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Students in ODU's Physician Assistant Studies Program divide their time between the classroom and lab, and clinical sites.

During the first 15 months of the program, students spend their time in the classroom and lab, in what's known as the "didactic" phase. Students are taught by full-time, clinically experienced PA faculty as well as adjunct professors and guest lecturers from multiple disciplines.  

The following 12 months are spent in various clinical sites using a medical apprenticeship model. Near the end of the clinical phase, students participate in an intensive board review course to prepare for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) and clinical practice.

The PA Program curriculum is subject to change in order to best meet the needs of the physician assistant profession and the student. 
  • Didactic Curriculum & Courses
    The first four semesters of ODU's PA Program consist of didactic and laboratory coursework in the basic and clinical sciences, including a full semester’s course in anatomy with cadaver dissection.

    Additionally, students receive instruction in basic sciences useful to better understanding of clinical medicine such as pathophysiology, genetics, microbiology and immunology. Note that the curriculum is subject to change at the discretion of faculty.
    Didactic Year Courses
    15 Months / 70 Semester Hours
    Fall (Semester 1) Aug. - Dec.  
    PAS 510 The Physician Assistant Profession 1
    PAS 520 Gross Human Anatomy
    PAS 527 Microbiology & Immunology 3
    PAS 530 Physical Diagnosis I: Effective Patient Communication 2
    PAS 563 Medical Physiology
    PAS 566 Human Genetics 2
    PAS 652 Public Health & Nutritional Concepts 2
    Spring (Semester 2) Jan. - May   
    PAS 601 Clinical Medicine I 
    PAS 630 Physical Diagnosis II 4
    PAS 660 Diagnostic Methods 3
    PAS 663 Pathophysiology 3
    PAS 670 Pharmacology I 3
    PAS 890 Experimental Clinical Preparation I 1
    Summer (Semester 3) June - Aug.   
    PAS 702 Clinical Medicine II: Emergency Medicine  3
    PAS 704 Clinical Medicine II: Women's Health & Pediatrics  4
    PAS 730 Physical Diagnosis III  4
    PAS 770 Pharmacology II  3
    PAS 773 Research Methods  1
    PAS 810 Ethics, Health Systems, Law & Policy    1
    PAS 891 Experimental Clinical Preparation II 1
    Fall (Semester 4) Aug. - Dec  
    PAS 703 Clinical Medicine II: Surgery 
    PAS 706 Primary Care Seminar 
    PAS 807 Practical Clinical Skills  4
    PAS 830 Diverse & Vulnerable Patient Populations in Health Care 1
    PAS 840 Clinical Decisions  3
    PAS 880 Behavioral Health & Illness  2
    PAS 892 Experimental Clinical Preparation III 1
    Total Credits Required 70

    Didactic students are also introduced into clinical settings through shadowing and hospital experiences throughout the didactic year. Additionally, students will receive instruction in risk management and the electronic medical record (EMR) to better prepare for actual practice in a changing healthcare environment.

    In the final semester of the didactic phase, students receive further hands-on training in clinical skills such as suturing, surgical knot‐tying, IV administration and access, casting/splinting, sterile technique including surgical scrubbing and gowning, advanced cardiac life support, and other clinical skills.

    Students will also participate in Objective Standardized Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) as part of the physical diagnosis course and are expected to successfully pass these in order to progress to the clinical phase. 

  • Clinical Curriculum & Rotations
    The clinical phase of the program lasts 12 months and consists of seven core rotations and four non-core rotations, plus a Transition to Practice course.
    Clinical Year Rotations
    12 Months / 24 Semester Hours
    Credit Hours

    Core Rotations  
    PAS 901 Family Medicine  
    PAS 902 Emergency Medicine 
    PAS 903 Internal Medicine
    PAS 904 Women’s Health
    PAS 905 Pediatrics
    PAS 906 Surgery 
    PAS 907 Behavioral Medicine
    Non-Core Rotations
    PAS 909 Non-Core Rotation I
    PAS 910 Non-Core Rotation II 2
    PAS 911 Non-Core Rotation III 2
    PAS 912 Non-Core Rotation IV 2
    Professional Development  
    PAS 950 Transition to Practice 
    Total Credits Required  24 

    During clinical rotations, students are visited by a faculty member in order to assess the clinical learning experience. These visits are designed to ensure each student receives an appropriate clinical learning experience.

    Additionally, students are required to return to campus for end‐of‐rotation examinations and/or professional practice activities.

    Students are required to complete appropriate logging and evaluation forms as delineated in each syllabus and written assignments as assigned.

    Additionally, near the end of the clinical phase, students will participate in an intensive board review course to better prepare for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) and clinical practice.

    Students are required to complete all 11 clinical rotations. Students will be expected to travel to various rotation sites. While the majority of the clinical sites are in state, some may require travel out of state. Students are responsible for all travel expenses (e.g., housing , travel and food) to and from their assigned clinical rotation site. Rotation assignments are determined by the program. 

Student Work Policy

ODU's Physician Assistant Studies Program is academically rigorous and challenging. Students are strongly discouraged from working during the program. Employment during the program makes it extraordinarily difficult to maintain study and course work, as well as for social activities and much‐needed rest. Students may not apply compensated clinical experiences toward academic credit. 

Students may not provide services within a preceptor’s practice apart from those rendered as part of the clinical phase of the program. Students are not permitted to have clerical or teaching activities within the program. Students may not receive compensation for work performed within a preceptor’s clinical site or practice.   

Waiver of Courses & Academic Standing

Students may not waive any course within the PA Program curriculum, nor does the program allow advance standing. Students who have been dismissed or withdrawn from the program and readmitted can be granted credit for courses they completed successfully. This is subject to review by the appropriate faculty committee.

Physician Assistant Studies

Lisa Mergler and Chad Coon share why they chose to pursue their Master's Degree in Physician Assistant Studies at Ohio Dominican University.