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master of physician assistant studies


Course Descriptions

BIOL 550. Gross Anatomy, 5 credits
An intense, eight-week course studying the human body involving cadaver dissection. A regional-based approach emphasizing the relationships of anatomical structures will be used. Students will apply knowledge of anatomy to diagnosis and clinical practice. Embryonic development and how it relates to adult anatomy will occur. Students will be introduced to cross-sectional anatomy and radiology as it pertains to medical imaging. Course includes lectures, laboratories, and demonstrations.

MPAS 510. Advanced Physiology, 5 credits
Advanced study of the fundamental principles of physiology and their clinical application to human organ systems. Emphasis is studying cellular, neural, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, renal, endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, and reproductive physiology and their integration. Special consideration given to principles which directly apply to the treatment of common human disease states and altered states of physiologic functioning.

MPAS 520. Medical Pathology, 5 credits
Focus on the pathologic changes that occur in different organ systems of the body. The underlying biochemical, cellular, and physiological changes and their relationship to human disease is examined. The course will provide an understanding of the pathologic processes that lead to clinical signs and symptoms of disease.

MPAS 530. Clinical Laboratory Science, 3 credits
An overview of commonly ordered laboratory tests, accurate application of the tests, and interpretation of the data. Proper laboratory technique for selected tests will also be covered along with quality control measures. Additionally, evaluation and correlation of laboratory data used in the diagnosis and treatment of common infectious disease states will be covered.

MPAS 600. Professional Practice Issues, 1 credit
Introduction to the physician assistant profession. Gain an understanding of professionalism, the role of the physician assistant, and the physician-physician assistant team. In addition, learn about the history of the profession, the profession's organizations, the credentialing and certification process, as well as an introduction to the healthcare system.

MPAS 620. Communication in Medicine I, 2 credits
Provides communication skills necessary to become proficient in the medical setting. Communication includes verbal and non-verbal forms. In addition, medical documentation is addressed and its importance in the practice of medicine is emphasized. Good communication skills are a necessary component for competent medical practice. Good communication between patient and provider improves patient outcomes. To effectively build communication skills, the course will address the basic fundamentals and integrate these skills into the clinical curriculum.

MPAS 625. Communication in Medicine II, 1 credit
Build upon the knowledge and skills obtained in Communication in Medicine I and continue to increase the competency level. Patient education and counseling skills are emphasized, as is more complex communication such as giving bad news. Significant emphasis is placed on interdisciplinary communication. The skills learned in this course will be integrated into the clinical curriculum, thereby allowing the student to become more familiar with medical communication.

MPAS 630. Healthcare Systems, 2 credits
Provides information regarding healthcare delivery systems in the United States. Gain an understanding of the impact healthcare policy and managed care on a patient health. Review clinical management practices. Additional topics include coding and reimbursement, quality assurance, and risk management.

MPAS 640. Medicine I, 8 credits
An introduction to the process of clinical decision making by using critical reasoning skills to diagnosis and treat illness and disease. Develop your knowledge base in the etiology, clinical presentation, differential diagnoses, and therapeutic approach to disease processes. This course will focus on the most commonly diagnosed medical problems. In addition to lectures and reading assignments, Problem Based Learning sessions in a small group format will allow for additional opportunities to develop critical thinking skills. Strategies for disease prevention and promotion throughout the lifespan will also be emphasized.

MPAS 645. Medicine II, 11 credits
Builds on material presented in the Medicine I course and prepares students for the clinical phase of their education. Areas of focus include etiology, risk factors, underlying pathologic processes, and epidemiology for disease processes encountered in the practice of medicine. Recognition of signs and symptoms of medical conditions, appropriate diagnostic work-up, development of differential diagnoses, treatment options, patient education, and prevention are focused topics in the course.

MPAS 650. Pharmacotherapy I, 3 credits
Learn the general principals of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of various classes of drugs. Drug actions on the various biochemical pathways and physiological systems will be discussed. The judicious use of drugs in physician assistant practice will be emphasized.

MPAS 655. Pharmacotherapy II, 3 credits
Builds upon material presented in the Pharmacology I course and emphasizes pharmacotherapeutic practice. Examine commonly-prescribed drugs with the focus on appropriate drug selection based on individual patients, common adverse reactions, and drug interactions. Study the cost and efficacy of drugs. Address prescribing for special patient populations which includes pregnancy, lactation, pediatrics, and geriatrics.

MPAS 660. Clinical Skills I, 2 credits
Receive instruction in the fundamental clinical skills necessary for patient care. A primary focus is on performance of complete examinations of patients across the lifespan. Weekly lectures combined with small group instruction ensure students learn proper exam techniques, recognize and appropriately describe physical findings, and use clinical data to formulate differential diagnoses.

MPAS 665. Clinical Skills II, 1 credit
Continuation of Clinical Skills I. Introduction to technical skills of increased complexity including suturing, casting, splinting, IVs/injections, gowning, gloving, and a general orientation to the operating room. Students will learn proper sterile technique. Students are given an introduction to common minor procedures. In addition, Basic Life Support, Advanced Life Support, and Pediatric Life Support classes will be part of this course so as to certify the student prior to clinical rotations.

MPAS 670. Issues in Research I, 3 credits
Covers topics relevant to clinical research and the principals of evidence-based practice: research design, sound measurement principles, basic descriptive statistics, and an introduction to the efficient use of information systems. A major portion of the course will emphasize the critical appraisal and synthesis of the findings of clinical research.

MPAS 675. Issues in Research II, 1 credit
Build upon material from Research Issues I. Study in greater detail scientific methods, evidence-based practice principles, and clinical research. Focus on research design and the appropriate use and interpretation of statistical analysis related to clinical research.

MPAS 677. Research Application, 2 credits
Complete a scholarly project under the supervision of PA faculty. Using databases, students will review medical literature, interpret, and critically evaluate the literature and its application to patient care in order to promote evidence-based clinical practice.

MPAS 680. Behavioral Medicine, 4 credits
Focus on neurobiological, psychobiological, emotional, social, and cultural influences and their effect on health and illness in the practice of primary care medicine. Human development across the lifespan will be presented, as well as end of life issues. Normative and maladaptive responses to developmental tasks and life stressors in relation to physical and emotional health will be covered. Examine health disparities and societal issues. Psychiatric disorders are covered to include psychotic disorders, personality disorders, mood, and anxiety disorders. Instructors stress the importance of practicing bio-psychosocial medicine as well as preventive healthcare and patient counseling.

MPAS 690. Medical Ethics, 2 credits
Examine the application of human and professional values, judgments, and choices to selective ethical dilemmas arising in clinical practice. Students will be introduced to a structured approach for identifying, analyzing, and resolving ethical issues in clinical medicine. Explore topics related to patient rights, medical practice laws, professional liability, and medical malpractice.

Required Clinical Preceptorships

MPAS 700. Family Practice Clerkship
Duration: 12 weeks. A clinical experience under the supervision of a community-based primary care physician and/or physician assistant designed to acquaint the student with those aspects of the practice of medicine unique to the community setting. The student works with the preceptor in the hospital, the office, long-term care facilities, and all other areas where the preceptor works. In the hospital the student makes rounds with the preceptor and assists him in fulfilling his inpatient responsibilities. In the office the student learns about management procedures in a medical practice and helps the preceptor by providing services consistent with his individual background and clinical training. Students will observe the team practice concept of health care.

MPAS 701. Internal Medicine Clerkship
Duration: 4 weeks. Get experience in adult medicine. Evaluate and treat problems encountered in an Internal Medicine setting including both inpatient and outpatient settings. Learn management of more complex medical cases and further develop critical thinking skills.

MPAS 702. Geriatric Clerkship Rotation
Duration: 4 weeks. Provides experience in evaluating and treating common problems encountered in Geriatric Medicine. Explore the fundamental principles of geriatrics as well as the interdisciplinary approaches to providing geriatric healthcare services. Identify the special needs of older adults, including maximizing patient function and quality of life issues. There is a specific focus on interactions with older adults and decision-making as it affects the well-being of patients and caregivers.

MPAS 703. Obstetrics/Gynecology
Duration: 4 weeks. Clinical experience studying the broad spectrum of common obstetric and gynecological problems. During this clerkship, students learn the management of pregnancy, labor, and delivery including prenatal, birth, and postnatal complications. The student is responsible for taking obstetrical histories, performing obstetrical physical examinations, and following patients through labor, delivery, and the early postpartum period. The student will also gain experience in gynecologic care to include well-woman care, cancer detection, sexually transmitted diseases, and contraception. Learning to take gynecologically-oriented patient histories and perform complete and accurate gynecological examinations is required to include office-based procedures. In addition, the student will have operating room exposure to gynecologic surgery as well as cesarean sections.

MPAS 704. Psychiatry
Duration: 4 weeks. Clinical experience in an outpatient and/or inpatient psychiatric setting. Special emphasis given to the role of a physician assistant in psychiatry. Evaluate patients, perform psychiatric interviews, assess mental status, and develop a working diagnosis. Develop a tentative medical management plan, make referrals to a physician or community agency, and learn follow-up management with the treating physician or agency.

MPAS 705. Emergency Medicine Clerkship
Duration: 4 weeks. Evaluate and treat common medical emergencies encountered in Emergency Medicine. The student will be supervised by the Emergency Department physician and staff. The clerkship will expose the student to cases of trauma, life-threatening conditions, acute illness, and injuries seen in an emergency setting.

MPAS 706. Pediatric Rotation
Duration: 4 weeks. A clinical experience in pediatrics. The rotation will mainly consist of working in outpatient clinics, but may also have some inpatient exposure. Learn to manage various acute and chronic childhood illnesses and learn to evaluate normal variations of growth and development of infants and children.

MPAS 707. General Surgery Clerkship
Duration: 4 weeks. A clerkship to learn about surgical patients and the surgical service. Participate in the pre-operative evaluation of the patient, observe/assist during surgery, as well as care for the patient post-operatively. At the end of the four weeks, students should understand the course of surgical illness, be able to conduct themselves appropriately in the operating room, and have gained the skills necessary for care of surgical patients to include intravenous access, suturing, and other appropriate procedures as required by the clerkship preceptor.