Dr. Julie Keena, Chair
The Brenau University Department of PA Studies offers an innovative, 28-month program. Upon successful completion of the 126-credit hour program of study, graduates will earn a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MS PAS) degree. The mission of the Department of PA Studies is to produce extraordinary physician assistants prepared to collaboratively practice with integrity and compassion in a variety of clinical and cultural settings.
The curriculum is comprised of two phases over seven semesters: the didactic phase, which is four semesters in length, and the clinical phase, which is three semesters in length. The first semester begins with courses designed to develop a strong foundation on which to subsequently build a strong fund of knowledge and the clinical and interpersonal skills necessary for practice as a PA. These foundational courses include foundations of the medical sciences, an introduction to counseling and psychiatry, biomedical ethics, a history of the PA profession, an introduction to medical professionalism and an introduction to patient assessment, where students will learn the basic history taking and physical examination skills essential to PA practice. Active learning strategies are woven into the didactic curriculum, including service learning, simulation exercises, and case-based learning activities.
During the remaining three semesters of the didactic phase, the curriculum builds on itself, in a spiral fashion, using a systems-based approach. During each subsequent didactic semester, students will review anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology and learn the basics of clinical medicine, including history and physical examination skills, diagnosis, treatment, pharmacology, laboratory medicine and clinical skills and procedures, for each organ system. In the final semester, students will then cover special populations such as pediatrics, women’s health, geriatrics and surgery and emergency medicine. Active learning strategies are woven into the didactic curriculum, including service learning, simulation exercises, and case-based learning activities. Students will also work in interprofessional teams to develop and practice problem-solving and clinical decision-making skills.
The student will then move into the clinical phase of training and will complete nine, five-week supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPEs) or rotations. During the clinical rotations or SCPEs, the student will be given the opportunity to apply knowledge learned during the didactic phase in hands-on care of patients, under the supervision of a preceptor. Each student is required to complete seven SCPEs in the following clinical disciplines: internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, general surgery, emergency medicine and behavioral and mental health. Students will also complete two, five-week elective rotations in areas of their choosing or in areas in which they are found to perform below average on program exams and/or the PACKRAT. Each student will also be required to complete at least one SCPE/rotation in a rural or medically underserved area. Rotations will be assigned by the program and will primarily be within a 100 mile radius from the program. All students will return to campus at the end of each rotation for assessment and evaluation of competencies for the completed rotation, as well as to prepare for the subsequent rotation. Within the final four months of the program, each student will be required to complete a summative evaluation to assess that s/he has the medical knowledge, interpersonal skills, patient care skills and professionalism required to enter clinical PA practice.
Brenau University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate, baccalaureate, masters, educational specialist, and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Brenau University. The Commission is to be contacted only if there is evidence that appears to support an institution’s significant non-compliance with a requirement or standard. Brenau University maintains accreditation from SACS-COC to confer the Master of Science (MS) in Physician Assistant Studies to graduates of the Brenau University Department of PA Studies.
The Brenau University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program has applied for Accreditation-Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The Brenau University’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program anticipates matriculating its first class in January 2021, pending achieving Accreditation-Provisional status at the September 2020 ARC-PA meeting.
Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.
If the program is not granted Accreditation-Provisional status, it will not enroll any students in the program, will not commence and any acceptance fees or seat deposits paid by students will be refunded.
Mission, Vision and Goals
The mission of Brenau’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies is to produce extraordinary physician assistants prepared to collaboratively practice with integrity and compassion in a variety of clinical and cultural settings.
Incorporating the values of liberal arts education throughout their education, our graduates prepare for their careers and professions through the college’s four pillars: evidence-based and reflective practice, contemporary scientific inquiry, clinical proficiency, and humanitarian altruism.
The Department of Physician Assistant Studies, in line with the mission of the Ivester College of Health Sciences, is thoughtful, intentional and strategic as it prepares its graduates to live extraordinary lives. The department will provide an inclusive learning environment and seek to recruit a diverse student body, providing opportunities for each student’s individual development as well as the advancement of physician assistant practice and the profession. Our culture will engender excellence, scholarship, altruism, integrity, collaboration and a sense of purpose in each of our students.
- To provide an inclusive environment that promotes the recruitment, retention and successful graduation of highly qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds.
- To deliver a student-centered, innovative curriculum that facilitates the successful achievement of established learning outcomes and expected competencies for entry into PA practice.
- To educate Physician Assistants in a generalist model who are prepared to practice in a variety of health care settings and disciplines with a solid foundation in behavioral/mental health and clinical experience in rural/medically underserved communities.
- To develop the students’ ability to conduct and effectively communicate a systematic evaluation of clinical research to improve clinical decision making and patient outcomes.
- Promote opportunities for faculty and students to engage in active and on-going professional, scholarly, and community service activities.
The Brenau University Department of Physician Assistant Studies will matriculate one class in January of each year. Prospective students are selected by the Committee on Admissions, which considers the overall qualities of each applicant. Areas of consideration include:
- personal motivation
- interpersonal skills
- knowledge and understanding of the PA profession
- quality and length of prior health care experience
- academic performance and level of achievement
- life experiences
Personal interviews will be offered to the most qualified applicants to assess interpersonal and communication skills, maturity, altruistic attitude and commitment to a PA career. The department utilizes a rolling admissions process. Applications are received through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA), as they are completed, until the deadline date of Sept. 1. Interviews are conducted beginning in August and are continued until all seats are filled. The admissions process is very competitive, and due to the rolling admissions (possible acceptance beginning in August), it is advisable to apply early in the admissions cycle. Coursework, particularly required and recommended prerequisites, completed in the recent past is deemed to be more relevant to the related content in the professional curriculum and serves as better preparation than coursework completed in prior years. Academic preparation is considered on a case-by-case basis in the context of academic level of achievement, health care experience, personal motivation, etc. Recommended courses are regarded as important elements of comprehensive preparation for application for and success in the curriculum. Introductory and survey courses are not accepted to fulfill the required science prerequisites.
- Prior to matriculation, applicants must have received a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university, with a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.75 on a 4.0 grading scale, and a minimum overall science GPA of 2.75 on a 4.0 grading scale.
- GRE official scores for all three sections of the test must be submitted to Brenau University (Code: 4397).
- The college requires applicants to earn a grade of C (2.0) or better in each of the following required prerequisite courses:
- College Algebra or higher - 3 semester hours*
- Statistics - 3 semester hours*
- Introduction to Psychology - 3 semester hours*
- Biology I + Lab - 4 semester hours*
- Biology II + Lab - 4 semester hours*
- General Inorganic Chemistry I (4 hours) & II (4 hours) including labs - 8 semester hours*
- Organic Chemistry I + Lab - 4 semester hours*
- Microbiology including laboratory - 4 semester hours*^
- Human Genetics - 3 semester hours*^
- Human Anatomy & Human Physiology or combined A&P I & II courses with labs - 8 semester hours*^
* hours are indicated as semester hours; for colleges/universities using quarter hour system, applicant must have earned equivalent quarter hours.
^ these prerequisite courses must have been completed within 10 years of the time of application. Waivers for the time limit will be considered on a case by case basis for those with current relevant health care or teaching experience in these areas.
Additional Note: Graduates of foreign institutions where English is not the primary language of instruction must meet the additional requirements outlined below, in bullet number 7.
- Recommended courses include General Physics I, Biochemistry, Abnormal Psychology and Medical Terminology. Upon review of a student’s record, the Committee on Admissions may require additional coursework and testing as a condition of acceptance.
- Prior health care experience is required for admission. Applicants must submit verifiable information documenting at least 500 hours of direct patient care experience at the time of application in order to be considered for admission to the program. Higher numbers of direct patient care hours are considered more competitive.
- Three letters of recommendation are required:
- One letter from a professor or any individual who has worked with the applicant in a professional or educational environment. Reference should have worked with the applicant for a minimum of six months;
- One letter from a physician assistant or physician (MD/DO); and
- One additional clinical reference from a health care professional (e.g. physician assistant, physician, dentist, pharmacist, registered nurse, nurse practitioner, physical or occupational therapist, etc.)
Recommendation letters submitted by relatives, friends, personal health care providers, or personal friends of the family are not acceptable.
- Applicants who have attended foreign universities or colleges are required to have their academic credentials evaluated for U.S. institution equivalence by a NACES accredited evaluation agency. Graduates of foreign institutions where English is not the primary language of instruction must present transcripts showing at least 18 semester hours of study from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States. Of these 18 semester hours (or equivalent quarter hours): three semester hours must be in English Composition, three semester hours must be in English Literature, and three semester hours must be in Public Speaking (courses do not include ESOL). The remaining nine semester hours can be any course of the applicant’s choosing (excluding physical education courses).
- Candidates who fit either of the following will be given additional consideration during the admissions process:
- those whose permanent residence is in northeast Georgia and/or in a rural or medically underserved community
- those with prior military experience (active duty and reserves)
General Application Procedures
- Brenau University Department of PA Studies participates in the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) and all applicants must apply through CASPA. CASPA takes no part in the selection of students. Application may be completed online at caspaonline.org. Questions regarding completion of the online application may be directed to CASPA’s email address, email@example.com, or by telephone at (617) 612-2080 or (617) 926-3571.
- All supplemental items will be submitted through CASPA. This includes:
- An official transcript from each undergraduate, graduate and/or professional institution attended. These transcripts must be sent directly from the institutions to CASPA.
- Official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores must be submitted directly to CASPA as part of the CASPA application. The school code for Brenau’s Department of PA Studies is 4397.
- Three letters of recommendation (one from MD/DO/PA; one from professor or professional or educational colleague or supervisor; and one additional clinical reference from health care professional).
- Verifiable information documenting at least 500 hours of direct patient care experience.
- Once the CASPA application is verified and received by the Department of PA Studies, Brenau University’s Graduate Admissions Office, the Admissions Coordinator and the Committee on Admissions (COA) will review the applications and invite the most qualified applicants for an interview. An invitation to interview is not a guarantee of admission. Notice of acceptance or action by the COA will be on a “rolling” or periodic schedule; therefore early completion of the CASPA application is in the best interest of the candidate.
For Information on Financial aid at Breau, please visit the Financial Aid section of this catalog.
- Technical Standards Students must meet the program-defined Technical Standards, as defined on the program’s website under “Technical Standards” (https://www.brenau.edu/healthsciences/physician-assistant-studies/technical-standards/). All accepted candidates are required to meet the program’s Technical Standards (physical and psychological competencies of performance) prior to entering the program and throughout training. Technical standards include capacity for: observation, communication skills, psychomotor skills, cognitive/intellectual-conceptual skills, and behavioral/affective skills.
- Health and Immunization Requirements Upon acceptance, students will be required to submit and maintain evidence of current health status and immunizations. The department’s policy on immunization of students is based on current Centers for Disease Control recommendations for health professionals. The CDC’s recommendations are available online. The department also requires baseline screening for tuberculosis via one of the following methods:
- 2 step TB skin test (administered 1-3 weeks apart) - OR -
- QuantiFERON Gold blood test (lab report required) - OR -
- If positive results, submit a clear chest x-ray (lab report required). As per the most recent CDC recommendations, annual testing is only required in the case of exposure. Please see TB Screening and Testing of Health Care Personnel from the CDC for the most recent recommendations.
- Student Health Insurance Students are required to maintain university-approved health care insurance coverage while enrolled in the program. The university offers a health plan and students will be automatically enrolled and can then opt-out if they have other health insurance (proof of other insurance is required).
- Drug Screen All students will be required to pass a drug screen prior to matriculation. Random drug screening may be performed during the program. Scheduled drug screening will be repeated prior to the clinical phase of the program. Acceptance to the program is contingent upon drug screen results.
- Background Check All students will be required to complete a criminal background check prior to matriculation and prior to starting clinical rotations. Acceptance to the program is contingent upon the results of the background check.
Requirements for Graduation
In order to successfully graduate from the Brenau DPAS, a student must meet the following requirements:
- Pass all academic and clinical year courses with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0;
- Demonstrate professional behavior throughout the Program;
- Complete two PACKRAT examinations during the Program;
- Successfully complete the program-generated comprehensive exam at the conclusion of the didactic year; and
- Successfully complete the Program’s Summative Evaluation in the last 4 months of the Program, which includes:
- Passing a comprehensive program summative examination;
- Successful completion of an OSCE, which demonstrates the student has the requisite knowledge, interpersonal skills, patient care skills, and professionalism required for practice as a PA;
- Successful completion of practical summative stations.
- Apply for graduation. The application is available on the Registrar’s Office forms website.
Dismissal from the Department of PA Studies (DPAS)
Dismissal from the DPAS may occur for any of the following:
- *Achieving a grade less than “pass” or “C” in any required didactic course offering.
- **Achieving a grade of “fail” on any clinical experience.
- Inability to maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA after a probation semester.
- Inability to demonstrate acceptable professional behaviors.
- Inability to demonstrate competence or to insure patient safety despite reasonable and appropriate accommodation of a documented disability (refer to Technical Standards).
- Behavior determined illegal, unethical, or so objectionable as to be inconsistent with the values, ethics and standards of the physician assistant profession.
* The DPAS Faculty reserves the right to review the circumstances surrounding a student’s academic dismissal status on a case by case basis. Rather than dismissal, the faculty may decide to offer the student an opportunity to return the following year to repeat the course. Upon re-taking the course, the student must earn at least a “B” in the course. If the student does not, he/she will be dismissed from the program.
** If it is deemed necessary to remove the student from a clinical rotation, the DCE will recommend dismissal or remediation of skills, based upon the circumstances. If remediation is recommended, a learning contract will be developed with input from the student and the DCE. The DCE will determine where this remediation will take place and how long the remediation period will last. If the student successfully completes the remediation according to the contract, he/she will have an opportunity to repeat the rotation at a site determined by the DCE and will receive a grade of “I” until the repeated rotation is completed. If the remediation is not completed satisfactorily in the time period designated, the student will not have the opportunity to repeat the rotation and the student will receive a grade of “U” and will be dismissed from the program. Students will be allowed one, and only one, such situation regarding rotations.
Please refer to the current Brenau University Student Handbook regarding the academic grievance process.