Physician Assistant Curriculum

Physician Assistant Programs

The first fifteen months (four semesters) of the curriculum are devoted to the preclinical studies of the basic medical and clinical science necessary for practice as a physician assistant. The final twelve months (three semesters) of the curriculum are full-time clinical experiences in primary care, medicine and surgery. All courses are required, no transfer credit is accepted and no advanced placement is offered. All students must be enrolled on a full-time basis.

The Thirteenth Annual Report on Physician Assistant Education published in 1996 examines the curricula of all entry-level Masters PA programs by hours of instruction in the areas of basic medical and behavioral science, physical assessment and clinical medicine during the first year of the program. In the basic sciences the average hours of instruction were 451.0; Samuel Merritt's curriculum provides 405 hours. Behavioral science instruction averaged 182.4 hours; Samuel Merritt includes 195 hours. Didactic medicine accounted for 341.8 (meeting) hours of instruction and Samuel Merritt provides for 390 hours. Samuel Merritt allots 48 hours for the instruction of special skills which is the national average. Overall, the arrangement of instructional hours as designed by Samuel Merritt compares favorably with the nationally reported figures for master's degree programs.

For more information on the courses, read the Course Descriptions.


Preclinical Studies


Fall I Units
PA601 + LAB Human Gross Anatomy + Cadaver Lab 5.0
PA603 Microbiology and Infectious Disease 3.0
PA615 + LAB Physical Diagnosis 4.0
PA617 + LAB Interpersonal and Interprofessional Communication 2.0
PA690 Introduction to Evidence Based Practice 2.0


Spring Units
PA602 Physiology and Mechanisms of Disease I 3.0
PA620 Medicine I 4.0
PA660 Integrating Seminar I 1.0
PA608 Pharmacology I 3.0
PA646 Behavioral Medicine 3.0
PA630 Ethics & Professionalism 2.0


Summer Units
PA604 Physiology and Mechanisms of Disease II 3.0
PA621 Medicine II 4.0
PA609 Pharmacology II 3.0
PA628 LAB Diagnostic Methods (Radiology) 1.0
PA631 LAB Interpretation of EKG 1.0
PA624 Geriatrics 2.0
PA661 Integrating Seminar II 1.0


Fall II Units
PA622 Pediatrics 3.0
PA623 Obstetrics and Gynecology 3.0
PA625 The Role of the PA in General Surgery 3.0
PA626 Emergency Medicine 3.0
PA629 LAB Clinical Skills 1.0
PA662 Integrating Seminar III 1.0
PA627 Health Policy and Systems of Healthcare 2.0
PA605 LAB Clinical Simulations 1.0


Spring II Units
PA607 Pre-Clinical Preparation 3.0
PA606 Summative Evaluation 3.0


Clinical Rotations January through December (Spring II-Summer II-Fall III)


Clinical Year

The 12 month long clinical phase is composed of seven required and two elective rotations. Rotations* are completed in inpatient and outpatient settings, long term care centers, and emergency departments. Required rotations are:


PA680 - Family Medicine Clerkship 2.0
PA681 - Internal Medicine Clerkship 2.0
PA682 - General Surgery Clerkship 2.0
PA683 - Pediatric Clerkship 2.0
PA684 - Geriatric Clerkship 2.0
PA685 - Obstetrics and Gynecology Clerkship 2.0
PA686 - Emergency Medicine Clerkship 2.0
PA687 - Elective I 2.0
PA688 - Elective II 2.0
Total units 18.0

* Order of rotations in clinical year will vary.

As part of the clinical year, students return to the program for seminars in resume writing, risk management and malpractice insurance, California practice regulations, and other related to the transition from school to practice. In addition, students complete ACLS early in the clinical year.


Student Employment Policy:

Due to the rigorous nature of the MPA Program, seeking or continuing employment outside the University while enrolled is strongly discouraged. Recognizing the expensive nature of both your University experience as well as living in the Bay Area, the Program does not believe that we can preclude you from working while a student if you wish/need to do so. If a student does choose to work, however, the student will not be excused from any of the Prgoram responsibilities.

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