Physician Assistant Degree
Physician Assistant Degree
Entry Level Degree Program
The Department of Physician Assistant Studies at A.T. Still University teaches the art and science of medicine steeped in the osteopathic tradition of body-mind-spirit care for the whole person. Students grow into their profession in a learner-centered environment through face-to-face instruction, didactic clinical experiences, year-long clinical procedures and history and physical exam laboratories, and regular Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) using standardized patient actors, all before their year of supervised clinical experiences working in clinics and hospitals.
Through a partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers (CHCs), we are training whole-person-care, community centered practitioners through year-long clinical experience at a CHC for a selected portion of the class. Our graduates strive to provide culturally and spiritually competent primary care where and to whom healing is needed the most.
Prospective students who build relationships with CHCs prior to applying may qualify for advance consideration as an applicant through our Hometown Scholars program.
The residential, entry-level physician assistant master’s program in Mesa, Arizona, prepares students to serve their community as primary care providers through on-campus and clinical training throughout the 26-month program. The ultimate focus of the ATSU PA education is to serve the underserved communities with competent, compassionate care.
Who We Are
The Program aims to produce providers who will enter primary care and needed specialties as listed below:
- Family Medicine
- General Internal Medicine
- General Pediatrics
- Women’s Health
- Behavioral Health/Psychiatry
- Emergency Medicine
- General Surgery
We particularly encourage graduates to work in communities and areas where they can serve the underserved. To assist in achieving this end, we have partnered with the National Association of Community Health Centers to base student clinical experiences in areas of need. Students who wish to attend the A.T. Still University PA Program should be willing to re-locate to any of our community partner locations for their clinical experiences. The Program does not provide international clinical experiences.
Average Week for the Class of 2017:
- Classroom Lecture 42%
- Interactive learning 58%
- Community Based Learning 26%
- Laboratory 21%
- Seminar 11%
Mission, Vision, and Goals +
The A.T. Still University Department of Physician Assistant Studies provides a learning-centered education that develops exemplary physician assistants who deliver whole person healthcare with an emphasis on underserved populations. The Program is deeply committed to fulfilling this mission.
The A.T. Still University Department of Physician Assistant Studies will be the nation’s leading provider of competent physician assistants who will serve populations in need by providing care to the body, mind and spirit.
Program Goal Measures of Success Progress since implementation of goals 1. Foster an attitude of service to those less fortunate by cultivating a culture of compassion and service to the underserved - Percentage of class that have didactic and clinical year placements in underserved environments - Percentage of class that participate in service activities for underserved -100% of class of 2017 placed with clinical experiences in underserved environments – 99% of class of 2017 participated in health fairs for underserved populations 2. Produce graduates who are well steeped in teamwork by providing interprofessional education experiences. - Percentage of class that participate in IPE experiences to promote team based health care such as - Heart failure project - Health fairs - Clinic work with dental students - Capstone project -100% of class of 2017 participated in IPE activities with other health professions students - 100% of class of 2017 participated in heart failure project and Falls Prevention 3. Promote whole person healthcare by including elements of mind, body and spirit across the curriculum. - Percentage of class participating in readings and reflective journaling - Spirituality in medicine seminar - Osteopathic philosophy seminar - Spirituality seminar - 100% of class of 2017 participated in reflective journaling - 100% of class of 2017 participated in osteopathic philosophy seminar and OM demonstration - 100% of class of 2016 participated in spirituality seminar 4. Educate students in a learning centered environment that promotes self-directed learning. - Percentage of curriculum involving “out of seat” learning experiences that promote critical thinking and self- directed learning such as:
- Articulate based presentations
- Internet based modules
- Medical gaming
- Interactive classroom sessions
- Group testing
- Laborator Learning and Didactic Clinical Experiences
- 43% of curriculum delivered in interactive format
A.T. Still University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
230 S. LaSalle Street; Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604
Phone: 800.621.7440 | Fax: 312.263.7462
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Physician Assistant Program sponsored by A.T. Still University Arizona School of Health Sciences. 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 March 2024. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.
What is a PA? +
What is a PA?
Per the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), a PA is a nationally certified and state-licensed medical professional. PAs practice medicine on healthcare teams with physicians and other providers. They practice and prescribe medication in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the majority of the U.S. territories and the uniformed services.
- Take a medical history
- Conduct physical exams
- Diagnose and treat illnesses
- Order and interpret tests
- Develop treatment plans
- Counsel on preventive care
- Assist in surgery
- Write prescriptions
- Make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes
PAs’ specific duties depend on:
- The setting in which they work
- Their level of experience
- Their specialty
- State laws
The A.T. Still University Physician Assistant Program is an entry level, 26 month course of study that leads to a Master of Science degree upon successful completion. The first 14 months of the program consist of courses that develop a strong academic foundation for clinical practice. Faculty and staff work closely with 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. Students are supervised by clinical preceptors and continue to advance their clinical knowledge by working directly with patients and various health care professionals.
Graduation from the ASHS PA program also requires the development of a capstone paper/project in collaboration with the faculty. The paper/project is designed for students to demonstrate their skills in critical analysis and a capacity for independent, logical thinking.
After graduation, students take the national certification exam.
Students and Alumni+
Profile of the Current Cohort
Class of 2019 admissions data
- Class size: 67
- Number of applicants interviewed: 287
- Number of CASPA Applications: 3,317
- Average cumulative GPA: 3.52
- Average science GPA: 3.46
- Average age: 27
Student Life is dedicated to enhancing life outside the classroom at A.T. Still University by providing intentional programming, leadership development, and co-curricular support. Through engagement in one of over one hundred student organizations; university-organized volunteer/service opportunities; and informal interactions with fellow students, faculty, and staff the office of Student Life helps to facilitate a work/life balance of ATSU students outside the classroom.
An example of an ATSU student organization is the J. Louis Kettel Society. The Kettel Society is the Physician Assistant program official student organization that represents all PA students at ATSU. The society provides a social and student governing platform for PA students. For more information about how to get involved with the Society or other registered student groups please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The office also helps prepare ATSU students for the next phase of their career through career and professional development services. From hosting annual recruitment fairs, workshops to hone interviewing skills, and reviewing critical employment documents, Student Life helps bridge the experiences gained at ATSU with our students’ next professional experience.
Hometown Scholars are provided an interview for the PA program if they meet the minimum standards and requirements for admission. Hometown Scholars may be given preference in placement at their home community health center.
Do you or someone you know want to help improve the health of your community? Desire to work or volunteer in your community health center? Aspire to be a physician, dentist or physician assistant?
Turn your passion into your calling through A.T. Still University’s (ATSU) Hometown Scholars program, started in response to requests from community health centers (CHCs) and other safety net providers. Hometown Scholars helps ATSU meet the needs of CHCs by attracting and training dedicated, motivated, and qualified community-minded healers.
Learn more about the Hometown Scholars program.
History of the profession (per the American Academy of Physician Assistants)
The PA profession was created to improve and expand healthcare.
In the mid-1960s, physicians and educators recognized there was a shortage of primary care physicians.
To help remedy this, Eugene A. Stead Jr., MD, of the Duke University Medical Center, put together the first class of PAs in 1965. He selected four Navy Hospital Corpsmen who had received considerable medical training during their military service. Stead based the curriculum of the PA program on his knowledge of the fast-track training of doctors during World War II.
The first PA class graduated from the Duke University PA program on Oct. 6, 1967.
The PA concept was lauded early on and gained federal acceptance and backing as early as the 1970s as a creative solution to physician shortages. The medical community helped support the new profession and spurred the setting of accreditation standards, establishment of a national certification process and standardized examination, and development of continuing medical education requirements.
Areas of Medicine for PAs
Physician assistants (PAs) are found in all areas of medicine. They practice in family medicine, internal medicine, emergency medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, surgery and surgical specialties including orthopedics, psychiatry as well as many other areas. Many PAs work in settings such as education, government, administration and research.
The most common areas of medicine (per the AAPA) include:
- Primary Care 26.6%
- Surgical Subspecialties 19.5%
- Emergency Medicine13.8%
- Internal Medicine Subspecialties 7.6%
Employment opportunities for PAs are abundant. Many students are offered employment by preceptors on clinical rotations. There are many resources easily available. Examples include:
- The AAPA
- State organization for PAs (Arizona example)
- The ATSU alumni employment opportunities website
Median annual salary (per the AAPA): $93,800.
Salary varies based on experience, education, geographical location and other factors.
NCCPA Pass Rates+
The current pass rate for the class of 2017 is 99 percent.
Didactic and Clinical Year Overview +
Didactic Year Overview
Classroom lectures and labs are conducted on the Mesa campus. Lectures are generally in large group format, often with case studies, interactive clickers, and projects to encourage participation and collaboration with peers and faculty.
Labs are generally in smaller group format, often with students working with other students and faculty to practice skills (for example: clinical skills, procedures, history taking, and physical exam).
Standardized patients are utilized to give “real world” scenarios and exposure in the testing environment to best prepare students for clinical rotations.
Students gain practical experience to prepare for clinical rotations by going into the community to see patients during their didactic year. Students build confidence by working closely with preceptors and patients. Examples of these didactic year clinical experiences include the following:
- Family Medicine
- Community Health
- Emergency Medicine
- Medical Examiner
- General Surgery
- Ears Nose Throat (ENT)
- Dental Clinic
- Mesa Fire Department (Emergency Medical Response)
Clinical Year Overview
All students complete eight 6-week supervised clinical practice experiences. Students are assigned to complete these experiences at sites throughout the state of Arizona or at one of our community health center partners located in various parts of the country. Clinical Practice Experience areas include:
- Family Medicine
- Internal Medicine
- Emergency Medicine
- Women’s Health
- General Surgery
- Behavioral Health
Community Health Centers (CHC) for Clinical Experiences
Community Health Centers are the nation’s largest safety net providers of healthcare for the underserved. Select students are assigned to complete their rotations at one of our community health center partners. By being embedded in these areas for clinical rotations, it is hoped that students will choose to practice in a community of need.
Our current CHC partners include the following:
- Community Health Centers of the Central Coast, San Luis Obispo, CA
- Teche Action Clinic, Franklin, LA
- Morton Comprehensive Health Services, Tulsa, OK
- Albany Area Primary Health Care, Albany, GA
- Family Healthcare Network, Visalia, CA
- Camarena Health, Madera, CA
- Community Healthcare Center, Wichita Falls, TX
- Golden Valley Health Centers, Merced, CA
Physician Assistant Faculty
Randy D. Danielsen, PhD, DFAAPA, PA-C Emeritus
Dr. Danielsen is dean of ATSU’s Arizona School of Health Sciences. Since graduating from the University of Utah Physician Assistant (PA) Program in 1974, Dr. Danielsen has distinguished himself as a clinician, PA educator, author, and editor. He received his BS in health science (cum laude) from the University of Utah in 1978, his master’s in PA studies (MPAS) from the University of Nebraska with an emphasis on internal medicine in 1997, and his PhD from the Union Institute & University in 2003 with an emphasis on medical education. He completed 16 years with A.T. Still University as academic coordinator (1995-1997), chair of physician assistant studies (1997-2004), and as dean of ATSU’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (2004-2010) and recently returned as Dean of ATSU-ASHS. He was honored in 2010 by A.T. Still University with Emeritus Professor status. He has served on the board of directors of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) and as a board member and chairman for National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.
Earlier in his career, Dr. Danielsen served as president of the Utah Academy of Physician Assistants, the Arizona State Association of PAs, and as chair of the Arizona Regulatory Board for PAs. Retired after 28 years of service in the US Air Force and Army National Guard with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Dr. Danielsen also is a former president of the Veterans Caucus of the AAPA and was honored with the Caucus’ Civilian PA of the Year Award in 2003.
Dr. Danielsen was named Outstanding PA of the Year by the AAPA in 1993 and by the Arizona State Association of Physician Assistants in 2011. He currently serves as PA editor-in-chief for Clinician Review. Dr. Danielsen has published over 16 peer-reviewed articles, eighteen journal editorials, two book chapters, and most recently his first book, entitled The Preceptor’s Handbook for Supervising Physician Assistants, published by Jones & Bartlett Learning. Recently he was selected as a Senior Consultant with the Academy for Academic Leadership.
- Randy D. Danielsen, PhD, DFAAPA, PA-C Emeritus
Vice Dean +
Ann Lee Burch, PT, MPH, EdD
Dr. Burch is vice dean of ATSU’s Arizona School of Health Sciences. Her primary responsibility is to serve as chief operating officer of the school under the direction of the dean. In addition, she leads several University- or school-wide initiatives including the Diversity Initiative Task Force and the ATSU-ASHS Adelante Project. In her role, Dr. Burch represents the school in the dean’s absence.
Dr. Burch received her doctor of education (EdD) from Columbia University, Teachers College in 2005. She received her master’s of public health (MPH) from Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health in 2002 and her master’s of physical therapy (MS) from Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1989. She was a postdoctoral fellow with the Research Group on Health Disparities at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Dr. Burch received her BA in psychology from the University of Rochester. Prior to her appointment as vice dean, Dr. Burch served as the chair of physical therapy from 2008-January 2012. Prior to coming to ATSU, Dr. Burch was the Director of Physical Therapy at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She has held administrative and/or faculty positions at the International Center for the Disabled in NY, NY, Mercy College in NY, and Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY.
- Ann Lee Burch, PT, MPH, EdD
Chair and Program Director/Professor +
Albert Simon, DHSc, MEd, PA-C
Albert Simon, DHSc, MEd, PA-C, is a graduate of the Alderson Broaddus PA program in West Virginia. Prior to ATSU, he served as chair of the St. Francis University PA program in Pennsylvania.
His clinical practice experience includes internal medicine and occupational medicine. In addition to administrative duties, he teaches in the history and physical examination sequence.
- Albert Simon, DHSc, MEd, PA-C
Bruce Badaglialacqua, DO
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Dr. Badaglialacqua (“Dr. B.” for short) is a graduate of Michigan State University-College of Osteopathic Medicine. He completed his internship at Pontiac Osteopathic Hospital in Michigan. He’s practiced family medicine in Michigan and Arizona. Currently, he is the director of student medical education for ATSU’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, and the medical director of the PA program.
Gary Smith, MD, FAAFP
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Dr. Smith is a graduate of Ross University School of Medicine. He completed a family medicine residency at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and currently practices family medicine. He serves the department in both didactic and clinical aspects.
Phil Merrill MEd, PA-C
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Phil Merrill is a PA graduate of University of Oklahoma/USAF program. He also holds a Master of Education in Educational Psychology from the University of Oklahoma. He has 33 years of clinical experience in primary care, urgent care, and gastroenterology. He is an instructor in the History and Physical exam sequence.
Kimberly DeVore, MS, PA-C
Director of Clinical Education/Assistant Professor
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Kimberly DeVore is a 2002 graduate of the Rosalind Franklin PA program at the Chicago Medical School. Her clinical background is in family medicine, in which she continues to practice as a volunteer at an inner city clinic once a week. She is a clinical coordinator and assistant professor, teaching in the History and Physical Exam course. Prior to joining the ATSU faculty full time, DeVore was a community preceptor for the program for 6 years. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends as well as traveling as much as possible.
Linda MacConnell, MPAS, MA Ed, PA-C
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Linda MacConnell is a PA graduate of University of Oklahoma/USAF program. She completed a PA residency in Otolaryngology, and has 30 years of clinical experience in Primary Care and Otolaryngology. She has also holds a master of education from the University of Phoenix. She is an instructor in the Clinical Medicine series and oversees Didactic Year Clinical Experiences. Linda has presented regularly at the Arizona and national PA conferences.
Mark Fischione, MD
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Dr. Fischione is a graduate of the American University of the Caribbean Medical School. He completed a residency in pathology and a fellowship in forensics. He is a forensic pathologist, serving the community as a medical examiner. He teaches the pathophysiology sequence.
Cody Black, MHS, PA-C
Director of Didactic Education/Assistant Professor
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Cody Black graduated from the University of South Alabama with a master of health science degree in physician assistant studies. Prior to completing the Physician Assistant program, he obtained an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He has been in education since 2013 and in his role at A.T. Still University serves as the Director of Didactic Education. Before joining ATSU, he was on faculty at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Clinically his practice experience includes urgent care, internal medicine, and sleep medicine. He is a member of the Arizona State Association of Physician Assistants (ASAPA), American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), and the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA).
Ray Pavlick, PhD
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Dr. Pavlick began teaching physiology and pharmacology in ATSU’s PA program in 1997. He also teaches for ATSU’s Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health and trains paramedics in the east valley of Phoenix. He has published articles in journals such as General and Comparative Endocrinology, The Journal of Physician Assistant Education, and The Journal of the Medical Library Association. He has also authored chapters in various textbooks on both physiology and pharmacology.
Annette Bettridge MS, PA-C, FNP
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Annette Bettridge is a graduate of Stanford Primary Care Associate Physician Assistant and Family Nurse Practitioner Program and the A.T. Still University advanced physician assistant masters program. Her 12 years of clinical experience includes primary care, occupational, and behavioral medicine. Her teaching focus is in the psychiatry and behavioral health program.
Sara Wilson, MS, PA-C
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Sara Wilson is a PA graduate of A.T. Still University and currently practices in allergy and asthma. Her background undergraduate degree from BYU was in exercise science. Prior to PA school she worked in a busy pediatric office in Utah. Since graduation she has worked in ENT, sleep medicine, and internal medicine offices. It was while working in ENT she was able to become certified in allergy immunology. As faculty she teaches in the History and Physical exam lab sequence along with various didactic lecture presentations. Her additional interests include working on holistic medicine certification and enjoying being outdoors as much as possible.
Lisa Tshuma, DBH, MPAS, MPA, PA-C
Clinical Coordinator/Assistant Professor
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Lisa Tshuma, DBH, MPAS, MPA, PA-C, completed her undergraduate degree in international studies at the School for International Training in Brattleboro,Vermont. Prior to becoming a PA she worked as an international development and health programs officer in Zimbabwe. Her passion for population health lead her to complete the master of public administration and master of physician assistant studies programs at the University of Utah. As a primary care physician assistant at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in North Carolina and California, she recognized the need to integrate behavioral health in primary care and subsequently earned a doctorate of behavioral health from Arizona State University.
She has been a PA educator since 2011. Prior to joining ATSU, she served as the director of didactic education at Northern Arizona University and as didactic faculty at the University of North Texas atFort Worth. She currently serves as a clinical coordinator in the Physician Assistant Program. The majority of her clinical career has been dedicated to serving Spanish-speaking medically underserved populations in primary care, geriatrics, and neurology settings. Dr. Tshuma is active in the Physician Assistant Education Association, Association for Prevention, Teaching and Research , National Association for Community Health Centers and the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association.
Melinda Rawcliffe, MS, PA-C
Linda Knutson, MS, MEd, PA-C
Jeannette Vaughn-Dotterer, MS, PA-C
Lorie Weber, PA-C
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Lorie Weber, PA-C, is a native of Arizona and graduate of the University of Arizona Health Sciences. She completed her physician assistant training at the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program in 1986.
Ms. Weber has enjoyed a long career in health care as a medical technologist, a physician assistant working in family medicine, community health, and urgent care and as an administrator in hospice and palliative care. She has been a guest lecturer for the Oregon Hospice Association, the Oregon Physician Assistant Association and Pacific University PA Program on hospice and palliative care. Ms. Weber continues to enjoy her work with hospice as a hospice inpatient volunteer.
Angela Kiselyk, PA-C, MS
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Angela Kiselyk, PA-C, MS, graduated in 2004 from ATSU’s Physician Assistant Program. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona. She is currently a doctoral student in the online education program at ATSU. After becoming certified as a PA, she worked in pediatrics for one year and then dedicated herself to family medicine under the supervision of Andrew Nava, MD, at Nava Family Medicine in Phoenix.
Her interests lie in providing high quality care to patients from diverse backgrounds and all ages. She also desires to provide students with knowledge dissemination, frequent feedback, and encouragement as they learn to become competent providers.
Prior to PA school Angie taught one year of high school biology and several years of environmental biology and A&P labs at Grand Canyon University. Since 2016 she has been at ATSU as an adjunct professor for the Advanced PA Program. She taught medical ethics and clinical medicine. She started as full-time residential faculty in 2018.
Angie is the proud mom of an 11 year old who is very busy with her academic achievements, competitive swim and piano studies. Her daughter’s favorite book at the moment is “Hot Zone” by
Richard Preston. Angie’s daughter thinks she wants to be a molecular virologist when she
grows up. When not being a mom Angie enjoys travel, gardening, and the last book she read for fun was “In Search of Soul: Hip-Hop, Literature, and Religion” by Alejandro Nava.
Kevin Kupferer, PA-C, DHSc, MsCI
- Bruce Badaglialacqua, DO
Linda Wheelis, BA
Manager, Advanced Physician Assistant Program
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Linda Wheelis started working with the APA program in March 2003 and has been the manager since 2005. As the manager she runs the day to day operations of the department and program working with students and faculty. Wheelis holds a bachelor degree in management from the University of Phoenix.
Manager of Clinical Education
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Cindy Becerra has been with the Department of Physician Assistant Studies since 2009. Her work with the clinical team consists of working with students during their 2nd year clinical experiences, managing day-to-day operations of the clinical year, student placement requirements, student needs, and administrative duties. Additionally, she works in the community with preceptor relations and site visits.
Manager of the Physician Assistant Program
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Bonnie Trahan has been with the ATSU Arizona School of Heath Sciences since 2005 and is currently the Assistant to the Chair. In addition to administrative duties, she organizes the admissions process and departmental events.
Corey M Cooper, BS, EMT
Manager of Assessment and Technology
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Corey Cooper is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He has worked as a technician in radiology, emergency medicine, and laboratory settings, served as a director for a primary care clinic for the underserved, and conducted research in social support and mindfulness. He currently supports student and program assessment and scheduling for the didactic component of the residential PA program. He also plays ukelele very, very badly.
Ashley Purviance, MA, JD
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Ashley Purviance graduated from the Roger Williams University School of Law and worked as an insurance defense attorney in Boston, MA before joining the A.T. Still University PA program. She works with department administration to gather and analyze program data and maintain accreditation and policy compliance. She also works closely with didactic year students, organizing and scheduling clinical shadowing experiences and lecturing on relevant medical-legal topics.
Janell Somers, BS
Clinical Education Assistant
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Janell Somers earned a bachelor in applied psychology and organizational behavior from Albright College in Pennsylvania. Somers provides administrative support for the 2nd year clinical experiences faculty and students. Prior to coming to ATSU, she worked at Albright College as the student liaison helping from admissions to graduation and assisting adjunct faculty with class essentials for three programs. She enjoys DIY projects and spending time with her family.
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Bobbi Catton has a background in academic administrative support, surgery center regulatory administration, and medical/scientific journal publication. She began her career at A.T. Still University in 2014 and joined the Physician Assistant program as the Curriculum Coordinator in 2017. Bobbi coordinates
the scheduling of learning sessions within each didactic course and delivery of teaching materials through the learning management system. Her primary
objective is to assist in providing a superior education to tomorrow’s Physician Assistants.
- Linda Wheelis, BA
Physician Assistant Degree Admissions
Contact Us +
Call 866.626.2878 or email email@example.com to learn more about the Physician Assistant program.
Applicants must complete the following courses prior to matriculation. All pre-requisite coursework and the bachelor’s or master’s degree must be completed from a United States regionally accredited institution. Pre-requisite 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.
*Beginning with the 2018 application cycle, “survey” and other introductory-level science courses will not fulfill science prerequisites. Please review the FAQ section for more specific information.
- Human Anatomy with lab (recommended that course be completed within 5 years of application date), minimum 4 semester credits/6 quarter credits.
- Human Physiology with lab (recommended that course be completed within 5 years of application date), minimum 4 semester credits/6 quarter credits.
- If you have taken a combined Anatomy & Physiology course, you must have two or more semesters (each with lab) totaling 8 semester credits/12 quarter credits.
- Microbiology (recommended that course be completed within 5 years of application date), minimum 3 semester credits/4 quarter credits.
- Biochemistry (recommended that course be completed within 5 years of application date), minimum 3 semester credits/4 quarter credits.
- College algebra or statistics, minimum 3 semester credits/4 quarter credits.
- Medical Terminology, minimum 1 semester/1 quarter credits (updated 2/2/2018).
*It is highly recommended to have at least 12-18 credit hours of upper division science courses
starting with the 2018 application cycle.
Beginning with the 2018 application cycle, the applicant must have achieved a minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average overall and a minimum 3.0 cumulative science grade point average on a 4.00 scale.
No advanced standing is provided
Admissions Timeline and CASPA
Applications must be submitted through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (www.caspaonline.org). Please refer to the CASPA application instructions for specific details about completing the application, required documents, and processing time.
The CASPA application cycle begins in Mid-April of the academic year preceding the year in which the applicant plans to matriculate. Applicants must submit a completed application to CASPA by the Sept. 1 deadline. All secondary applications must be submitted by Nov. 1st to be considered.
Program enrollment is based on a rolling admissions policy. Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are received. Due to limited number of seats in the Program, applicants are encouraged to apply early. Interviews are awarded on a competitive basis. Admission to the program is made based on multiple criteria.
General Admission Requirements
Candidates accepted for admission to the ATSU-ASHS PA Program must have earned a baccalaureate degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States. Evaluations of transcripts from foreign institutions and other institutions that are not regionally accredited in the United States are not accepted (i.e., no equivalency will be accepted).
Applicants are expected to be computer literate. All coursework requires extensive computer usage. Accepted applicants will be provided laptop specifications.
Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation from professionals:
Please refer to the CASPA application instructions for specific guidelines and requirements for submitting letters of recommendation.
- Employer or supervisor
- Health Care Practitioner (Physician, Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner)
- Science Faculty Member.
Once ATSU-ASHS receives a completed CASPA application and determines that minimum requirements are met, the applicant will be notified by email to submit a secondary fee for final processing. Upon receipt of this fee, the application is forwarded to the program for consideration.
NOTE: Applicants are responsible for notifying the Office of Admissions of any changes in their mailing address or email address. All requests for withdrawing an application must be done in writing via email, fax, or letter.
Applicants are encouraged to check all email folders in the rare event our email is filtered into a spam or junk mail folder.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to obtain patient care experience, sufficient to recognize the physical & psychological demands of dealing with patients and to appreciate the challenges and rewards of being a healthcare professional.
Applicants must successfully complete all prerequisite courses with a grade of “C” or higher.
All students are required to demonstrate proficiency in English when applying to the Arizona School of Health Sciences, A.T Still University. You may find information on the methods by which you can demonstrate your English Proficiency in the General Admissions section. International Admissions Requirements
Applicants who are considered potential candidates must visit ASHS to participate in an applicant interview process.
The Graduate Records Exam (GRE) is NOT required
Please see the Class of 2019 Didactic Student Program Guide to review the technical standards for admission.
A minimum of 100 community service hours is strongly recommended.
The ATSU-ASHS PA program participates in the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). CASPA provides a web-based service that allows applicants to submit a single application to multiple participating PA programs. All official transcripts and letters of reference are sent directly to CASPA as part of the application process. Please visit CASPA at https://portal.caspaonline.org for more information on how to apply for admission.
Program enrollment is based on a rolling admissions policy. Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are received, thus applicants are encouraged to apply early.
Once ATSU-ASHS receives a completed CASPA application and determines that minimum requirements are met, the applicant is notified by email to submit a secondary fee of $70 for final processing. Upon receipt of this fee, the application then receives full consideration by the PA program.
For additional information contact the PA department:
Please refer to the University Catalog p. 158 for detailed information regarding tuition and fees.
Please see the Student Financial Services website for additional information regarding tuition refund policies.
Note that financial services website divides tuition into the calendar year (as opposed to the didactic and clinical components of our program as listed above) for the purpose of yearly financial aid planning.
Tuition, fees, and expenses are subject to change.
Requests for information regarding loans and other financial assistance can be found on our financial aid website.
Many Community Health Centers (CHCs) offer loan repayment for graduate PAs who choose to serve in their organizations.
There are also numerous opportunities for PAs to serve in underserved geographic areas (for example, please see National Health Service Corps).
The American Academy of Physician Assistants has a wealth of information on financial aid opportunities.
There are also opportunities through state organizations, such as http://www.asapa.org/?page=Scholarships
- What degree does the ATSU PA program offer? Graduating students receive a Master of Science Degree in Physician Assistant Studies.
- How long is the ASHS PA program, and when does it start? The ASHS PA program is 26 months in length, with a new class beginning annually in June. The first 14 month component of the program is divided into five quarters of didactic and laboratory work, while the second 12 month component consists of clinical rotations. During the clinical rotation component, students complete a capstone paper.
- What Courses Are Required For Completion of the PA Program and How Many Credits Does Each Course Carry? Please refer to the class of 2018 curriculum (pdf) and the class of 2019 curriculum .
- Must I have a bachelor’s degree to enter the program? Yes.
- How do I apply to the PA Program? Completed applications must be submitted to the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (www.caspaonline.org). Please refer to the CASPA application instructions for specific details about completing the application, required documents, and processing time. The CASPA application cycle begins Mid-April of the academic year preceding the year in which the applicant plans to matriculate. Program enrollment is based on a rolling admissions policy. Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are received, thus applicants are encouraged to apply early. Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation from professionals to CASPA. (1)Employer or supervisor (2) Health Care Practitioner (Physician, Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner), and (3) Science Faculty Member. Please refer to the CASPA application instructions for specific guidelines and requirements for submitting letters of recommendation. Once ATSU-ASHS receives a completed CASPA application and determines that minimum requirements are met, the applicant will be notified by email to submit a secondary fee for final processing. Upon receipt of this fee, the application is forwarded to the PA Program for consideration. NOTE: Applicants are responsible for notifying the Office of Admissions of any changes in their mailing address or email address. All requests for withdrawing an application must be done in writing via email, fax, or letter. Applicants are encouraged to check all email folders in the rare event our email is filtered into a spam or junk mail folder.
- When do you interview? Interviews generally occur on select Wednesdays between July and December.
- Do all of my prerequisite courses need to be completed by the time I apply to the ASHS PA program through CASPA? No. It is common for many of our candidates to be finishing one or two pre-requisite courses at the time of application. All prerequisites must be successfully completed before the ASHS PA program begins in June.
- Where do I find out how to pay my secondary fee? This information is emailed after the primary application is processed, assuming all minimum criteria is met. ATSU’s secondary application deadline is November 1st.
- Do you have a distance learning option for the entry level program? No.
- What is the profile of a successful applicant to the ATSU PA Program? The successful applicant to the program will have combination of life, educational and work experience that shows a commitment to patient care and serving the underserved, an understanding of the PA profession, and the ability to perform in a demanding academic and professional setting. Competition is strong for entry into this program. Although not required, healthcare experience is highly recommended. Past educational performance, while not necessarily indicative of current abilities, can predict performance in the program. Every attempt should be made to enhance overall and science course GPA prior to application. The didactic training phase is extremely demanding and the applicant will benefit by taking courses that simulate this type of education.
- Does it look better to take courses at a four year university vs. a community college? It is recommended that you take the most rigorous coursework available to be as competitive as possible.
- Can I take prerequisites at your institution? No. ASHS does not offer undergraduate courses.
- Does it make a difference for admission if I am from out-of-state? No. Your state of residence does not impact your chances for admission.
- Will taking the GRE make me a more competitive applicant? At this time, we do not factor GRE into the decision for admission.
- How will I be notified if I’m being invited for an interview? The invitation will be made by email; therefore, it is important that you provide us with current contact information. A formal letter will be sent to you as well.
- When will I be notified if I am selected to interview? You will be notified if you are selected for an interview after your application has been reviewed. The application review process begins in August each year.
- If I am selected to interview, how long does it take to find out if I am selected for the program? We try to inform applicants within two to four weeks after the interview date.
- What is the average GPA of students accepted to your program? For the class of 2019, the average overall GPA was 3.52. The average science GPA was 3.46.
- Will I be able to work while I am in school? Because the rigorous nature of the physician assistant course work, the PA faculty strongly discourage students from working. Typically, PA students are in class from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with an occasional required weekend or evening hours.
- Does ASHS offer financial aid? Where can I find scholarship information? Yes, we offer financial aid and scholarships to our students. Learn more about financial aid.
- How many people apply to the ATSU PA program each year? In recent years, the program has received over 2,500 applications. We traditionally interview approximately 200+ people. There is no guaranteed number of applications or interviews in any given year.
- How many open positions are available in the ATSU PA program each year? ATSU-ASHS enrolls 70 students per PA student cohort.
- How many hours of clinical experience do I need? There is no set number. It is important that one is very familiar with the career in which the applicant is planning to make a commitment. We value the type of experience more than total number of hours. Clinical experience will enhance your application.
- Is there housing convenient to the University? Yes. Students find housing in many of the neighboring communities. There is no ATSU student housing.
- Can I send my application directly to ATSU? No. You must apply through the centralized application service called CASPA.
- I do not work in the medical field. 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, PA’s and other medical professionals, whose primary responsibility is patient care.
- I have a letter of recommendation by a nurse practitioner, chiropractor or other health professional. Can this count for my healthcare letter of recommendation? The required letter of recommendation from a healthcare provider must be from a physician, a physician assistant, or a nurse practitioner.
- Can someone review my application, transcripts, reference forms, resume and personal statement before I turn them in? No. Read the PA program’s brochure, catalog and online material very carefully. Everything you need to know is explained in these documents.
- Who’s on the PA Admission Committee? Committee members consist of program faculty and practicing physician assistants.
- What are the costs in the PA program? Please consult the ATSU website for the current tuition and costs of the PA program. Please note PA program costs are subject to change upon approval of the University Board of Trustees.
- My college offers an introductory level course for one of your prerequisites. Is this adequate? Variations of this question are common. We have established that, beginning with the 2018 application cycle, course descriptions that include “vertebrate,” “mammalian,” “introductory,” “comparative,” “survey,” and “fundamental” are not acceptable terms within course titles and descriptions for prerequisites. In regards to the anatomy prerequisite, we believe anatomy coursework requires an overview of all bodily systems such as musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, digestive, etc. to meet our requirements. If these descriptions do not cover your specific circumstance, submit a formal waiver in writing (no phone calls or emails will be accepted) to the program director. This should include the course description and syllabus for each class involved and a copy of your final grades. The program director will then determine whether a waiver will be granted.
- Can a course in “exercise physiology” satisfy the human anatomy & physiology pre-requisite? No.
- Does your program offer advanced placement or accept transfer credits? No.
- What can I do to make my application more competitive? Nothing can replace good grades in the prerequisite courses and significant healthcare experience. For applications who have strong academic credentials, we suggest electives in the following areas: computer skills, immunology, genetics, communication skills, advanced foreign language and public health.
- 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.
- Any further questions? Contact the admissions office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866.626.2878.
The ATSU Family and Culture
Physician Assistant Academic Standards and Curriculum Overview
A student who is in good standing in the DPAS will have met the following criteria:
- Maintain an overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or higher and achieve a “C”/passing or better letter grade in all didactic and clinical courses required by the ASHS DPAS.
- Meet the defined DPAS Professionalism Expectations and be in compliance with all DPAS and University policies and procedures.
Progression in the Program is contingent on maintaining good academic standing, continued mastery of program objectives, course content, and demonstration of behaviors consistent with a healthcare professional as outlined in the Professionalism section of the program guide.
Grades for each PA student will reflect the evaluation criteria as stated in the course syllabi. Final course grades for ASHS PA Program didactic courses will be expressed using the following scale (unless otherwise specified in the course syllabi):
Letter Grade Number Scale A 90 - 100 B 80 - 89.99 C 70 - 79.99 F < 70 I Incomplete
Please note: Grades will be calculated to two decimal points. Rounding up of final grades will not be permitted.
Requirements for Completion of Didactic Component
- Follow all rules and regulations published by ATSU and the DPAS
- Complete all didactic courses with a passing grade (C or better)
- Submit documentation of and maintain compliance with the ATSU and DPAS Health Requirements
- Maintain BLS and achieve ACLS certification prior to beginning clinical rotations
- Comply with the Professionalism section of the program guide
- Attend all program-designated scheduled educational activities
- Successfully complete the PACKRAT exam and didactic comprehensive examination
- Students must complete standardized examinations as identified by the program and perform to accepted standards on these exams.
The ASHS sub-section of the University Catalog sets forth the maximum time allowed for completion of a masters degree.
Successful completion of the program leads to a master of science degree with a total of 154 credit hours.
Download the Class of 2018 Curriculum (pdf)
(Curriculum is subject to change)
Class of 2019 Curriculum
(Curriculum is subject to change)
Class of 2018 Didactic Student Program Guide
(Program guide is subject to change)
Class of 2019 Didactic Student Program Guide
(Program guide is subject to change)
Download Clinical Student Program Guide (pdf)
(Program guide is subject to change)
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