Univ of Southern California
University of Southern California
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Department of Family Medicine

Primary Care Physician Assistant Program

1000 South Fremont Avenue
Unit 7, Building A11, Room 11-150
Alhambra, CA 91803
(626) 457-4240
FAX: (626) 457-4245
Email: uscpa@usc.edu

Program Director: Kevin Lohenry, Ph.D., PA-C

Medical Director: Ignacio DeArtola, M.D.


Assistant Professors of Clinical Family Medicine: I. DeArtola; M. Durham; C. Forest; L. Landry-Taylor; J. Mabee

Instructors of Clinical Family Medicine: L. Kirakosian; A. Schultz; A. Walsh; J. Wegler

The faculty listed above are principal faculty with the Primary Care Physician Assistant Program.

The Primary Care Physician Assistant Program prepares students to practice medicine under the supervision of a physician. Students earn a Master of Physician Assistant Practice (MPAP) upon completion of the program.

The program is part of the Department of Family Medicine. Didactic instruction is provided by physician assistant program faculty and faculty from other departments within the Keck School of Medicine, the USC School of Pharmacy, divisions within the Health Sciences campus, as well as clinicians from the surrounding communities. Emphasis is placed on primary care medicine. Clinical training occurs at various clinical sites throughout the greater Los Angeles region, including the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, Long Beach Memorial Family Practice Residency, private offices and managed-care settings, community-based clinics, VA facilities and specialty settings. Opportunities to train in selected off-site settings serving Native American populations in the Southwest are also available to students upon approval.

Students complete eight, six-week clinical clerkships in emergency medicine and urgent care, family medicine, internal medicine/geriatrics, orthopedics/occupational medicine, pediatrics, general surgery and women’s health. These clerkships emphasize obtaining necessary clinical skills as well as learning to work as part of a health care team. The Physician Assistant Program is committed to recruiting disadvantaged applicants and preparing graduates to practice in medically underserved communities.

The USC Primary Care Physician Assistant Program is accredited by the Accreditation Review Committee on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), which is sponsored by seven national medical associations including the American Medical Association. The program is approved by the Physician Assistant Committee (PAC) of the Medical Board of California. Graduates must pass a National Certifying Examination to qualify for licensure in California.

Master of Physician Assistant Practice

Admission Requirements and Procedures
Application to the Physician Assistant Program requires completion of a bachelor’s degree (in any discipline) from an accredited four-year institution and completion of academic prerequisite requirements.

Admission to the program is for the fall semester only. Admission is granted by the physician assistant admissions committee after careful review of all applications. Selections are made on the basis of a formal interview (for competitive applicants) and consideration of a variety of factors which include: academic record, type and amount of clinical experience, multicultural sensitivity, community service experience and personal and professional experience.

Applicants are required to submit an application through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) as well as a USC Supplemental Application by December 1 of each year. Further details regarding admission procedures are provided online at www.usc.edu/pa.

Transfer Students or Advanced Placement
The Physician Assistant Program does not accept transfer students, nor do we allow advanced placement based on prior education or clinical experience. Each applicant who is admitted is required to complete the full Master of Physician Assistant Practice curriculum in residence at USC. No waivers or substitutions are permitted.

Students receive information regarding registration procedures during an orientation program held the week before classes begin.

Monthly information sessions are available for prospective students who would like to receive more information regarding the program. Students who are interested in applying to the program are encouraged to visit the PA Program Website at www.usc.edu/pa or call the PA Admissions Office at (626) 457-4247.

Degree Prerequisites
A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and completion of all prerequisite course work are required for admission to the Physician Assistant Program.

Science Prerequisites
A one-year general biology sequence with lab and a one-year general chemistry sequence with lab, each for science majors. All science prerequisites must be completed within 10 years of application to the program.

Three semester units or 4 quarter units of each of the following: human anatomy with lab; physiology with lab; and microbiology with lab.

Online science courses are not eligible for consideration as a prerequisite.

Students are expected to have a strong competency in medical terminology.

Non-Science Prerequisites
Six semester units or 8 quarter units: English composition (6) or English composition (3) and critical thinking (3) or logic (3).

Three semester units or 4 quarter units each: general (introduction to) psychology.

Three semester units or 4 quarter units of statistics, preferably statistics for psychology or sociology.

Two semester units or 3 quarter units: Spanish language composition and speech.

Students who intend to apply to the Physician Assistant Program should contact the admission office for evaluation of previous baccalaureate and/or post-baccalaureate course work.

Standardized Tests
The GRE (Aptitude) or the MCAT is required. Either test must be taken within five years of application to the program.

Clinical Experience Prerequisite
A minimum of 1,000 hours of “hands-on” patient care experience is strongly recommended. Successful applicants typically have 2,000 hours or more of paid clinical hours and have worked as one of the following: emergency medical technician, licensed vocational nurse, medical assistant, medical scribe, medical technologist, military medical corpsman, paramedic, psychiatric technician, physical therapy aide, radiological technician, respiratory therapist or registered nurse. Other health care experience is equally acceptable as long as the experience is “hands-on” in nature.

Physician Assistant Shadowing Experience
Shadowing a physician assistant in a clinical setting is strongly recommended. This activity provides the applicant with the up-close experience needed to understand the role and responsibilities of the PA and may help the applicant make a better informed decision in choosing a career as a PA.

Community Service Prerequisite
Community service activities/projects are strongly recommended of all applicants. Service which benefits medically underserved or disadvantaged populations is preferred.

Curriculum Requirements
The completion of a 33-month professional curriculum is required to earn the Master of Physician Assistant Practice degree. Students do not have choices of courses to take nor are they permitted to drop any course or courses during the semester. Progress is permitted only when the prior semester is successfully completed. Students should view the curriculum outlined here as advisory only and subject to modification.

Summative Evaluation
A summative evaluation is conducted on each student during the sixth and final semester of the program to verify that each student is prepared to enter clinical practice.

Degree Requirements
All students in the Master of Physician Assistant Practice degree program must meet course and grade point average requirements. All course requirements must be completed with a grade of “B” or better. The degree will not be conferred until the student has successfully completed all degree requirements. Students are subject to the degree requirements in the catalogue current for the semester of their admission into the program.

Physician assistant students are enrolled in a standard curriculum during their 33 months in the program. The following courses must be successfully completed in order to earn the Master of Physician Assistant Practice. Only physician assistant students may enroll in these courses. Departmental clearance is required to enroll.

Year I, Fall Semesterunits
PCPA 503 Behavioral Sciences I 4
PCPA 523 Clinical Skills I4
PCPA 530Basic Medical Sciences6
PCPA 543 Topics in Medicine I4

Year I, Spring Semesterunits
PCPA 506 Behavioral Sciences II4
PCPA 526 Clinical Skills II6
PCPA 546 Topics in Medicine II6

Year II, Fall Semesterunits
PCPA 509 Behavioral Sciences III4
PCPA 529 Clinical Skills III6
PCPA 549 Topics in Medicine III6

Year II, Spring Semesterunits
PCPA 561Clinical Assignment I3.5
PCPA 562Clinical Assignment II3.5
PCPA 564aClinical Assignment IV3.5
PCPA 565aClinical Assignment V3.5

Year II, Summer Sessionunits
PCPA 564bClinical Assignment IV0
PCPA 565bClinical Assignment V0

Year III, Fall Semesterunits
PCPA 563Clinical Assignment III3.5
PCPA 566Clinical Assignment VI3.5
PCPA 567Clinical Assignment VII3.5
PCPA 568Clinical Assignment VIII3.5

Year III, Spring Semesterunits
PCPA 532Clinical Skills IV3
PCPA 583 Advanced Topics in PA Studies: Education4
PCPA 586 Advanced Topics in PA Studies: Research4
PCPA 589 Advanced Topics in PA Studies: Medical Care Organization4

Requests for further information may be addressed to: USC Physician Assistant Program, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, 1000 South Fremont Avenue, Unit 7, Building A11, Room 11-150, Alhambra, CA 91803, or accessed at the program Website at www.usc.edu/pa.