Skip to Content

School of Medicine Columbia

  • Students and doctor examining a skeleton

Physician Assistant

Our faculty is dedicated to helping you succeed in an increasingly vital health care role. During your course of study, you'll have clinical experience, extensive training in the classroom and access to state-of-the-art technologies. This will teach you how to work as part of an interprofessional health care team. 

The Role of a Physician Assistant

Our graduates play an important role in our state's health care.

Physician assistants are licensed medical providers and can:

  • conduct physical exams.
  • diagnose and treat illnesses.
  • order and interpret tests.
  • counsel on preventive health.
  • assist in surgery.
  • write prescriptions.

Extensive Curriculum

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.

Career Outlook

As our health care system changes, PAs are seen as key components. The profession as a whole is projected to grow 28 percent by 2031, 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

To educate and train competent, compassionate, and collaborative PAs to deliver patient centered care as part of an interprofessional team.

To increase accessibility to quality primary medical care for the citizens of rural and underserved areas of South Carolina and the nation​.

  1. Enroll diverse and highly qualified students who reflect the dynamic population of South Carolina and the nation.
  2.  Encourage professional involvement and interprofessional collaboration.
  3. Maintain a level of first-time PANCE pass rates that meets or exceeds the national average.
  4. Train graduates to practice evidence-based medicine and patient-centered care.

View and download the full version of the Physician Assistant Program Goals and Outcomes.

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Columbia Physician Assistant Program sponsored by University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Columbia.  Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards

Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be June 2031. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy. 

The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at

 pa attrition table 2023

USC PA Program Competency List

Students of the USC Physician Assistant Program will build their knowledge and skills throughout their didactic, clinical, and summative training to achieve the following program competencies:

  1. Demonstrate the knowledge to evaluate and manage common medical, surgical and behavioral problems in patients across the lifespan in a variety of healthcare settings. 
  2. Utilizing and interpreting appropriate diagnostic and laboratory studies, formulate a treatment plan to include pharmacologic therapy and patient education. 
Interpersonal Skills
  1. Communicate and interact effectively with patients, families and members of the interprofessional team across a broad range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.
  2. Elicit an appropriate medical history and accurately document in the medical record.
Clinical and Technical Skills
  1. Apply an understanding of indications, contraindications, techniques, risks and benefits of common medical procedures.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to perform a detailed physical exam relevant to the medical history.
Professional Behaviors
  1. Demonstrate professional behavior in congruence with the AAPA ethical code of conduct.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to search, interpret and evaluate medical literature in application to professional development and patient care.
Clinical Reasoning and Problem Solving
  1. Applying clinical acumen and medical decision-making skills, create and refine the differential diagnosis to determine the most likely diagnosis.
  2. Develop a patient- centered management plan with consideration to socioeconomic status in an effort to increase access to care and patient compliance.


Follow Us on Social Media

You can keep up with our program's growth on Facebook and Twitter.

Important Information About Programs Leading to Licensure

Each state has its own individual licensing boards along with their own Physician Assistant licensure requirements. The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia.  Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.   Graduates are eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) and apply for professional licensure in the state of South Carolina. However, we cannot confirm that the program meets the requirements for professional licensure in other states. Students living outside of South Carolina should click here for information regarding state licensure specific to individual states throughout the United States. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.