Physician Assistant, M.S.M.

We are committed to providing students with a face-to-face education. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, we have made the decision for all Spring 2021 Graduate and Professional Studies programs to be conducted remotely. Please reach out at (619) 329-6799 for more information.

Program Overview

About the program

The Physician Assistant program at Point Loma Nazarene University is unique to the PA profession in several ways. As a faith-based university, our aim is to produce competent, professional clinicians who practice evidence based medicine, demonstrate cultural sensitivity, and have the opportunity to manifest their faith through service to the community. The program blends service experiences into the curriculum throughout both the didactic and clinical phases, including a dedicated month each year allowing domestic, national, or international medical exposures through the extensive networks and local connections in Southern California.  


Point Loma Nazarene University has applied for Accreditation-Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). PLNU anticipates matriculating its first class in August 2021, pending achieving Accreditation-Provisional status at the March 2021 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 provisional-accreditation is not granted, program admissions will be delayed until accreditation is received. Prospective students will be notified as soon as we are informed of accreditation results. Should the program not receive provisional-accreditation, all deposits will be returned to candidates. Information on accreditation is available at the ARC-PA website

Program Policies and Procedures

Students enrolled in the Physician Assistant program must read and follow the Physician Assistant Student Handbook.

Program Goals

  1. Recruit qualified individuals who successfully complete the Master of Science in Medicine degree at PLNU.
  2. Maintain an accredited program that meets or exceeds the ARC-PA Standards for Accreditation of a Physician Assistant program ensuring that graduates have the requisite knowledge and skills for the practice of medicine as physician assistants.
  3. Foster a commitment to service to medically underserved communities.
  4. Educate students in a collaborative team model that promotes critical thinking and medical problem solving skills.
  5. Graduate students with PANCE pass rates above the national average.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Gather a history and perform a physical examination.
  2. Prioritize a differential diagnosis following a clinical encounter.
  3. Recommend and interpret common diagnostic and screening tests.
  4. Enter and discuss orders and prescriptions.
  5. Document a clinical encounter in the patient record.
  6. Provide an oral presentation of a clinical encounter.
  7. Form a clinical question and retrieve evidence to advance patient care.
  8. Give or receive a patient handover to transition care responsibilities.
  9. Collaborate as a member of an interprofessional team.
  10. Recognize a patient requiring urgent or emergent care and initiate evaluation and management.
  11. Obtain informed consent for tests and/or procedures.
  12. Perform general procedures of a physician assistant.
  13. Identify system failures and contribute to a culture of safety and improvement.


The Point Loma Nazarene University Physician Assistant Education Department will publish first-time Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) rates for the five most recent graduating classes as provided by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). when this information once it becomes available.

Become A Preceptor 

Physician Assistant students often remember their clinical rotations as the most important component of their education. It provides clarity in learning the diagnostic process, deepens their understanding of diseases and their manifestation, and transitions them from theory to practice. Your contribution to their success cannot be overstated. Just as you remember people who were pivotal to your success in mastering your profession, so will these students benefit from your hard-earned expertise. Finally, precepting students allows you to informally interview them as a prelude to employment after graduation.  

Thank you for your interest in the Point Loma Nazarene University Physician Assistant educational process. Your support is invaluable to us and critical to our students. Please click on the link below to share some information with us.

Interested in being a preceptor?

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Course List

Required Courses

MSM 6001 – Anatomy (5 units)
MSM 6002 – Physiology (3 units)
MSM 6003 – Foundations of Medical Science (4 units)
MSM 6004 – Medicine and Society I (2 units)
MSM 6005 – Introduction to Patient Assessment (3 units)
MSM 6100 – Fundamentals of Hematology and Oncology (2 units)
MSM 6101 – Fundamentals of Dermatology (2 units)
MSM 6102 – Fundamentals of Infectious Disease (2 units)
MSM 6103 – Fundamentals of Cardiovascular Disorders
MSM 6104 – Fundamentals of Pulmonology (3 units)
MSM 6006 – Medicine and Society II (2 units)
MSM 6200 – Pharmacotherapeutics I (3 units)
MSM 6105 – Fundamentals of Gastroenterology (4 units)
MSM 6106 – Fundamentals of Nephrology and Genitourinary Disease (3 units)
MSM 6107 – Fundamentals of Neurology (3 units)
MSM 6108 – Fundamentals of Endocrinology (2 units)
MSM 6008 – Medicine and Society III (3 units)
MSM 6201 – Pharmacotherapeutics II (3 units)
MSM 6300 – Fundamentals of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine (2 units)
MSM 6199 – Fundamentals of Musculoskeletal Disease and Rheumatology (3 units)
MSM 6301 – Foundations in Pediatrics (2 units)
MSM 6302 – Foundations in Women's Health (2 units)
MSM 6303 – Foundations in Emergency Medicine (3 units)
MSM 6304 – Foundations in Surgery (2 units)
MSM 6010 – Medicine and Society IV (2 units)
MSM 6202 – Pharmacotherapeutics III (2 units)
MSM 7100 – Internal Medicine (5 units)
MSM 7101 – Family Medicine (5 units)
MSM 7102 – Pediatrics (5 units)
MSM 7103 – Women's Health (5 units)
MSM 7104 – General Surgery (5 units)
MSM 7105 – Behavioral Medicine (5 units)
MSM 7106 – Emergency Medicine (5 units)
MSM 7200 – Elective I (5 units)
MSM 7201 – Service (1 units)


This 28 month curriculum is designed to maximize student learning by using the clinical presentations to assist learners in organizing their knowledge into information packets. There are three major factors in learning and memory retrieval: meaning, encoding which is the context and sequence of learning and task practice. The strongest of these is the degree of meaning and the degree to which it can be imposed on the material to be learned. The domain of medicine can be organized into about 125 clinical presentations representing the most common way that patients, groups of patients, or populations present to the provider. These clinical presentations create meaning for the learner and, while there may be many variations on the presentation or the number of diagnosis, the clinical scenario presents a method of organizing the material into retrievable “chunks” of manageable groups of diagnoses. This creates a powerful tool for both the organization of knowledge memory and its retrieval necessary for subsequent problem solving.

Department Faculty

Application Information

Program Start Date(s):

  • Fall 2021 - August 30, 2021 (Anticipated)

Application Deadline(s):

  • Fall 2021 - March 1, 2021

Application Process

Application to the program can only be made through the Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). Please visit the CASPA website for more information.  

You must also complete the Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics (CASPer) evaluation. Please go to to sign up for the American Professional Health Sciences test (CSP10101) and reserve a test using your CASPA application ID number and a piece of identification. 

A completed CASPA application and CASPer results must be complete before your material can be submitted to the admissions committee for review. Applicants considered to be the most competitive will be invited to San Diego for a personal interview which will be conducted between August and December. All applicants will be notified of their admission status by March 1.

Application Criteria

  • All applicants must meet the program’s technical standards.
  • Completion of a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university prior to matriculation into the program.
  • Minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 and minimum science GPA of a 3.0.
  • The listed prerequisite coursework from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning in the United States completed within the last 5 years* (2016 - 2020) from date of application submission:
    • *Consideration will be given to pre-requisites older than 5 years if the applicant has continued with his/her science education or has been employed in a field requiring the use and updating of their science knowledge.
  • One thousand hours of direct (hands on) patient care experience.  Shadowing, while helpful, does not count toward these hours.
  • The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), taken within the last 2 years, is required of all applicants for whom English is not their native language. We may waive the TOEFL requirement for applicants with Masters or Doctoral degrees from an accredited US institution. To review your application, we must receive official scores from ETS for the TOEFL. Only the IBT (Internet Based Test) form of the TOEFL will be accepted. We require a total score of 93 and a speaking score of 26 for entry into our program.


  • Point Loma Nazarene University graduates

Course Prerequisites

  • Anatomy & Physiology:
    • One semester of Anatomy.
    • One semester of Physiology are required. They may be met by taking two semesters of a combined Anatomy & Physiology course.
  • Chemistry:
    • Two semesters of General Chemistry for science majors (with labs).
    • One semester of Organic Chemistry (with labs).
    • One semester of Biochemistry.
  • Microbiology:
    • One semester of microbiology.
  • Statistics:
    • One semester of Statistics.

All prerequisites must be completed with a grade of B- or better and can be undergraduate, graduate or post-baccalaureate coursework. Each course must be at least three semester credit hours or 4 quarter credit hours.

Applicants may apply to the program with no more than two outstanding prerequisites (including any in progress at the time of application), but prerequisites must be completed with documentation of official grades received, prior to the beginning of the program. Admission is conditional upon completion of these prerequisites with grades of B- or better. College seniors are eligible to apply provided that they will have fulfilled all the baccalaureate requirements (including degree conferment) before matriculating.

Advanced Placement

The PLNU PA Program values rigorous academic preparation and previous health care experience in the evaluation of applicants. However, it is not the policy of the program to award advanced placement or, to accept for credit, any previous academic or other experiential learning toward completion of the MSM degree. All matriculated students are required to participate in and complete the entire curriculum of the program in order to meet the requirements of graduation.

Student Selection

The selection of the candidates accepted for admission is based on several criteria including academic performance, particularly in the sciences, role and extent of health care experience, letters of recommendation and critical thinking skills.

In general, the guidelines used for the weighting of these criteria are as follows:

  • Prior academic performance: 40%
  • Prior health care experience: 20%
  • Volunteer and and Service activities: 15%
  • CASPer score: 15%
  • Miscellaneous items: 10%
    • CASPA narrative

    • References

    • Honors, Leadership

Financial Aid and Student Support

We take seriously the role of providing you with financial, academic, and career support so you have the tools you need to be successful at PLNU and beyond. That’s why we offer a holistic support system that focuses on your unique experiences, particular needs, and personal and professional goals — resulting from our deep concern for you, our student.

With a focus on authentic relationships and personalized attention, our goal is to help transform you so you can follow your calling in your own career and life.

Financial Aid and Student Support

View the estimated cost of attendance for the Physician Assistant program. 

Career Opportunities

About the PA Profession

Physician assistants are well-recognized and highly sought-after members of the health care team. Working interdependently with physicians, PAs provide diagnostic and therapeutic patient care in virtually all medical specialties and settings. They take patient histories, perform physical examinations, order laboratory and diagnostic studies and develop patient treatment plans. In California as well as all other states, PAs have the authority to write prescriptions. Collectively they treat over 9 million patients per week with responsibilities as diverse as the physicians with whom they collaborate, including patient education, team leadership, medical education, administration and research.

According the NCCPA Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants 2018, just over one quarter of PAs provide primary care in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine or Pediatrics (25.8%) with another 21% in surgery and its subspecialties and 13% in Emergency Medicine.

As autonomous members of the health care team who contribute to all aspects of patient care, non-clinical tasks have been integrated into the PA role, particularly in the institutional and larger clinic setting. For example, PAs in the tertiary care setting are often involved in the acquisition, recording and analysis of research data, the development of patient and public education programs, and the administration of their departments’ clinical and educational services. Involvement in these other services has provided job advancement for PAs in these settings.

Physician assistant educators use their strong clinical background to ensure the highest quality education to their students. Physician assistants with backgrounds in public health contribute their clinical expertise to the improvement of population medicine both domestically and internationally while PAs with administrative backgrounds bring these skills to their hospitals and clinics.