The Role of a Physician Assistant
Our graduates play an important role in our state's health care.
Physician assistants are licensed to practice under physician supervision and can:
- conduct physical exams.
- diagnose and treat illnesses.
- order and interpret tests.
- counsel on preventive health.
- assist in surgery.
- write prescriptions.
Our extensive curriculum will give you the foundation you need to make sound medical decisions. You'll gain experience through simulations, hands-on training and cadaver-based anatomy instruction. You will also learn the latest ultrasound techniques. During your clinicals, you'll have many options to choose from with a wide variety of specialties at sites that are close to our campus. Through it all, you'll get personalized attention thanks to our small student-to-faculty ratio.
As our health care system changes, PAs are seen as key components. The profession as a whole is projected to grow 30 percent by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We offer a Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) review course immediately prior to your graduation, which can help you get certified and ready to work as soon as possible.
Our Path Forward
The UofSC School of Medicine–Columbia Masters in Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program strives to produce highly competent, compassionate physician assistants who are committed to lifelong learning and advancing the PA profession. The program is dedicated to producing physician assistants who deliver high-quality, patient-centered care and excel as members of an interprofessional health care team, while making significant contributions to the health care needs of South Carolina and the nation.
We prepare Physician Assistant graduates to improve access to primary medical care for the citizens of rural and medically-underserved areas of South Carolina, and the nation.
- Enroll diverse and highly-qualified students who reflect the dynamic population of South Carolina and the nation.
- Encourage life-long professional involvement, scholarly activity, leadership and service.
- Maintain a level of first-time PANCE pass rates that meets or exceeds the national average.
- Maintain an overall graduation rate of 94 percent (current Physician Assistant Education Association national average) or better for entering University of South Carolina Physician Assistant students.
- Maintain an accredited program with an innovative curriculum that prepares entry-level graduates for the contemporary practice of medicine.
View and download the full version of the Physician Assistant Program Goals and Outcomes [pdf].
At its June 2019 meeting, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) placed the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the University of South Carolina on Accreditation - Probation status until its next review in June 2021.
Accreditation - Probation accreditation is a temporary status of accreditation, up to two years, granted when a program holding an accreditation status of Accreditation - Provisional or Accreditation - Continued does not meet the Standards or when the capability of the program to provide an acceptable educational experience for its students is threatened.
Once placed on probation, programs that still fail to comply with accreditation requirements in a timely manner, as specified by the ARC-PA, may be scheduled for a focused site visit and/or risk having their accreditation withdrawn.
Specific questions regarding the Program and its plans should be directed to the Program Director and/or the appropriate institutional official(s).
The program's accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at http://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-university-of-south-carolina/.
Please refer to the ARC-PA website, www.arc-pa.org for the current Standards, an accreditation manual and other helpful information.
Our PANCE pass rate in 2019 for our first class of 19 graduates was a First Time Taker Pass Rate of 95%.
UofSC PA Program Competency List
1. Possess medical knowledge to evaluate and manage medical and surgical conditions of patients of all ages.
2. Possess pharmacology knowledge to prescribe medications appropriately bearing in mind patient safety, cost, and potential for abuse.
1. Elicit an accurate and appropriate problem-focused or comprehensive medical history using appropriate patient-centered interpersonal communication (verbal and non-verbal).
2. Utilizing the clinical presentation and diagnostic testing results, provide clear, concise oral presentations to other healthcare professionals and document accurate patient notes and orders.
3. Professionally exhibit interprofessional teamwork to improve patient care.
4. Provide relevant education to patients and families including treatment, compliance, available resources, and activity/lifestyle modification.
Clinical and Technical Skills
1. Perform a problem-focused or comprehensive physical exam directly related to the medical history and be able to recognize normal and abnormal health states.
2. Practice strategies to improve patient safety and decrease medical errors in patient care.
3. Demonstrate entry-level proficiency for technical skills and clinical procedures common to primary care practice.
1. Reflect cultural awareness through exposure to diverse patient populations.
2. Develop life-long learning skills by using evidence-based medicine strategies and staying current with clinical practice guidelines.
3. Demonstrate the attributes of professional and ethical behavior to include resiliency, flexibility, adaptability, altruism, and ability to overcome adversity when evaluating and managing patients.
Clinical Reasoning and Problem Solving
1. Order and interpret appropriate, cost-effective laboratory or diagnostic studies to determine the differential diagnosis.
2. Demonstrate clinical reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving to develop differential diagnoses and select the most likely diagnosis.
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Important Information About Programs Leading to Licensure
Each state has its own individual licensing boards along with their own Physician Assistant licensure requirements. The master’s degree program in Physician Assistant Studies at the University of South Carolina is provisionally accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), and by virtue of that accreditation, its graduates are eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). As of July 2020, all 50 states require graduation from an ARC-PA accredited program and National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) certification following the successful completion of the PANCE as conditions for initial PA licensure. Besides initial PANCE certification, we cannot confirm that the program meets any additional requirements for professional licensure in states other than South Carolina. Students seeking licensure outside of South Carolina should click here for information regarding state licensure specific to individual states throughout the U.S.