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  1. 1. COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY | HEALTHCARE PREPROFESSIONAL OFFICE 118 College Drive #5165 | Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001 Phone: 601.266.4883 | Fax: 601.266.5829 | www.usm.edu PRE-PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT CURRICULUM 7/2010 THE MAJOR The “pre-physician assistant curriculum” is just a list of courses that are required for admission to a Physician Assistant (PA) Program. It is NOT an academic major, a minor, or an emphasis area. PA schools do not require a particular major. Although most pre-PA students choose a major in one of the sciences, other majors are acceptable including those in the humanities, social sciences, or business. Students should select the major in which they feel the most comfortable and in which they would like to work if they are not accepted into a PA school. Progress toward a Baccalaureate Degree Course work toward a baccalaureate degree at Southern Miss must be planned so the student meets all the requirements for the preprofessional curriculum, a major, a minor if appropriate, the University General Education Curriculum, and the College core. At Southern Miss, a minimum of 124 hours is needed for most baccalaureate degrees, with 45 of these hours from courses at the 300-level or above. There are more than 140 accredited PA programs nationwide. For information, visit the American Academy of Physician Assistants website: http://www.aapa.org/. The PA professional program typically takes about two years to complete.   REQUIREMENTS FOR APPLICANTS Admission to a PA program is very competitive; successful applicants generally exceed the minimum criteria for admission. Although there may be accommodations for early admission at some schools, students wishing to apply typically must earn a baccalaureate degree and must complete a series of prerequisite courses as part of a preprofessional program, for example at Southern Miss. The prerequisites for admission to PA programs are somewhat different, depending on the school, so the student will need to determine the specific preprofessional curriculum to be followed. Students must consult the specific admission requirements and application deadlines for the school(s) to which they plan to apply. Typical requirements for admission: • Completion of the baccalaureate degree prior to the starting date of the PA program; minimum overall undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on 4.0 scale. • Completion of prerequisite course work with a grade of C or higher in each course. The University of Southern Mississippi 1  
  2. 2. • Completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within the past five to ten years (requirements vary with the school) with a minimum score of 1000 on the combined verbal and quantitative sections; the Analytical Writing section is also required. Link: www.gre.org • Three letters of evaluation/recommendation. At least one must be from a clinician [Medical Doctor (MD), Doctor of Osteopathy (DO), or Physician Assistant (PA)] with personal knowledge of the student’s character and work habits. • Criminal history background check and/or drug tests typically are required before or after matriculation, depending on the school. Mississippi College in Clinton has the only PA program in the state; applications for the inaugural class will be accepted beginning January 2011; application deadline is April 1, with classes starting late May 2011. Students earn a Master of Medicine degree: http://www.mc.edu/academics/departments/pa/ Another nearby PA program is at the University of South Alabama in Mobile; applications are due November 1. Students earn a Master’s degree: http://www.southalabama.edu/alliedhealth/pa/ Mississippi College PA Program Required courses • one course in Microbiology (BSC 380/L) NOTE: admission to upper level biological sciences classes at Southern Miss requires two general biology courses (BSC 110/L; BSC 111/L) • two courses in Human Anatomy and Physiology (BSC 250/L; BSC 251/L) NOTE: students are strongly recommended to take general biology before attempting Anatomy and Physiology • two courses in General Chemistry with laboratory (CHE 106/L, CHE 107/L) • two courses in Organic Chemistry with laboratory (CHE 255/L, CHE 256/L) • one course in statistics (PSY 360 recommended, depending on student’s major) Recommended • additional upper level science classes such as Genetics (BSC 370), Cell Biology (BSC 360), Molecular Biology (BSC 476, BSC 478L), Biochemistry (CHE 420) or (CHE 421, 422) University of South Alabama PA Program Required courses • one course in General Biology with laboratory (BSC 110/L) • one course in Anatomy • one course in Microbiology (BSC 380/L) NOTE: admission to upper level biological sciences classes at Southern Miss requires two general biology courses (BSC 110/L; BSC 111/L) • one course in physiology (BSC 451 or BSC 450) • two courses in General Chemistry with laboratory (CHE 106/L, CHE 107/L) • one course in Organic Chemistry with laboratory (CHE 255/L) • one course in mathematics (college algebra minimum) NOTE: most majors in the College of Science and Technology require Calculus (MAT 314 or MAT 167) • one course in psychology (PSY 110) • one course in statistics (PSY 360 recommended, depending on student’s major) • one course in medical terminology (MTC 201) Additional “bonus” courses • genetics (BSC 370) • immunology (BSC 486/L) The University of Southern Mississippi 2  
  3. 3. • biochemistry (CHE 420 OR CHE 421) NOTE: at USM the prerequisite for CHE 420 is one semester of organic chemistry but the prerequisite for CHE 421 is two semesters of organic chemistry • one course in physics (PHY 111/L); many majors in CoST require two Physics courses (PHY 111/L; PHY 112/L) • pathophysiology • pharmacology (BSC 460) SUGGESTED COURSE SEQUENCE & STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS The suggested course sequence below is merely a guideline toward taking the pre-PA courses in a timely manner. Students must consult the USM Undergraduate Bulletin, the USM Class Schedule Guide for each semester, and their academic advisor. During the last semester of the Sophomore year, students should develop a more detailed plan for the Junior and Senior years because many upper level courses in all majors are offered in specific semesters (Fall or Spring only) and/or on a rotating two-year cycle. YEAR 1 Fall Spring BSC 110&L OR BSC 111&L 4h BSC 111&L OR BSC 110&L 4h CHE 106&La 4h CHE 107&L 4h MAT 101b 3h MAT 103b 3h ENG 101 3h ENG 102 3h One other coursec 3h One other coursec 3h a , CHE 100 is required when the chemistry background is not adequate. Students may enter CHE 100 directly, if they choose. Students enrolled in CHE 106/L must take a standardized test during the first week or two of class in order to remain in CHE 106/L. If they do not meet the minimum score, these students move to a CHE 100 class, which is offered at the same time as CHE 106. b , Placement in MAT courses depends on the student’s ACT subscore. Calculus is required for most majors in the College of Science and Technology. Entering first year students with an ACT mathematics subtest score less than or equal to 19 must take Intermediate Algebra (MAT 099) during the first semester. Students may take Trigonometry if the ACT mathematics subtest score is equal to or greater than 24 or if they have a grade of C or better in College Algebra. Students may enroll in Calculus (MAT 167) directly if the ACT mathematics subtest score is greater than or equal to 26; otherwise, they must take prerequisite courses, typically College Algebra (MAT 101) and/or Trigonometry (MAT 103). Students entering Calculus (MAT 167 or MAT 314) directly can use this course to satisfy the math requirement. c , “Other” courses include those in the General Education Curriculum and in the major and/or minor as well as any “recommended electives” suggested by the PA school. Strategy for Success • Students should focus on doing well in their studies. Aim for a minimum 3.6 GPA on science and math courses. • Students should become involved with extracurricular activities, including meaningful community service learning, volunteer activities, and leadership positions that will demonstrate effective interactions with diverse people and effective time management skills. Students should maintain a record of the dates and total hours spent performing such activities. This will be needed when it comes time to apply to PA school. The University of Southern Mississippi 3  
  4. 4. • Students must get hands-on exposure to medicine (sights, sounds, smells, feel). Many programs recommend several hundred hours of clinical experience. Students are strongly encouraged to complete the pre-requisites for the Hatten Externship (BSC 392) during the first year. The Externship course is offered in the Fall semester, so students must fulfill the pre-requisites by the end of the preceding Summer semester. Externship prerequisites are ENG 101, 102; BSC 110/L, 111/L; CHE 106/L, 107/L; [MAT 101, 103 OR one Calculus course]; minimum overall GPA 3.0. Students may participate in the Externship twice. Students typically apply to PA school at the end of the Senior year, but participation in the Externship as Sophomores and Juniors is recommended. • Students may join AED (Alpha Epsilon Delta), the national Health Preprofessional Honor Society, as associate members at any time even if they do not fulfill the requirements for full membership (must be enrolled at Southern Miss for a minimum of three semesters). Full members are inducted during the Spring semester. Applications are available in TEC 103 and online: • National AED membership form: http://www.nationalaed.org/pdfs/AED-application.pdf • Southern Miss Chapter AED membership form (pdf file): http://www.usm.edu/cost/files/AED_application.doc YEAR 2 Fall Spring CHE 255&L 4h CHE 256&L 4h BSC 250&L OR BSC 251&L 4h BSC 251&L OR BSC 250&l 4h 3-4 other classesd 8-11 h 3-4 other classesd 8-11 h d , Students are strongly encouraged to take the Hatten Externship (BSC 392) in the Fall semester of the second year. Requirements are ENG 101, 102; BSC 110/L, 111/L; CHE 106/L, 107/L; [MAT 101, 103 OR one Calculus course]; minimum overall GPA 3.0. Strategy for Success • Students continue to focus on doing well in their studies. • Students remain involved with meaningful community service learning, volunteer activities, and leadership positions. • Students continue to participate in hands-on exposure to medicine. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in the Hatten Externship (BSC 392), which is offered in the Fall. Students may participate in the externship twice. Students typically apply to PA school during the Senior year, so participation in the externship as Sophomores and Juniors is recommended. • Students are typically inducted into AED, the national Health Preprofessional Honor Society, in the Spring semester of the sophomore year (must be enrolled at Southern Miss for a minimum of three semesters). Applications are available in TEC 103 and online: • National AED membership form: http://www.nationalaed.org/pdfs/AED-application.pdf • Southern Miss Chapter AED membership form (pdf file): http://www.usm.edu/cost/files/AED_application.doc YEAR 3 Fall Spring BSC 380/L 4h Classes to fulfill major, minor, etc.e 15-18 h Classes to fulfill major, minor, etc.e 12-14 h The University of Southern Mississippi 4  
  5. 5. e , PA applicants must take a statistics course; PSY 360 is suggested. Competitive student will take science courses beyond the basic minimum, which could include Genetics (BSC 370), Cellular Biology (BSC 360), Molecular Biology (BSC 476, BSC 378L), or studies in advanced chemistry areas such as Biochemistry (CHE 421 or CHE 420). Students take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in the Fall of the Senior year but should prepare as Juniors. USM offers several GRE prep courses: MTC 480 Conquering the GRE Computer Adaptive Test, MTC 481 GRE Preparation: Quantitative, MTC 482: GRE Preparation: Verbal. Strategy for Success • Students continue to focus on doing well in their studies. • Students remain involved with meaningful community service learning, volunteer activities and leadership positions. • Students continue to participate in hands-on experiences to medicine. • Students could participate in the Hatten Externship, which is offered in the Fall semester. Students may participate in the Externship twice. YEAR 4 Fall Spring Classes to fulfill major, minor 15-18 h Classes to fulfill major, minor 15-18 h   THE APPLICATION PROCESS The application process to a PA program could begin during the Junior or Senior year, depending on the school. • Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in the Fall: www.gre.org • Students should study on their own to prepare for the GRE or they may take one or more of the USM GRE review classes: MTC 480 Conquering the GRE Computer Adaptive Test MTC 481 GRE Preparation: Quantitative MTC 482: GRE Preparation: Verbal Check the Class Schedule Guide to determine when these courses are offered. • Students are strongly encouraged to take an online practice GRE before taking the GRE that they will use on their application. There are a number of websites that have practice questions or practice tests; use Google to search for “practice GRE questions”. • Applicants for the inaugural class at Mississippi College must submit applications directly to the program (available January 2011; deadline April 1). Subsequent cohorts will be able to submit applications through the online Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA): www.caspaonline.org • Applicants to the University of South Alabama use CASPA and a supplemental application (deadline November 1).   THE INTERVIEW • Students may sign up for mock interviews through Career Services: http://www.usm.edu/cs/index.php Or, use the online Perfect InterviewTM resource: http://www.perfectinterview.com/usm/ The University of Southern Mississippi 5  
  6. 6. • Be sure to dress and act professionally at your interview. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT A CAREER IN ANY OF THE PREPROFESSIONAL AREAS, YOU MAY CONTACT: Ms. Sharon Hokanson, Pre-Professional Assistant 601.266.4741 sharon.hokanson@usm.edu Pre-Professional Office College of Science and Technology 118 College Dr., #5165 Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001 Dr. Patricia Biesiot, Associate Dean and Pre-Professional Coordinator 601.266.4883 patricia.biesiot@usm.edu College of Science and Technology 118 College Dr., #5165 Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001 The University of Southern Mississippi 6  

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