Physician Assistant Department Goals

Physician Assistant Programs California
Program Goals Measures of Success

1. To educate highly skilled, knowledgeable Physician Assistants who contribute to the provision of high quality health care to all individuals in a wide variety of clinical settings.

PANCE results

Preceptor evaluations during clinical year rotations

Alumni Data on settings

PANCE results

Preceptor evaluations of student performance during clinical year rotations

Alumni Data

2. To provide rigorous didactic and clinical education in the basic and behavioral sciences and medical disciplines necessary to produce excellent clinicians.

Breakdown of instructional faculty credentials

Grade distributions

PANCE results (see Goal 1)

Cumulative didactic GPA

Variety in assessment methods throughout the curriculum

Preceptor evaluations during clinical year rotations (see Goal 1)

Supervising physician feedback on alumni surveys


Summative Evaluation course

Success in Achieving Goal:

Breakdown of instructional faculty credentials

In the 2016/2017 academic year, the SMU PA Department used 78 different instructors during the didactic phase of the program. These faculty demonstrate significant breadth of academic and experiential preparation. More than 80% of the faculty providing instruction during the didactic phase hold either PA (56%) or MD (27%) degrees. Another 8% hold PhD's in disciplines related to their teaching.  9% of instructional faculty hold other degrees including DPM, PharmD, CNM, OT and FNP. Faculty holding multiple degrees account for percentages in excess of 100%.

Please see program curriculum for more detail.

Mean Scores By Cohort
CY 2013 59% 62% 3.28 95%
CY 2014 58% 63% 3.28 90%
CY 2015 57% 68% 3.29 91%
CY 2016 64% 65% 3.31 95%
CY 2017 61% 68% 3.44 in progress

Variety in assessment methods throughout the curriculum

PACKRAT Average Scores By Cohort (Minimum Passing Score 55%)
CY2013 59%   62%  
CY2014 58%   63%  
CY2015 57% 58% 68% 72%
CY2016 64% 64% 65% 71%
CY2017 62% 62% 68% 67%

Summative Evaluation Course (PA 606)
  Final Course Grade (class average)
CY 2016 87.7%
CY 2017 87.7%


3. To enhance appreciation for social and cultural effects on the delivery of health care through exposure to a wide variety of clinical settings reflecting the diversity of patients and the communities in which they reside.

Clinical Rotations by Setting

Success in Achieving Goal:

Training in wide variety of clinical settings

4. To equip students with an understanding of health policies and delivery systems to promote their participation as health care leaders in identifying solutions to community and professional endeavors.

Health Policy course

Global Medical Brigades medical trip to Panama

IGNITE program

Interprofessional Education course on Patient Safety & Communication

Hot Spotting project through Camden Coalition

FACES for the Future mentoring program

Flu crew events with Stanford & UCSF MD/PA/PharmD students

Allen Temple Health Fair

Please see the online SMU catalog for details about our Health Policy Course which addresses this goal.

The SMU PA Department continues to enhance our community presence and the exposure of PA students to different means of delivering care to diverse populations. Students are exposed to the issues that arise in attempting to deliver health care to those in need and those of diverse and underserved backgrounds, promoting consideration and discussion of potential solutions to health disparities and access.

SMU PA students have the opportunity to participate in University sponsored Co-curricular Programs in Diversity and Cultural Awareness and the IGNITE Interprofessional Team Trainings. PA students also have the opportunity to participate in the University’s partnership with the Hotspotting Project of the Camden Coalition Healthcare Providers, a nationwide effort of healthcare providers, community partners and patient advocates, committed to improving the wellness of the most vulnerable individuals with complex health and social needs. PA students also participate in community health fairs and flu vaccination clinics in the Bay Area.

SMU PA students participate as mentors and facilitators for the FACES for the Future Program and their Summer Medical Academy held on our campus each year. This program is focused on supporting and transitioning high school students, interested in the health professions, through exposure, empowerment and youth leadership development. Dr. Tomás Magaña, our PA Program Medical Director, is the Founding Director of this program.

Samuel Merritt students are actively engaged in international community service and medical mission work. Twice yearly, we travel to rural western Panama to deliver care with Global Brigades. PA students will join interprofessional teams from across campus to provide care over 3 days of medical brigades. In addition, we will work with physicians, pharmacists, nurses, dentists and other representatives of the Panamanian Ministry of Health who will provide a significant exposure to the health care apparatus in this developing central American country.

5. Educating students in the current information exchange systems and their associated technologies to enhance their productivity as students and professionals.

Evidence Based Practice course

SMU Library orientation and resources

Online orientation curriculum

EMR training in Integrating Seminar

Exposure to various EMR during clinical year rotations

Student and patient logging system EXXAT

Course Description

This course introduces students to evidence based medical practice, including the philosophy and principles of scientific methods of inquiry. Topics include library resources, conducting a search for medical literature, interpretation and critical evaluation of medical literature; NIH training modules including IRB training and human subjects research. Students will have the opportunity to evaluate current literature from the medical journals in light of research design and data collection. (2 units lecture)

Class - The Library and Searching Online Databases - Tues, Sept 18

Sarah Naumann, MLIS, and Leia Casey, MLIS, from our John A. Graziano Memorial Library will present on resources, search strategies, databases, and assistance from the SMU John Graziano Memorial Library.

Variety in assessment methods throughout the curriculum

Link to Online orientation curriculum

EMR Training in Integrating Seminar

PA 660 Integrating Seminar I

Electronic Medical Record (EMR) training

Each student will have a 30 minute training session with a simulation educator/PA faculty on the Epic playground in HSSC to learn about documenting patient charts in a common EMR. This EMR will be used throughout the didactic phase in Integrating Seminar and Pre-Clinical Preparation to practice chart writing and documentation of the medical record.

Log Screenshot


6. To support and encourage service to the profession and leadership activities through involvement in Physician Assistant professional organizations

Membership and involvement in AAPA, CAPA, and SMU Campus committees.


Class of 2017
AAPA membership: 15
CAPA membership: NA
Served on SMU committees: NA

Class of 2018
AAPA membership: 9
CAPA membership: 4
Served on SMU committees: 21

Class of 2019
AAPA membership: 26
CAPA membership: 8
Served on SMU committees: NA


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