Master of Science in Physician Assistant
The South University Savannah Master of Science (MS) 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, Savannah 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 (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the South University-Savannah Physician Assistant Program sponsored by South University. 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remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards.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 September 2025. 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-savannah/
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 South University, Savannah Physician Assistant Studies program has a 96% aggregate pass rate from the inception of the program. Below are the percentage pass rates for the first time test takers of the PANCE for the past five South University Savannah, Physician Assistant Studies graduating classes.
Click the link below to view the pass rates of South University, Savannah students
Admissions Information and Requirements
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, Savannah, 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 Savannah program GRE Code: 0467. 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 30 days of the student signing the acceptance form, it is the responsibility of the student 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 3.2.
- Applicants must submit scores from the GRE general exam directly to the CASPA service using the South University PA program code 0467. 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.
Clarification of PA Program Admission Policies Due to COVID-19
The South University Physician Assistant (PA) programs recognize the unique challenges faced by students and academic institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. South University will continue to accept prerequisite courses, including lab work, completed online or on campus from any regionally-accredited U.S. college or university.
Due to the awarding of “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory” or “Pass/Fail” grading for courses completed during the COVID-19 pandemic the South University PA program is providing clarification of its admission policies based on these grading scale changes.
- The South University PA programs will accept “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory” or “Pass/Fail” grades for courses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as submitted through CASPA.
- Applicants are advised to visit the CASPA Applicant Help Center for more information regarding effects of non-letter grades on CASPA-calculated GPAs.
- When possible, the South University PA Program admissions committee recommends students elect to receive letter grades for these courses if the option is available.
- The South University PA programs will continue to require GRE scores at the time of CASPA application submission.
Students with concerns regarding how “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory” or “Pass/Fail” grades in courses taken during the COVID-19 pandemic terms have affected their CASPA-calculated GPA may apply for an additional GPA review through the PA Admissions Committee.
The South University PA programs will revisit this policy and make additional changes if necessary in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students 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.
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.
Prerequisite coursework which is obtained from a four-year college or university and which is designed for science majors is considered more competitive.
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.
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. Preference is given to applicants with clinical experience that includes direct patient care. 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.
Prerequisite coursework which is obtained from a four-year college or university and which is designed for science majors.
PA 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 non-refundable $1000 acceptance fee for those applicants accepted into the Physician Assistant programs at South University, Savannah. Acceptance fees are applied towards tuition.
No physician assistant credits from another institution may transfer into the didactic or clinical phase. Master of Science in Physician Assistant students must complete the entire 27 month program (174 credit hours) at South University.
Please click here for information on our Physician Assistant program and effectiveness in achieving program goals.
The following are program goals for the South University, Savannah 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.
(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, Savannah Physician Assistant program does not guarantee certification or employment.)
Tuition and Fees
Estimated Tuition for the MSPA Degree (effective January 2021)
Per quarter: $10,000.00
Required Fees for the MSPA Degree
Acceptance Fee: $1000.00
(Non-refundable/Applied to Tuition)
Graduation Fee: $125.00
AAPA Student Membership Fee: $75.00
State Association Fees: Currently, there is no fee associated with GAPA membership as an enrolled student. This fee is subject to change.
Other Estimated Costs for the MSPA Degree
Professional Instruments: $1,100.00 (Approximate)
Digital Textbooks: $2,610.00 ($15 per credit)
Technology Fee: $2,610.00 ($15 per credit)
Surgical Scrubs: $55.00 (Approximate)
Laptop Computer and privacy screen: $1,500.00 (Approximate)
Background Checks: approximately $200-$400 (Additional fees may apply to the base package fee contingent upon credentialing requirements of the clinical site)
Estimated Total for the MSPA Degree
Tuition and Fees: $98,475.00
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.
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. South University will not impose any penalty or late fees, deny access to classes, libraries, or other campus facilities, or require a covered individual to borrow additional funds due to delayed payments from the VA under Chapter 31 or 33. 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
Student EmploymentDue 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.
South University Student HandbookFor additional and detailed information about the South University, Savannah Physician Assistant Program and its requirements, please refer to the Physician Assistant Program Student Handbook available 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.
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 Savannah
Deanna Oliver, DMSc, MSPA, PA-C
Program Director – Assistant Professor
Dr. Oliver is a native of Jacksonville, Florida, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a Minor in Studio Art from the University of North Florida. She completed a Doctor of Medical Science from the University of Lynchburg and is a graduate of the South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant program, where she received the Robert DiBenedetto Student Achievement Award. Upon graduation from South University, she began her clinical career in pulmonary medicine in Jacksonville, Florida, before transferring to Macon, Georgia, as a Faculty Instructor for the Department of Family Medicine, Geriatrics Fellowship Program, at Mercer University School of Medicine. In 2014, she began clinical practice in emergency medicine in Macon until relocating to Bethesda, MD, where she became the Lead Advanced Practice Provider for the Central Region Urgent Care Division of a large hospital system in the Maryland/D.C. area.
In July of 2019, Dr. Oliver joined the faculty of South University as the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program Director and Assistant Professor. Her teaching interests include senior seminar, special topics, emergency medicine, physical assessment, and clinical procedures. Her clinical interests include emergency medicine, acute care medicine, internal medicine, and geriatrics.
She is an active member of the Pi Alpha National Honor Society for Physician Assistants, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Georgia Association of Physician Assistants, Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants, and the Physician Assistant Education Association. Dr. Oliver has been published as a contributing author to the fifth edition of A Comprehensive Review for the Certification and Recertification Examination for Physician Assistants and in The Field Guide to Home Care Medicine journal.
John Sheffield, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA
Assistant Program Director– Assistant Professor
Mr. Sheffield is a native of Hampton, Virginia and has been with the program since 2003. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oklahoma after completing the United States Army Physician Assistant Program in 1990. He has also earned a Masters of Physician Assistant Studies degree from the University of Nebraska.
He is a 21-year Army veteran and retired at nearby Fort Stewart in 1994. During his Army career, he worked in Emergency and Family Medicine. After his retirement from the Army, he worked as part of a busy otolaryngology practice here in Savannah for eight years prior to coming to South University.
While part of the South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program, he has served as Clinical Coordinator and now as the Evaluation Specialist. His teaching interests include ear nose and throat pathology, infectious diseases and behavioral medicine.
He is a member of Pi Alpha National Honor Society for Physician Assistants. He is also a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, a member of the Georgia Association of Physician Assistants, and the Physician Assistant Education Association where he serves as Chair of the Internal Medicine/Primary Care End of Rotation Exam review committee. He also is a member of the Assessments Institute.
Jonie Fawley, MPAS, PA-C
Director of Clinical Education – Assistant Professor
Ms. Fawley is an Ohio native. She received a Bachelor of Science in Education from The Ohio State University, Physician Assistant Certification from Kettering College of Medical Arts, and a Master of Physician Assistant Studies from The University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Medicine.
Ms. Fawley has 16 years of experience as a practicing physician assistant in the fields of family medicine, geriatrics, and neurology. Prior to arriving at South University, she served as adjunct faculty, Wright State University School of Medicine, Family Medicine Department and Assistant Professor, Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, PA Program.
Ms. Fawley is a member of the Pi Alpha National Honor Society for Physician Assistants, Physician Assistant Education Association, American Academy of Physician Assistants, and the Georgia Association of Physician Assistants. She received the 2018 GAPA Faculty Achievement Award and the 2019 GAPA Faculty of the Year Award. She completed the Woodruff Health Educators Academy’s Fellowship in Educational Scholarship at Emory University in 2020.
Her teaching and research interests include active learning and critical thinking in medical education. She enjoys traveling, hiking and riding her Vespa or Can Am Spyder.
James M. King, MSPA, PA-C
Admissions Director– Assistant Professor
Mr. King has lived in Savannah for the majority of his time since arriving via the military in 1994. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in 1991 while serving in the military. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1991 while serving in the military. In 2007, he decided to pursue a career in medicine, and began his studies toward that endeavor. This culminated with graduation from South University’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program in 2011, after which he entered the field of Emergency Medicine. He joined the faculty of South University as the Assistant Clinical Coordinator in August of 2018.
His academic teaching interests include Addiction Medicine, areas of professional development, and focusing on small group instruction. His clinical interests include pre-hospital trauma, Emergency Medicine, and Addiction Medicine. He lives in Savannah with his wife of over thirty years. Their son and family live nearby where his son serves as a local firefighter. The King family loves dogs.
John J. Burns, III, MMSc, PA-C
Principal Faculty – Associate Professor
Mr. Burns is a native of Savannah Georgia. He has been a member of the South University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program faculty since 2001. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Education in Health Promotion and Behavior, from the University of Georgia. He is a 1997 graduate of the Emory University Physician Assistant Program. Upon graduation, he began his clinical career in Family Medicine at Fayette Medical Clinic in Fayetteville, Georgia. In 1999, he returned to his hometown of Savannah and began clinical practice in Endocrinology. In 2001, he joined the faculty of South University as the Associate Clinical Coordinator. He has also served as the program’s Academic Coordinator, Associate Director, and Program Director.
His academic/teaching interests include PA admissions, medical communication, endocrinology, ophthalmology and physical assessment. His clinical interests include endocrinology, specifically Type 1 diabetes, and thyroid disorders.
He is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Georgia Association of Physician Assistants, and the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). He currently serves as Lead Faculty for the PAEA Admissions PANDO Workshop. He previously served as a committee member for the CASPA Advisory Committee.
He lives in Savannah with his wife and their two children. His hobbies include reading, gardening, and golf.
Liza Bashambu, MSPA, PA-C
Principal Faculty – Assistant Professor
Mrs. Bashambu is a native of northeast Ohio. She began her career in the medical field in 2010 as a Respiratory Therapist, gaining experience in neonatal and pediatric critical care at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio and at Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta. Prior to matriculation at South University, Mrs. Bashambu obtained a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care from Boise State University. She is a 2018 graduate of South University’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant program and holds a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. She worked in Allergy/Immunology before returning to join the faculty at South University in 2020.
Mrs. Bashambu is passionate about education and takes an interest in program admissions, history and physical exam, pulmonology, arterial blood gas analysis, allergy/immunology, gastroenterology, and behavioral medicine. She is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Georgia Association of Physician Assistants, and the Physician Assistant Education Association.
She lives in Savannah with her husband and two small children.
Dr. Krystal Goodwin, CCMA, DC
Assistant Professor and Clinical Education Faculty
Dr. Krystal Goodwin, CCMA, DC currently serves as Assistant Professor and Clinical Education Faculty for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program at South University. Prior to joining South University, she worked as an allied health instructor for pre-clinical and clinical education, as rehabilitation consultant in primary care practices and served in private practice.
Dr. Goodwin should have been born in the 60’s or 70’s. She has the soul of a hippie. She and her husband have two beautiful children. Along with her healing knowledge, Dr. Goodwin also graciously shares eggs and honey produced by the chickens and bees she raises. When she is not taking care of the family, her animals or teaching, you can find her leading 5:30am spinning classes.
A graduate of McKendree University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Logan University with a Doctorate of Chiropractic with emphasis in biomechanics and sports rehabilitation, Dr. Goodwin strives to reveal the interrelationships between structure and function of the human body by utilizing radiologic imaging, 3-dimensional models, illustrations and dissection. Dr. Goodwin has been awarded honors for her excellence in teaching at the college-level and distinctions from research and clinical practice. She effectively shares her educational passions and clinical experience with students through her lectures.
Ray Rudolph, M.D., MPH, FACS
Medical Director – Assistant Professor
Raised in Houston, Texas, Dr. Rudolph served in the Army completing his studies as a licensed practical nurse at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. He worked as a chief line medic in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969 where he received the Bronze Star for valor. After eight years as an LPN, he entered the Physician Assistant Program at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, graduating in 1976. His first assignment as a Physician Assistant brought him to South Dakota to serve the Sioux Nation at Lower Brule for four years. Dr. Rudolph then had the opportunity to attend the University of South Dakota, where he earned both his undergraduate and medical degrees. He completed his surgical residency training at Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia where he joined the faculty upon graduation in 1991. Dr. Rudolph received his master’s degree in public health from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah in 2004.
In 2001, he and Dr. Paula DeNitto established the Center for Breast Care, the first practice in the region dedicated exclusively to care of the women with breast problems. He was nominated for the Association of Medical Colleges Humanism in Medicine Award in 2008, received the Alumni Achievement Award, Baylor College of Medicine, Physician Assistant Program in 2009, was named Surgical Oncologist of the Year 2010, National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer; Savannah Coalition, and earned the Cancer Liaison Physician Outstanding Performance Award 2009 from the American College of Surgeons, Commission on Cancer.
He has done volunteer medical work in Ecuador in the area of tuberculosis and has shared breast surgical techniques in China. Dr. Rudolph is an assistant professor of surgery at both the Georgia Regents University (Medical College of Georgia) and Mercer University School of Medicine. Before becoming the Medical Director of the Physician Assistant Program at South University, he acted as a clinical assistant professor of surgery in the program since 2005. Although Dr. Rudolph retired from the active practice of surgery in late 2014, he remains a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Breast Surgery.
He is married to Barbara, a nurse practitioner and wife of 40 years and has two children and four grandchildren.
Nartaka Walls, MPH
Ms. Walls is a native of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. An Army veteran, she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration from Saint Leo University. She worked in various private practice settings throughout Savannah, GA to include family medicine, internal medicine, neurology, and hematology/oncology.
Ms. Walls joined South University in 2017 as the Clinical Coordinator. She is passionate about education. She enjoys teaching credentialing classes and preparing students for their upcoming clinical year. She is a 2020 graduate of South University and holds a Master of Public Health.
Tricia Piascik, BS
Physician Assistant Student Advisor
Ms. Piascik was born and raised in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Graduated from Michigan State with a BS in Human Environmental Design. She spent the 15 years in California working for a small animation company and helped it to become a major contributor in the animation industry.
Ms. Piascik left the animation company as the Vice President of Administration and moved to Moscow Russia. For the next 6 years she worked on her artistic side, sculpting, painting and quilting.
She currently resides in Savannah, GA with her college student son.
Joseph Crosby, PH.D., R.PH
Physician Assistant Clinical Rotations
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.
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 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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