Master of Science in Physician Assistant
The South University Richmond Master of Science in Physician Assistant program offers fundamental medical concepts and theories, provides students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to function with physician supervision, as medical professionals who will serve as valued members of the health care team. Physician assistants perform medical functions that include, but are not limited to, evaluation, monitoring, diagnostics, therapeutics, counseling, and referral. The scope of the practice varies according to state laws, the medical setting, and the training of the physician assistant. In many states, physician assistants can prescribe and/or dispense medicine. The MS in Physician Assistant program at South University’s Richmond 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 Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the South University Richmond PA Program sponsored by South University Richmond. 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remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards.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 2031 March. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.
The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at http://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-south-university- richmond/
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 August 1st annually.
To apply for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant degree program at South University, Richmond, 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 Richmond program GRE Code: 7147. 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 7147. 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 3.2.
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
- American Heart Association (AHA) Approved Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification
- 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, $900 of which is refundable, for those applicants accepted into the Physician Assistant program at South University, Richmond.
If you have questions in regard to the Application Process, please contact the Richmond Physician Assistant program office by calling 804-727-6853 or by email at email@example.com.
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
End of April 2023
CASPA begins accepting applications for 2024 matriculation.
June 2023 - November 2023
August 1, 2023
Application Deadline for which application must be in “Complete” status with CASPA.
The following are program goals for the South University, Richmond 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, Richmond 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). Below are the percentage pass rates for the first-time test takers of the PANCE for the past five South University Richmond, Physician Assistant Studies graduating classes.
Click the link below to view the pass rates of South University, Richmond students
To view the South University, Richmond 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) There is a $1000 acceptance fee, $900 of which is refundable, for those applicants accepted into the Physician Assistant program at South University, Richmond. Please note that acceptance fees are non-transferrable between South University locations.
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)
Textbooks: $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 hospital.)
State Association Fees: $75.00 ($25 per year)
American Heart Association approved BLS: $100 (Approximate)
Estimated Total for the MSPA Degree
Tuition and Fees: $116,894
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 ResourcesStudents 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 Experiences Fee and Additional Clinical Expenses:
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.
Students may be scheduled for rotations outside the local campus geographical area.
All students should plan to travel/commute and/or relocate for some clinical rotations. Students are given the opportunity to share their scheduling preferences during their pre-clinical meetings. This will provide the Clinical Education Team with information which may have a bearing on their rotation assignments. Students are responsible for their credentialing, transportation, housing, and living expenses during their clinical year. Expenses will vary depending on the location of each rotation site.
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 EmploymentFor the South University, Richmond 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 Richmond
Faculty and Staff
Physician Assistant Faculty
Shannon Schellenberg, MPA, PA-C
Program Director, Associate Professor
Shannon Schellenberg joined South University in December 2016, initially as a Principal Faculty member prior to becoming the Program Director. With a background of over 16 years of clinical experience as a practicing Physician Assistant in the fields of Primary Care, Urgent Care, and Neurologic Surgery, Professor Schellenberg brings her clinical expertise and community affiliations to enrich the curriculum.
Professor Schellenberg graduated with a Master of Physician Assistant Studies from Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2006 and previously earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. She is an active member of the Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Physician Assistants, and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.
When she is not in the classroom or clinically practicing, Professor Schellenberg enjoys spending time with her family, long distance running, and playing the piano.
Katherine Tyson, MD, M.Ed.
Medical Director, Assistant Professor
Dr. Tyson joined South University in 2016 and became Medical Director for the Physician Assistant program in 2017. She holds a BSEd and MEd from the University of Virginia and an MD from the Medical College of Virginia / Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine (MCV / VCU), where she also completed both her internship and residency in Obstetrics & Gynecology. During her tenure at MCV, Dr Tyson was honored with the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award; elected Chief Administrative Resident of her cohort; and achieved membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
Dr Tyson spent more than a decade pursuing her love of all things obstetric by working in the greater Richmond community as both a private practice OB/GYN and obstetric hospitalist. Since 2020 she has practiced at VCU Health's OBMotivate Clinic, the only program in central Virginia providing an interdisciplinary, integrated approach to pregnant, postpartum and parenting women with substance use disorders.
In addition to serving as Medical Director, Dr Tyson spent 5 years as Director of Admissions for the South University - Richmond PA program and actively lectures within the Program on a variety of topics pertaining to women's health. When not working, she can be found hiking, running, drinking coffee or cheering on her children at their sporting events.
Rosemary Lethbridge, MPAS, PA-C
Assistant Program Director, Assistant Professor
Rosemary Lethbridge joined the South University team in March of 2019 as the Director of Clinical Education. Professor Lethbridge brings 13 years of clinical experience working as a Physician Assistant prior to contributing to the education of Physician Assistant students at South University. She has practiced in various areas of medicine to include Cardiology, Internal Medicine, Military Medicine, Family Medicine, and Occupational Medicine.
Professor Lethbridge remains clinically involved in Fredericksburg, VA in Primary Care. She enjoys mentoring and onboarding Advanced Practice Providers for her local hospital as well as participating on committees related to Provider Burnout, APP Advisory, and Primary Care Advisory. She has a strong desire to train excellent medical providers who will provide medical care with integrity.
Professor Lethbridge attended and graduated from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA with a bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences. She then completed her master's at the same institution in Physician Assistant Studies in 2010. She is an active member of the Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Physician Assistants, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. In addition to teaching and her clinical time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, reading, and being active outdoors.
Koren Cooper, MHS, PA-C
Director of Admissions, Assistant Professor
Professor Cooper joined South University as an Assistant Professor in 2020. As of 2022, she also serves as the Director of Admissions for the Physician Assistant (PA) Program. She transitioned into academia with the goal of giving back to the next PA generation. She brings her clinical expertise and passion for education to help prepare future Physician Assistants. One thing she loves most is seeing the growth and development of all of her students.
Professor Cooper received her Master's in Health Science – Physician Assistant Studies from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She has been a licensed Physician Assistant since 2012, primarily practicing in general surgery and gastroenterology. Prior to becoming a Physician Assistant, she played four years of collegiate tennis while obtaining her Exercise Science degree from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
She is currently an active member with American Academy of Physician Assistants, Virginia Academy of Physician Assistant, and the PA Education Association. In addition to teaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their son, being outdoors, reading, and exercising.
Mallory Walsh, MMS, PA-C
Director of Didactic Education, Assistant Professor
Mallory Walsh joined the South University Physician Assistant Program as Principal Faculty in 2020. Prior to that she participated with the program as a clinical preceptor and guest lecturer on Infectious Diseases. She has been practicing as a Physician Assistant in the field of Hospital Medicine since 2011. Professor Walsh is excited to bring her experience in acute care and internal medicine as well as her enthusiasm for learning to Physician Assistant students.
Professor Walsh pursued her studies in her home state of Florida where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Health Science from the University of Florida. She then obtained her Master's in Physician Assistant Studies from Nova Southeastern University in 2011. Professor Walsh remains clinically involved as a Hospitalist in Charlottesville, VA and in her spare time enjoys spending time outdoors and traveling with her husband and their two dogs.
Mina Tabibi, MPA, PA-C
Director of Clinical Education, Assistant Professor
Mina Tabibi joined the South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program as a Principal Faculty member in 2021. Prior to joining as a full-time faculty member, she served as a clinical preceptor for the program. Since graduating from Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2007, she has primarily practiced as a Physician Assistant in Emergency Medicine where she still spends most of her clinical days. In addition to the emergency room, Professor Tabibi is an active local medical examiner, and she also has a background in Cardiothoracic Surgery from 2013-2016 when she was a full-time member of VCU Health System's Cardiothoracic Team.
Professor Tabibi obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in 2003 followed by her Master of Public Health degree in 2004 from Virginia Commonwealth University. She graduated from Eastern Virginia Medical School's Master of Physician Assistant Program in 2007.
Outside of teaching, Professor Tabibi enjoys exploring the outdoors with her young daughter and two Siberian Huskies. Some of these activities include hiking, spending time at the James River, and going to the beach. She will never turn down the opportunity for overseas adventures. With her personal, academic and clinical experience, Professor Tabibi hopes to enrich the program by helping students capitalize on their strengths.
Crystal Mann, MPA, PA-C
Assistant Director of Didactic Education, Assistant Professor
Crystal Mann joined the South University March 2021 as Principal Faculty member. With a background of clinical experience in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Pediatrics, Professor Mann brings her clinical expertise and passion for learning to the classroom.
Professor Mann completed all of academic studies in her home state of Virginia. She graduated with a Master of Physician Assistant Studies from Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2003 and previously earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Virginia. She is an active member of the Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants and American Academy of Physician Assistants. When not in the classroom, she is an ardent yoga practitioner and yoga instructor.
Adrian Johnson, MPAS, PA-C
Assistant Director of Clinical Education, Assistant Professor
Adrian Johnson joined the South University team in August 2023 as Assistant Director of Clinical Education. Professor Johnson brings over 14 years of clinical experience working as a Physician Assistant in the field of emergency medicine. She has also assisted with many aspects of the South PA program since 2021 ranging from guest lecturing to assisting with instructions during clinical and procedure labs.
Professor Johnson graduated from Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, VA with a Bachelor's degree in Biology. She then completed her Master of Physician Assistant Studies from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA in 2009. She is an active member of American Academy of PAs, Virginia Academy of PAs, and the PA Education Association.
Professor Johnson continues to work clinically in the discipline of Emergency Medicine in Richmond, VA. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter and enjoys many outdoor activities and gardening.
Erica Mallory, BS
Graduate Program Coordinator
Erica Mallory joined the South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant team full time as the Enrollment Coordinator in October 2017. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration from South University, Richmond in June 2015. Mrs. Mallory has been with South University since 2013 and prior to joining the Physician Assistant team, she had the opportunity to work with many other departments at the Richmond campus. These roles included receptionist, registrar, and administrative assistant to the Dean of Academic Affairs.
Mrs. Mallory enjoys spending time with her husband and children, traveling, and reading. She especially enjoys the relationships she has been able to develop with the Physician Assistant students during her interactions with them during the admissions process and after matriculation.
Eileen Meagher, BS
Eileen Meagher joined the South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) team full time as the Administrative Assistant in November 2017. Her prior coursework includes a Bachelor of Science in History from Longwood College. Prior to working at South University, Mrs. Meagher spent many years working in medical, academic, law and courthouse libraries. She has been with South University since the Richmond campus opened in 2009. Mrs. Meagher is delighted to work with PA faculty and staff. Her interactions with PA students are very enjoyable and add a youthful outlook to life which she believes to be extremely important. Mrs. Meagher enjoys dancing, reading, travel, and being the grandmother of three very energetic little boys!
Jennifer O’Connell, BSW
Jennifer O’Connell joined South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) team full time as the Clinical Coordinator in 2023. She earned her Bachelor of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016. Prior to working at South University Mrs. O’Connell worked at area community hospitals and medical practices in Richmond, VA. Mrs. O’Connell enjoys the opportunity to work with the South University, Richmond PA team and appreciates interacting with the students and supporting their development and progress toward academic goals. Outside of work, Mrs. O’Connell enjoys spending time gardening and going to the beach with her husband and three children.
Christopher Whisenant, MS
Data Coordinator for The College of Health Professions
Chris Whisenant joined the South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant team full time in August 2018 as the Clinical Coordinator. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics at the University of Lynchburg in 2009 and a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011. He taught math initially as an adjunct at South University, Richmond and later became a full-time instructor at the beginning of 2012. During the fall of 2017, he participated with the Physician Assistant Program as an instructor for Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Although passionate about teaching, he transitioned to the role of Clinical Coordinator during the summer of 2018 and then transitioned to the role of Data Coordinator for The College of Health Professions in 2023. Mr. Whisenant enjoys this opportunity to work with graduate level students in a capacity that allows for open dialogue and a shared commitment to determining and enhancing one’s academic and professional passions. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, playing soccer and volleyball, exploring cities, cooking, and learning.
Nartaka Walls, MPH
Clinical Manager for The College of Health Professions
Ryan Mazzone, MSPS, PA-C
Rosuany Velez-Acevedo, PhD
Robin Whelpley, PharmD, BCPS
Shawni Yeager, MPAS, PA-C
Stanley Zelman, DDS
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: Family Medicine, 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.
Latest News and Blogs
Oct 15, 2021
Alumni Spotlight: Occupational Therapy Assistant Program
Find out how 2018 grad Kylie Moore uses her degree working as a Director of Rehabilitation and Certified and Licensed Occupational Therapist Assistant in a skilled nursing facility.
Sep 24, 2021
Alumni Spotlight: Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant
After earning his degree, Marcus excelled as a PTA and grew his career to include management responsibilities. Hear the advice he offers fellow alumni and current students to help them achieve their goals.
Aug 13, 2021
Alumni Spotlight: Master of Public Health --Dedra Simmons
Learn how South University helped prepare three-time graduate Dedra Simmons to strengthen healthcare facilities and organizations while promoting and protecting health equity for all.
Aug 11, 2021
9 Fast Facts about the FAFSA
Did you know that over $120 billion in student financial aid is awarded annually? Learn more about federal financial aid and the FAFSA with these 9 fast facts.
Aug 04, 2021
Alumni Spotlight: Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management
See how Eninja Jackson has used her Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management to improve patient care, better her community, and grow her career.
Jul 23, 2021
Public Health Student Participates in Nationally Funded Research
Deangelo Mahone- Public Health Student
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