May 26, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 2018-2019 
Graduate Catalog 2018-2019 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physician Assistant Studies (M.S.)

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Anthony A. Miller, M.Ed., PA-C, Professor & Director 
Health Professions Building, 1775 North Sector Court, Suite 200
(540) 542-6208,

Physician Assistants (PAs) are nationally certified and state-licensed professionals who practice medicine as part of a team with physicians and other providers. PAs exercise autonomy in decision-making and provide a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic services including prescribing medication. The role of the PA includes provision of primary and specialty care in medical and surgical practices located in a variety of settings and geographic locations. PA practice is patient-care centered but may include education, research and administrative duties.

The Shenandoah University Physician Assistant Program is a graduate entry-level professional course of study enabling individuals who hold baccalaureate degrees to become PAs. The program is designed to prepare graduates for primary care practice with emphasis on service to medically underserved populations and the team approach to the delivery of health care. The program integrates graduate-level critical thinking and analysis, problem solving, scientific inquiry, self-directed learning and the effective use of modern technology for professional practice that includes elements of research, leadership, education and continued enhancement of the physician assistant profession.

The purpose of the PA Program is to graduate competent professionals who are well prepared for the demands of modern professional practice in a rapidly changing health care environment. The curriculum goals are based upon the AAPA/PAEA/NCCP/ARC-PA “Competencies for the Physician Assistant” document, standards for educational programs contained in the “Accreditation Standards for Physician Assistant Education,” the Program’s Mission Statement, and the needs of the PA profession. In the PA program curriculum, knowledge, skills and attitudes are considered to be critical elements of professional practice and are addressed in the following curricular goals.

The graduate of the Shenandoah PA Program will demonstrate the following:

  1. Entry-level proficiencies necessary for high-quality, cost-effective practice as a primary care PA in a dynamic health care delivery system.
  2. An understanding of the principles of scientific inquiry and research design as well as the ability to apply these principles to critically read and interpret the literature, leading to enhanced delivery of health care.
  3. An ability to incorporate the basic principles of patient education that benefit patients, caregivers, families and communities.
  4. Attitudes and skills that exemplify a commitment to personal growth and development and to the growth and development of the profession.
  5. Attitudes and skills that demonstrate sensitivity to cultural and individual differences.
  6. An ability to assume a leadership role in professional activities and organizations that advance the PA profession.
  7. A team and community-oriented approach to the delivery of health care utilizing appropriate modern technologies for the benefit of patients, caregivers, families and communities.


The mission of the Shenandoah University Division of Physician Assistant Studies is to provide a comprehensive educational program in a collaborative and supportive environment to develop highly skilled, well-educated, compassionate primary care-oriented physician assistants who are capable of providing high-quality, patient-centered team-based health care in a variety of settings.

Core Values

We believe PAs should:

  1. Practice competently, ethically and cost-effectively.
  2. Serve where needed, both domestically and globally.
  3. Demonstrate respect and sensitivity to others.
  4. Commit to continued personal and professional growth through lifelong learning.
  5. Contribute to the profession and humankind through leadership, teaching and active scholarship.
  6. Promote and model health and wellness.
  7. Advocate for a team approach to health care delivery.
  8. Promote and uphold the physician assistant profession and its ideals.
  9. Enrich patients and communities through service and a broad-based humanistic approach to the practice of their profession.
  10. Recognize and address the impact of socio-economic factors on health and well-being.

Curriculum Design

The curriculum design, offered in didactic and experiential components, is based upon the concepts of adult-centered learning and professional education, which focus on mastery of knowledge, skills and attitudes required by the graduate to practice effectively as a PA. The didactic curriculum offers multiple modalities for learning, which include self-directed study, recitation, lecture, integrated clinical cases and laboratory experiences. These modalities assist students in developing the necessary skills to be self-directed life-long learners and effectively apply what they learn in the clinical setting. The clinical curriculum provides core primary care and other learning experiences where students apply knowledge and skills in a variety of patient care settings under the supervision and mentoring by licensed health care providers.

The Shenandoah University PA Program is offered on a full-time basis only at two sites, Winchester and Scholar Plaza - Loudoun. The length of the program is eight semesters (30 months). The delivery model is designed to prepare students for a rapidly changing health care environment where simple memorization of facts and figures is insufficient for effective clinical practice. Delivery of content includes face-to-face, asynchronous online, and video-teleconferencing. Learning is accomplished through independent study and preparation, lecture and discussions, small-group case-based exercises, and practical application. Interprofessional learning opportunities are integrated throughout the curriculum. As adult learners, it is expected that students will actively engage in independent study, inquiry and clinical rotations outside the classroom to augment learning and to maximize effectiveness of classroom and laboratory contact time.

Since the PA Program uses computer technology in the delivery of the curriculum, all PA students must be computer literate. The Shenandoah University PA Program has implemented a technology program, which provides a laptop computer, an iPad, and technology support. Participation in this program is mandatory.

Students are expected to adjust their non-curricular demands in order to complete the degree requirements. Employment is not recommended while attending the Shenandoah University PA Program.

Entrance Requirements

The Shenandoah University PA Program’s Admissions Committee determines admission to the Physician Assistant Program. Entrance requirements include: a bachelor’s degree, a 3.0 cumulative grade point average, a 3.0 science grade point average, a 3.0 Shenandoah University PA Program prerequisite course grade point average, submission of academic transcripts, submission of GRE scores, three references and completion of certain prerequisite courses, which are listed in detail on the program’s website ( Health care experience is not required but highly suggested and considered by the Admissions Committee. Qualified candidates are invited for an interview with the Admissions Committee. Due to the competitive nature of admission to the program and the limited number of seats available in each class, meeting minimal requirements is usually insufficient to qualify for an interview or admission to the program.

The Shenandoah University PA Program admits students only once a year beginning in the summer semester. Early application is encouraged and applications are reviewed as they are deemed complete. Visit for the application deadline. PA Program application materials are updated annually. Candidates are urged to ensure that they are using the current application materials for the year in which they are applying. Specific information regarding admission and other requirements, acceptance, transfer credits, technical standards, and credit for experiential learning can be obtained by contacting the Shenandoah University Office of Admissions and requesting the Admission Guidelines Booklet, which is also available on the program’s website. Please note: Shenandoah University’s PA Program participates in the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). All applications must be submitted through this service at

Undergraduate Pathways to Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program

Articulation Agreement Pathway

The School of Health Professions has established an articulation agreement with the undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences. This agreement provides a pathway into the graduate admission process by reserving a set number of seats in the program for students applying from within Shenandoah.

Taking advantage of this agreement works as follows: Any student currently enrolled at SU as an undergraduate student applies to the Physician Assistant program. The graduate program will evaluate the applications from SU students individually, and as long as they meet admissions requirements, will be invited to interview for the graduate program. The program has reserved a certain number of seats for SU students in their program, and those seats will be filled with qualified applicants to the graduate school.

This articulation agreement is designed for applicants who have completed the prerequisites and will be obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Shenandoah University. The agreement is available to all students enrolled full time at SU for undergraduate study. A student will still apply to CASPA under the articulation agreement and if they are not accepted, their application is automatically entered in the pool of traditional applicants. Students who take a gap year or more will not be eligible and must apply to the graduate program via the traditional pathway.

4+2.5 Early Assurance for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program Pathway

In addition to the articulation agreement, the Division of Physician Assistant Studies has established a unique admissions process with the undergraduate Office of Admissions for Shenandoah University. The Early Assurance Program will become available for students that will matriculate starting Fall 2019. The purpose of this program is to allow highly qualified high school students to be guaranteed an admission interview with the graduate program as long as criteria are maintained during the undergraduate years. In order to be admitted to this program as a freshman at Shenandoah University (out of high school) the student must achieve the following:

  • High School GPA: minimum 3.5
  • Minimum High School Course Requirements: Minimum B- in both biology and chemistry
  • Test Score (only 1 required):
    • SAT: 1170
    • ACT: 24
  • Observation hours: Students must complete a minimum of 50 hours of observation of a physician assistant in practice.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation: one from a science or math teacher familiar with the student’s work and one from a medical professional.
  • Successfully complete an interview with Division of Physician Assistant Studies faculty
  • In order to remain in the program and matriculate into the MSPAS Program at the end of three years of undergraduate study at Shenandoah University, the student must fulfill the requirements stipulated in the contract signed upon matriculation to the College of Arts and Science. These requirements include but are not limited to:
    • Successfully complete a minimum of 90 hours of undergraduate coursework with a grade of “C” or above which includes the PA Program required prerequisite courses.
    • At the time of application, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale for the 90 hours of undergraduate coursework

Traditional Pathway 

A student at Shenandoah completes a bachelor’s degree and applies to the graduate program(s) of their choice following the admissions guidelines and procedure published on the program website. Any current student or former student, is eligible to apply to the graduate program using this pathway. Students must follow the admission requirements outlined for all candidates found on the individual program web sites. 

Advance Placement/Transfer and Credit for Experiential Learning

The Division of Physician Assistant Studies will consider requests for up to 15 semester hours (or equivalent quarter hours) of transfer credit into the curriculum. In order to be considered, courses must have been successfully completed within the past three years with a grade of “B” or better in a graduate-level program at an accredited institution of higher learning. Courses will be considered for transfer only if they are directly applicable to the established physician assistant program curriculum, as determined by the faculty after thorough review of all appropriate documents (application, transcripts, recommendations and personal request letter). Competency on the subject material will be assessed in accordance with the course requirements prior to the acceptance of transfer credit.

If the request for transfer is from another physician assistant educational program, it must be from another graduate-level program in which the student is in good standing, and with the specific recommendation of the program director, dean or other appropriate official. The faculty will determine satisfaction of program course prerequisites for transfer students from other PA programs on a case-by-case basis. Transfer candidates must fulfill the Shenandoah University prerequisites prior to matriculation. Candidates not accepted as a transfer student may apply to the program during a regular admission cycle.

The program does not offer academic credit for experiential learning.

Degree Requirements

Physician Assistant Program courses listed below may not be taken out of sequence. A passing grade of “C” or better in each course and maintenance of a 3.0 grade point average is required for satisfactory progression and graduation. Policies regarding academic standing and graduation are contained in the graduate catalog and the Physician Assistant Program Student Handbook available at


Subtotal: 5 credits

Subtotal: 15.5 credits

Subtotal: 18 credits

Subtotal: 5 credits

Subtotal: 16.5 credits

Spring 2

Subtotal: 11 credits

Summer 3

Subtotal: 7.5 credits

Fall 3

Subtotal: 7.5 credits

Nonspecific Term

  • HP Graduate Professional Elective Credit(s): 3 **

Total: 86 credits (not including 3 credit elective)

*Sequence of clinical rotations will vary by student.

**Additional requirement: Each student is required to take at least one 3-credit didactic professional elective course that is interdisciplinary in nature. Scheduling will be determined by the student based on course availability and consultation with advisor. Generally, graduate courses with the HP prefix will be approved; however, students may select other graduate courses to fulfill the elective with the approval of their advisor.

Breakdown of Clinical Rotations:

Primary Care Clinical Practicum I (PA 579 ) 4 weeks
Primary Care Clinical Practicum II (PA 680 ) 5 weeks
Primary Care Clinical Practicum III (PA 681 ) 5 weeks
Primary Care Clinical Practicum IV (PA 682 ) 5 weeks
Emergency Medicine Clinical Practicum (PA 683 ) 5 weeks
Surgical Clinical Practicum (PA 685 ) 5 weeks
Inpatient Care Clinical Practicum (PA 687 ) 5 weeks
Elective Clinical Practicum (PA 689 ) 5 weeks
Community Preceptorship Clinical Practicum (PA 690 ) 8 weeks

Total: 47 weeks

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