Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a Physician Assistant (PA)?
A: A Physician Assistant or (PA) works with a physician in a variety of clinical settings. Physician Assistants are trained to assess healthcare issues, to perform physical exams, provide preventative care, to counsel behavioral health issues and to diagnose and treat acute and chronic illnesses and injuries. There are over 68,000 practicing Physician Assistants serving in private practice, in the military and federal government, in clinics and hospitals, community and rural clinics and hospitals and overseas.
Q: Who is eligible to become a Physician Assistant?
A: South College’s Masters of Health Science, School of Physician Assistant Studies is very competitive. Applicants are required to have an undergraduate degree including prerequisite courses in the sciences. Applicants should have experience within the medical field supervised by a healthcare provider such as a physician or physician assistant. Candidates should have personalities which demonstrate good working relationships with patients and co-workers. Physician assistant students must have coping abilities in order to succeed in this rigorous 27 month program.
Q: Do you accept Advanced Placement (AP) courses for prerequisites?
Q: Do you accept College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits for prerequisites?
Q: I have taken Anatomy and Physiology but my school did not offer a lab, is this okay?
Q: Can I substitute an advanced biology course for Biology I or II?
A: Yes for Bio II with approval. Send course description for review.
Q: Do you accept online courses for pre-requisites?
A: Yes with approval. Send Course description, syllabus, Name of College/University for approval.
Q: I am currently in the process of applying to your PA program and I am wondering if I am going to be taking courses that are prerequisites for the program in this upcoming spring semester if I will still be eligible to be considered for admittance into your program?
A: Yes you can be finishing your pre-requisites while applying to the program however; you must successfully complete those courses prior to the start of classes. With that said, it is preferable that you have all pre-requisites completed prior to the March 1 deadline as that will make you a more competitive candidate.
Q: Why does the PA Program require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?
A: Most graduate level educational programs require the GRE in order to determine if a candidate has the aptitude to be successful in an intensive program of study that requires higher order thinking and problem solving. The GRE scores assist the Admissions Committee evaluate candidate's academic ability and supplement the information we can gain from review of the overall grade point average and transcript. Additional information about the GRE can be obtained at http://www.gre.org/.
Q: Can I substitute the MCAT for the GRE?
A: No, the GRE is the required test the only exception is if you currently hold an advanced degree then you are exempt from the GRE.
Q: Is there a limit on how many times I can take the GRE?
Q: How long is the South College Physician Assistant Program?
A: The Physician Assistant Program at South College is 27 months in duration of approximately 15 months of didactic and 12 months of clinical studies.
Q: Can I remain employed while I attend the Physician Assistant program?
A: Students are not permitted to work in a full-time status while attending the Physician Assistant Program. The intensity of the curriculum is such that employment outside of class time will negatively impact academic and clinical performance.
Q: Can I attend the Physician Assistant program on a part-time basis?
A: The Physician Assistant program is only offered on a full-time basis.
Q: Is there a Physician Assistant program that I can attend online?
A: There are no online Physician Assistant programs available via the internet at South College.
Q: Are the laws governing Physician Assistants the same from state to state?
A: No. While Physician Assistants are licensed to practice in the United States, each state has specific regulations regarding licensing and limitations of health care providers. This information is available through each state's licensing medical board. Information regarding practice and prescriptive rights for each state may also be obtained through the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
Q: What percent of graduates are employed and in which clinical areas?
A: Our most recent alumni employment review was completed in March 2012, with 68 respondents from the classes of 2009 & 2010 (94% response rate). Of those reporting, 100% have reported employment in the field. The majority are working in Primary Care (defined as Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, OB/GYN, and Pediatrics).
Q: What is an Adjunct Clinical Preceptor?
A: An Adjunct Clinical Preceptor is a licensed health professional who provides clinical education to students in their area of expertise. Clinical preceptors assist students in strengthening their foundations in physical exams, problem assessment, diagnosis, procedural skills, treatment, recording and reporting, and consulting. Preceptors are mentors and role models who instruct the student academic and clinical environment. Preceptors receive guidance from academic and clinical objectives provided by the South College, School of Physician Assistant Studies.
Q: What are some of the responsibilities of a clinical preceptor?
A: Some of the responsibilities of a preceptor include and are not limited to:
Allowing for clinical space and a variety of clinical patient encounters necessary for experience within the rotation.
Ensuring the student receives a wide clinical experience by reviewing the necessary clinical objectives for the specific rotation. Preceptors supplement the student with information to build upon and strengthen the student’s current foundation of knowledge.
Preceptors must be on site to teach, consult and supervise the student. This commitment may be shared by two or more approved Clinical Preceptors. Students are expected to work an average of 45 hours per week.
Preceptors assist in developing the student’s skills through observation, demonstration and advising during the clinical phase of the rotation.
As preceptors get to know the student, he or she may increase the level of responsibility to the student in clinical assessment and management.
Preceptors provide the student an opportunity to utilize and become proficient in electronic or manual medical record skills.
Preceptors re-evaluate each patient a student presents ensuring accuracy in history and physical examine techniques.
The preceptors supervision ensures students do not practice outside of their known competencies and within the state’s legislation.
Preceptors ensure all patients seen by a student are presented and an accurate diagnosis and medical management plan is transcribed. All documentation by a student must be reviewed for accuracy and counter-signed by the preceptor.
Preceptors evaluate the student’s didactic and clinical knowledge through feedback with the student, faculty, by completing the student’s clinical evaluation form and via telephone should he or she have concerns or questions regarding students or the clinical phase of the program. Any concerns or questions regarding mentoring, clinical syllabi, clinical rotations, and student concerns should be directed to the Director of Clinical services via phone or e-mail.
Q: Am I allowed to pick my own clinical rotation sites and preceptors?
A: Clinical learning rotation sites and preceptors are selected and evaluated by the PA Program’s Clinical Faculty. Students are not required or permitted to supply their own clinical sites or preceptors. However, students may suggest a clinical site/preceptor to the Director of Clinical Services a minimum of four months prior to the start of the suggested clinical rotation. The Director of Clinical Services will approve or disapprove of the prospective site/preceptor following evaluation of the site and preceptor by the Clinical Faculty. Students are not permitted to make formal arrangements for clinical learning rotations with clinical sites or preceptors without prior approval from the Director of Clinical Services. Students are responsible for their own travel, meals, and lodging during the clinical year.
If you or someone you know are a licensed health care provider in Behavioral Health, Woman’s Health, General Surgery, Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Family/Geriatric Medicine, Cardiology, Pulmonology, Gastroenterology, Urology, Orthopedics, Infectious Disease or other specialty, and are interested in mentoring a physician assistant student, please make inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: I am an incoming PA student. Is there an Apartment Guide available?
A: There are several Apartment Guides for Knoxville. Here is one resource that may be helpful: http://www.knoxvilleapartmentguide.com/index.asp