Frequently Asked Questions

 

  • Prerequisite coursework and experience
    • Do all of my prerequisite courses need to be completed by the time I apply to the CCPA program?
      • Applicants for the CCPA program are required to start an application prior to the April 30, 2022 application deadline, complete the prerequisite courses and complete all application submission requirements by August 15, 2022
    • What are the prerequisite courses? 

      • Human Anatomy & Physiology with or without lab – 6 semester credits
      • Microbiology with or without lab – 3 semester credits
      • Chemistry with or without lab (chemistry sequence designated for health professions) – 6 semester credits
      • Statistics – 3 semester credits
      • Medical Terminology – 1 semester credits or equivalent training (as evidenced by allied health/ medical training)
      • Minimum 2.5 cumulative and science GPAs
      • No GRE required
      •      
  • Can I take prerequisites at your institution?
    • No. ATSU does not offer undergraduate courses.
  • Is a baccalaureate degree required before matriculation? 
    • Yes, completion of a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 2.5 cumulative overall grade point average* is required. However, it is not required to be completed prior to applying for the program. (Please see above that prerequisite courses are required to be completed prior to applying to the program)

* All prerequisite coursework and degree must be completed from an United States regionally accredited institution. Prerequisite courses completed at foreign or other institutions that are not regionally accredited in the United States are not accepted. Course and transcript evaluations of equivalency are not accepted. The Central Coast Physician Assistant (CCPA) Program supports all educational experiences from either U.S. regionally accredited colleges and universities, by residential, hybrid, or online instruction, or by credit by examination.

  • How many hours of clinical experience do I need?
  • No set number of hours are required. Experience in healthcare delivery sufficient to be able to recognize the physical and psychological demands of dealing with patients and to appreciate the challenges and rewards of being a healthcare professional.
  • What type of experience should I get to accumulate hours for clinical experience”?
    • Keep in mind that your goal is to become a physician assistant, therefore, your experience should provide you with as much exposure/experience as possible to the roles and responsibilities of physicians, PAs and other medical professionals, whose primary responsibility is patient care.
  • Does a letter of recommendation written by a nurse practitioner, chiropractor, or other health professional count for my healthcare letter of recommendation?
    • It is strongly recommended that the references include:
      • a physician assistant who you have shadowed or worked with in the past
      • another healthcare practitioner (DO, MD, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner, etc…) who can attest to your potential as a healthcare professional based on direct observation OR a faculty member, employer, or supervisor
    • Letters of Recommendation should reflect your:

      • Timing and duration of relationship (when and how long)
      • Relationship with the reference
      • Experience with the reference
      • Interpersonal skills
      • Experience in healthcare delivery setting
      • Work ethic
      • Preparation for graduate study
      • Commitment / dedication to the CCPA Mission
  • Is there someone available to review my application, transcripts, reference forms, resume and personal statement prior to submission?
    • However, the admissions department can assist with any questions during the application.
  • Does the program offer advanced placement or accept transfer credits?

    • No.
  • Can a course in “exercise physiology” satisfy the human anatomy & physiology prerequisite?

    • No.
  • How are ‘introductory level courses’ considered for one of the prerequisites? 

    • Any questions about prerequisites should be referred to the admissions office.
  • Application process

    • How to apply to the program?
    • What is the application timeframe? 

      • Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. 
    • When is the application deadline?

      • The deadline for applying for the starting class of 2022 is on April 30, 2022
    • Interview process (online/virtual)

      • How will I be notified if I’m being invited for an interview?
        • The invitation for our online interviews will be made by email; therefore, it is important that you provide us with current contact information.
  • How do I prepare for the interview?
    • Be yourself. Be prepared. Do your homework regarding the PA profession and ATSU. Practice by asking others to “mock” interview you. Be professional in your attire, but allow it to reflect who you are.
    • The CCPA Website has a ‘Summary of Program Admissions Process’ on the application page
  • CCPA Program  

    • Do you have a distance learning option for the entry-level program?
      No.
  • Where will classes be held? 
    • In Santa Maria, California, where we have a state-of-the-art learning center designed to facilitate our innovative learner-centered curriculum.
  • Does it make a difference for admission if I am from out-of-state?

    • Your state of residence does not impact your chances for admission.
  • Can students attend part time? 

    • No, due the nature of the delivery of curriculum part-time attendance is not an option. 
  • Will I be able to work while I am in school?

    • Because of the rigorous nature of the physician assistant course work, the PA program faculty strongly discourage students from working. Typically, PA students are engaged in learning activities throughout the day Monday through Friday, with an occasional required weekend or evening hours.
  • Does ATSU offer financial aid? Where can I find scholarship information?

  • How many people apply to the CCPA program each year?

    • This is a new program, so no historical application data is available. It is common for PA programs to receive 1000+ applications for each cohort. 
  • How many open positions are available in the CCPA program each year?

    • CCPA program expects to enroll 90 students per PA student cohort.
  • Is there housing convenient to the University?

    • Students find housing in many of the neighboring communities. There is no ATSU student housing.
  • Who is on the PA admission committee?

    • Committee members consist of PA program faculty and practicing physician assistants.
  • What is the tuition of the PA program?

    • Please note PA program costs are subject to change upon approval of the University Board of Trustees. Please check the CCPA website for the most up-to-date information.
  • What are the curriculum components of the program? 

    • The preclinical first year is residential. The students will spend the first year at the campus in Santa Maria, California. The average week is expected to include: interactive small group learning (70%) facilitated with case studies, interactive learning, and projects. Laboratory and clinical simulations (20%) will occur through small-group labs working with other students and faculty to practice skills (clinical skills, procedures, history taking, and physical exam). These experiences culminate in periodic standardized patient encounters and off-campus preclinical community experiences. Classroom lecture is expected to comprise less than 1% of the instructional design. 
  • How long is the program? 

    • The program is 24-months. First year, the preclinical year (residential), is 12-months. The second year, the clinical year (off-campus at assigned CHCs), is 12-months. 
  • Do you offer a cadaver lab? How will you teach anatomy?

    • No, we will not have a cadaver lab. We use 3D representations available online, including diagrams, and radiologic cross sections. There is also an excellent cadaver dissection video available online should you prefer.
  • Will I need to move to California to attend the program?

    • Yes, for the first year students will need to move to the Santa Maria, California, area for the residential component. 
  • Do you provide options for shadowing physician assistants? 

    • We are not currently providing shadowing experiences. However, we are working on developing some opportunities.
  • Are students required to have health insurance?

    • Yes, students will need to provide proof of health insurance. 
  • Are students covered by malpractice insurance?

    • Yes, through ATSU the students are covered. 
  • Is there a classroom personal appearance policy?

    • Yes, we provide students with a University Program Handbook which outlines policies including personal appearance. 
  • Are there special technology requirements for the program?

  • Can you tell me more about accreditation status? 

    • The Central Coast Physician Assistant (CCPA) program is a master of science in physician assistant studies (MPAS) offered by A.T. Still University. The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the CCPA Program. Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation- Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students. Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at http://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-at-still-university-central-coast/.

  • Any further questions?
  • Contact the admissions office at admissions@atsu.edu or call 866.626.2878 ext. 2237.