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master of physician assistant studies


Course Descriptions

BIOL 550. Gross Anatomy, 5 credits
This is an intense, eight-week course in the study of 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. The format of the course includes lectures, laboratories, and demonstrations. Student evaluation is accomplished through written and practical examinations.

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

MPAS 520. Medical Pathology, 5 credits
This course focuses 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 and understanding of the pathologic processes that lead to clinical signs and symptoms of disease.

MPAS 530. Clinical Laboratory Science, 3 credits
This course will provide the student with 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
This course will introduce the students to the physician assistant profession. Students will gain an understanding of professionalism, the role of the physician assistant, and the physician-physician assistant team. In addition, students will 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
This course is designed to provide students the skills necessary to become proficient in communication 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
This course allows students to build upon the knowledge and skills obtained in Communication in Medicine I and continue to increase their 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
This course will provide the physician assistant student information regarding healthcare delivery systems in the United States. Students will gain an understanding of the impact healthcare policy and managed care on a patient health. Clinical management practices will be reviewed. Additional topics include coding and reimbursement, quality assurance, and risk management.

MPAS 640. Medicine I, 8 credits
The Medicine I course is designed to introduce students to the process of clinical decision making by utilizing critical reasoning skills to diagnosis and treat illness and disease. Students will develop their 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. This course will lay the foundation for Medicine II which is offered in the Summer Semester.

MPAS 645. Medicine II, 11 credits
This course builds material presented in the Medicine I course and prepares students for the clinical phase of their education. The course focuses on 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. The course will follow a systems-based approach.

MPAS 650. Pharmacotherapy I, 3 credits
This course provides the physician student 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. This course will lay the foundation for the Pharmacology II course.

MPAS 655. Pharmacotherapy II, 3 credits
This course is designed to build upon the material presented in the Pharmacology I course and will emphasize pharmacotherapeutic practice. Commonly prescribed drugs will be examined with the focus on appropriate drug selection based on individual patients, common adverse reactions, and drug interactions. The cost and efficacy of drugs will be studied. Prescribing for special patient populations will be addressed to include pregnancy, lactation, pediatrics, and geriatrics.

MPAS 660. Clinical Skills I, 2 credits
This course is designed to provide students instruction in the fundamental clinical skills necessary for patient care. A primary focus of instruction 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 the clinical data to formulate differential diagnoses.

MPAS 665. Clinical Skills II, 1 credit
This course is a continuation of Clinical Skills I and the student is introduced to technical skills of increased complexity to include 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
This course is the first in a two course series that covers topics relevant to clinical research and the principals of evidence-based practice. Topics include 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
This course is designed to build upon the material presented in the Research Issues I course. Scientific methods, evidence-based practice principles, and clinical research will be studied in more detail. This course will focus on research design and the appropriate use and interpretation of statistical analysis related to clinical research.

MPAS 677. Research Application, 2 credits
Students will complete a scholarly project under the supervision of PA faculty. Utilizing 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
This course will 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. Health disparities and societal issues are examined. Psychiatric disorders are covered to include psychotic disorders, personality disorders, mood and anxiety disorders. The importance of practicing bio-psychosocial medicine is stressed throughout the course. In addition, preventive healthcare and patient counseling will be emphasized.

MPAS 690. Medical Ethics, 2 credits
This course examines 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. Topics related to patient rights, medical practice laws, professional liability, and medical malpractice are explored.

Required Clinical Preceptorships:

MPAS 700. Family Practice Clerkship
This is a twelve-week 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
This four-week clerkship will provide the student experiences in adult medicine. The student will have the opportunity to evaluate and treat problems encountered in an Internal Medicine setting including both inpatient and outpatient settings. This clerkship will allow students to learn management of more complex medical cases and further develop their critical thinking skills.

MPAS 702. Geriatric Clerkship Rotation
This is a four-week clerkship designed to provide the student with experience in evaluating and treating common problems encountered in Geriatric Medicine. The fundamental principles of geriatrics will be explored as well as the interdisciplinary approaches to providing geriatric healthcare services. The special needs of older adults will be identified to include 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
This is a four-week clinical experience studying the broad spectrum of common obstetric and gynecological problems. During this clerkship, the management of pregnancy, labor, and delivery including prenatal, birth, and postnatal complications is taught. 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
This is a four-week clinical experience in an outpatient and/or inpatient psychiatric setting. There will be special emphasis on the role of a physician assistant in psychiatry. Students will have the opportunity to evaluate patients, perform psychiatric interviews, assess mental status, and develop a working diagnosis. The student will develop a tentative medical management plan, make referral to a physician or community agency, and learn follow-up management with the treating physician or agency.

MPAS 705. Emergency Medicine Clerkship
This is a four-week course which provides the student opportunities to gain experience in evaluating and treating common medical emergencies encountered in Emergency Medicine. The student will be under the supervision of 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
This is a four-week clinical experience in which the student will have learning opportunities in pediatrics. The rotation will mainly consist of working in outpatient clinics, but may also have some inpatient exposure. The student will 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
This is a four-week clerkship in which the student will learn about surgical patients and the surgical service. Students 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 are expected to understand the course of surgical illness, be able to conduct themselves appropriately in the operating room, and to 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.