, out of state placements will be cleared with students before scheduling to allow for advanced planning.