Central Coast Physician Assistant Program

A.T. Still University (ATSU) has partnered with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) to develop the Central Coast Physician Assistant Program (CCPAP), with the goal of educating community-oriented physician assistants who will provide whole person primary care to our nation’s underserved communities.

CCPAP is a 24-month, entry-level residential physician assistant master’s program based in Santa Maria, California. Students will spend one year at one of 20 community health centers (CHC) located across the U.S. CCPAP graduates will obtain the skills and knowledge to provide high-quality, compassionate primary care to diverse, underserved populations as part of the CHC workforce.

Prior to applying for CCPAP, prospective students may receive advance consideration as an applicant through ATSU’s Hometown Scholars program.

The residential, entry-level physician assistant master’s program in Santa Maria, CA, prepares students to serve their community as primary care providers through on-campus and clinical training throughout the 24-month program. The ultimate focus of CCPAP education is to serve the underserved communities with competent, compassionate care.

CCPAP prepares highly competent professionals in the science of medicine steeped in the osteopathic tradition of body, mind, and spirit care for the whole person and service to underserved populations. From their first day, CCPAP students are immersed in engaged scholarship, threading the philosophy of whole person healthcare and serving the underserved through classes and activities designed to foster critical thinking. Award-winning faculty, adjuncts, and instructors provide leadership, guidance, and supervision to CCPAP students in all phases of their education with the time-honored medical education traditions of mentored experience, example, and excellence.

CCPAP is always looking for new, highly qualified, high quality training sites. If you know of a facility interested in providing rotation or internship positions for physician assistants, please contact Dan McDermott, Assistant Program Director, at dmcdermott@atsu.edu.

CCPAP prepares program graduates to serve their community as primary care providers with an emphasis in behavioral health. Faculty and staff work closely with CCPAP students, helping them develop professional attributes and clinical problem-solving skills necessary for efficient and optimal patient care. During the clinical component of the program, students attend clinical rotations in several disciplines of medicine at Community Health Centers.

Program Mission

The Central Coast PA Program (CCPAP) educates culturally humble, diverse PAs to serve the primary care needs of medically underserved communities.


CCPAP intends to be recognized as the principle source of PAs from historically underrepresented groups providing culturally-humble care to medically underserved communities. ​


  1. To educate highly skilled, knowledgeable Physician Assistants who are able to deliver high quality health care to all individuals in a wide variety of clinical settings.
  2. To provide comprehensive education in the social and behavioral sciences (i.e. Critical Community Health Studies) and medical disciplines necessary to produce culturally-sensitive clinicians.
  3. To develop an understanding of ways in which the social environment affects health through exposure to a wide variety of case studies, discussions and clinical experiences throughout the entire curriculum which reflect the diversity of patients and the communities in which they reside.
  4. Educate students in the techniques necessary for utilization of technology (i.e., EHRs, smart phones, tablets, etc.) as a tool to enhance their productivity as students and professionals.
  5. To support and encourage service to the profession and leadership activities through involvement in Physician Assistant professional organizations
  6. To provide students with a strong, diverse faculty presence as mentors and role models.
  7. To develop inquisitive, life-long learners with strong critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Program Values

  • Quality physician assistant education
  • Teamwork
  • Innovation
  • Osteopathic philosophy
  • Social justice
  • Diversity

Who We Are

CCPAP aims to produce providers who will enter primary care and needed specialties including:

  • Family medicine
  • General internal medicine
  • General pediatrics
  • Women’s health
  • Behavioral health/psychiatry
  • Emergency medicine
  • General surgery

At ATSU, we encourage graduates to work in communities and areas where they can serve underserved populations. To assist in achieving this end, we have collaborated with NACHC to integrate student clinical experiences in 20 community health centers. Students in CCPAP will be embedded at a community health center partner location for their clinical experiences. The program does not provide international clinical experiences.