Health Insurance

All PA students are required to carry health insurance (including hospitalization) throughout the entire program. It is the responsibility of the student to purchase health insurance and provide proof of insurance. Health concerns should be addressed with your primary care provider. South College does not have student health facilities, but we do have an agreement with Cherokee Health Systems to provide services to our students. Students are financially responsible for any services rendered by Cherokee. Once matriculated into the Physician Assistant Program, students must show compliance with the health policy including personal health insurance coverage within one month of the start of classes. Failure to do so may result in being liable for dismissal from the program. Students must re-certify their health status (including proof of health insurance) prior to beginning the clinical phase of the program. Students may not engage in clinical activities until compliance has been met.


Prior to entering the South College Physician Assistant Program, students must submit health provider proof of a health examination and updated information of immunization health certificate indicating TB testing results and HBV immunization series.

Healthcare and other clinical facilities may have unique vaccination/immunization and/or health insurance requirements. Students in programs with clinical rotations may be unable to obtain or complete required clinical training due to their vaccination/insured status, thereby delaying or preventing program completion.

Specific Related Requirements Include:
  1. Provide proof of personal health insurance throughout the entire program
  2. Provide proof of current BLS certification
  3. Provide proof of a satisfactory physical examination (also prior to clinical year)
  4. Provide proof of TB Skin Test (positive results will require the student to receive a chest x-ray and further evaluation)
  5. Provide proof of Hepatitis B vaccine or Combined Hepatitis A&B AND provide Hepatitis B surface antibody (due to updated CDC recommendation for health care personnel)
  6. Provide proof of MMR vaccine or immunity
  7. Provide proof of Varicella titer or vaccination
  8. Provide proof of Polio titer or vaccination
  9. Provide proof of Tdap titer or vaccination
Prior to Entering the Clinical Phase of the Program, Students Must Again Update Their Immunization and Health Certificate and Provide Proof of the Following:
  1. Provide proof of current BLS certification
  2. Provide proof of updated annual TB PPD or tine test
  3. Provide proof of blood-borne pathogen orientation course
  4. Provide proof of current personal health insurance, throughout the clinical year

For more information about immunization of Health Care Workers go to: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/

Criminal Background Checks

Criminal background checks are becoming mandatory at medical institutions as a requirement of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). In order to ensure patient safety and security, South College requires a criminal background check prior to any applicant being admitted. Applicants should be aware that a prior criminal background could restrict the ability to obtain professional state licensure. Acceptance into a South College program does not imply or guarantee that a student will be able to obtain such licensure.

Identification and Misrepresentation

Physician Assistant students should be identified by a clearly marked identification badge. At minimum, students will introduce themselves as Physician Assistant students and sign all documentation with their legible full signature followed by “P.A.-S” or “P.A. Student.” At no time should a student, either by virtue of his/her skills or knowledge attained while going through the program, misrepresent him/herself as being other than a Physician Assistant student. Failure to identify as a PA Student or to misrepresent oneself will result in the student being liable for dismissal from the program.

Technical Standards

After successfully completing the Masters of Health Science Physician Assistant Program at South College, and passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, the student will be prepared for employment as a Physician Assistant. In such a professional role, the Physician Assistant can provide medical services with the supervision of a Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathic Medicine in accordance with applicable laws of medical practice. The services must, for the safety and welfare of the patient, be of the same professional quality that would be rendered by the supervising Physician. The Physician Assistant must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care.

Candidates for the Physician Assistant profession must have somatic sensation and the functional use of the senses of vision and hearing. Candidate’s diagnostic skills will also be lessened without the functional use of the senses of equilibrium, smell, and taste. Additionally, they must have sufficient exteroceptive sense (touch, pain, and temperature) and motor function to permit them to carry out the activities described in the sections that follow. They must be able to integrate all information received by whatever sense(s) employed, consistently, quickly, and accurately, and they must have the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data. A candidate for the Physician Assistant profession must have abilities and skills of six varieties, which are observation, communication, motor, conceptual, integrative/quantitative, and behavioral/social. Technological compensation can be made for some handicaps in certain of these areas, but such a candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner.

General Abilities

The student is expected to possess functional use of the senses of vision, touch, hearing, taste, and smell. All data received by the senses must be integrated, analyzed, and synthesized in a consistent and accurate manner. In addition, the individual is expected to possess the ability to perceive pain, pressure, temperature, position, equilibrium, and movement.

Observational Ability

The student is expected to participate in and observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences including but not limited to physiologic and pharmacological demonstrations in animals, microbiological cultures, and microscopic study of organisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. The student is expected to observe the patient accurately at a distance and close at hand and accurately assess health/illness alteration. Inherent in this observation process is the use of the senses and sufficient motor capability to carry out the necessary assessment activities.

Communication Ability

The student is expected to be able to effectively communicate verbally and non-verbally and to observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity, and postures, and to perceive nonverbal communications. This requires the ability to read, write, and effectively utilize the English language. The student must be able to communicate effectively with patients and other professionals.

Motor Ability

The student is expected to be able to perform gross and fine motor movements required to perform a complete physical examination. The student is expected to have the psychomotor skills necessary to perform or assist with procedures, treatments, administration of medication, managing of equipment, and emergency intervention. The student is expected to be able to maintain consciousness, equilibrium, and stamina to perform satisfactorily in clinical experiences.

Other Motor Abilities

The student should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. The student must be able to do laboratory tests and work with scientific and other instruments and machinery utilized in practice as a Physician Assistant.

Critical Thinking Ability

The student is expected to have the ability to develop and refine problem-solving skills. This includes the ability to measure, calculate, analyze, and synthesize objective as well as subjective data and make decisions that reflect consistent and thoughtful deliberation and clinical judgment. In addition, the student should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures.

Interpersonal Abilities

The student is expected to have the emotional stability required to exercise sound judgment and complete assessment and intervention activities. The student is expected to establish rapport and maintain sensitive, interpersonal relationships with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds. The student is expected to have the flexibility to function effectively under stress. Concern for others, integrity, accountability, interest, and motivation are necessary personal qualities.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

A student must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. The student must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. The student must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of the uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admission and education process.


Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply to the program. However, it is the responsibility of the student to notify South College in writing with medical documentation from their provider, (Physician Assistant Program, South College 400 Goody’s Lane, Knoxville, TN 37922) and verbally if there is any reason why the abilities and/or expectations described cannot be met. Students will be presented with these technical standards when they are in the final stage of admission to the program. At that time they will review these standards with the program faculty and sign this form. Students who indicate verbally and in writing (with medical documentation) that they cannot meet one or more of these requirements will be reviewed by South College to determine what, if any reasonable accommodations might be possible to facilitate successful completion of the degree requirements if are admitted to the program. If you have any further questions or concerns regarding these technical standards please contact the Physician Assistant Program at 865-251-1800.

Fair Practices

All aspects of the Physician Assistant Program at South College are accurately reflected in its brochures, bulletins, catalogs, student handbooks, and all other forms of information and advertising published by or endorsed by South College.  South College is committed to equal opportunity for all and does not discriminate in admission, access, treatment, or employment in its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, or handicap.  South College is committed to a program of affirmative action to ensure access equity, and fairness in educational programs, related activities, and employment for minorities, women, handicapped persons, disabled veterans, and veterans of our nation’s wars.  This policy and other policies involving sexual harassment, discrimination, and other issues are reiterated in the South College Catalog.  Academic regulations, including grievance procedures, can also be found in the South College Catalog.

Student Work Policies

Student Employment

The PA faculty believes that no student is capable of acquiring the level of knowledge needed to perform adequately as a Physician Assistant student if they engage in outside employment during the PA Program. Students are apprised of this policy during the interview process, and are reminded that they must not engage in outside employment during the PA curriculum. Full time employment while in the didactic and/or clinical learning year of the program is prohibited. At no time is a student to be substituted for a faculty member or clinician. Students are not to be employed while on their clinical learning rotations by preceptors or health care facilities. Students may not serve or perform as staff members of the program unless they are part of a specific federal, state, or South College work-study program. Work study students are not permitted to have access to confidential student records or student information and/or testing materials.

Volunteer and Work Experiences

Students who are involved in or commence volunteer or paid work during the course of their Physician Assistant training cannot use their affiliation with the Physician Assistant Program in any aspect of that job. Work outside the Physician Assistant Program undertaken by the student, independent of the Program, is not covered by the liability offered for clinical work associated with the educational experience.

Students, who have other valid professional licenses/titles such as Ph.D., Respiratory Therapist, Licensed Practical or Registered Nurse, or Laboratory Technician, may not function in those capacities nor utilize these titles in spoke or written communication while enrolled in the Physician Assistant Program.  Students shall not misrepresent their status as students by identifying themselves as anything other than a Physician Assistant Student, nor shall they allow their patients to identify them as a graduate Physician Assistant or Physician.