Physician Assistant, M.S.M.

Physician Assistant, M.S.M.

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.

Physician Assistant Quick Links

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Tuition and Fees

View the cost of attendance for PLNU’s Physician Assistant program here.

Group of adult students gather in a circle in a PLNU class

Admissions Requirements & Technical Standards

Interested students must complete both the CASPA and PLNU Supplemental App in order to fully apply. Get all the details here.

A PA class in PLNU's program gathers for a group photo

PA Student Handbook

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

A PA student performs a health exam on a patient

Program Goals and Results

View the major goals for the PA program and the data behind how we are tracking toward success here.

A PA class looks on during a clinical rotation

Become a PA Preceptor at PLNU

If you love to teach, we need you! Sign up to partner with our students as a preceptor in their clinical rotations.

Accreditation

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Point Loma Nazarene University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the Point Loma Nazarene University.

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. Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website.

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.

Service-Minded Mentality

The PLNU PA program deeply embraces the idea that “Service is an expression of faith.” We seek to enroll mission-centered students who have a faith that inspires them to go out and serve the world.

We also seek to make sure a service-centered mindset is embedded and expressed through all aspects of our program and curriculum. One way we do this is by having one month out of both the didactic year and clinical year spent focused on service. 

“We have a very clear mission to underserved and underrepresented populations. And, because we live in an area with a wide variety of languages and cultures, along with large numbers of homeless, refugees, and minority populations who need our care, we are able to place our students with such patients over the course of their time with us. The mission and values of service at PLNU are expressed in the service mission of the PA program and what we’ve done is to create an environment in which service is an integral part of the curriculum.”
- Dana Sayre-Stanhope EdD, PA-C Emeritus

PA Program Snapshots

 

PANCE

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 becomes available.

Application Information

Program Start Date(s):

  • Fall 2024 - September 2, 2024

Application Deadline(s):

  • Fall 2024 - October 1, 2023

The 2024 CASPA Cycle opens April 27, 2023.

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. In addition, students must complete the PLNU Supplemental Application. In order for a candidate to be considered, both the verified CASPA and the PLNU Supplemental applications must be received by the October 1, 2023 deadline. 

CASPA (Central Application Service for Physician Assistants)

Telephone: (617) 612-2080
Email: apply@caspaonline.org

CASPA Application Login

Your application will be reviewed when the CASPA application has been verified and your PLNU PA Program Supplemental Application received.  Applications must be verified by CASPA by the October 1, 2023 deadline. Prerequisite courses must be completed by December 31, 2023. Interviews will be conducted in the fall and winter either virtually or in person as safety dictates. All applicants will be notified of their admission status by March 1, 2024.

PLNU Supplemental Application

To begin your supplemental application please create an account on the Point Loma Nazarene Online Application Portal. Please make sure to create your account using the same email address as your CASPA application and follow the following steps to locate the Physician Assistant Supplemental Application:

  1. Click here to login and create an account using your CASPA email address.
  2. Select Graduate 
  3. Please select "Physician Assistant" for the initial questions of "I want to study"
    • From there you will be able to select the Physician Assistant, MSM major as well as the appropriate term.
  4. To finalize click "Start Application"

PLNU Supplemental App Login

Please be sure to have your CASPA ID number ready as it is required for this supplemental application.

The PLNU Supplemental Application fee is $35. If you feel you are experiencing a financial hardship that renders you unable to pay the PLNU Supplemental Application fee, please contact the program at acourtne@pointloma.edu to inquire regarding a fee waiver.

Application Criteria

To view the complete admissions requirements, including required experience, prerequisite courses and more click the button below.

PA Application Criteria

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.

CHS students smile for a photo

Other Health Science Master's Degrees

Check out our accelerated Master of Science in Kinesiology with concentrations in Exercise Science, Integrative Wellness, Sport Performance, and Sport Management. We also feature graduate degrees in Occupational Therapy and Athletic Training.

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.

PLNU Licensure and Professional Certifications Information

Point Loma Nazarene University has determined that completion of the Masters of Science in Medicine – Physician Assistant degree prepares graduates to apply for licensure in any of the 50 states. Licensure is required for physician assistants and each state sets its own requirements for a license as a physician assistant. To obtain a license, an individual must graduate from a U.S. PA program accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) administered by the National Commission on Certifying of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

Click the button below for a list of states in which the PLNU Physician Assistant Program meets the academic requirements for state licensure:

View the List of State Approvals

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. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the CASPA application due?

October 1, 2023

Does the PLNU admissions cycle operate on a rolling basis?

The application cycle opens once per academic school year, however within that cycle we review applicants on a rolling basis.

What is the application timeline?

The application will open from April to October through CASPA. Interviews will be conducted from July to December.

What does provisional accreditation mean?

Every developing PA program goes through a rigorous application and review process and can receive provisional accreditation if all standards are met. Accreditation will remain provisional until the first class is ready to graduate (2023) and the next site visit will take place around that time. If for some reason the program was to lose accreditation, the graduating students would finish and be eligible to take the PANCE (national certifying exam). PLNU was excited to receive provisional accreditation in April of 2021. 

What type of work qualifies for direct hands-on care?

Any paid healthcare position that requires specialized training, certification, or licensure meets this definition. Given the liability limitations placed on volunteer work, neither shadowing nor volunteering can be considered. Some examples of Patient Care Experience include, but are not limited to: EKG tech, CNA/LVN/RN, patient care tech, Medical Assistant, corpsman, chiropractor, EMT/paramedic, dental hygienist, phlebotomist, exercise physiologist, licensed massage therapist, audiologist, speech pathologist, optometrist, occupational or physical therapist.

How can I make myself a better applicant for this program? How can I stand out?

Look carefully at the values espoused by this or any program you are considering. In our case, we value prior academic work, health care experience and community service, particularly to under-served and under-represented diverse communities. Also look at the average GPA and number of health care hours of prior classes to understand the academic and experience of successful candidates.

Some of the names of my science classes are different from those listed on your website- how do I know if the classes I’ve taken meet your prerequisite requirements?

Email the program (gradinfo@pointloma.edu) and provide the name of the course and the prerequisite you believe it fulfills, the catalog description of the course(s) in question and, if requested, the syllabus as well. 

If I was not born in the US, do I need to have a TOEFL score? And if yes, should I have the score before I complete the application?

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. 

What language do you speak at home? If other than English, then you should take the TOEFL. We may waive the TOEFL requirement for applicants with a Bachelors, Masters, or Doctoral degree 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.

I have a degree from an institution outside of the United States. How do I know if my classes and degree meet the requirements of your program?

Our program required a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from a US, regionally accredited institution. We are unable to accept international degrees in lieu of this requirement. That being said, coursework from an international institution may qualify for prerequisite courses with the evaluation and verification by World Educational Services (or any NACES evaluating agency) who then provide documentation of their findings. We will need this verification in order to determine whether or not your corresponding coursework is comparable and meets the specific unit requirements of our program.

When science prerequisites are retaken, does the new grade replace the old grade, or are the two averaged?

Applicants are responsible for choosing what courses they would like to apply towards prerequisite requirements on their CASPA application. Whichever courses the applicant chooses will be used for the prerequisite grade. However, the total sum of all grades on an applicant’s transcripts will be averaged into the overall GPA.

What does it mean for the PA program that PLNU is a Christian institution? How will faith be integrated into the curriculum, if at all? And what does this mean for students from different faith backgrounds?

As a graduate medical program, the curriculum is limited to the content specifically relevant to the skills and knowledge needed to become a PA and to the intersection of society and medicine. PLNU is a faith-based university with faculty and staff who share similar values. That faith is manifested in our mission of service to all people regardless of their faith or beliefs. We seek students who share a similar orientation to service especially to underserved and marginalized communities regardless of their faith. Cultural awareness and sensitivity are strong values of our program and it will be an expectation of our students that they are respectful and compassionate towards patients from all walks of life.

Can I work while completing the program?

We strongly discourage it. The rigor and intensity of the program has repeatedly demonstrated that students who work while enrolled do not do as well academically.

How large will the classes be?

Our initial cohorts will be 30 students rising to 34 over the next few years.

Do you accept pass/fail courses?

We do accept pass/fail courses that have a grade of pass.

Are the GRE or MCAT required?

No, our program does not require either test to apply. While the CASPA application will allow applicants to submit test scores, the Admissions Committee does not consider this information within its evaluation of an application. 

When will classes meet?

Classes, labs and directed clinical experiences during the didactic phase meet Monday - Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. In general, students can expect to spend 24 - 28 hours in class each week with study time interspersed. Clinical rotations however may be scheduled any day and any time as the clinical facility is open.

Course List

For information about the courses required for the Physician Assistant, M.S.M. program, view the PLNU Catalog. 

Course Information

Students can enroll in this online course to meet the anatomy prerequisites requirement.

Anatomy Prerequisite