Master of Science in Physician Assistant
In your search for physician assistant programs, we invite you to consider South University, Tampa. Our physician assistant courses offer 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 are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider. With thousands of hours of medical training, PAs are versatile and collaborative. PAs practice in every state and in every medical setting and specialty, improving healthcare access and quality. 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 Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program at South University, Tampa’s 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.
South University Physician Assistant Program graduates are eligible to pursue licensure in all 50 states across the U.S. once they have passed the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) developed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). 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.
Accreditation Review Commission on Education for Physician Assistant
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation Continued to the South University Physician Assistant Program, Tampa, Florida sponsored by South University, Tampa, Florida. Continued accreditation is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA standards. Continued 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 comprehensive review of the program by the ARC-PA will be March 2027. The program's accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at: http://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-south-university-tampa/Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc., 12000 Findley Road, Suite 275, Johns Creek, GA, 30097; Telephone: 770.476.1224
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, Tampa, 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 Tampa program GRE Code: 0454. 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 3.4.
- 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 0454. 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 3.4.
- 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 non-refundable $1000 acceptance fee for those applicants accepted into the Physician Assistant programs at South University, Tampa. Acceptance fees are applied towards tuition.
If you have questions in regards to the Application Process, please contact the Tampa Physician Assistant program office by calling 813-393-3720 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
CASPA begins accepting applications for 2023 matriculation.
June 2023 - October 2023
August 1, 2023
Application Deadline for which application must be in “Complete” status with CASPA.
Master of Science in Physician Assistant Degree: 174 Credits
Master of Science in Physician Assistant Degree: 174 Credits
South University, Austin; South University, Richmond; South University, Savannah; South University, Tampa and South University, West Palm Beach.
1st Quarter: 17 Credits
- PAS5100 Physical Diagnosis I 3 credit hours
- PAS5102 Medical Interviewing and Documentation 3 credit hours
- PAS5125 Medical Anatomy and Physiology I 4 credit hours
- PAS5135 Laboratory Diagnostics 3 credit hours
- PAS5173 Professional Seminar I 2 credit hours
- PAS5200 Physical Diagnosis Lab I 1 credit hour
- PAS5225 Medical Anatomy and Physiology I Lab 1 credit hour
2nd Quarter: 21 Credits
- PAS5115 Physical Diagnosis II 3 credit hours
- PAS5126 Medical Anatomy and Physiology II 4 credit hours
- PAS5370 Medical Ethics 2 credit hours
- PAS5180 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics I 8 credit hours
- PAS5215 Physical Diagnosis Lab II 1 credit hour
- PAS5226 Medical Anatomy and Physiology II Lab 1 credit hour
- PAS5295 Applied Learning Experience I 1 credit hour
- PAS5480 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics I Lab 1 credit hour
3rd Quarter: 18 Credits
- PAS5124 Essentials of Behavioral Medicine 3 credit hours
- PAS5130 Diagnostic Methods 4 credit hours
- PAS5181 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics II 8 credit hours
- PAS5296 Applied Learning Experience II 2 credit hours
- PAS5481 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics II Lab 1 credit hour
4th Quarter: 21 Credits
- PAS5143 Special Populations in Primary Care I 3 credit hours
- PAS5160 Public Health and Evidence Based Medicine 4 credit hours
- PAS5365 Surgery and Procedures I 4 credit hours
- PAS5182 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics III 8 credit hours
- PAS5297 Applied Learning Experience III 1 credit hour
- PAS5482 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics III Lab 1 credit hour
5th Quarter: 23 Credits
- PAS5144 Special Populations in Primary Care II 4 credit hours
- PAS5366 Surgery and Procedures II 2 credit hours
- PAS5174 Professional Seminar II 3 credit hours
- PAS5183 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics IV 8 credit hours
- PAS5190 Essentials of Emergency Medicine 4 credit hours
- PAS5298 Applied Learning Experience IV 1 credit hour
- PAS5483 Clinical Medicine and Pharmacotherapeutics IV Lab 1 credit hour
- PAS6200 Clinical Rotation I 8 credit hours
- PAS6205 Clinical Rotation II 8 credit hours
- PAS6210 Clinical Rotation III 8 credit hours
- PAS6215 Clinical Rotation IV 8 credit hours
- PAS6220 Clinical Rotation V 8 credit hours
- PAS6225 Clinical Rotation VI 8 credit hours
- PAS6230 Clinical Rotation VII 8 credit hours
- PAS6235 Clinical Rotation VIII 8 credit hours
- PAS6320 Special Topics in Clinical Practice I 2 credit hours
- PAS6330 Special Topics in Clinical Practice II 2 credit hours
- PAS6340 Special Topics in Clinical Practice III 2 credit hours
- PAS6350 Physician Assistant Senior Seminar 4 credit hours
The courses below are offered on an as needed basis:
- PAS5499 Independent Study I 8 credit hours
- PAS5599 Independent Study II 8 credit hours
Program GoalsPlease click HERE for information on our Physician Assistant program and effectiveness in achieving program goals.
The following are program goals for the South University, Tampa Master of Science in 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, Tampa Physician Assistant program does not guarantee certification or employment.)
PANCE Certification and Attrition
Graduates of an accredited Physician Assistant program must pass the national Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) in order to acquire state licensure to practice. This exam is developed jointly by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). The South University, Tampa Physician Assistant Studies program has a 93% 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, Tampa Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA) graduating classes.
Click the link below to view the pass rates of South University, Tampa students
View PANCE pass rates of South University, Tampa students.
To view the South University, Tampa MSPA program student attrition information, please click HERE.
Tuition and Fees
Estimated Tuition for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) Degree (effective October 1, 2022)
Per quarter: $10,550.00
Total tuition: $94,950.00
Required Fees for the MSPA Degree
Acceptance Fee: $1,000.00 (Non-refundable/Applied to Tuition)
Registration Fees: $225 ($25.00 per term)
Graduation Fee: $125.00
American Academy of Physician Assistant (AAPA) Student Membership Fee: $75.00
Other Estimated Costs for the MSPA Degree
Professional Instruments: $1,100.00 (Approximate)
Textbooks: $2,610.00 ($15 per credit hour)
Technology Fee: $3,480.00 ($20 per credit hour)
Surgical Scrubs: $55.00 (Approximate)
Laptop Computer and privacy screen: $1,500.00
Background Check: $200.00-400.00 (Additional fees may apply to the base package fee contingent upon credentialing requirements of the hospital.)
State Association Fees: $60.00
American Heart Association approved BLS: $100.00
Estimated Total for the MSPA Degree
Tuition and Fees: $104,680
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.
Students may be scheduled for rotations outside the local campus geographical area.
All students should plan to travel/commute 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, Tampa 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.
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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.
Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program at Tampa
Karen Wilcox, DMSc, PA-C
Program Director, Assistant Professor
Dr. Karen Wilcox has been with South University, Tampa since 2011. Originally from New York, she has lived and worked in the Tampa Bay area for the past 17 years. Dr. Wilcox received her Bachelor of Science degree from Loyola College in Maryland in 2002. She graduated from Nova Southeastern University-Fort Lauderdale in 2005 with both a Bachelor of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and a Master of Medical Science degree and completed a Doctor of Medical Science at the University of Lynchburg in Virginia. Dr. Wilcox specializes in family practice/urgent care with a concentration on wellness and prevention. In 2009 Dr. Wilcox transitioned into integrative medicine before joining South University, in 2011, at first, as an adjunct professor, and in 2016 as full-time faculty. Her teaching/academic interests include otolaryngology, endocrinology, and women’s health.
Dr. Wilcox is an active member of the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants (FAPA), the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), and the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). She has lectured at the state level on the topics of hypothyroidism. She lives in Tampa with her husband and their three boys.
Elliot E. Cazes, MD
Dr. Cazes has been the Medical Director of the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program at South University since July 2018. He is originally from the Northeast, having grown up in the Trenton, NJ area. He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Connecticut, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in Microbiology. He then attended Georgetown University, completing research and a Master’s degree in Physiology. Dr. Cazes graduated from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and spent an additional 4 years completing a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. After completing his residency in 1995, Dr. Cazes moved to Tampa where he entered into private practice in Ob/Gyn. He has been in private practice for 25 years. Dr. Cazes lives in Tampa, with his wife. He has four grown children scattered throughout the U.S.
Since early in his medical career, Dr. Cazes has had a passion for teaching. Over the years, he has taught Students from several different universities in the area. He has been involved with the education of South University students for the past several years. In addition to serving as a preceptor during clinical rotations, he also gives didactic lectures throughout the year, and he is involved in the PA program admissions process.
Dr. Cazes also spends time lecturing throughout the U.S. on a variety of topics, including breast cancer, hereditary cancer screening, endometriosis and pelvic pain, and menopause. He remains involved with several different clinical trials at his practice site.
Jennifer Pantaleo, MPAS, PA-C
Assistant Program Director, Assistant Professor
Ms. Pantaleo joined South University as an Assistant Professor in 2016. Since that time, she has been active in both didactic and clinical education within the program. As a graduate of the South University, Tampa Master of Science in Physician Assistant program class of 2014, Ms. Pantaleo brings more than 7 years of clinical experience specializing in family practice and urgent care. She has a strong interest in preventative medicine and the management of diabetes mellitus.
Prior to practicing as a Physician Assistant, Ms. Pantaleo obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences with a Minor in Public Health from the University of South Florida in 2011. She is a current member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants. In addition to her regular teaching duties, Ms. Pantaleo has lectured at the state level for the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants and has served as the Student Faculty Liaison for the program. She is also passionate about speaking to local pre-PA organizations in the Tampa Bay area and serving as a preceptor for pre-PA and PA students on her clinical days.
Diane Butler, MCMS, PA-C
Director of Didactic Education, Assistant Professor
Ms. Butler recently joined the South University, Tampa Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program after relocating to the Tampa Bay area in 2020. Originally from South Carolina, she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology. In 2006, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master’s degree in Clinical Medical Sciences from Barry University’s Physician Assistant Program. She has spent the majority of her career as a Physician Assistant practicing in Orthopedic Surgery, most recently as the Lead Advanced Practice Provider at Emory Healthcare’s Orthopedic and Spine Center in Atlanta, GA where she worked for nearly 10 years.
She has a passion for teaching and has been involved with educating Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner students for several years, serving as both a preceptor and an Adjunct Instructor. Her academic areas of interest are orthopedics, pediatrics and women’s health. She is an active member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), Florida Academy of Physician Assistants (FAPA), and the Georgia Association of Physician Assistants (GAPA). In her free time she enjoys playing tennis, listening to music, traveling and spending time with her husband and 2 sons.
LaBree Hans, MSPAP, PA-C
Director of Admissions, Assistant Professor
Ms. Hans, although originally from Illinois, grew up in the Tampa Bay area. She earned a Bachelor of Science at University of South Florida. In 2005, she completed her Masters of Science in Physician Assistant Practice from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago. LaBree has over 14 years of clinical experience in emergency medicine. During this time, she discovered a passion for wilderness and travel medicine, becoming certified in Advance Wilderness Life Support. She has practiced wilderness medicine at a bush clinic in Kenya.
In 2010, she joined the faculty of South University, Tampa as an assistant professor teaching on such topics as emergency medicine, clinical procedures, ethics, radiology, dermatology and rheumatology. She became the Director of Admission for the program in 2013. She continues to practice clinically in emergency medicine at one of the trauma centers in Tampa.
Ms. Hans is on the Board of Directors of the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants (FAPA) as the West Central Regional Director. She is also an active member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), and the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS).
LaBree lives in Tampa with her husband and white terrier. She enjoys hobbies such as hiking and travel.
Ciara Calitri, MPAS, PA-C
Director of Clinical Education, Assistant Professor
Ms. Calitri joined the South University, Tampa Physician Assistant Program full time in September of 2021 after working for 8 years in pediatric emergency medicine. She earned a Master of Science in Physician Assistant in 2013 from South University, Tampa and worked serving the Tampa Bay community before transitioning into academics.
Ms. Calitri is originally from New Jersey and graduated from Fordham University earning her Bachelor of Science. Her first position was at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Saint Petersburg, Florida, followed by positions with St. Joseph’s Hospital Main and South campuses in the Pediatric Emergency Department. During the global pandemic, Ms. Calitri worked in the Adult Emergency Department for months as a result of changes in patient volumes. She is proud of her alma mater, returning as an Adjunct Professor at South University, Tampa in 2018 and joined the faculty full time in 2021.
Ms. Calitri is an active member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), Florida Academy of Physician Assistants (FAPA), and Society for Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants (SEMPA). She lives in Tampa with her husband and their three children.
Travis Reeves, MPAS, PA-C
Mr. Reeves joined the South University, Tampa Physician Assistant Program full time in January of 2022. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of South Florida in 2014. He is a proud graduate from South University where he earned a Masters in Physician Assistant Studies in 2017. Mr. Reeves has been working in Emergency Medicine for over 5 years in both North Carolina and Tampa, Florida. Currently, he practices in multiple ER’s across the Tampa Bay region.
Mr. Reeves is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force Reserves and U.S. Army Reserves. He has served for over 10 years and is currently still serving in the Army Reserves as a Physician Assistant. He deployed to Iraq in 2011 and mobilized stateside during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr. Reeves lives in the Tampa area with his wife and two sons. He is an avid golfer and is a lifelong fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Lighting.
Sherissa Chang-Williams, MCMS, PA-C
Ms. Chang-Williams joined South University, Tampa Master of Science in Physician Assistant program in 2023 as an Assistant Professor after originally starting as an Adjunct Professor in October 2022. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry in 2001 from University of Tampa and Master in Clinical Medical Science degree from Barry University Physician Assistant Program in Miami Shores, Florida in 2006. Initially, she practiced internal medicine and advanced her focus to geriatric medicine in 2012. Over time, her witness to the lack of understanding the needs of the elderly lead to a desire to be an advocate. This also resulted in discovering her teaching interests in post-acute care, palliative care and end-of-life discussions/care. She continues to practice at a nursing home facility in the Tampa Bay area.
Sherissa is a native of Tampa, where she resides with her husband and 2 children. Her interests include serving the community, exercise and travel.
Lauren Lieb, MPAS, PA-C
Ms. Lieb joined as an Assistant Professor at the South University, Tampa Master of Science in Physician Assistant Program in April 2023. She has 14 years of clinical experience in various areas of medicine. She specialized in cardiology, electrophysiology, internal medicine with rehabilitation, wound care, emergency medicine and urgent care. She continues to practice clinically in urgent care at TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track.
She obtained her Bachelor of Science and completed the Physician Assistant program at the University of Findlay in 2009 where she graduated with honors at the age of 20. She completed her Masters of Physician Assistant studies at the University of Nebraska Medical Center while starting her career in Electrophysiology in Toledo, Ohio with Northwest Cardiology Consultants practicing inpatient medicine. She transitioned to Emergency Medicine at St. Rita’s Emergency Department with TeamHealth in Lima, Ohio. She then started her roll in internal medicine providing primary care to the patients at Birchaven through Blanchard Valley Hospital to the assisted living clients as well as the nursing home and rehabilitation center. She worked closely with the geriatric and disabled population as well as palliative care/hospice. During those years she was also hyperbaric oxygen certified, providing wound care and moonlighting in an urgent care. Originally from Ohio, she relocated to the Tampa Bay area in 2020 during the pandemic to provide inpatient care for a cardiology group up until her current role in urgent care.
Ms. Lieb has a passion for teaching and has been involved in Physician Assistant education in the form of a clinical preceptor intermittently for the last 12 years of her career. She has interests in cardiology/electrophysiology, specifically arrythmias and heart failure management. In her free time, she enjoys being with her husband and 5 children. She also loves watching her kids play baseball/football, listening to audio books and serving at her local church on the teaching ministry team.
Yvonne Suescun, MD
Dr. Suescun has been an assistant professor in South University since 2011 teaching Anatomy and Physiology and Pathophysiology in the College of Health Professions and the College of Arts and Science. Originally from Medellin, Colombia, she graduated from the University of Antioquia School of Medicine in 1998. After practicing as a primary physician for several years in Colombia, she migrated to the United States. She has been in the Tampa Bay area for 17 years.
Dr. Suescun’s love for academics began in 2007 working for a small local university teaching Medical Terminology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Pathophysiology. In 2008, she was promoted to Program Director of the Medical Assistant Associate Degree and Pharmacy Technician Associate Degree programs. Her passion for teaching in higher education lead her back to the classrooms in 2011 joining South University as full-time faculty. She currently teaches Medical Anatomy and Physiology for the PA program and is an integral part of the cadaver dissection program.
Dr. Suescun loves interacting with students. She has a full understanding of student diversity and strives to accommodate individual cultures and learning styles to stimulate a positive and active learning environment. She fosters critical thinking and applies life experience to foundation courses with the objective to create a lifelong passion for learning.
Colby Carter, DHSc, MSPAS, PA-C, CAQ-CVTS
Dr. Colby Carter started his career in medicine as a firefighter/paramedic. His passion for medicine led him to the Medical University of South Carolina’s Physician Assistant Program where he graduated in 2014. With a strong interest in Cardiothoracic surgery, he became one of three PA’s in the inaugural class of Physician Assistant Surgical Residents at UF Health in Gainesville. After completion of the residency, he studied Leadership and Organizational Behavior and earned a Doctor of Health Sciences degree from A.T. Still University.
Dr. Carter has been an adjunct faculty member with South University Tampa since 2017, serving as a facilitator for problem-based learning (PBL) sessions and Clinical Medicine Lab cases. He lectures in several areas of the didactic curriculum including cardiology, urology, and evidence-based medicine.
Dr. Carter is actively involved with the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), attending workshops on diversity, equity and inclusion in healthcare.
Physician Assistant Program Staff
Graduate Program Coordinator
Katie Blizzard was born and raised in a suburb of Tampa, FL. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and from the University of Alabama with her Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences. She worked in the health and fitness field for almost 10 years as a personal trainer and nutrition coach.
Ms. Blizzard has a passion for education and began working for the South University, Tampa Physician Assistant Program full-time in November of 2021. She enjoys working with students throughout their time on campus. She is currently enrolled in a Master of Business Administration program through South University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, attending as many football games as she can and spending time outside with her dog.
Wendy Nguyen comes from Vietnam and has been living in Tampa, FL for 3 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in education with a concentration in English language and is currently enrolled in a Master of Human Resources program at South University, Tampa. Prior to moving to the United States from Vietnam in 2018, Ms. Nguyen worked for twelve years in various International Schools and English Centers. She held various positions including Academic Counselor, Assistant Curriculum Director, and TESOL teacher. Since 2019, she has worked in the fields of international interpretation, healthcare, and education in the Tampa area.
Ms. Nguyen joined South University, Tampa in August 2021 at the position of Administrative Assistant & Receptionist and is now the Clinical Coordinator for the Physician Assistant Program.
Alissa T. Fox
Alissa Fox joined South University, Tampa Physician Assistant Program in September of 2022. She has 5 years of healthcare administrative experience with a passion for the small details and helping others.
Ms. Fox was born and raised in a small suburb of Chicago, Illinois. She was awarded an Associates of Applied Science degree from Elgin College in 2015. Alissa then spent three years exploring Arizona before finding her way to the Sunshine State at the end of 2021. She plans to further her administrative career by working towards a Bachelor’s degree with South University in the near future.
Ms. Fox enjoys cooking and baking, traveling the world, spending time with her dog and watching true crime documentaries in her spare time.
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 Master of Science in 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 Master of Science in 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.No text in field]
The following are the program learning outcomes (Graduate Competencies) for the South University Master of Science in 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.
Outstanding Education for Remarkable Careers
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