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Physician Assistant Curriculum

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
PA601 - Human Anatomy 4.0
PA602 - Physiology and Mechanisms of Disease I 3.0
PA615 - Physical Diagnosis 4.0
PA630 - PA History & Professional Issues 2.0
PA617 - Interpersonal Communication 2.0
Total units 15.0

PA603 - Microbiology and Infectious Disease 3.0
PA604 - Physiology and Mechanisms of Disease II 3.0
PA608 - Pharmacology I 3.0
PA620 - Medicine I 4.0
PA660 - Integrating Seminar I 1.0
PA646 - Behavioral Medicine 3.0
Total units 17.0

PA621 - Medicine II 4.0
PA609 - Pharmacology II 3.0
PA690 - Research Methods 3.0
PA628 - Diagnostic Methods 3.0
PA624 - Geriatrics 2.0
PA661 - Integrating Seminar II 1.0
Total units 16.0

Fall II
PA622 - Pediatrics 3.0
PA623 - Obstetrics/Gynecology 3.0
PA625 - Surgery 4.0
PA626 - Emergency Medicine 3.0
PA627 - Policies and Systems of US Healthcare 2.0
PA662 - Integrating Seminar III 1.0
PA629 - Clinical Skills Lab I 1.0
Total units 17.0


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:

P680 - 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.