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School of Medicine Columbia

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Physician Assistant

Our faculty is dedicated to helping you succeed in an increasingly vital health care role. During your course of study, you'll have clinical experience, extensive training in the classroom and access to state-of-the-art technologies. This will teach you how to work as part of an interprofessional health care team. 

The Role of a Physician Assistant

Our graduates play an important role in our state's health care.

Physician assistants are licensed medical providers and can:

  • conduct physical exams.
  • diagnose and treat illnesses.
  • order and interpret tests.
  • counsel on preventive health.
  • assist in surgery.
  • write prescriptions.

Extensive Curriculum

Our extensive curriculum will give you the foundation you need to make sound medical decisions. You'll gain experience through simulations, hands-on training and cadaver-based anatomy instruction. You will also learn the latest ultrasound techniques. During your clinicals, you'll have many options to choose from with a wide variety of specialties at sites that are close to our campus. Through it all, you'll get personalized attention thanks to our small student-to-faculty ratio.

Career Outlook

As our health care system changes, PAs are seen as key components. The profession as a whole is projected to grow 31 percent by 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  We offer a Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) review course immediately prior to your graduation, which can help you get certified and ready to work as soon as possible. 

Our Path Forward

To educate and train competent, compassionate, and collaborative PAs to deliver patient centered care as part of an interprofessional team.

To increase accessibility to quality primary medical care for the citizens of rural and underserved areas of South Carolina and the nation​.

  1. Enroll diverse and highly-qualified students who reflect the dynamic population of South Carolina and the nation.
  2. Encourage life-long professional involvement, scholarly activity, leadership and service.
  3. Maintain a level of first-time PANCE pass rates that meets or exceeds the national average.
  4. Maintain an overall graduation rate of 94 percent (current Physician Assistant Education Association national average) or better for entering University of South Carolina Physician Assistant students.
  5. Maintain an accredited program with an innovative curriculum that prepares entry-level graduates for the contemporary practice of medicine.

View and download the full version of the Physician Assistant Program Goals and Outcomes [pdf].

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Columbia Physician Assistant Program sponsored by University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Columbia.  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 June 2031. 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-university-of-south-carolina/.

We are extremely proud to announce our first-time PANCE pass rate for the Class of 2021 was 100%. This followed a 95% pass rate by the Class of 2019 and 96% by the Class of 2020. All classes have been above the national average for their respective years and above the five-year national first-time average. Strong work!

UofSC PANCE Pass Rate Summary Report - July 2021 [PDF]

 pa attrition table 2021

UofSC PA Program Competency List

Students of the UofSC Physician Assistant Program will build their knowledge and skills throughout their didactic, clinical, and summative training to achieve the following program competencies:

Knowledge
  1. Demonstrate the knowledge to evaluate and manage common medical, surgical and behavioral problems in patients across the lifespan in a variety of healthcare settings. 
  2. Utilizing and interpreting appropriate diagnostic and laboratory studies, formulate a treatment plan to include pharmacologic therapy and patient education. 
Interpersonal Skills
  1. Communicate and interact effectively with patients, families and members of the interprofessional team across a broad range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.
  2. Elicit an appropriate medical history and accurately document in the medical record.
Clinical and Technical Skills
  1. Apply an understanding of indications, contraindications, techniques, risks and benefits of common medical procedures.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to perform a detailed physical exam relevant to the medical history.
Professional Behaviors
  1. Demonstrate professional behavior in congruence with the AAPA ethical code of conduct.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to search, interpret and evaluate medical literature in application to professional development and patient care.
Clinical Reasoning and Problem Solving
  1. Applying clinical acumen and medical decision-making skills, create and refine the differential diagnosis to determine the most likely diagnosis.
  2. Develop a patient- centered management plan with consideration to socioeconomic status in an effort to increase access to care and patient compliance.

 

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You can keep up with our program's growth on Facebook and Twitter.

Important Information About Programs Leading to Licensure

Each state has its own individual licensing boards along with their own Physician Assistant licensure requirements.  The master’s degree program in Physician Assistant Studies at the University of South Carolina is provisionally accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), and by virtue of that accreditation, its graduates are eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). As of July 2020, all 50 states require graduation from an ARC-PA accredited program and National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) certification following the successful completion of the PANCE as conditions for initial PA licensure. Besides initial PANCE certification, we cannot confirm that the program meets any additional requirements for professional licensure in states other than South Carolina. Students seeking licensure outside of South Carolina should click here for information regarding state licensure specific to individual states throughout the U.S.


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