Master of Science in Physician Assistant
The South University, Austin Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) program instills fundamental medical concepts, provides students with the knowledge, skills, and critical thinking necessary to achieve clinical competence as medical professionals who will serve as valued members of the healthcare team. Physician assistants perform medical functions that include, but are not limited to, evaluation, monitoring, diagnostics, therapeutics, counseling, and referral. The scope of practice varies according to state laws, the medical setting, and the experience of the physician assistant. The Master of Science in Physician Assistant program at South University’s Austin campus is designed to provide students with effective learning opportunities that will prepare them to perform their expected competencies in an ethical, legal, safe and effective manner upon graduation.
Accreditation Review Commission on Education for Physician Assistant
The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the South University, Austin Physician Assistant Program sponsored by South University, Austin.
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 https://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-south-university-austin/.
Procedure for Admission to the Master in Science Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program
Entrance to the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) program is gained through a formal application review and an interview. Application to the program is made through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Applicants must specifically designate the South University campus(es) to which their application should be submitted within the CASPA system.
A completed application must be submitted through CASPA in order to be reviewed by any of the South University campuses. The application cycle for the January start will begin in April annually. The deadline for all application materials to be complete* in the CASPA application portal is September 1st annually.
To apply for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant degree program at South University, Austin, individuals must:
- Complete CASPA online Applications including submission of all transcripts and GRE scores.
- Official GRE scores for the General Test (verbal, quantitative, and written essay) are required to be electronically submitted to CASPA through ETS (Educational Testing Service) using the Austin program GRE Code: 0174. Paper copies are not accepted.
*This is the date your application became complete and was placed in the verification queue. Your complete date is the day your final required item - a transcript, reference letter, payment, or e-submitted application - posted to your CASPA account.
**Please do not send transcripts directly to South University. Transcripts should be sent to CASPA.
Individuals whose applications are deemed competitive will be invited for a required interview. Therefore, those who apply early in the admission cycle are more likely to be granted an interview than those who apply later. Each program concludes interviews for the admissions cycle upon filling all available seats. Not all qualified applicants will receive an interview.
Students who are offered a seat into the Physician Assistant program are only permitted to reserve a seat at one campus. Within 14 days of the applicant signing and submitting the acceptance form, it is the responsibility of the applicant to notify any other South University Physician Assistant program(s) of his/her intent to withdraw. Seat acceptance fees are non-transferable to other South University programs.
Note: Applicants should refer to the Physician Assistant Program policy on Acceptance Fee for more details.
Selection for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant program is highly competitive. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee an interview or admission. Successful applicants will generally exceed the minimum criteria. The following criteria represent the minimum conditions established for students interested in applying to the South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant degree program:
- Applicants must have an earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution.
- Applicants must have an overall GPA as calculated by the CASPA service of 3.0 or greater (on a 4.0 scale) (including undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, and graduate coursework). Preference will be given to those with an overall GPA at or above 3.3.
- Applicants should have a Biology-Chemistry-Physics (BCP) science GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) as calculated by the CASPA service. Preference will be given to those with a prerequisite (BCP) GPA at or above 3.15.
- Applicants must submit scores from the GRE general exam directly to the CASPA service using the South University PA program code 0174. Preference will be given to those with GRE scores (Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning) at the 50th percentile or above.
- At least three letters of reference on the CASPA application must be submitted
- At least one reference on the CASPA application must be from a physician (MD/DO), Physician Assistant, or Nurse Practitioner with whom the applicant has worked or shadowed and to whom the applicant is not related. Impressive, well- articulated, and unequivocal letters attesting to the applicant’s motivation, communication and interpersonal skills, professionalism, and future contribution towards health care are considered competitive. Preference is granted to applicants with letter(s) from a PA.
Clinical experiences should provide the applicant with a knowledge of and orientation to the presentation, signs, and symptoms of a variety of ill or injured patients. Although clinical experience is not required, preference is given to applicants who have direct patient care experience (i.e., care that involves personal interaction with patients such as: physical therapist, respiratory therapist, emergency medical technician/paramedic, nurse, or certified nursing assistant, or other similar professions). However, there is no requirement for a predetermined number of hours (or months) of health care experience to be earned by an applicant.
Admissions Committee Selection Factors
Applicants for admission are considered and ranked using multiple factors. Applicants are awarded preference points based upon the following selection factors:
Academic achievement (overall GPA, BCP, GRE).
- Preference will be given to those with GRE scores (Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning) at the 50th percentile or above.
- Preference will be given to those with an overall GPA at or above 3.3.
- Preference will be given to those with a prerequisite (BCP) GPA at or above 3.15.
Quality of letters of reference.
- References from Physician Assistants (PAs) are preferred.
- Letters from personal acquaintances are discouraged.
Quality hands-on patient care.
- Preference is given to applicants with clinical experience that requires direct patient care, such as: Physical Therapist, Respiratory Therapist, EMT/Paramedic, Nurse, or Certified Nursing Assistant.
Healthcare provider mentorship/shadowing experiences.
Community service hours.
The Admissions Committee assesses evidence of an applicant’s interpersonal skills, problem-solving ability, professionalism, motivation, academic potential, communication, knowledge of the PA profession and the health care system with an alignment to the mission and vision of the program. The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program adheres to the South University Non-discrimination policy.
Accepted applicants will be required to complete the following items in order to obtain approval for matriculation in January:
- Satisfactory Criminal Background and Drug Screen Report
- Health/Immunization Requirements
- Health Insurance Documentation
- Baccalaureate Diploma Verification
- FAFSA application (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) submission for those applying for financial aid
Applicants seeking admissions to the Physician Assistant program must abide by the College of Health Professions Background Check Policy and Substance Abuse and Screening Policy. Acceptance into a South University program or its completion does not guarantee that a student will be able to obtain subsequent licensure or certification.
All Physician Assistant program students are responsible for meeting matriculation deadlines and requirements as published within the campus-specific Enrollment Guide.There is a $1000 acceptance fee, which is non-refundable, for those applicants accepted into the Physician Assistant program at South University, Austin. Acceptance fees are applied towards tuition.
If you have questions in regards to the Application Process, please contact the Austin Master of Science in Physician Assistant program office by calling 512-516-8800 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applicants must complete all prerequisite courses listed below with a grade of C or better at a regionally accredited U.S. college or university prior to submission of his/her application. The PA program accepts prerequisite coursework completed in an online, virtual, or on-ground format from a regionally accredited U.S. college or university.
Anatomy and Physiology
2 courses (sequenced)
No course substitutions are accepted for this requirement.
Alternative Substitution for Biology II ONLY:
General Chemistry and Labs
Microbiology with Lab
No course substitutions are accepted for this requirement.
Organic Chemistry or
Lab recommended, not required.
In general, prerequisite coursework with titles that include "Essentials of," "Survey of," or "Introductory to," unless specifically designed for science majors, are considered less competitive.
Basic science courses should be those for science majors. The General Biology and Biochemistry courses are recommended to include a lab, but it is not required.
Only courses (excluding General Biology, Biochemistry, and Organic Chemistry) with an associated lab will be given credit for fulfilling prerequisite requirements. In the event that a laboratory is not offered with a prerequisite course, applicants may request the lab requirement for that course be waived by contacting the program. Lab waivers and/or course substitutions are granted at the discretion of the Admissions Committee. Applicants requesting such should be prepared to submit supporting documents, including, but not limited to, course descriptions.
The South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant program accepts credit for Advanced Placement (AP) courses. AP courses taken and successfully completed will be counted as one course credit towards completion of the respective prerequisite subject. Grades earned in AP courses are not used in the calculation of the applicant's overall or prerequisite GPA.
The South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant program does not accept College Level Examination Program (CLEP) credit for any prerequisite requirements.
South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant programs do not accept a transfer of credits from other physician assistant programs or provide enrolled students with a waiver of credit (i.e., advanced placement) for any component of the required curricular coursework. All students must complete each course in the South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant curriculum.
Admissions Calendar 2023-2024
CASPA begins accepting applications for 2024 matriculation.
June 2023 - October 2023
September 1, 2023
Application Deadline for which application must be in “Complete” status with CASPA.
The following are program goals for the South University, Austin Physician Assistant program :
• The program will recruit a highly qualified, diverse student cohort that will foster success in the program.
• The program will strive to adequately prepare graduating students to achieve a first-time pass rate that exceeds the national average upon completion of the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE).
• The program will provide students service learning opportunities that allow them to use their skills and education to demonstrate compassion and commitment to the community.
Please click HERE for information on our Physician Assistant program and effectiveness in achieving program goals.
(Note: Requirements for NCCPA Certification are determined by the NCCPA and are subject to change without notification to South University. Graduation from the South University, Austin Physician Assistant program does not guarantee certification or employment.)
PANCE Certification and Attrition
Graduates of an accredited Physician Assistant program must pass the national Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) in order to acquire state licensure to practice. This exam is developed jointly by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
The report will be available once the first cohort completes the exam.
South University does not guarantee third-party certification/licensure. Outside agencies control the requirements for taking and passing certification/licensing exams and are subject to change without notice to South University.
To view the South University, Austin PA program student attrition information, please click HERE.
Tuition and Fees
Estimated Tuition for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) Degree (effective January 13, 2024)
Per quarter: $10,856.00
Total tuition: $97,704.00
Required Fees for the MSPA Degree
Acceptance Fee: $1,000.00 (Non-refundable/Applied to Tuition)
Registration Fees: $225 ($25.00 per term)
Graduation Fee: $125.00
American Academy of Physician Assistant (AAPA) Student Membership Fee: $75.00
Other Estimated Costs for the MSPA Degree
Professional Instruments: $1,100.00 (Approximate)
Digital Textbook Fees: $2,610.00 ($15 per credit hour)
Technology Fee: $3,480.00 ($20 per credit hour)
Clinical Experience Fee: $9,000 ($1,000 per quarter)
Surgical Scrubs: $100.00 (Approximate)
Laptop Computer and privacy screen: $1,500.00
Background Check: $400.00 – $800.00 (Additional fees may apply to the base package fee contingent upon credentialing requirements of the hospita.)(Approximate)
State Association Fees: $105.00 ($35 per year)
American Heart Association approved BLS: $100 (Approximate)
Estimated Total for the MSPA Degree
Tuition and Fees: $116,924.00
Tuition and fees are subject to change. The tuition for in-state and out-of-state residents is the same. Acceptance fee is non-refundable and upon acceptance is applied toward the student’s tuition. If a student decides not to attend after accepting, the fee will not be refunded.
All students are required to have a laptop computer with wireless internet access for use in the multimedia classroom. Purchase of these items is not recommended prior to acceptance into the program because of these very specific requirements.
Inclusive in Tuition, Technology, and Digital Resources
Students obtain access to the following digital platforms:
- Lecturio, Rosh Review, Up-To-Date
- AccessMedicine, AccessPharmacy, AccessAnesthesiology, Case Files Collection
- Complete Anatomy 3D4, My EKG Lab
- Butterfly Ultrasound Technology
- PANCE Board Review in person sessions and digital test bank questions
- CORE clinical logging and portfolio resources
- PAEA End of Rotation Exams, End of Curriculum Exams, PACKRAT1 and PACKRAT2
- PAVMT (PAs in Virtual Medicine and Telemedicine) up-to-date medical technology trends
- LinkedIn Learning
- Bright Space Learning Management System
- ExamSoft Testing platform
Clinical Experience fees support the recruitment of clinical sites across the nation, strengthen the quality of the learning experience, and subsidize the increasing costs of clinical sites.
Payment of Tuition and Fees
All charges are due and payable on or before the registration date for each quarter. Circumstances which prevent a student from adhering to these dates should be discussed with the financial aid office. Students attending school under grants and/or loans should confer with the financial aid office concerning payment of fees. Students attending school under the G.I. Bill may discuss payment of school fees with the Director of Financial Aid. Failure to make proper payments, unless otherwise cleared with the financial aid office, will result in dismissal from the university. Grades will not be issued, degrees granted, or academic transcripts furnished until all financial obligations have been satisfied and all university property returned. For refund policies, please see the academic catalog HERE.
Policies and procedures for student withdrawal, refunds of tuition and fees, policies that limit or prevent students from working during the program and policies and procedures for processing student grievances can be found in the South University catalog.
Student Handbook and Employment
For the South University, Austin Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) program Student Handbook please click here. All Physician Assistant program policies apply to all students, principal faculty, and the program director regardless of location, i.e., didactic and clinical settings.
Due to the rigorous nature of the Physician Assistant program, employment during a student's course of training is strongly discouraged.
Employment must never interfere with academic or clinical assignments.
At no time is a South University Physician Assistant student allowed to or required to work for the South University Physician Assistant program or program clinical sites.
Physician Assistant at South University
South University is committed to creating career opportunities for our students, so we provide the relevant coursework for you to meet your career goals in a position as a Physician Assistant as well as the ethical and legal competencies and effective communication skills that are integral for this profession. In addition, we instill the value of continued education in our students so you can continue to create more opportunities for success in your career.
Mission & Vision
Physician Assistant Program
The South University Physician Assistant (MSPA) exists to educate a diverse student population as providers of high-quality, cost-efficient health care who will make a positive impact while practicing the art and science of medicine with physician collaboration.
The South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) degree program strives to provide educational experiences where faculty, staff, clinical instructors, students, and other health care providers work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect, cooperation, and commitment. The program’s primary focus is on the development of physician assistants capable of expanding into clinical leadership roles by demonstrating proficiency in critical thinking and creative problem solving, utilizing evidence-based skills gained through innovative approaches.
In order to ensure that patients receive the best medical care possible, the faculty of the South University Physician Assistant program has identified certain skills and professional behaviors that are essential for successful progression of physician assistant students in the program. A student must possess skills and behaviors at a level of capability to perform a variety of duties required of a physician assistant as a health care professional.
Students with disabilities who can perform these skills and successfully execute professional behavior either unassisted, with dependable use of assistive devices, or by employing other reasonable accommodations are eligible to apply for enrollment in the program. Minimum performance standards include critical thinking, communication skills, observation skills, motor skills, and interpersonal abilities. Interested parties may contact the Physician Assistant program office for additional information about South University performance standards. These skills and behaviors include, but are not limited to;
Critical Thinking: A student must possess the intellectual, ethical, physical and emotional capabilities required to undertake the full curriculum and to achieve the levels of competence required by the faculty. The ability to solve problems, a skill that is critical to the practice of medicine, requires the intellectual abilities of measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Students must be able to perform demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences.
Communication Skills: A student should also be able to speak, to hear, and to observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and to perceive nonverbal communications. The student must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written forms.
Observation Skills: The student must be able to observe a patient accurately, both at a distance and in close proximity. This ability requires the functional use of vision and somatic sensation.
Motor Skills: A student should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic techniques. A student should be able to execute movements reasonably required to move from area to area, maneuver in small spaces, calibrate and use large and small equipment, position and move patients, and provide patients with general care and emergency treatment.
Interpersonal Abilities: A student for the Physician Assistant program must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his or her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities required for the diagnosis and care of patients and the development of professionalism through mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients, families, and colleagues.
Physician Assistant Program at Austin
The South University, Austin Physician Assistant Program welcomes you!
The South University, Austin Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program Faculty:
Lance Beahm, DMSc, PA-C
Program Director, Assistant Professor
Dr. Lance Beahm joined South University in 2023 with the South University, Austin Physician Assistant (PA) Program. Prior to assuming the Program Director position Dr. Beahm served as the Navy Senior Service Representative and adjunct assistant professor at the military Interservice Physician Assistant Program in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He served the IPAP program and Naval military students in several capacities including Principal Faculty, Director of Clinical Education, and Physical Evaluation Course Director. Within the Naval PA community, he served as an Assistant Specialty Leader, mentoring and assisting Navy PAs with career guidance, billet placement guidance, provided information to Navy PAs from the Navy Medical Service Corps Chief Office.
Dr. Beahm graduated with a Master of Physician Assistant Studies from University of Nebraska Medical Center via the Interservice Physician Assistant Program at Fort Sam Houston, Texas in 2009. He later completed a Doctor of Medical Science with a concentration in Healthcare Professions Education. His prior military experience includes work as a surgical technician and Submarine Independent Duty Corpsman.
Dr. Beahm is an active member of the American Academy of PAs, Naval Association of PAs, and Texas Academy of PAs. He was inducted into the Pi Alpha National Honor Society in 2022.
When not too busy, Dr. Beahm can be found navigating any of the lakes and rivers around the central Texas area via kayak, or working on his fly fishing skills.
Teri Bigler, DHEd, PA-C, DFAAPA
Assistant Program Director, Associate Professor
Dr. Teri Bigler joined the South University, Austin Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program in June 2023. She earned her BS in Physician Assistant at UTMB in 1997. Clinically, she has practiced in the fields of pulmonary/critical care (MICU), nephrology, internal medicine with a focus on geriatrics, and sleep medicine. With over 20 years of experience in PA education, she has served in various roles, including Clinical Coordinator and Program Director, in Texas and Louisiana. Her main goals are to help students feel invested in their learning journey and help them get the most out of their educational opportunities.
In addition to a Master’s degree in Health Promotion and Wellness Promotion, Dr. Bigler earned a Doctorate in Health Education from AT Still University in 2015. She was inducted into the Pi Alpha National Honor Society in 2010 and was named a Distinguished Fellow by the AAPA in 2015.
Dr. Bigler is pleased to be back in Texas, where she enjoys spending time with her family. She has a passion for travel and has participated in several medical mission trips.
Vinh Trinh, DO
Dr. Vinh Trinh is a Board-Certified Internal Medicine Physician. He grew up in South Jersey and subsequently stayed in state and attended University of Medicine and Dentistry School of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in 2006. He received excellent training in Internal Medicine at Cooper University Health Care System in Camden, New Jersey. Prior to moving to Austin, Texas, he worked at Grand Strand Primary Care in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for three years assisting with the training of Internal Medicine residents. He is currently working as a Hospitalist with greater than 10 years experience in the field. We are excited to have him join South University, Austin and develop the Physician Assistant program.
Raquelle Akavan, MS, PA-C
Director of Clinical Education, Assistant Professor
Ms. Akavan joined the South University, Austin Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program in September 2021. She is a 2011 graduate from the Pace University-Lenox Hill Hospital Physician Assistant Master of Science Program (NYC).
For 10 years, Raquelle practiced in multiple surgical subspecialties. She started her career in plastics and then neurosurgery, working at a level 1 trauma center in the Bronx, New York. She then worked as a First Assist at ProHealth, Long Island, where she practiced orthopedic hand surgery. In 2018, she relocated to Austin, Texas with her husband and two children, and worked in orthopedic and spine cases first assisting throughout Austin and San Antonio. Raquelle brings extensive clinical expertise to the classroom as well as a wealth of procedural and tactical skills.
Raquelle is passionate about giving back to the physician assistant (PA) profession. She is the Founder of PA Moms, a constituent organization affiliated with the American Academy of Physician Assistants. She is also President of PAs for Women Empowerment, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to advancing the PA profession and advocating for PAs with a specific focus on PA women.
Raquelle is a natural community leader with a passion for creating and building through a strong connection within the community.
Jessica Grenard, MS, PA-C
Assistant Director of Clinical Education, Assistant Professor
Jessica Grenard joined South University, Austin in 2023 as the Assistant Director of Clinical Education and Assistant Professor. She completed her undergraduate studies at Northwestern University in 2010 with a focus on the history of science and medicine. Jessica then pursued a career in clinical research until 2015 when she entered the Baylor College of Medicine PA Program. There, she was selected as a Physician Assistant Educational Association Future Educator Fellow and completed her Master’s Project entitled “Teaching to an Empty Classroom; Qualitative Analysis of Student Motivation.”
After graduating with highest honors, Jessica worked in urology and allergy/infectious disease medicine. Prior to starting at South University, she was employed as a Clinical Research PA at the National Institutes of Health focusing on primary immunodeficiencies, auto-antibodies and the human microbiome. She is passionate about public health, health literacy, and patient advocacy, and enjoys spending time with her family, playing and watching sports (go Austin FC!) and throwing a ball for her dog Demi.
Bridget Petrowsky, MPH, MSHS, PA-C
Director of Admissions, Assistant Professor
Bridget Petrowsky joined South University, Austin in 2021 as an Assistant Professor. She received her Master’s degree in Health Sciences in Physician Assistant Studies from the George Washington University in 2009. Since graduating from her program, Bridget has practiced in student health, occupational medicine, family medicine, and obesity medicine.
Prior to becoming a physician assistant, Bridget pursued her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas and a Masters degree in public health from University of Texas Houston Health Science Center. She is passionate about holistic health and nutrition and holds a certificate in nutrition coaching. She enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, traveling and exercising in her spare time.
Tatiana Becerra Hickenbottom, MPAS, PA-C
Director of Didactic Education, Assistant Professor
Ms. Tatiana Becerra Hickenbottom joined South University, Austin Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program in 2023 as an Assistant Professor. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin in 2009, and has a background as a Registered Dietitian. She practiced in a wide range of clinical settings throughout the Austin area hospitals with a special interest in childhood obesity and inpatient dietetics.
She attended the University of Utah PA Program in Salt Lake City and started her PA career at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX. She has worked in Oncology, Palliative Care, and Gastroenterology including inpatient and outpatient settings, and continues to practice clinically in Gastroenterology.
With 10 years of patient-care experience, Tatiana is very passionate about teaching and providing high-quality education to the future generation of PA’s. She is also very interested in giving back to the community, helping underserved/underprivileged communities, and has a strong interest in collaborative outreach opportunities. She is Certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and licensed by the Texas Medical Board. She is a member of Texas Academy of Physician Assistants and American Academy of Physician Associates.
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, exploring new restaurants around the Austin area, traveling, and dancing.
Melinda Moore Gottschalk, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA
Assistant Director of Didactic Education, Assistant Professor
Dr. Melinda Moore Gottschalk DMSc PA-C DFAAPA, is the Assistant Director of Didactic Education and Associate Professor at South University, Austin. Dr. Gottschalk graduated from the University of Texas Southwestern PA program, earning a Bachelor of Science and a PA Certificate. She earned a Master of PA Studies from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and a Doctor of Medical Science at A.T. Still University. Her original research, "Ageism in the PA Profession: An exploratory study," earned Dr. Gottschalk AAPA's Research in Action and A.T. Still's Capstone of Excellence in 2021.
Since beginning her career as a PA, Dr. Gottschalk has worked in Orthopedic Sports Medicine, Orthopedic Spine Surgery, Urgent Care, Interventional Pain Management, Neurology, Migraine emphasis, and as a medical science liaison. Dr. Gottschalk is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Physician Associates (AAPA)and the chair of the AAPA Judicial Affairs Commission. She has served two terms as a Director at Large on the AAPA Board of Directors and has held various AAPA and nationally appointed positions, including a 5-year term at the FDA.
Dr. Gottschalk was elected President of the Texas Academy of PAs (TAPA) in 2008 and has held numerous elected and appointed positions within TAPA. Texas Governor Rick Perry appointed Dr. Gottschalk to the newly formed Texas Physician Health Program as the founding PA board member. Subsequently, Governor Greg Abbott appointed Dr. Gottschalk to the Texas PA Regulatory Board as the Board Secretary. Dr. Gottschalk's professional goal is to contribute positively to the evolution of the PA profession through leadership, advocacy, education, and mentorship.
Claire Stigler, DC
Principal Faculty, Assistant Professor
Dr. Claire Stigler has been teaching at South University, Austin since 2015. She originally taught courses in Anatomy and Physiology and Pathophysiology until she joined the South University, Austin PA Program in 2023. She is passionate about science and medicine and strives to share the complexity and resilience of anatomy and physiology with each of her students. In training future healthcare professionals, Dr. Stigler emphasizes the importance of interdisciplinary communication, critical thinking, and a commitment to life-long learning.
Dr. Stigler earned her Masters of Science in Human Biology from the University of Indianapolis, where she studied paleophatology and trauma patterns in historic skeletal populations. Later encouraged her interest in alternative medicine, she pursued her Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine at National University of Health Sciences and earned her degree in 2013.
Additionally, Dr. Stigler maintains a private chiropractic practice in Austin, Texas that focuses on preventative health and functional medicine. She enjoys working with patients to enhance their overall health through nutrition and lifestyle modifications.
Dina Dennis, DHSc, PA-C
Principal Faculty, Assistant Professor
Dr. Dina Dennis joined South University, Austin in 2023 as an Assistant Professor. She received her undergraduate degree at University of Texas at Austin and received her Masters of Physician Assistant Studies at UTMB in Galveston in 2005.
Dr. Dennis has clinical experience in family medicine, allergy and asthma research, pain management and psychiatry. Her passion for medicine and education inspired her to continue her education and pursue her Doctorate in Health Science, which she obtained from Nova Southeastern University in 2014.
When she is not at South University, you can find her on the soccer field or basketball court cheering on her children, or spending time with friends and family.
Torie Henderson, BAT-HPT
Torie joined South University, Austin as a Clinical Coordinator for the Master of Science Physician Assistant Program in September of 2021. She earned an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting at McLennan Community College in Waco, TX in 2015, and started her career as a Certified Medical Assistant at Baylor Scott and White Health.
Shortly after, she transitioned into a Lead Health Coordinator position within the Quality Alliance department at Baylor Scott and White Health. While in this role, she was appointed as Co-Chair for the Shared Governance Committee, and was an active member of the Employee Engagement Committee.
She completed a Bachelor of Applied Technology in Health Professions Technology at Tarleton State University in 2019, and started working for the Veteran’s Health Administration Mental Health Department in Austin, TX.
Overall, Torie’s combined experience in the healthcare administration field as well as the clinical aspect of healthcare has enabled her to drive various departments with a deeper understanding of leadership, technical skills, and customer service.
In her free time, she enjoys coaching volleyball, event planning, and spending time with her family. She is grateful to be able to give back, and share her talents with her family as well as the community.
Kelsey McDonald, BA
Graduate Program Coordinator
Kelsey McDonald joined the staff at South University, Austin Master of Science Physician Assistant Program in March 2022.
After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Washington State University, Kelsey moved to Austin. Over the past decade, she has provided one-on-one and group therapies as a Speech-Language Pathologist Assistant, as well as a Registered Behavior Technician. Most recently, Kelsey worked with students all over Texas in a virtual capacity as a Success Coach. She has a passion for assisting students achieve their goals. She loves to support and advocate for those successes!
Outside of the office, Kelsey is a theatre instructor with an Adaptive Theatre Program – specializing in Neurodivergent adults and children. She also enjoys photography, singing, and exploring new places while finding the best taco spots.
Amanda Mendez, MHA, LMT, MMP
Amanda joined South University, Austin as the Administrative Assistant for the Master of Science Physician Assistant Program June 2023. She earned her Clinically Certified Medical Assistant Certificate and Non-Certified Radiological Technician License in 2015 and worked at an Urgent Care company for 6 years. Shortly after, she gained her Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management (2018) and Master of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Administration (2019) from South University, Austin.
Amanda comes from an extensive healthcare background with developed skills in rehabilitation, working as a Medical Massage Practitioner (MMP) since 2006, networking with a variety of providers; such as, Chiropractors, Physical Therapists, Medical Doctors, and Physician Associates. Through her role as an Area Operations Manager, she has developed skills within teamwork, customer service, management, and administration duties.
In her free time, she enjoys reading, journaling/planning, spending time with her daughter, and helping clients as a Medical Massage Practitioner.
Autumn Spencer, MPAS, PA-C
Bishoy Ramzy, PharmD, MBA
The clinical phase is 12 months in length. Eight five-week clinical rotations are conducted at a variety of clinical sites. Students will gain clinical exposure in the following disciplines: Primary Care, Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Pediatrics, Women's Health, Behavioral Medicine, Emergency Medicine and the Clinical Elective.
Clinical sites are recruited by the Program’s Clinical Department and personnel from the Area Health Education Center (AHEC). Sites offer the students the wide variety of clinical experiences for that specific clinical rotation (course) and service delivery system. Students are not required to supply their own clinical sites or preceptors for clinical rotations. Sites for rotations will be determined by the department. Alternate rotation sites may be provided by the student to the Clinical Department personnel. Clinical Department personnel will evaluate sites suggested by students for viability as a clinical rotation site. In order to qualify for rotations outside of South University sites, or in student suggested sites, a student must demonstrate successful academic, clinical, and professional progress in the program.
The South University Physician Assistant program immunization policy is aligned with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthcare Personnel Vaccination Recommendations for health professionals. After acceptance into the program, but before registration can be successfully completed, all students must complete the South University Health Requirements. Be aware that additional immunizations may be required by some clinical training sites and are the students’ responsibility. If students choose not to be vaccinated, they will not be allowed to rotate at clinical sites that require immunizations unless expressly permitted in writing to the program by the appropriate personnel at that site. If any of the core (required) rotations cannot be completed because the student voluntarily chose not to be vaccinated as required by the clinical rotation site, the student will not be eligible for graduation from the Physician Assistant program. In addition, if the number of clinical sites available to students who have not been vaccinated does not meet graduation requirements, those students will not be eligible for graduation from the Physician Assistant program.
Physicians, physician assistants, and other health care providers serve as preceptors for clinical students in direct patient care, providing the opportunity for the student to perfect technical and procedural skills, and to become competent in communication, physical diagnosis, succinct recording and reporting, problem assessment, and development of a logical approach to further studies and therapy.
Our students rotate in busy clinics, private physician offices, teaching hospitals, large institutions, and military hospitals and clinics. Rotations exist both in small towns and metropolitan cities. Our students are offered a wide variety of experiences and locations for their clinical rotations that are designed to round out the application of knowledge and skills to actual patient care.
Physician Assistant Learning Outcomes
The following are the program learning outcomes (Graduate Competencies) for the South University Physician Assistant program.
Prior to graduation from the program, students will:
• PLO-1. Integrate behavioral, social, and medical knowledge established from the evolving biomedical and clinical sciences in recognizing, evaluating, and managing patient disease states across the lifespan during acute, chronic, preventative, and emergent encounters..
• PLO-2. Demonstrate the interpersonal and communication skills required to sustain effective, multi-directional information exchange within a diverse population of patients, their caregivers, and members of the healthcare team.
• PLO-3. Demonstrate the ability to elicit an accurate patient history, perform an appropriate physical examination, and perform appropriate clinical procedures using essential clinical and technical skills to provide quality patient care.
• PLO-4. Collaborate effectively as part of an interdisciplinary healthcare team through clinical reasoning and problem-solving skills to formulate a logical differential diagnosis, select and interpret appropriate diagnostic studies, and synthesize a comprehensive, patient-centered management plan for the promotion of wellness and disease prevention.
• PLO-5. Demonstrate the ability to interpret and integrate an evidence-based approach to clinical and professional practice through clinical reasoning, problem- solving, and decision-making processes to improve patient care practices.
• PLO-6. Demonstrate professionalism through personal behaviors, sensitivity, and accountability essential to patients, society, and the profession.
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