Curriculum

Graduate Competencies

In early 2000, national organizations representing PAs, including the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), and the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) worked to develop a set of overarching competencies for PAs and the PA professions, simply known as Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession. The Competencies were subsequently nationally adopted in 2005, revised in 2012, and intended to serve as a "map" for both the development and the maintenance of professional competencies inherent to PAs and the PA profession.

As noted in the Competencies document, some of the competencies are acquired during the PA education process while others are developed and honed throughout a PA’s career. The School of Medical Science acknowledges the importance of the national competencies and further recognizes that, although excellent benchmarks for PA performance, not all of the competencies can truly be evaluated within a PA education program. As such, the School of Medical Science has adapted the competencies into specific measurable outcomes, each falling within the general heading of the original competencies (e.g., medical knowledge), but reduced to a specific and measurable performance item that best reflects the goals of the school as follows:

Graduate Competency Outcomes
Medical Knowledge: PAs must demonstrate core knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care in their area of practice. In addition, PAs are expected to demonstrate an investigatory and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations. Upon completion of the program students will be able to:
  • MK1: Demonstrate the ability to effectively recognize, assess, diagnose, and treat patients with a variety of problems to include preventive, emergent, acute, and chronic clinical practice of medicine.
  • MK2: Demonstrate the medical, behavioral, and social science knowledge necessary to both promote health, evaluate, and manage care across the life span to include infants, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly.
Interpersonal and Communication Skills: PAs must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, their patients’ families, physicians, professional associates, and the healthcare system. Upon completion of the program students will be able to:
  • ICS1: Demonstrate knowledge and application of effective interpersonal, oral and written communication skills.
  • ICS2: Communicate in a patient-centered and culturally responsive manner to accurately obtain, interpret and utilize information and implement a patient-centered management plan.
Patient Care: PAs must demonstrate care that is effective, safe, high quality and equitable; includes patient- and setting-specific assessment, evaluation and management. Upon completion of the program students will be able to:
  • PC1: Demonstrate the ability to make informed decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient information and preferences, up-to-date scientific evidence, and clinical judgment.
  • PC2: Demonstrate the ability to effectively work within a patient-care healthcare team.
Professionalism: PAs must express positive values and ideals as care is delivered. Foremost, professionalism involves prioritizing the interests of those being served above one’s own while acknowledging their professional and personal limitations. PAs must demonstrate a high level of responsibility, ethical practice, sensitivity to a diverse patient population, and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements. Upon completion of the program students will be able to:
  • P1: Demonstrate professionalism in interactions with others including, but not limited to, patients, families, and colleagues.
  • P2: Demonstrate knowledge and application of an understanding of the PA role including ethical and professional standards regarding the PA profession.
Practice-Based Learning and Improvement: PAs must be able to assess, evaluate, and improve their patient care practices. Upon completion of the program the student will be able to:
  • PBLI1: Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate research literature and develop educational evidenced-based practice-improvement research project.
Systems-Based Practice: PAs should work to improve the larger healthcare system of which their practices are a part. Upon completion of the program students will be able to:
  • SBP1: Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate medical literature to ensure the appropriateness and cost effectiveness of patient resources.
  • SBP2: Demonstrate the ability to identify needed area(s) of change within a system-based practice and develop and present a plan for improvement.

Competency and proficiency in these functions and tasks is a learning process that will gradually occur over the breadth of the Master of Medical Science at George Fox University. Evaluation of these outcomes will occur via the use of multiple instruments, including, but not limited to, written and practical examinations, clinical preceptor evaluations, research projects, PANCE results, and graduate and post-graduate surveys.

Curriculum Concept

The PA Medicine Program at George Fox University is a professional degree program intended to prepare students academically and professionally for responsibilities and services as a PA. Due to the sequential nature of the didactic curriculum, students must successfully pass all didactic courses for a given semester before becoming eligible to take courses in the subsequent semester.

Advanced placement will not be granted under any circumstances. All students who are granted admission to the program must fulfill all program requirements. Clerkship rotations are designed to provide medical experience and patient exposure and are referred to as Supervised Clinical Practice Experiences (SCPE). These experiences form the basis of the clinical and socialization processes for adaptation to the roles and functions of a PA (ARC-PA Standard/s A3.14d; A3.14e).

The overall design is based on three areas of input. These are (1) George Fox School of Medical Science Graduate Competencies and Outcomes, (2) ARC-PA Standards (also adapted to course goals), and (3) NCCPA Blueprint guidelines (adapted to course learning objective). The University and program mission were also integral in the curriculum design. Next, (1) course learning goals, (2) course learning outcomes, and (3) course instructional objectives are linked to each other and the program foundation. Each course curriculum is built using this guide. Assessment of the curriculum is both described (in the syllabus and in the Student Handbook) and applied based on clear parallels between what is expected, taught, and assessed.

Instructional Delivery Methods

Instruction methods will focus on program and course competencies and include a didactic, clinical, and summative phases. The didactic phase of the program will consist of lectures, laboratory sessions, workshops, team-based learning activities (TBL), and problem-based learning case studies (PBL). Lectures and laboratory sessions will be accomplished as a class. Laboratory and workshop course work will allow students hands on experience in skills such as physical exams, crisis intervention, ultrasound techniques, and radiograph and electrocardiograph interpretation. Team and problem-based learning activities will take place in small groups (six to nine students with one faculty) where teams discuss solutions to a presented problem.

The clinical phase of the program will take students from the theoretical classroom to an active learning environment that prepares them for a lifetime of continued skill refinement and expanded knowledge as a practicing PA (PAEA, 2011). During this phase, a board-certified physician or PA will oversee students while they gain experience as a medical provider in a myriad of settings such as family practice, internal medicine, emergency medicine, surgery, psychiatry, and others.

Finally, the summative phase will test graduate competency attainment via written tests, objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs), and skills testing.

Library support for the program can be viewed at https://libguides.georgefox.edu/PA.  In addition, the program uses DxR Clinician as part of its problem based education.  DxR Clinician can be seen here https://dxrgroup.com/healthcare-education-products/dxr-clinician/.

Curriculum

The Master of Medical Science (MMSc) curriculum occurs over six consecutive semesters (24 months), covering 112 graduate semester hours. The program has three phases which include (1) pre-clinical also known as didactic, (2) clinical phase, and (3) the summative phase. The 12-month-long pre-clinical phase is conducted on campus and prepares the student for the clinical hands on portion of training (clinical phase). The clinical phase is 11 months long and is conducted at hospitals and clinics where students are exposed to supervised clinical experience. The one-month summative phase evaluates student attainment of graduate competencies and occurs during the last month of the program.

Didactic Course Descriptions (12 months)

Spring 1A Semester (Jan. 11, 2021 – Jan. 29, 2021)

This course is designed to aid the student in the transition into the medical profession and serves as an introduction to professional issues. The course includes instruction in the PA profession, PA history, current trends impacting the PA, physician-PA relationship, political issues impacting PA practice, and PA professional organizations. Other topics include PA licensure, credentialing and laws and regulations regarding professional practice, reimbursement, documentation of care, coding and billing . Finally, the course will include instruction about intellectual honesty and appropriate academic and professional conduct.
This course prepares students to search, interpret and evaluate the medical literature, including its application to individualized patient care. Instruction assists students in maintaining a critical, current and operational knowledge of new medical findings required for the prevention and treatment of disease. Instruction includes topics such as framing of research questions, sampling methods, interpretation of basic biostatistical methods, and the limits of medical research. The use of common medical databases to access medical literature is also included.
In addition, this course addresses concepts of public health as they relate to the role of the practicing PA. Instruction in concepts of public health includes an appreciation of the public health system and the role of health care providers in the prevention of disease and maintenance of population health. It includes participating in disease surveillance, reporting and intervention.
This course introduces the principles and practice of medical ethics.
This course covers interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective exchange of information and collaboration with patients, their families, and other health care providers. Instruction on interviewing and eliciting a medical history, counseling, and patient education are addressed. Instruction in counseling and patient education skills is patient centered, culturally sensitive and focused on helping patients cope with illness, injury and stress, adhere to prescribed treatment plans and modify their behaviors to more healthful patterns.
This course provides an overview of anatomy, physiology, and genetic and molecular mechanisms of health and disease. In addition, the course will include core knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care.
This course introduces students to physical exam techniques (for patients of all ages) often used in a patient evaluation. In addition, this course includes instruction in patient safety, quality improvement, prevention of medical errors, and risk management.
This course provides an introduction to pharmacotherapy. In addition, the course will cover acute and longitudinal – non-pharmaceutical – patient management that is patient centered and inclusive while addressing medical issues, patient education, and if needed a referral.

Spring IB (Jan. 30, 2021 – April 30, 2021)

Topics and body systems covered include (1) hematology, oncology, and infectious diseases, (2) dermatology, (3) ears, eyes, nose, throat and (4) endocrine (hypothalamus, pituitary, pineal gland, thyroid, and parathyroid). Relevant topics and disease processes in each topic area will be developed.

This course covers anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology/pharmacotherapeutics, and patient management. During the pre-clinical year, all organ systems will be covered using student led problem-based learning modules and lecture. Instruction is focused on patient evaluation, diagnosis, and management. Using student led problem-based concepts, the course provides instruction in patient assessment and management includes caring for patients of all ages from initial presentation through ongoing follow-up. It includes instruction in interviewing and eliciting a medical history; performing complete and focused physical examinations; generating differential diagnoses; and ordering and interpreting diagnostic studies. Patient management instruction addresses acute and longitudinal management. Instruction related to treatment plans is patient centered and inclusive, addressing medical issues, patient education and referral. As part of this course, medical care across the life span is covered to include prevention, emergent, acute, chronic, rehabilitative, palliative, and end of life care are included. In most instances, all age groups are addressed (prenatal, infant, children, adolescents, adult, and elderly. Finally, this course provides instruction related to the development of problem solving and medical decision-making skills.
Technical skills and procedures based on current professional practice, are covered in this course. This includes physical exams and skill sets used to evaluate, diagnose, or treat a patient.
This course provides an overview of anatomy, physiology, and genetic and molecular mechanisms of health and disease as they relate to body system diseases and topics covered this term.
This course runs concurrently with and builds upon the clinical reasoning and problem-based learning course. Time will be spent reviewing relevant pathophysiology, discussed in PBL, and introducing any subject or body system topic not covered in PBL.
This course provides pharmacotherapeutic of body system diseases and topics covered this term. In addition, the course will cover acute and longitudinal – non-pharmaceutical – patient management (relevant to body systems and diseases covered this term) that is patient centered and inclusive while addressing medical issues, patient education, and if needed a referral
This class addresses social and behavior science as well as normal and abnormal development across the life span. In addition, the course prepares students to provide medical care to patients from diverse populations to include racial, ethnic and socioeconomic health disparities on health care delivery. Instruction related to medical care and diversity prepares students to evaluate their own values and avoid stereotyping. It assists them in becoming aware of differing health beliefs, values and expectations of patients and other health care professionals that can affect communication, decision-making, compliance and health outcomes. Instruction includes detection and treatment of substance abuse; human sexuality; issues of death, dying and loss; response to illness, injury and stress; principles of violence identification and prevention; and a few key psychiatric/behavioral conditions. In addition, issues unique to the pediatric and geriatric population will be addressed in this course.
This course covers several mental health conditions to include the pathophysiology, evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of each. Topics covered are: abuse and neglect, anxiety disorders, bipolar, depression disorders, conduct disorders, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, human sexuality, obsessive compulsive disorders, attention deficit, autism, personality disorders, schizophrenia, sleep-wake disorders, somatic symptoms, substance abuse, and trauma related disorders.

Summer I (May 10, 2021 – Aug. 20, 2021)

Topics and body systems covered include (1) pulmonary, (2) cardiac, (3) gastroenterology/nutrition, and (4) endocrine (pancreas). Relevant topics and disease processes in each topic area will be developed.

This course covers anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology/pharmacotherapeutics, and patient management. During the pre-clinical year, all organ systems will be covered using student led problem-based learning modules and lecture. Instruction is focused on patient evaluation, diagnosis, and management. Using student led problem-based concepts, the course provides instruction in patient assessment and management includes caring for patients of all ages from initial presentation through ongoing follow-up. It includes instruction in interviewing and eliciting a medical history; performing complete and focused physical examinations; generating differential diagnoses; and ordering and interpreting diagnostic studies. Patient management instruction addresses acute and longitudinal management. Instruction related to treatment plans is patient centered and inclusive, addressing medical issues, patient education and referral. As part of this course, medical care across the life span is covered to include prevention, emergent, acute, chronic, rehabilitative, palliative, and end of life care are included. In most instances, all age groups are addressed (prenatal, infant, children, adolescents, adult, and elderly. Finally, this course provides instruction related to the development of problem solving and medical decision-making skills.
Technical skills and procedures based on current professional practice, are covered in this course. This includes physical exams and skill sets used to evaluate, diagnose, or treat a patient.
This course provides an overview of anatomy, physiology, and genetic and molecular mechanisms of health and disease as they relate to body system diseases and topics covered this term.
This course runs concurrently with and builds upon the clinical reasoning and problem-based learning course. Time will be spent reviewing relevant pathophysiology, discussed in PBL, and introducing any subject or body system topic not covered in PBL.
This course provides pharmacotherapeutic of body system diseases and topics covered this term. In addition, the course will cover acute and longitudinal – non-pharmaceutical – patient management (relevant to body systems and diseases covered this term) that is patient centered and inclusive while addressing medical issues, patient education, and if needed a referral.
This first half of this course is a continuation of global health and special populations I and addresses social and behavior science as well as normal and abnormal development across the life span. In addition, the course prepares students to provide medical care to patients from diverse populations to include racial, ethnic and socioeconomic health disparities on health care delivery. Instruction related to medical care and diversity prepares students to evaluate their own values and avoid stereotyping. It assists them in becoming aware of differing health beliefs, values and expectations of patients and other health care professionals that can affect communication, decision-making, compliance and health outcomes. Instruction includes detection and treatment of substance abuse; human sexuality; issues of death, dying and loss; response to illness, injury and stress; principles of violence identification and prevention; and a few key psychiatric/behavioral conditions. In addition, issues unique to the pediatric and geriatric population will be addressed in this course.  The second half of the course will focus in on health issues specific to the global population, including determinants of health, key areas of disease burden, and the role that PAs can play in solving these problems. The goal of the topic area is to expand the PAs understanding of the impact of infectious and chronic diseases on the world’s population with particular attention paid to the health status of women, children and the poor. Students will examine case studies of successful global health interventions to understand features of successful programs.

Fall I (Aug. 30, 2021 – Dec. 17, 2021)

Topics and body systems covered include (1) renal, genitourinary, and reproductive, (2) musculoskeletal, (3) neurologic, and (4) endocrine (adrenal glands, testicles, and ovaries). Relevant topics and disease processes in each topic area will be developed.

This course covers anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology/pharmacotherapeutics, and patient management. During the pre-clinical year, all organ systems will be covered using student led problem-based learning modules and lecture. Instruction is focused on patient evaluation, diagnosis, and management. Using student led problem-based concepts, the course provides instruction in patient assessment and management includes caring for patients of all ages from initial presentation through ongoing follow-up. It includes instruction in interviewing and eliciting a medical history; performing complete and focused physical examinations; generating differential diagnoses; and ordering and interpreting diagnostic studies. Patient management instruction addresses acute and longitudinal management. Instruction related to treatment plans is patient centered and inclusive, addressing medical issues, patient education and referral. As part of this course, medical care across the life span is covered to include prevention, emergent, acute, chronic, rehabilitative, palliative, and end of life care are included. In most instances, all age groups are addressed (prenatal, infant, children, adolescents, adult, and elderly. Finally, this course provides instruction related to the development of problem solving and medical decision-making skills.
Technical skills and procedures based on current professional practice, are covered in this course. This includes physical exams and skill sets used to evaluate, diagnose, or treat a patient.
This course provides an overview of anatomy, physiology, and genetic and molecular mechanisms of health and disease as they relate to body system diseases and topics covered this term.
This course runs concurrently with and builds upon the clinical reasoning and problem-based learning course. Time will be spent reviewing relevant pathophysiology, discussed in PBL, and introducing any subject or body system topic not covered in PBL.
This course provides pharmacotherapeutic of body system diseases and topics covered this term. In addition, the course will cover acute and longitudinal – non-pharmaceutical – patient management (relevant to body systems and diseases covered this term) that is patient centered and inclusive while addressing medical issues, patient education, and if needed a referral.

This course is a continuation of global health and special populations II and provides an introduction to important global health issues, including determinants of health, key areas of disease burden, and the role that PAs can play in solving these problems. The goal of the course is to expand the PAs understanding of the impact of infectious and chronic diseases on the world’s population with particular attention paid to the health status of women, children and the poor. Students will examine case studies of successful global health interventions to understand features of successful programs.

Clinical Course Descriptions (11 months)

Spring IIA (Jan. 10, 2022 – Feb. 4, 2022)

This course covers concepts of surgical assessment, basic surgical skills and procedures, surgical complications, and management of surgical patients. It builds on the foundation of the previous medicine courses and expands on etiology, pathophysiology, clinical manifestation, and diagnosis, and appropriate management of selected surgical conditions including care of acute and chronic patients. Emphasis is on students developing competency in the principles and practices involved in aseptic and basic surgical techniques, surgical risk assessment, wound management, anesthesia, and preoperative, perioperative and postoperative evaluation and management.  In addition, the course will identify minor surgical intervention in remote areas, with limited resources, and harsh conditions.

This course prepares students to recognize, rapidly assess, and effectively manage emergent situation, illness, or injury.  Problem-based case studies and team-based activities are used to encourage the development of teamwork, collaboration, and interdisciplinary value.  This course includes training in (1) Basic Life Support, (2) Advanced Cardiac Life Support, and (3) Pediatric Advanced Life Support.

The purpose of this course is to: (1) provide the student with a time of self-assessment, (2) evaluate the students’ knowledge, skills, and attitude, (3) identify the student’s level of preparedness for clinical rotations, and (4) promote interprofessional relationships. The course will evaluate student preparedness for SCPE clerkships using Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) testing, clinical skills assessments, and a written examination. Students must pass each of the three testing areas prior to the start of SCPE rotations. Supervised Clinical Practice Experience (SCPE) expectations and behavior will be discussed.

Spring IIB (Feb. 5, 2022 – April 29, 2022)

Supervised clinical practice experiences address the fundamental principles of each discipline as they relate to the clinical care of patients. Supervised clinical practice experiences occur with preceptors practicing in two or more of the following disciplines.

  • Family Medicine (6 SH)
  • Internal Medicine (usually done in hospital - 6 SH)
  • Emergency Medicine (6 SH)
  • General Surgery ( 6SH)
  • Pediatric Medicine (3 SH)
  • Prenatal and Gynecology Medicine (3 SH)
  • Behavior and Mental Health (3 SH)
  • Elective (3 SH)

Supervised clinical practice experiences enable students to meet the program’s learning outcomes expected of students, to include (1) preventive, (2) emergent, (3) acute, and (4) chronic patient encounters . Additional outcomes met during the SCPE year include providing (1) medical care across the life span to include, infants, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly, (2) women’s health (to include prenatal and gynecologic care), (3) surgical management to include pre-operative, intra-operative, and post-operative care, and (4) care for behavior and mental health conditions. In addition, SCPE clerkships should expose students to various care settings to include, (1) outpatient, (2) emergent, (3) inpatient, and the (4) operating room . SCPE clerkships occur with licensed physicians or PAs. In rare instances, vetted non-physician or PA preceptors will be used. PAEA ‘end of rotation’ exams (students return to campus the last Friday of EACH clerkship for presentations and testing) will be used throughout the year.

Summer II (May 9, 2022 – Aug. 19, 2022)

Supervised clinical practice experiences address the fundamental principles of each discipline as they relate to the clinical care of patients. Supervised clinical practice experiences occur with preceptors practicing in two or more of the following disciplines.
  • Family Medicine (6 SH)
  • Internal Medicine (usually done in hospital - 6 SH)
  • Emergency Medicine (6 SH)
  • General Surgery ( 6SH)
  • Pediatric Medicine (3 SH)
  • Prenatal and Gynecology Medicine (3 SH)
  • Behavior and Mental Health (3 SH)
  • Elective (3 SH)

Supervised clinical practice experiences enable students to meet the program’s learning outcomes expected of students, to include (1) preventive, (2) emergent, (3) acute, and (4) chronic patient encounters . Additional outcomes met during the SCPE year include providing (1) medical care across the life span to include, infants, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly, (2) women’s health (to include prenatal and gynecologic care), (3) surgical management to include pre-operative, intra-operative, and post-operative care, and (4) care for behavior and mental health conditions. In addition, SCPE clerkships should expose students to various care settings to include, (1) outpatient, (2) emergent, (3) inpatient, and the (4) operating room. SCPE clerkships occur with licensed physicians or PAs. In rare instances, vetted non-physician or PA preceptors will be used. PAEA ‘end of rotation’ exams (students return to campus the last Friday of EACH clerkship for presentations and testing) will be used throughout the year.

Fall IIA (Aug. 29, 2022 – Nov. 18, 2022)

Supervised clinical practice experiences address the fundamental principles of each discipline as they relate to the clinical care of patients. Supervised clinical practice experiences occur with preceptors practicing in two or more of the following disciplines.
  • Family Medicine (6 SH)
  • Internal Medicine (usually done in hospital - 6 SH)
  • Emergency Medicine (6 SH)
  • General Surgery ( 6SH)
  • Pediatric Medicine (3 SH)
  • Prenatal and Gynecology Medicine (3 SH)
  • Behavior and Mental Health (3 SH)
  • Elective (3 SH)

Supervised clinical practice experiences enable students to meet the program’s learning outcomes expected of students, to include (1) preventive, (2) emergent, (3) acute, and (4) chronic patient encounters. Additional outcomes met during the SCPE year include providing (1) medical care across the life span to include, infants, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly, (2) women’s health (to include prenatal and gynecologic care), (3) surgical management to include pre-operative, intra-operative, and post-operative care, and (4) care for behavior and mental health conditions. In addition, SCPE clerkships should expose students to various care settings to include, (1) outpatient, (2) emergent, (3) inpatient, and the (4) operating room. SCPE clerkships occur with licensed physicians or PAs. In rare instances, vetted non-physician or PA preceptors will be used. PAEA ‘end of rotation’ exams (students return to campus the last Friday of EACH clerkship for presentations and testing) will be used throughout the year.

Summative - Course Description (1 Month)

Fall IIB (Nov. 19, 2022 – Dec. 16, 2022)

The Summative Phase is one month in duration and represents the final stage of the program and includes the following "summative" evaluations:

  • Written examination covering the knowledge base content associated with all the basic medical and clinical sciences and its application to the practice of medicine
  • Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), which is used to evaluate direct patient care skills including obtaining the medical history, physical examination skills, communication, and professionalism
  • Skill Specific Testing, which is used to assess the student’s ability to perform and/or interpret the diagnostic and therapeutic skills, listed in this SCPE core syllabus

Additional instruction will include:

  • A review of patient safety, quality improvement, prevention of medical errors, and risk management
  • Instruction about PA licensure, credentialing, and laws and regulations regarding professional practice
  • In addition, the program curriculum will include instruction in the PA profession and current trends to include:
    • Physician-PA team relationship
    • Political issues that affect PA practice
    • PA professional organizations

Finally, students will also engage in preparation for the PANCE exam, Curriculum Vitae creation, and preparation for job interviews.