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FAQs

FAQS



Question: Is South University Accredited?

Answer:    South University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404.679.4500 for questions about the accreditation of South University.


Question: Is the South University, Richmond Physician Assistant (PA) Program accredited?

Answer:  South University, Richmond has applied for Accreditation-Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education of the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). South University, Richmond anticipates matriculating its first class in January 2017, pending achieving Accreditation-Provisional status at the September 2016 ARC-PA meeting.


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.


There is no guarantee the Program will receive Accreditation-Provisional status. Should the program not gain accreditation, the class anticipated to matriculate in January 2017 will receive a full refund of any deposit, fee or tuition payment paid to South University, Richmond.


Question: What are the technical standards required for admission

Answer: 

Master of Science Physician Assistant Degree Program Technical Standards

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: All students 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. Candidates for the program must be able to perform demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences.


Communication Skills: A candidate 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 candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written forms.


Observation Skills: Candidates must be able to observe a patient accurately, both at a distance and close at hand. This ability requires the functional use of vision and somatic sensation.


Motor Skills: Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic techniques. A candidate should be able to execute movements reasonably required to move from area to area, maneuver in small places, calibrate and use large and small equipment, position and move patients, and provide patients with general care and emergency treatment.


Interpersonal Abilities: A candidate 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 mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients, families and colleagues.


Question: What degree is offered by the PA Program?

Answer:  The South University Physician Assistant program awards graduates the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) degree. Graduates are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) offered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).* Graduates of a Physician Assistant program who are certified by the NCCPA, are eligible to practice in all 50 states.
*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.


Question: How many students are accepted into each class?

Answer:  TBD


Question: Does the PA program participate in CASPA?

Answer:  Yes. To apply to the South University Physician Assistant program, visit CASPA .


Question: What is the deadline to apply to the program?

The application cycle begins in mid-April and ends on September 1st of each year.


Question: When does the program start each year?

Answer:  The program begins each year in early January. A one-week orientation precedes the formal start of classes.


Question: Does the program require a bachelor's degree?

Answer:  Yes. Students must have earned their bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution prior to matriculation at the program.


Question: Does the PA program require a specific undergrad major?

Answer:  While most incoming students have earned their bachelor's degrees in a science or health care field, it is not required. Strong preparation in natural sciences is highly valued. The number of courses, the level of those courses, and performance are important considerations. Applicants should demonstrate their ability to handle social science and humanities as well. If an applicant does not possess a science or health care related degree, it is strongly encouraged that they attempt to get as much clinical experience as possible.


Question: What prerequisites are required by the PA program?

Answer:  Students must complete all prerequisite courses listed below with a grade of C or better at a regionally accredited U.S. college or university before matriculation.

  • Human Anatomy 1 course1
  • Human Physiology 1 course1, 2
  • General Biology 2 courses2, 3
  • General Chemistry 2 courses2, 3
  • Biochemistry -or-
  • Organic Chemistry 1 course2
  • Microbiology 1 course2, 4
Prerequisite coursework which is obtained from a four-year college or university and which is designed for science majors is considered more competitive.

  1. Human Anatomy and Physiology may be taken as stand alone courses or as part of a sequence. In the event that the courses are taken as part of a sequence, only a completed sequence of Anatomy and Physiology I and II will be accepted.
  2. Basic science courses should be those for science majors. Only courses (excluding general biology and biochemistry) 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.
  3. Labs recommended but not required for general biology courses.
  4. Microbiology course must be 200/2000 level courses or higher.
  • A minimum score on a South University preapproved English language proficiency test is required for all applicants whose "first" language is not English as specified in the English Language Proficiency Policy.
  • The South University Physician Assistant program accepts credit for Advanced Placement 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 calculation of the applicants overall or prerequisite GPA.
  • The South University Physician Assistant program does not accept College Level Examination Program (CLEP) credit for any prerequisite requirements.


Question: Can I apply if I have outstanding prerequisite courses?

Answer:  Yes. However, students submitting an application with greater than two outstanding prerequisite courses will not be considered for admission.


Question: Do you accept prerequisites besides those specified?

Answer:  In general, prerequisites cannot be substituted. Exceptions to the prerequisite requirements will be considered only in very rare instances and must be approved by the admissions committee.


Question: Does the PA program accept AP or CLEP credit?

Answer:  The South University Physician Assistant program accepts credit for Advanced Placement (AP) courses. AP courses taken and successfully completed will be counted as one course credit toward completion of the respective prerequisite subject. Grades earned in AP courses are not used in calculation of the applicants overall or prerequisite GPA. The South University Physician Assistant program does not accept College Level Examination Program (CLEP) credit for any prerequisite requirements.


Question: Should I send official transcripts to the PA office?

Answer:  When starting your application through CASPA, all transcripts are to be sent to them for verification. If after you submit your application and have prerequisite course grades to update, at that time you may have your transcripts (not verified by CASPA) sent to the PA program office.


Question: Is a certain amount of health care experience required?

Answer:  South University strongly encourages applicants to participate in patient centered clinical experience prior to application and matriculation. The experience of working with patients is valuable to anyone considering a career as a Physician Assistant. While it is advantageous that entering students have some direct patient contact, it is the policy of the South University Physician Assistant program not to prescribe a minimum number of patient contact hours or fields in which the experience must be gained. Experience is considered in the application review process of each individual applicant. Significant health care experience is valued in considering the admission qualifications of any given applicant.


Question: Where can I obtain patient care experience?

Answer:  Many applicants begin working in the health care field in the summer between high school and college. By working in health care each summer through their undergraduate education they accrue hours. Potential entry-level positions (paid and unpaid) include Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), paramedic, phlebotomist, nursing aide, home health care aide, and volunteers for community mental health or family planning agencies.


Patient centered clinical experience and shadowing are strongly recommended. However, there is no requirement for a predetermined number of hours (or months) of health care experience to be earned by an applicant. 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. Such experiences are evaluated on an individual basis with regard observing and/or caring for ill and injured patients.


Question: Do you require the GRE?

Answer:  Yes. Applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test. When you apply to the program, you will need to go to the ETS (Educational Testing Service) website and request your official scores to be sent electronically to CASPA using Program GRE Code: 7147.


Question: Can I apply if I have not taken the GRE?

Answer:  Yes, but applications will be NOT be reviewed if official GRE scores are not yet received and verified by CASPA. Please use GRE code 7147 to report your official scores through CASPA. Mailed copies from ETS are no longer accepted. Official scores must be reported to South University through CASPA by September 1st.


Question: What are competitive GRE scores for applicants?

Answer:  The GRE scores are assessed in conjunction with the applicant's complete profile. The South University Physician Assistant program does not set a minimum acceptable score for the GRE but looks at scores at or above the 50th percentile as more competitive. Additional explanation on the meaning of the GRE scores can be found here.


Question: Should I send my official GRE scores to the PA office?

Answer:  No. Please request scores to be sent using code 7147, which will be reported through CASPA on your application. Self-reported scores on the application will not suffice.


Question: What is the GRE code for South University, Richmond?

Answer:  The South University GRE code is 7147.


Question: Does the program conduct applicant interviews?

Answer:  Yes. After review of applications, those applicants deemed competitive are invited for an on-campus interview. The Physician Assistant program conducts "behavioral" interviews on each candidate. (For information on this style of interview you can do a web search for "Behavioral Interviews.") Each applicant will have two general interviews and one interview with the program director. The general interviews generally include one applicant and one to two program representatives.


Question: Do you give preference to Virginia state residents?

Answer:  Admission preference is not given to residents of Virginia.


Question: Must I have a criminal background check prior to entry?

Answer:  Yes. Upon acceptance, each student is required to purchase a criminal background check. The background checks are at the expense of the student and are performed by a third party agency. Finding of any prior criminal activity may terminate the student's acceptance into the South University Physician Assistant program.


Question: Does the PA program offer part-time or online courses?

Answer:  Our program does not offer a part-time option or online courses.


Question: Can I transfer into the program?

Answer:  No.


Question: What are the TOEFL Guidelines?

Answer:
South University requires all applicants to graduate programs earn a minimum score on the TOEFL of 550 (paper exam) or 79-80 (iBT-internet based test). For more information, please visit the University catalog.


Question: Does the program have specific GPA requirements?

Answer:  Yes. The following are the minimum GPA requirements for acceptance to the South University Physician Assistant program:
Overall (Cumulative): 3.0/4.0 Required
Biology Chemistry-Physics (BCP): 3.0/4.0 as calculated by CASPA (Strongly Recommended)


Question: Where do student do clinical rotation?

Answer: Our students rotate in busy clinics, private physician's offices, hospitals, and clinics. Rotations exist in both small towns and metropolitan cities. Students are offered a wide variety of experiences and locations for their clinical rotations designed to round out the application of knowledge and skills to actual patient care.


Question: Where can I get more information about financial aid?

Answer:  Our Financial Aid officers, who are very knowledgeable in this area make every attempt to assist students seeking financial aid, can be reached at (804) 727-6800. You can also find information about student loans here. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify.


Question: What is the South University's FAFSA School Code?

Answer:  The South University, Richmond school code for filling out the FAFSA is 013039. You can complete a FAFSA here.


Question: Will I be able to work while being a student?

Answer:  Due to the intensive nature of the Physician Assistant program curriculum and study hours involved in the first year most students do not work. During clinical rotations, students find that their patient management responsibilities and time required preparing for rounds and attending conferences do not allow them to work and attend the program. More information on student employment can be found here.

http://www.southuniversity.edu/richmond/areas-of-study/physician-assistant/physician-assistant-master-of-science-ms/faqpa