About Our Program


The mission of the South College, Nashville Campus, Masters of Health Science in Physician Assistant Studies program is to educate highly qualified physician assistants, preparing them to become competent, compassionate, and comprehensive healthcare providers for clinical practice in rural and urban areas, who will mature into leaders within the medical community.

Endeavoring to provide students with a comprehensive evidence-based medical education that focuses on the future delivery of excellent healthcare, the program promotes the importance of health maintenance, health education, the prevention of disease, and the need for a lifelong path dedicated to continuous learning and self-assessment. The faculty strive for educational excellence as they prepare physician assistant students to think critically, communicate compassionately, and understand the importance of collaborating in interdisciplinary healthcare teams to meet patient and family needs within an ever changing healthcare delivery system.


Our vision is that our graduates will be leaders in the healthcare community, continuously striving for excellence in their professional endeavors.


The program has six primary goals that are designed to achieve our mission and vision for educating the next generation of highly qualified physician assistants.

  1. Evaluate and select highly qualified, diverse applicants for admission into the program.
  2. Provide students with a rigorous didactic curriculum that promotes lifelong learning skills and prepares them for clinical rotations.
  3. Provide students with a comprehensive clinical curriculum that prepares them to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam and become competent, compassionate, and comprehensive healthcare providers.
  4. Prepare students to make significant contributions in the communities that they serve, foster their ability to improve patient care practices, and promote the PA profession.
  5. Recruit and select highly qualified, diverse faculty to provide innovative education and training of students, and ongoing assessment and improvement of the program.
  6. Maintain program accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) through a process of continuous program self-assessment.
Success of the Program in Achieving Its Goals

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The South College Masters of Health Science Physician Assistant Studies Program is committed to excellence in education. As in any learning process, the content and methodology in our program reflect a mixture of objectivity, intuition, and good faith. Our faculty and staff want to provide a creative environment for individual learning and growth, within a curriculum that by necessity is highly structured and intense. Viewing learning as a reciprocal, collaborative interaction between faculty and students, we endeavor to be responsive to perceived needs for change and welcome comments and suggestions from all who participate in the program for its ongoing evaluation and continued growth. Our program continues to strive for educational excellence focusing on preparing our graduates to become lifelong learners.

Statement on Diversity & Inclusion

The program’s mission for diversity & inclusion is to recruit and retain highly qualified faculty, staff and students representative of a diverse and inclusive population. The program is intentional in creating an inclusive learning and working environment where all faculty, staff and students feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued.

Roles, Competencies, and Performance Criteria

Each student is expected to achieve and demonstrate mastery of the following entry-level core competencies of the physician assistant upon graduation.

Medical Knowledge

1.1  Identify and diagnose common developing, acute and chronic medical and surgical problems

1.2   Differentiate between closely related medical and surgical problems

1.3  Identify and outline the standard of care for various medical and surgical problems

1.4  Relate anatomic, pathophysiologic and genetic principles to specific disease processes

1.5  Maintain current and operational knowledge of relevant pharmacologic agents

1.6  Critically analyze evidence-based medicine and emerging medical trends as they relate to  patient care

1.7  Demonstrate the skills needed for self-directed lifelong learning

Interpersonal Skills

2.1  Communicate honestly and effectively with patients, families, caregivers, supervisors,  colleagues and multidisciplinary teams

2.2   Communicate risks, benefits, and results effectively to patients, families and caregivers

2.3    Communicate effectively in educating patients, family members, and caregivers regarding  medical conditions, medications and behavioral modifications

2.4    Develop meaningful therapeutic relationships with patients and families

2.5     Provide culturally competent care

Clinical and Technical Skills

3.1  Identify pertinent patient and family historical information

3.2  Elicit patient information from other sources

3.3  Conduct comprehensive and problem-based medical interviews and physical examinations

3.4   Identify pertinent physical examination information

3.5   Identify conditions requiring referral to or consultation with specialists

3.6   Triage patients based on recognition of abnormal vital signs, examination findings, and/or general observations

3.7   Select appropriate diagnostic and/or laboratory studies to perform

3.8   Collect diagnostic and laboratory specimens

3.9    Demonstrate technical expertise related to performing specific procedures

3.10   Adhere to standard precautions

3.11   Use diagnostic equipment safely and appropriately

3.12   Review and interpret results of diagnostic and laboratory studies, and correlate the results with history and physical examination findings

3.13    Create appropriate and comprehensive patient management plans

3.14    Draft accurate and error-free prescriptions

3.15     Prescribe controlled substances appropriately

3.16    Demonstrate appropriate medical record documentation with essential charting criteria that supports medical necessity

3.17    Use appropriate literature to make evidence-based decisions on patient care

Professional Behaviors

4.1  Acknowledge and apply patient and provider rights and responsibilities

4.2  Provide patient education regarding informed consent, the refusal process and end of life

4.3    Respond to the needs of vulnerable populations recognizing disparities in provision of and access  to health care

4.4    Use community resources to meet the needs of patients

4.5      Demonstrate behaviors that ensure patient safety and minimize medical errors

4.6      Admit mistakes and errors

4.7       Recognize one’s limits and establish healthy boundaries to support healthy partnerships

4.8      Accept supervision and apply feedback

4.9      Demonstrate commitment to personal excellence and professional development through self-reflection, self-assessment and self-regulation

4.10    Develop relationships and effectively communicate with other health professionals and health care teams

Clinical Reasoning and Problem-Solving Abilities

5.1  Incorporate history, physical examination findings, and diagnostic data into medical decision-making

5.2   Formulate differential diagnoses lists

5.3   Select the most likely diagnosis considering presented patient case data

5.4   Develop multiple differential diagnoses for complicated and/or multisystem cases

5.5    Select appropriate pharmacologic therapy and dosing

5.6   Formulate and implement treatment plans in accordance with applicable practice guidelines

5.7    Make appropriate patient dispositions

5.8    Adapt health maintenance and prevention guidelines to an individual patient context

5.9    Evaluate patient response to treatment

5.10   Facilitate patient or caregiver adherence to and active participation in treatment

5.11    Monitor and manage nutritional status

5.12    Recognize and initiate treatment for life-threatening conditions

5.13    Assess patient adherence to drug regimens

5.14    Educate, evaluate, treat, and report adverse drug reactions and/or adverse effects

5.15     Monitor pharmacologic regimens and adjust as appropriate

Clinical Competencies

Prior to progressing to the clinical learning year of the program, students will develop and demonstrate proficiency in several psychomotor skill sets involved in procedural medicine, such as suturing, casting and splinting, nasogastric and endotracheal intubation, and sterile technique. The clinical phase of the program is designed to reinforce knowledge and skills developed during the didactic phase. Eight clinical learning rotations, each six weeks in length, are conducted at a variety of outpatient and inpatient clinical sites. Students are expected to develop competency in those areas listed above. During this period, students will be exposed to a wide variety of live patient encounters to assist them in the building of understanding in the diagnoses, pathophysiology, risk factors, laboratory interpretation, and therapeutic strategies involved in patient evaluation and treatment.