MS in Physician Assistant Studies

Helen S. Martin, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, Division Director 

The physician assistant is a licensed health professional qualified by specialized academic and clinical education to perform medical tasks traditionally undertaken by physicians, while practicing under the supervision and responsibility of a licensed physician. Physician Assistants (PA) play a critical role delivering high-quality, affordable health care, and more than ever before, are helping to meet the health care needs of our nation and the world. PAs provide essential diagnostic, therapeutic, preventative, and health maintenance services in primary and specialty care settings. The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (PAS) program is the perfect place to gain the skills, knowledge, and experience to prepare student to practice in this exciting, ever evolving profession.

The PAS program begins at the end of May each year and is approximately 27 months (seven semesters) in length. The first four semesters are devoted to classroom study. They take place on campus and comprise the fifteen-month didactic portion of the program. During the last three semesters, which comprise the twelve-month long clinical year, students complete nine individual clinical rotations at sites predominately located in South Carolina. The clinical rotations include internal medicine, family medicine, women's health, pediatrics, mental health, emergency medicine, surgery, an adjunct clinical experience as well as an elective of the student's choosing. 

Accreditation

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Medical University of South Carolina Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Medical University of South Carolina.

Sections:

Requirements

1) Completion of a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university by the time of matriculation.

2) A minimum cumulative GPA and prerequisite course GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is REQUIRED for consideration. Transcripts from ALL colleges attended must be submitted through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA).

3) Survey courses or courses for which a letter or number grade is not awarded (e.g., Pass/Fail, CLEP credit, AP credit, etc.) will not meet prerequisite requirements. NOTE: If your institution awarded ONLY P/F grading between January 1, 2020 and September 1, 2020, please contact antoinem@musc.edu for more information. A minimum of 30 credit hours of prerequisite courses (34 credit hours total) must be completed and transcripts received and verified by CASPA by the September 1st application deadline to be considered. We recommend that you apply early to maximize the likelihood of your application being verified by September 1st. 

*All 34 hrs. of prerequisite courses must be completed by matriculation.


Prerequisite Courses Semester Hours

Statistics or Biostatistics 3

Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry 3

General Chemistry - includes lab 8

Biology - includes lab 4

Human Anatomy - includes lab 4

Human Physiology - includes lab 4

Microbiology - includes lab 4

Medical Terminology - continuing education courses will not count 1

Psychology 

3

Total 34
  • Prerequisite courses must be completed at regionally accredited 2 or 4-year colleges or universities.
  • Courses can only be applied towards the prerequisite requirement if a grade of "C" or higher was earned. A prerequisite course may be retaken, and the highest grade will be used to calculate the prerequisite GPA. However, both grades will be reflected in the cumulative GPA.
  • The psychology course can be met by Introduction to Psychology or a higher-level psychology course.
  • Combined Anatomy and Physiology courses are accepted; however, an applicant must take Anatomy and Physiology I and II with labs to fulfill the separate Anatomy and Physiology requirements.
  • All prerequisite coursework MUST be completed within the 10 years prior to the application deadline.
  • There will be no waivers or exceptions to the requirements.
  • Here is a guide to Frequently Approved Prerequisites.
  • The MUSC Office of Enrollment Management (OEM) offers unofficial transcript evaluations from March 1st to June 30th.  Send requests to drummonl@musc.edu.

4) Submit your Physician Assistant College Admission Test (PA-CAT) scores. On the PA-CAT, if asked for a testing sponsor, select Exam Master as the exam sponsor.

NOTE: Beginning with the 2021 application cycle (Start Term, Summer 2022) all applicants to the MUSC PAS program will be required to take the PA-CAT.  The PA-CAT is a specialized test designed to measure applicant knowledge in key prerequisite science subjects typically required for PA school. For more information about the PA-CAT, visit their website at https://www.pa-cat.com/.

5) Technical Standards required for enrollment: The MUSC Division of Physician Assistant Studies will consider for admission and/or continuation any applicant who meets its academic and nonacademic criteria and who demonstrates the ability to perform skills and meet the Technical Standards listed below, with or without reasonable accommodations, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Observation: Observe materials presented in the learning environment including audiovisual presentations in lectures and laboratories, microscopic examination of microorganisms, gross organs and tissues in normal and pathologic states. Observe patients, both at a distance and closely. This ability requires functional vision, hearing and somatic sensation. 

Communication: Elicit information from patients, including the ability to speak, hear and observe patients and perceive nonverbal communications. Describe changes in mood, activity and posture. Communicate with patients and their families and the health care team through oral, written, and electronic forms. Convey sensitivity and respect in all communications with patients and their families as well as all members of the health care team. 

Motor: Elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other components of the physical examination. Execute movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Such skills require coordination of gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and sensation. Manipulate equipment and instruments to perform basic laboratory tests and medical procedures required to attain curricular goals (e.g. needles, stethoscope, ophthalmoscope, tongue blades, intravenous equipment, gynecologic speculum, and scalpel). 

Laptop/Computer Requirements: Ability to complete computer-based assignments, and use the computer for searching, recording, storing, and retrieving information. Ability to complete assessment examinations via computer-based software. 

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: Apply knowledge and reasoning to solve problems as outlined by the curriculum. Comprehend three dimensional relationships and the spatial relationships of structures. Collect, organize, prioritize, analyze and assimilate large amounts of technically detailed and complex information within a limited time frame. This information will be presented in a variety of educational settings, including lectures, small group discussions, and individual clinical settings. The candidate should be able to analyze, integrate, and apply this information appropriately for problem solving and decision-making. 

Behavioral and Social Attributes: Use intellectual ability, exercise good judgment, and complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients. Develop appropriate professional relationships with patients and colleagues. Tolerate physical, mental, and emotional stress in training and patient care. Adaptable, flexible and able to function in the face of uncertainty within the healthcare team. Display a high level of compassion for others, motivation to serve, integrity, and a consciousness of social values. Possess sufficient interpersonal skills to interact positively with people from all levels of society, all ethnic backgrounds, and all belief systems. Accept criticism and respond by appropriate modification of behavior. 

If you have any questions about this document or whether you meet the standards as described above, please contact the MUSC Office of EEO and University Accessibility Services.  

Application Process

1) Submit an application through the Physician Assistant Centralized Application Service (CASPA). 

  • Your CASPA application and all requested materials must be verified by the September 1 deadline in order to be considered for admission. 
  • It is the applicant’s responsibility to review the progress of their CASPA application on the CASPA website. 

2) Submit official PA-CAT exam scores.    

  • For more information about the PA-CAT, score reporting, practice test, and other study resources, visit https://www.pa-cat.com/. We recommend that you take the PA-CAT exam no later than July 15 to ensure we receive your scores in time for review. Your PA-CAT scores will be reported directly to MUSC if you have selected us to receive your scores.

3) Submit a separate MUSC application through the MUSC Office of Enrollment Management by the September 1 deadline. 

  • It is the applicant’s responsibility to review the progress of their MUSC application; progress may be seen by viewing the Application Progress Portal
  • Additional MUSC application questions should be directed to the MUSC Office of Enrollment Management at drummonl@musc.edu.

4) Factors that our admissions committee values include:

  • Traits desirable in a future physician assistant, previous accomplishments, diverse life experiences, and significant knowledge of how to deliver health care.
  • Experiences which demonstrate these traits may include: volunteer work, international mission work, military service, proficiency in foreign languages, unique life experiences, health training or certification, unique leadership positions, and biomedical research experience.

5) To view the academic qualifications of incoming students, click here.

All application materials described above must be received by the September 1 application deadline. Without all materials, your application will be incomplete.

Use of Marijuana and/or CBD Products

Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug and is illegal to purchase in South Carolina. Apart from a narrow and limited scope of codified/documented medical exceptions, it is illegal for individuals to use marijuana/tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)  in South Carolina. Although cannabidiol (CBD) products may be purchased and used in South Carolina, please be aware that CBD products may contain higher levels of THC than represented on packaging and use of CBD products can result in a positive drug screen for THC/marijuana.  Be aware that current drug testing methods cannot accurately ascertain the origins of THC metabolites (i.e., whether from marijuana or CBD products). Your academic program has the authority to conduct random and/or scheduled drug testing; if your test result is reported as positive for THC metabolites (even if you only used a CBD product), your ability to be accepted into the program, progress in the program, and/or successfully complete the program may be negatively impacted.  

Important Application Dates

Start Term Application Type Available Deadline
Summer 2022 CASPA Application April 30, 2021

September 1, 2021

(including transcript verification)

Summer 2022 MUSC Application July 1, 2021 September 1, 2021

 

Interview Process and Program Acceptance

Only complete applications will be reviewed for consideration for an interview. Interviews are typically held between October and November.

Due to the nature of our interview process, no alternate interview dates will be offered. Interviews may be conducted be in-person on the MUSC campus or virtually, depending on CDC recommendations for COVID-19 mitigation. If selected for interview you will be notified of the interview process as the dates approach.

Applicants who are invited to join the Program will receive a letter of acceptance from the Dean of The College of Health Professions. Classes begin in late May of each year.

Transfer Policies and Advanced Placement

Advanced Placement is a waiver of required coursework included in the PAS curriculum which results in the student advancing in the curriculum without completing required curriculum components. Advanced Placement is possible only in the case of transferred-in credits earned through successful completion of comparable courses from an accredited PA program. All decisions regarding whether earned credits may be transferred to meet MUSC's PA program requirements are made by qualified faculty and on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with the University's policy on Awarding Academic Credit, available here:

MUSC Student Policy: Awarding Academic Credit

International Students

MUSC’s PAS degree program only accepts applications from U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or those holding other valid nonimmigrant visa classifications that allow participation in lawful study while in the United States. We are unable to accept international students that require I-20 issuance.

 

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