Master of Science in Medicine (M.S.M.)
The mission of the Master of Science in Medicine (Physician Assistant) Program is to help students acquire core competencies, as well as specialized knowledge and skill, necessary to perform effectively as physician assistants. Completion of the program will assist graduates in successfully completing the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam (PANCE) making them eligible for licensure as a Physician Assistant in all 50 states.
The primary mission of the Mississippi College PA program is to prepare physician assistants to provide primary health care services in medically underserved areas of Mississippi and surrounding states. Secondary missions are to prepare graduates for roles in surgery and as hospitalists.
The goals of the Mississippi College Physician Assistant Program are to:
- Advance the mission of Mississippi College;
- Prepare physician assistants to practice medicine in a variety of settings;
- Contribute to the delivery of health care in Mississippi and nationwide;
- Advance the practice of medicine;
- Prepare graduates who will pursue opportunities for lifelong personal and professional development;
- Provide a foundation for graduates to assume leadership roles in meeting health care needs and;
- Promote an environment of compassionate Christian healthcare which encourages professional, spiritual, intellectual and personal development of the faculty and students.
In keeping with the philosophy of the Mississippi College Physician Assistant Program, the graduate, upon completion of the program should demonstrate:
- Attainment of a fund of knowledge necessary for the competent practice of medicine within the parameters of physician assistant practice guidelines;
- Outstanding communication skills in their interactions with peers, colleagues and patients;
- Compassion and empathy, appropriate for Christian healthcare providers;
- Critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for the practice of medicine in a rapidly changing healthcare environment;
- Team practice skills necessary to practice medicine in an efficient and cost-effective manner;
- The ability to work quickly and make good decisions under pressure;
- Cultural and clinical competence;
- Knowledge and desire for self-direction in pursuit of personal and professional goals;
- The skills necessary to read and evaluate current professional medical literature and apply relevant evidence to the practice of medicine.
The physician assistant program has been granted initial provisional accreditation by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) following their March 2011 meeting. The ARC-PA defines provisional accreditation as: “the status of accreditation granted for a limited, defined period of time to a new program that, at the time of the site visit, has demonstrated its preparedness to initiate a program in accordance with the Standards.” All students who are admitted while Mississippi College Physician Assistant Program is provisionally accredited and subsequently graduate are eligible to take the PANCE exam.
The physician assistant program is located in the Baptist Healthplex building which provides a central location for faculty offices and classrooms. The Medical Education Center houses the audio-visual media and simulated patient care facilities. The audio-visual capacity is augmented by the University’s Learning Resources Center located in the Leland Speed Library. Physician assistant classes are conducted on the Mississippi College campus and at the University Of Mississippi College Of Medicine Campus in Jackson. The clinical phase of the program utilizes a variety of hospital health centers and private practices across the state. With prior approval students may also choose elective rotations in other localities within the United States or abroad.
The physician assistant program has policies that are specific to the PA program. Physician assistant students should review these policies, which involve both academic and nonacademic matters. The policies are included in the Physician Assistant Student Handbook provided to each student upon admission to the PA program. Each student is expected to abide by these policies; failure to do so may result in dismissal from the program.
Criminal Background Checks
In accordance with Mississippi legislative statues and regulations for health care institutions regarding criminal background checks, every student must have fingerprints taken and a criminal background check completed. Cost of these requirements will be the student’s responsibility. The student must be in compliance with the legislative statues and hospital policies to participate in clinical experiences.
Successful completion of the physician assistant program qualifies the student to make application to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) and subsequently apply for licensure in any of the United States. However, any disciplinary action, arrest, charge, addiction, or impairment may result in denial of licensure as a physician assistant.
The physician assistant program offers a program of study leading to a Master of Science in Medicine degree. This is the basic professional degree required for physician assistants to practice medicine in the State of Mississippi.
The physician assistant program curriculum is designed to provide the student with a broad foundation in medicine. The courses aim to broaden understanding of clinical medicine, professional practice issues, procedural skills and diagnostic acumen while enhancing the ability to communicate effectively with patients, peers and colleagues.
To enter the physician assistant program, one must be eligible for admission to Mississippi College. The Physician Assistant Program admits once each year, at the beginning of the summer semester. Applicants must submit their completed applications to the Physician Assistant Program no later than March 1st of the matriculation year. Applications submitted after this date will be considered for the following year. Applicants must have completed all pre-requisites before matriculation into the PA program. Applicants may have no more than two outstanding courses (not including labs) at the time of application to the program. No transfer credit will be allowed from other PA programs and advanced placement is not permitted. The PA program admissions committee makes the final selection of applicants into the program.
Admission to the physician assistant program is highly competitive. The admissions committee considers a number of factors when selecting applicants for interviews and for matriculation into the program. Exceptions to the published pre-requisite requirements are considered by the admissions committee on a case-by-case basis.
Minimum requirements for admission to the physician assistant program include:
- A Bachelors Degree from an accredited university or college.
- Completion of all pre-requisite courses with a grade of C or better from an accredited university or college within the United States. Courses must have been completed within the 10 years prior to the expected date of matriculation. All pre-requisite courses must be taken at a college or university accredited by one of the six regional accrediting bodies within the United States. With the exception of statistics, on-line coursework will not be accepted for pre-requisite courses. The following are the minimum pre-requisite courses:
- Human Anatomy & Human Physiology with labs, or Anatomy & Physiology I and II with labs. (Must complete a full sequence. Substitutions for separate course sequence will not be accepted.) 6 semester hours
- Microbiology with lab (Advanced level for pre-med or biology majors)
(3 semester hours)
- General Chemistry I and II with labs (A complete sequence geared toward science majors/appropriate as a first-level course for a Chemistry)
(8 semester hours)
- Organic Chemistry with lab (4 semester hours)
- Statistics, including statistical tests and analysis (3 semester hours)
Recommended Courses for a competitive applicant, although not required to apply include: Medical terminology, Biochemistry with lab, Organic Chemistry II with lab (completing sequence), Genetics, Immunology, Cell Biology, Virology, Psychology (general, developmental, abnormal).
- A cumulative overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 of a possible 4.0 on all undergraduate and graduate work completed at an accredited university or college.
- A cumulative biology, chemistry and physics grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 of a possible 4.0 on all undergraduate and graduate work completed at an accredited university or college within the United States.
- A cumulative non-science grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 of a possible 4.0 on all undergraduate and graduate work completed at an accredited university or college within the United States.
- A scoring range of 146-150 or greater (equivalent to 400-450) on the verbal section and a 140-141 or greater (equivalent to 400-450) on the quantitative section, of the GRE General Examination is required.
- Consistent with State law for health care providers, and for compliance with hospital and health center requirements, criminal background checks and/or drug screenings may be required. Failure to successfully meet requirements for the background check or drug screening may result in denial of admission or dismissal from the physician assistant program. Suitability of information from background checks and drug screening tests remains at the discretion of the admissions committee.
- Applicants must have completed all required immunizations (as outlined in the PA student handbook) prior to matriculation.
Admission to the physician assistant program is a highly competitive process. An interview with the admissions committee is required. The requirements listed above are the minimum for admission to the program. Prospective PA students are strongly encouraged to exceed minimum levels of work, especially in relation to grade point average, grades in the prerequisite courses, and scores on the GRE and clinical experience hours. The Admissions Committee will select those most qualified for the positions available. When selecting applicants for interview, the Committee may take into account any and all aspects of the student’s prior educational record. These factors include but are not limited to:
- Grade point averages in the areas listed above.
- Quality points earned in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics courses.
- Quality and quantity of direct and indirect patient care experience.
- GRE test scores.
- Letters of recommendation.
- Student essay and expressed goals congruent to the mission of the PA program.
- Test scores from other standardized tests such as the Medical College Admissions
- Test or the Health Sciences Reasoning Test.
- Honors, awards and community service.
- Prior work experience.
For physician assistant students, the costs of uniforms, immunizations, physical examinations, diagnostic equipment, malpractice insurance, standardized tests, board review, professional association fees, technology and clinical phase lab fees are in addition to the standard university tuition, fees, and books. Some clinical rotations may require students to temporarily reside outside of the Jackson metropolitan area. While reasonable efforts will be made to provide housing, ultimately, students are responsible for their own housing and transportation at all clinical training sites.
The Chairman of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies or a designated faculty member acts as general advisor to all PA students and to applicants who have not yet been formally admitted to the physician assistant program. Faculty advisors counsel students regarding academic concerns, adjustment to university life, and professional goals.
Class Attendance and Dress Code
Students in the physician assistant program are subject to Mississippi College and the PA program rules regulating class attendance and absences as outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog under Attendance Regulations and the Physician Assistant Student Handbook. Attendance in class and clinical laboratory is required and students are expected to attend regularly and to be on time to all learning experiences. The dress code for PA students is outlined in the Physician Assistant Student Handbook.
Academic Standards Specific to the Physician Assistant Program
After admission to the PA program, a student must maintain at least a 3.00 cumulative grade point average for progression. A grade of C or better is required in all courses and on examinations. Failure to meet this minimum requires remediation as outlined in the Physician Assistant Student Handbook. Failure to meet remediation requirements may result in dismissal from the program.
Requirements for progression are found in the Physician Assistant Student Handbook. There is a three-year time limit that applies to each phase of the program. The entire program (Phases I and II) must be completed within 48 months. Any student, for whatever reason, who does not graduate within a four-year time period may be dismissed from the program. Since minimum standards for progression in the PA program are different from the minimum to avoid suspension from Mississippi College, a student who becomes ineligible to enter or remain in the program may still be eligible to remain a student at Mississippi College in another major.
Graduation Requirements for Master of Science in Medicine. (M.S.M)
The general requirements for the Master of Science in Medicine degree are:
- A total of 141 semester hours of university work within the PA program curriculum;
- Compliance with the general graduation requirements of Mississippi College;
- A grade of C or higher in each course;
- A cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 in all PA program coursework;
- Successful completion of all components of the Comprehensive Summative Evaluation;
The Physician Assistant Program reserves the right to withhold a degree from any student deemed unsuitable for the practice of medicine.
Students are required to maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher to continue and/or graduate from the Mississippi College Physician Assistant Program. Students are required to maintain a minimum grade of C (70%) in all courses.
Requirements for Successful Completion of Each Semester
- Students must successfully complete all written, oral and performance-based examinations, with a grade of “C” (≥ 70%) or better.
- Students must satisfactorily complete all physical examination and patient presentation competency examinations, with a grade of “C” (≥ 70%) or better.
- Students must maintain an overall grade point average of 3.0 or better.
- Students must comply with the rules, regulations, and policies of Mississippi College and the Physician Assistant program.
- Students must comply with the Guidelines for Ethical Conduct for the Physician Assistant Profession established by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).
- Students must maintain a professional demeanor as a physician assistant student evidenced by attendance, active participation in all classes, lectures, seminars and clinical experiences as designated by the Physician Assistant program.
- Students must continue to meet all published technical standards.
- Students must maintain current health and immunization standards as required by the program.
Requirements for Successful Completion of the Preclinical Phase
- Students must demonstrate skills necessary for supervised clinical practice as determined by the Physician Assistant Program.
- Students must receive a satisfactory preclinical summative evaluation score.
- Students must complete the PACKRAT exam during the summer of the preclinical phase of the program.
- Students must successfully complete BLS and ACLS certification.
- Students must develop curriculum vitae to be sent to clinical sites.
- Students must successfully pass a background investigation.
- Students must complete HIPAA and blood borne pathogen training.
- Students must provide documentation of health and malpractice insurance.
Requirements for Successful Completion of the Clinical Phase
- Students must complete the PACKRAT exam at or near the beginning and end of the clinical phase of the program, typically in the summer of years 2 and 3.
- Student must satisfactorily complete the nine clinical rotations and advanced clerkship, including the end of rotation evaluations with passing grades and submit all required documentation to Mississippi College Physician Assistant Program.
- Students must achieve passing grades on end of rotation written and oral examinations, and any OSCE during the clinical phase.
- Student must demonstrate required skills necessary for clinical practice and professional behaviors as determined by the Mississippi College PA program.
- Satisfactorily complete all courses in the program with a grade of 70% or better.
- Earn a minimum of 141 graduate semester credit hours in 48 months or less.
- Earn a minimum GPA of 3.0
- Satisfactorily complete the student portfolio masters project.
- Satisfactorily complete all clinical rotations.
- Successfully complete the written, oral, practical and professional components of the end-of-program summative evaluation.
- Comply with Guidelines for Ethical Conduct for the Physician Assistant Profession established by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).
- Students must continue to meet all published technical standards.
- Receive a satisfactory summative evaluation by meeting all academic and professional standards.
- Apply for the PANCE through NCCPA prior to graduation.
Clinical Training Rotation Descriptions
Family Medicine (outpatient) This course is designed to provide the student with the basics necessary to build a solid foundation for the evaluation, documentation, diagnosis and treatment of problems common in primary care/family medicine. Students learn the skills necessary to evaluate and manage the effects of chronic disease on multiple body systems and to perform or assist in procedures commonly used in providing care across the age spectrum. The student will develop proficiency in office procedures commonly performed in a family medicine office.
Internal Medicine (inpatient) The focus is on in-depth evaluation and ongoing treatment of adult patients with complex problems and/or chronic illness. Students learn the skills necessary to evaluate and manage the effects of chronic disease on multiple body systems and to perform or assist in procedures commonly performed in internal medicine. This rotation also includes in-depth evaluation and ongoing treatment of geriatric patients with complex problems and/or chronic illness. Students learn the skills necessary to evaluate and manage the effects of chronic disease on multiple body systems and to perform or assist in procedures commonly used in providing care to the geriatric population.
General Surgery Students will develop the skills necessary to evaluate and manage patients with a variety of surgical problems. Exposure will include pre-, intra- and post-operative patient care. The rotation will provide students the opportunity to develop an understanding of the role of the surgeon, anesthesiologist, assistant surgeon, circulating nurse, scrub nurse, scrub technician, recovery room and surgical floor nurses, aides and technicians in the care of the surgical patient.
Pediatrics This clinical rotation is designed to provide the student with outpatient and inpatient experience in pediatrics. The student will learn to perform evaluations of the healthy pediatric patient, recognize, evaluate and treat the common illnesses and problems experienced by the neonate, infant, small child and adolescent to age 18. Additionally, the student will learn to identify and manage problems in growth and development of these age groups and recognize and manage pediatric emergencies.
Women’s Health This rotation is designed to provide the student with an outpatient experience in the area of care of the female patient, especially in the areas of women’s health and prenatal care and the impact of disease processes on the reproductive system. The student will develop the skills and knowledge necessary to evaluate, manage and educate the patient in areas such as annual exams, birth control, infertility, menstruation, sexuality, pregnancy, pre- and post-natal care, menopause, and relationships.
Behavioral Health The student will develop the skills necessary to evaluate and manage patients with a variety of behavioral and psychiatric problems. The rotation will provide students with the opportunity to develop an understanding of the role of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and nurses in the care of the psychiatric patient. Students will learn the appropriate use of selected psychoactive pharmaceuticals. There will be ample opportunity for the student to practice the skills necessary to perform a psychiatric interview and mental status examination and make referrals for specialized psychiatric treatment.
Emergency Medicine The student is introduced to triage and the stabilization of patients with life threatening conditions and the procedures performed in the emergency department. Emphasis is placed on skills required to perform and document a problem oriented history and physical; formulate a differential diagnosis; order and interpret the tests necessary to confirm or rule out a primary diagnosis and give appropriate patient education. The student will also learn strategies for interacting with patients and/or families in various levels of stress.
Critical Care The goal is to provide physician assistant students with experience in managing critically ill patients, utilizing mechanical ventilators, interpreting hemodynamic data in the acute care setting, and appropriate use of subspecialty consultation in the intensive care setting. It is assumed that students and fellows will also gain experience in managing the acute problems associated with pulmonary diseases during this rotation.
Elective In association with the Clinical Coordinator, each student will choose from a list of elective rotations (i.e., primary care, hospitalist medicine, nephrology, interventional radiology, etc.). Each student will choose three rotations and be placed according to availability. No student will be required to acquire his/her own clinical rotation site. If a student has a particular clinical rotation site he/she wishes to develop, this may be done in association with and at the discretion of the Clinical Coordinator.