Overview of the Sullivan University Physician Assistant Program

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The mission of the Sullivan University Physician Assistant Program is to train medical professionals who will provide ethical, high-quality, compassionate medical care, thereby increasing access to health care for the underserved in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the nation.

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) degree program will be 24 months in length with a total of 155 credit hours. The curriculum consists of a 12-month didactic phase (85 credits) and a 12-month clinical phase (64 credits), and culminates with the presentation of a Capstone Project (6 credits).

The didactic year curriculum builds a foundation for clinical practice and focuses on biomedical, clinical, and behavioral sciences as well as courses in physical diagnosis and critical thinking. During the first quarter of the didactic year, students may be introduced to clinical settings through shadowing experiences. In the second quarter, students must begin to think critically and clinically, correlating classroom knowledge to clinical application.

The final week of the first year is dedicated to summative examinations, both written and practical, as well as preparation for the clinical year with simulated patient encounters and case-based learning. These examinations must be completed successfully as a requirement for entry into the clinical year.

The clinical year consists of seven required clinical rotations, one elective clinical rotation, and a Capstone Project. Each rotation is six weeks in length and students are required to return to campus the last 2 days of rotations for required end of rotation testing, lectures and debriefing sessions.

During the four months prior to program completion, students will be required to pass an objective structured clinical examination. Failure to successfully complete this examination will result in remediation and retesting. The final two weeks of the clinical year are spent on campus for a summative written examination, completion of a graduate survey, presentation of the Capstone Project, and review for the PANCE.

Prior to graduation, students are required to complete a Capstone Project. The scholarly “Capstone Project” is a formal Grand Rounds type presentation to the Sullivan University community. Beginning in the third quarter of the second year, students begin work with a faculty advisor on a research presentation. The Grand Rounds Presentation is an in-depth presentation of a medical patient case that the student encountered during his/her clinical rotations. It will demonstrate the evidence-based process that led to the final diagnosis, treatment plan, prognosis and patient counseling. The preventive medicine aspects of the disease will also be addressed. This summative evaluation tool will be used to measure cognitive (critical thinking), motor (practical skills), and effective areas (integration of knowledge and skills) at the completion of the program.

Academic and professional growth is monitored closely by the Program and Medical Directors, Directors of Didactic and Clinical Education, Director of Assessment and Basic Science Curriculum, the Academic, Clinical and Course Coordinators. Each student is assigned a faculty advisor for assistance and counseling regarding academic progress. If a student is having academic difficulty, he/she is counseled and offered an opportunity to make improvements.

Consistent with the goals of Sullivan University, the PA Program is dedicated to providing cutting-edge educational enrichment opportunities for the intellectual, social and professional development of its students while instilling the values of teamwork, compassion, excellence, professionalism, integrity and accountability in the next generation of Physician Assistants.