Provide diagnostic and therapeutic patient care by eliciting medical histories, conducting physical examinations, diagnosing illnesses, determining treatment, providing medical advice, and much more.
RIT’s physician assistant program prepares you to elicit medical histories, conduct physical examinations, order laboratory and radiological testing, diagnose common illnesses, determine treatment, provide medical advice, counsel and educate patients, promote wellness and disease prevention, assist in surgery, and perform casting and suturing.
Physician assistant duties vary depending on the state and specialty in which they practice. In most states, including New York, physician assistants may prescribe medication. Examples of specialties include (but are not limited to): internal medicine, family medicine, emergency medicine, geriatrics, pediatrics, women’s health, behavioral health, general surgery, orthopedics, neurosurgery, and neonatology. Clinical rotations (internships) during students’ last year provide the opportunity to explore these varied disciplines.
Obtaining the skills and knowledge to practice as a physician assistant is a complex process. A carefully planned course of study has been developed to offer a balance of didactic and clinical knowledge. A significant component of the educational process is the socialization of the student to the character, performance, and role of a provider of medical care. The evaluation of the student’s adaptation to this role depends on the experienced judgment of individual faculty members. It is important to recognize that these subjective judgments may transcend or be independent of traditional paper and pencil tests and other similar objective measures of academic performance. Physician assistant education involves instruction from practicing clinicians with unpredictable schedules.
Many opportunities, in the form of evaluations, are provided for measurement of progress by both faculty and student. In addition to a fully staffed Academic Support Center, individual instruction and tutoring may be provided in certain instances. Every effort is made to provide a complete learning environment. Even though a variety of experiences, learning situations, and tools are provided by the Program, the single greatest factor, motivation, is essentially up to the student.
RIT's physician assistant program provides a foundation of science and liberal arts; and prepares students to provide compassionate, patient-centered healthcare. The program is committed to developing the ethical values, medical knowledge, professionalism, and interpersonal communication skills essential for inter-professional, team-based, clinical practice.
Medical Knowledge: Graduates will demonstrate core medical knowledge of established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and apply this knowledge to patient care.
Interpersonal and Communication Skills: Graduates will demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, families, physicians, and other members of the healthcare team.
Patient Care: Graduates will provide effective, safe, high-quality, and equitable patient care in diverse settings and across the life span.
Professionalism: Graduates will practice with integrity, ethical and legal responsibility, and sensitivity to diverse patient populations.
Practice-based Learning and Improvement: Graduates will critically analyze their practice experiences with Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) and quality assurance processes to improve patient care.
Systems-based Practice: Graduates will demonstrate awareness of and responsiveness to healthcare systems, while keeping the patient at the center of cost-effective, safe care. (Adapted from the Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession, written by the AAPA, ARC-PA, PAEA, and NCCPA, 2012)
Philosophy: The educational philosophy of the physician assistant program is to provide all students with the necessary liberal arts and basic science foundation necessary to build solid medical knowledge and humanistic skills by which to ultimately provide high quality patient care to future patients. The faculty views the responsibilities of role modeling and mentoring as critical to the success of assimilating students to the realities and responsibilities of medicine today. The educational philosophy incorporates the attitudes of respect for individual patients into critical decision-making through the assimilation of appropriate interpersonal skills, compassion, and a respect and reverence for the position of physician assistant.
Plan of study
The physician assistant major is offered as a BS/MS degree program, which enables students to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in five years. The curriculum is divided into a pre-professional phase (years 1 and 2), which includes course work in the basic sciences, mathematics, general education, and liberal arts; and a professional phase, (years 3, 4, and 5), which features didactic medical education and culminates in clinical rotations in which students apply their medical knowledge in a series of rotations through various disciplines of medicine.
RIT graduate programs are among the best in the nation, according to the U.S. News annual statistical survey of graduate programs published today. RIT master’s degree programs in engineering, business and physician assistant feature in the U.S. News & World Report 2020 edition of Best Graduate Schools.
This course serves as an introduction to cellular, molecular, and evolutionary biology. Topics will include: a study of the basic principles of modern cellular biology, including cell structure and function; the chemical basis and functions of life, including enzyme systems and gene expression; and the origin of life and evolutionary patterns of organism development on Earth.
General Biology II
This course serves as an introduction to animal and plant anatomy and physiology, in addition to the fundamentals of ecology. Topics will include: animal development; animal body systems; plant development; unique plant systems; Earth's terrestrial and aquatic environments; population and community ecology; animal behavior; and conservation biology.
General Biology I Lab
This course provides laboratory work to complement the lecture material of General Biology I. The experiments are designed to illustrate concepts of basic cellular and molecular biology, develop laboratory skills and techniques for microscopy, and improve ability to make, record and interpret observations.
General Biology II Lab
This course provides laboratory work to complement the material of General Biology II. The experiments are designed to illustrate concepts of animal and plant anatomy and physiology, develop laboratory skills and techniques for experimenting with live organisms, and improve ability to make, record, and interpret observations.
LAS Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry): General and Analytical Chemistry I
This is a general chemistry course for students in the life and physical sciences. College chemistry is presented as a science based on empirical evidence that is placed into the context of conceptual, visual, and mathematical models. Students will learn the concepts, symbolism, and fundamental tools of chemistry necessary to carry on a discourse in the language of chemistry. Emphasis will be placed on the relationship between atomic structure, chemical bonds, and the transformation of these bonds through chemical reactions. The fundamentals of organic chemistry are introduced throughout the course to emphasize the connection between chemistry and the other sciences.
LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles): General and Analytical Chemistry II
The course covers the thermodynamics and kinetics of chemical reactions. The relationship between energy and entropy change as the driving force of chemical processes is emphasized through the study of aqueous solutions. Specifically, the course takes a quantitative look at: 1) solubility equilibrium, 2) acid-base equilibrium, 3) oxidation-reduction reactions and 4) chemical kinetics.
LAS Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry): General and Analytical Chemistry I Lab
The course combines hands-on laboratory exercises with workshop-style problem sessions to complement the CHMG-141 lecture material. The course emphasizes laboratory techniques and data analysis skills. Topics include: gravimetric, volumetric, thermal, titration and spectrophotometric analyses, and the use of these techniques to analyze chemical reactions.
LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles): General and Analytical Chemistry II Lab
The course combines hands-on laboratory exercises with workshop-style problem sessions to complement the CHMG-142 lecture material. The course emphasizes the use of experiments as a tool for chemical analysis and the reporting of results in formal lab reports. Topics include the quantitative analysis of a multicomponent mixture using complexation and double endpoint titration, pH measurement, buffers and pH indicators, the kinetic study of a redox reaction, and the electrochemical analysis of oxidation reduction reactions.
LAS Perspective 7A (mathematical): Applied Calculus
This course is an introduction to the study of differential and integral calculus, including the study of functions and graphs, limits, continuity, the derivative, derivative formulas, applications of derivatives, the definite integral, the fundamental theorem of calculus, basic techniques of integral approximation, exponential and logarithmic functions, basic techniques of integration, an introduction to differential equations, and geometric series. Applications in business, management sciences, and life sciences will be included with an emphasis on manipulative skills.
RIT 365: RIT Connections
First Year Writing
LAS Perspective 1 (ethical)
LAS Perspective 2 (artistic)
LAS Perspective 3 (global)
Second Year (Pre-professional)
Biochemistry for Health Sciences
This course will focus on the application of biochemical knowledge to the field of medicine. Students will learn the basic functions of water, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids in humans, then explore implications of this knowledge in nutrition and metabolism and its relationship to health and disease.
Human Anatomy and Physiology I
This course is an integrated approach to the structure and function of the nervous, endocrine, integumentary, muscular and skeletal systems. Laboratory exercises include histological examination, actual and simulated anatomical dissections, and physiology experiments with human subjects.
Human Anatomy and Physiology II
This course is an integrated approach to the structure and function of the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, immunological, respiratory, excretory, and reproductive systems with an emphasis on the maintenance of homeostasis. Laboratory exercises include histological examinations, anatomical dissections and physiological experiments using human subjects.
This course will introduce students to key elements and concepts of the biology of human pathogens. Students will study how this understanding impacts the therapeutic modalities for the treatment and prevention of human infectious disease. Through this learning process, students will gain an understanding as to how these topics directly relate to future roles as healthcare providers.
LAS Perspective 7B (mathematical): Introduction to Statistics I
This course introduces statistical methods of extracting meaning from data, and basic inferential statistics. Topics covered include data and data integrity, exploratory data analysis, data visualization, numeric summary measures, the normal distribution, sampling distributions, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. The emphasis of the course is on statistical thinking rather than computation. Statistical software is used.
LAS Perspective 4 (social)
LAS Immersion 1,2,3
Third Year (Professional)
History and Physical Diagnosis I
This is the first in a two-course sequence which introduces and develops the clinical psychosocial skills and anatomic/physiologic science involved in interviewing and examining patients. This course includes practical medical terminology, attitude development and values clarification strategies to aid students in adopting a humanistic approach, interviewing techniques used during patient interaction, comprehensive database development, demonstrated techniques for complete physical examination of all body systems and explanation/implementation of the Problem-Oriented Medical Record (POMR). The course involves weekly patient contact.
History and Physical Diagnosis II
This second of a two-course sequence introduces and develops the clinical psychosocial and anatomic/physiologic science involved in examining patients. The course includes performing and writing complete, accurate medical histories and physical examinations with small group instruction. Weekly patient contact.
This introductory course in the Pathophysiology of Disease course sequence will present the physician assistant student with normal and abnormal function of cells in general, illustrating how these cellular abnormalities affect function of specific organ systems. The respiratory, renal, and cardiovascular organ systems will be highlighted and mechanisms of neoplasia will be introduced. The endocrine, and gastrointestinal organ systems will be highlighted.
This second course is the second in a two-part sequence that introduces the physician assistant student to the normal and abnormal cellular and physiologic processes that underlie many human diseases. Hematologic, pulmonary, immune, and neurologic systems will be covered during this semester. Understanding of how these abnormalities affect clinical laboratory data will also be acquired.
This introductory course in the Clinical Pharmacology course sequence presents the physician assistant student with the necessary foundation of knowledge to safely and effectively prescribe medication for common and/or important disorders. The course will begin with a study of the mechanics of pharmacology: pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. Following this introduction, an organ systems approach, paralleling the systems presented in Clinical Medicine I, is utilized to study medications relevant to gastrointestinal disease.
This is the second course in the Clinical Pharmacology course sequence that presents the physician assistant student with the necessary foundation of knowledge to safely and effectively prescribe medication for common and/or important disorders. Course content will complement material presented simultaneously in the Clinical Medicine II course including key concepts of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. These will be utilized to study medications relevant to treat human diseases.
Advanced Gross Anatomy
This is a course designed as a laboratory-intensive overview of normal structure in prosected (dissections performed ahead of time by staff) examples of cadaver anatomy. Special emphases will be placed on the anatomical correlates associated with upper/lower extremity, neck, and back muscle groups/joints/bones, peripheral nerve plexuses (including spinal and cranial nerves), major arterial/venous pathways, and body viscera in areas of the head/neck, thorax, abdomen, and pelvis. Where appropriate, evidence of pathologies will be discussed at the cadaver side. Additionally, students will participate in clinical case presentations that correspond to the particular dissection subject at-hand throughout the term.
Physician Assistant Seminar
This course provides physician assistant students with an introduction to the PA profession. The course encompasses historical origins and early educational models. The course covers various professional entities; licensure, certification, accreditation, professional organizations, and medical ethics.
Clinical Medicine I
This is the first of the Clinical Medicine sequence of courses. The student will be presented with the necessary foundation of knowledge to begin to understand the patient’s condition within a clinical context. An organ systems approach is utilized in this course to study diseases of the skin, ears, oral cavity, ophthalmology, upper respiratory tract, endocrine system, and gastrointestinal tract. Principles of preventive medicine will be woven throughout the curriculum. An introduction to disorders involving the cardiovascular system will complete the semester.
Clinical Medicine II
This is the second in the sequence of Clinical Medicine courses. The course will present the physician assistant student with the necessary knowledge to understand the patient within a clinical context. A body systems approach is utilized in this course to study diseases of the cardiovascular, selected endocrine topics, renal, men's health, heme/oncology, pulmonary, and nervous systems. Principles of preventive medicine will be woven throughout the curriculum.
This course provides students with an introduction to medical genetics and relevant diseases, syndromes, and clinical disorders. Course focuses on major disorders as subgroups and provides relevant overviews of associated diseases and syndromes within each subgroup. Course also confronts current needs and comprehensive nature of genetic counseling, detailing various patient populations in which this is critical.
Fourth Year (Professional)
Clinical Lab Medicine
This course will investigate the appropriate use and interpretation of commonly utilized laboratory tests. Students will be asked to predict results that would be expected to occur in the setting of various diseases. In addition, a significant component of this course will be to introduce the student to the principles of electrocardiogram (EKG) interpretation. By the end of the course, students should be able to interpret both normal 12 lead EKGs as well as commonly encountered abnormal EKGs, with an emphasis on ischemia and infarction.
This is the final course in the Clinical Pharmacology course sequence that presents the physician assistant student with the necessary foundation of knowledge to safely and effectively prescribe medication for common and/or important disorders. Course content will complement material presented simultaneously in the Clinical Medicine III course including key concepts of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. These will be utilized to study medications relevant to treat diseases with a focus on the pediatric and geriatric populations.
This course introduces the PA student to the most clinically relevant diagnostic imaging modalities, emphasizing the risks and benefits of different modalities, as well as the appropriate indications for obtaining a variety of radiographic studies. The student will be exposed to the most common plain radiographic diagnoses likely to be encountered in clinical practice as well as important life threatening diagnoses. At the conclusion of this course, the student will have foundational skills and competency to interpret plain radiographs demonstrating these important diagnoses.
Clinical Medicine III
This is the final course in the Clinical Medicine sequence of courses and is designed to complete the introduction to human disease. The format will be primarily a population-based approach to presenting disease. The unique diseases and developmental issues encountered in pediatrics, geriatrics, and women’s health will be addressed. An introduction to the important medical issues relevant to caring for surgical patients will be presented. Psychiatric illness, geriatrics, musculoskeletal and rheumatology will be presented. Special topics of trauma, burns, and emergency medicine will complete the course. The principles of preventive medicine will continue to be integrated throughout the curriculum.
Society and Behavioral Medicine
This course is the introduction to professionalism, professional behaviors for the PA, and behavior science for the PA student. We will explore stereotypes and providers’ inappropriate (or lack of) knowledge and how this might influence access to care. The focus is non-somatic medical skills and knowledge needed to become a clinician who manages these issues with insight into human behavior. Topics will include issues related to age, socioeconomic status, cultural, racial, religious, ethnic and family diversity etc. We will seek out and develop tools to recognize facets (including risk factors for and signs/symptoms) of the above issues and of abuse issues. Setting this foundation in basic psychopathology and its relationship to understanding human illness is core to the PA student’s developing professionalism.
The student will begin working with hospitalized patients prior to their clinical year of rotations in small group lead instruction. This course engages the student in the critical thinking process used in the daily care and management of a patient. Student-generated patient cases (from hospital work) will be utilized to work through the critical thinking process that is employed in the day-to-day management of a patient. Enhancement of the development of differential diagnosis, assessment and the treatment plans will be emphasized. Order writing, daily progress notes and clinical procedures for each case will be thoroughly explored.
This course builds upon the foundation developed during the professional didactic phase of the physician assistant program. Drawing upon this foundation, students will analyze simple and complex case-based patient scenarios. Working individually and in groups, and using computer-assisted patient simulators when possible, the students will be asked to gather data from physical examination, and EKG and laboratory data. Based on the data gathered, the student will recommend further diagnostic evaluations, suggest appropriate treatment, and develop follow-up plans based on the scenario presented. The development of thorough and relevant differential diagnoses for each case study will be an integral part of this process. The case studies will be drawn from a broad variety of clinical disciplines. In addition, students will be required to work in small groups to develop their own "teaching case" and will lead the remainder of the class through a learning exercise based on the case they have created.
Procedural Clinical Skills
This course provides the PA student with the requisite skills for professional courses and internships. Emphasis is on developing competence in basic skills in conjunction with patient care. Current hepatitis B immunization status highly recommended.
Health Care Policy and Law
This course will provide an overview of health care law, principles and ethics as it relates to the health care provider. Lecture topics will cover an introduction to law, criminal aspects of health care, patient consent issues, legal reporting obligations, contracts and antitrust, information management and health care records, HIPAA regulations, legal risk to the health care provider, patient safety and quality assurance, The Affordable Health Care Act, end of life issues, job negotiations and malpractice insurance issues.
Graduate Project I (WI)
This is the first of a two-course sequence which will provide the physician assistant student with opportunities to prepare a formal graduate capstone project/paper. Projects may be in the form of: clinical practice essay, PA curriculum development, medically-related community service project, in-depth medical case review, meta-analysis of specific disease / syndrome, or original medical research. This capstone project/paper will build on clinical training and enable students to build skills for life-long learning as problem solvers and critical evaluators of medical and scientific literature.
This course provides students with a foundation in epidemiological concepts from which infectious and non-infectious diseases manifest in acute and chronic settings. Course focuses on descriptive and analytical research designs, conditions associated with their use, and subsequent strengths and weaknesses. Principles of clinical epidemiology are applied to real-world clinical applications in addressing acute and chronic disease characteristics.
Research Methods (WI)
This course will build on the knowledge of statistics and epidemiology and provide the student with an introduction to research methodology and design. The course design will enable the PA student to read and interpret medical literature and evaluate the findings. The course will introduce different research methods and outcomes assessment of Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM). The course will require the physician assistant student to create a formal graduate research project, which will culminate in a project to be completed in the fifth year of the PA Program. Projects may be in the form of: clinical practice essay, PA curriculum development, medically-related community service project, in-depth medical case review, meta-analysis of specific disease/syndrome, or original medical research.
This mandatory rotation in the field of pediatric medicine provides hands-on clinical exposure and experiences. This builds on solid basic medical knowledge and competencies acquired in the didactic, pre-clinical coursework.
This mandatory rotation in the field of general medicine provides hands-on clinical exposure and experiences. This builds on solid basic medical knowledge and competencies acquired in the didactic, pre-clinical coursework.
This mandatory rotation in the field of obstetrics and gynecologic medicine provides hands-on clinical exposure and experiences. This builds on solid basic medical knowledge and competencies acquired in the didactic, pre-clinical coursework.
Professional Practice I
This is the first in a sequence of courses designed for the physician assistant student in the clinical setting. The course will cover discipline specific areas including a pulmonary workshop and lectures on topics such as working with a pharmaceutical company, professionalism, and rehabilitative medicine. The course will also include an ongoing Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) series and physician assistant national certification exam board review.
Fifth Year (Professional)
Graduate Project II
This course will provide the physician assistant student with continued preparation of a formal graduate project for the PA Program. Projects may be in the form of: clinical practice essay, PA curriculum development, medically-related community service project, in-depth medical case review, meta-analysis of specific disease/syndrome, or original medical research. This course will culminate with the completion of the capstone project/paper which is founded in clinical experience and enables students to build skills for life-long learning as problem solvers and critical evaluators of medical and scientific literature.
This mandatory rotation in the field of emergency medicine provides hands-on clinical exposure and experiences. This builds on solid basic medical knowledge and competencies acquired in the didactic, pre-clinical coursework.
This mandatory rotation in the field of surgery provides hands-on clinical exposure and experiences. This builds on solid basic medical knowledge and competencies acquired in the didactic, pre-clinical coursework.
This mandatory rotation in the field of orthopedic medicine provides hands-on clinical exposure and experiences. This builds on solid basic medical knowledge and competencies acquired in the didactic, pre-clinical coursework.
This mandatory rotation in the field of geriatric medicine provides hands-on clinical exposure and experiences. This builds on solid basic medical knowledge and competencies acquired in the didactic, pre-clinical coursework.
This mandatory rotation in the field of psychiatric medicine provides hands-on clinical exposure and experiences. This builds on solid basic medical knowledge and competencies acquired in the didactic, pre-clinical coursework. (Matriculation into the fifth year of the PA Program)
This mandatory rotation in the field of family medicine provides hands-on clinical exposure and experiences. This builds on solid basic medical knowledge and competencies acquired in the didactic, pre-clinical coursework.
This mandatory rotation in an elective field of medicine provides additional hands-on clinical exposure and experiences. This builds on solid basic medical knowledge and competencies acquired in the didactic, pre-clinical coursework.
Professional Practice II
This is the second in a sequence of courses designed for the physician assistant student in the clinical setting. The course will cover discipline specific areas including complementary medicine lectures and professionalism. The course will also include an ongoing Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) series and physician assistant national certification exam board review.
Professional Practice III
This is the last in a sequence of courses designed for the physician assistant student in the clinical setting. The course will cover discipline specific areas including lectures regarding PA workforce issues, coding and billing, social service work and a resume writing workshop. The course will also include an ongoing Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) series and physician assistant national certification exam board review.
Total Semester Credit Hours
Please see General Education Curriculum–Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) for more information.
(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.
* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.
Clinical rotations include a five-week experience in various disciplines of medicine, providing students with the opportunity to apply the basic principles of medicine to hospital-based and ambulatory patient care settings. Students are assigned to a primary preceptor (physician/physician assistant) and are exposed to a wide variety of acute and chronic medical problems. The emphasis is on data gathering, physical examination, differential diagnosis, patient management, maintenance of medical records, performance of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, and the provision of patient education and counseling. Mandatory rotations are in the fields of internal medicine, family medicine, geriatrics, orthopedics, emergency medicine, women's health, pediatrics, general surgery, and behavioral health. Students also select one elective rotation, which enables them to customize their experience according to their medical area of interest.
The clinical rotations represent the integration and combination of the didactic and clinical phases of the PA Program. A great deal of planning has gone into creating a learning environment that will allow the student to obtain the high-level skills required for practice as a Physician Assistant. The affiliates (hospitals and office-practices) are busy places offering a variety of services. It is the responsibility of the student to explore and learn as much as possible during this very important year. You will be assigned a preceptor for each rotation by the Program. This will generally be a physician, PA, or NP who is responsible for your actions and educational experience. In general, the student is expected to participate in each and every aspect of the department or office where assigned.
The RIT PA Program is fortunate to have the support of the local and neighboring medical communities for providing clinical sites offering a wide array of clinical experiences. Program faculty provides rotation assignments for all students. The Program cannot assure the student assignment to a clinical affiliate within the immediate Rochester area or other desired area. Several of these sites are located some distance from the RIT main campus. The PA Program makes every attempt to assist the student in finding suitable housing. However, ultimately the responsibility for housing, travel, and food are the student's responsibility.
Physician Assistant Accreditation Update
The RIT physician assistant program had an accreditation site visit in June 2019 and the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for Physician Assistants (ARC-PA) met in late September 2019. The following is the official ARC-PA announcement regarding RIT’s accreditation status:
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Rochester Institute of Technology Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Rochester Institute of Technology. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.
Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be September 2027. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.
The physician assistant program is a highly competitive. The number of openings for all students is limited by accreditation standards.
In addition to the university’s general admission procedures, the physician assistant major requires the completion of a supplemental data packet, application, and a personal admission interview (by invitation). The program requires a personal interview prior to admission. Interviews are by invitation only. Not all applicants are extended an invitation and not all applicants who are invited to interview are accepted into the program. The interview performance is viewed as one of the most important aspects of your application to the program. Careful attention is given to ranking and interviewing freshman and transfer applicants in comparison to their peers. In addition, the program strongly encourages applicants to have participated in some degree of patient care experience and/or shadowing of physician assistants.
There are approximately 30-36 students enrolled in each class year of the program. Therefore, the number of openings for all students is limited and competitive. All prospective applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) to qualify for admission and must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 once enrolled in the program.
It also is important to note that the minimum grade point average for acceptance into the physician assistant major is 3.0 (on the basis of a 4.0 maximum) for both high school and transfer students. In order to graduate from the major, a GPA of 3.0 or better must be maintained.
Health Care Experience
While health care experience is not an absolute requirement for admission, the program faculty highly suggest that candidates volunteer in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice and/or healthcare facilities, as applicable. In addition, shadowing healthcare professionals (PAs, MDs) in clinical arenas is highly suggested as a means of observing the role of PAs and other members of the healthcare team in providing care to patients.
Qualified transfer students are accepted into the major, on a space available basis. Prior health care experience and/or shadowing are strongly recommended. Transcript evaluations and rendering of transfer credit are addressed at the time of admission only. Anatomy and physiology courses must be taken within the last five years prior to matriculation to be eligible for transfer. All pre-professional course work must be completed to continue on, or to be considered for entry, into the professional phase of the major. Please contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions for information on transfer requirements.
In the pre-professional phase, advanced placement (AP) credit for general education courses is evaluated and approved by the academic advisors. AP credit for calculus, statistics, and university electives is awarded, as applicable, within the major. AP credit is not accepted for biology and chemistry as course substitutions. Advanced placement or credit for experiential learning is not awarded for courses in the professional phase of the major.
PA student employment and co-curricular activities
Many PA students work during the first two years of the program. Most of these students find that balancing academics, co-curricular activities, and working 8-10 hours/week is possible. Nonetheless, attention must always remain focused on the academic expectations of the PA program, which require students to maintain a minimum term and cumulative GPA of 3.0 (BS/MS degree) throughout the program. Given the rigorous program of study, students in the professional phase of the program are strongly advised meet with their academic advisor to discuss their participation in outside employment and co-curricular activities. Students in the professional phase, including clinical rotations, must ensure that employment and/or co-curricular activities do not interfere with academic preparation, performance, clinical responsibilities, and scheduling as per clinical affiliates and program requirements. Outside commitments that are not managed effectively can dramatically affect successful progression within the program and on clinical rotations. Given the rapidly changing environment in day-to-day clinical activities and responsibilities, patient cases and/or clinical responsibilities must be given paramount priority.
PA students participating in clinical service work are responsible for ensuring that those with whom they come into contact understand their role as PA students. At no time should PA students, participating in clinical service work, represent themselves, take the responsibility of, or the place, of qualified staff. The exception is when the student is under the guidance and direction of their instructor/preceptor for that given rotation block in which students’ status must be disclosed. PA students are never to serve as substitutions for regular staff and/or health professionals.
Aside from tuition costs, there are additional costs that are incurred within the professional phase of the program. A summary of costs is provided below, but these calculations are current estimates, and are subject to change.
Housing expenses - In the fifth year of the program, students complete ten clinical rotations which require, from time to time, that the student be away from the Rochester area. Sometimes these clinical sites are within driving distance, but other times, the student will need to stay near the clinical site for the 5 weeks of the rotation. Because of this, there may be slightly elevated housing costs during this fifth year. The PA program assists the student in finding suitable housing during this clinical year, but ultimately the responsibility for housing, travel, and food, is that of the student. Students are not reimbursed during their time on clinical rotations. Senior students are considered full time during this clinical training year and are responsible for tuition costs. These costs vary according to the needs of individual students. Suitable living on-campus (dorms, apartments, etc.) are generally available for average housing fees. Please refer to the RIT Undergraduate Bulletin and online at http://www.rit.edu for more information.
Transportation and parking - In the professional phase of the program (years 3, 4, 5), students can expect to be off campus a portion of the time. The student is responsible for transportation during these years. Because of this, a car is recommended in the start of the third year, and certainly during the fifth year. Parking fees may be incurred as students begin clinical training in hospitals. Car-pooling is recommended, when applicable.
Textbooks - In the professional phase of the PA Program (years 3, 4, 5), the coursework and clinical experiences are exclusively medical in nature. Additional textbooks are required in various areas of didactic and clinical instruction. These additional books and reference materials typically run around $2,000.00, but vary from student to student.
Diagnostic equipment - Each student is required to purchase diagnostic equipment for the start of the professional phase (year 3) of the program. The student is expected to bring his/her own equipment to classes in good working order. The PA program works with various medical suppliers to ensure that equipment costs to the third year students will be the lowest possible, while ensuring their quality. If buying new equipment, it would be wise to wait until this time to purchase the equipment. These items generally range $800.00 to $1,200.00. This will be a one-time only cost, and these items will be useful for many years to come in the clinical fields of medicine.
PA Clinical Knowledge Rating and Assessment Tool (PACKRAT) Exams - A written competency examination will be given to students in the fourth and fifth years of the Program. The Physician Assistant Clinical Knowledge Rating and Assessment Tool (PACKRAT) is a nationally recognized competency examination for PA students. This standardized examination provides excellent feedback to students and faculty regarding comprehensive knowledge bases and problem-solving abilities of the students. The content and approach has been created to simulate the computer-based Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). Many students have found this to be excellent preparation for clinical rotations and the PANCE. The cost to each student is currently $40.00/exam.
Criminal Background Checks - In accordance with various state laws and regulations, most of our clinical affiliates require PA students to undergo a criminal background check prior to beginning a clinical rotation. A PA student may not be allowed to participate in a clinical rotation (s), by the clinical affiliates, based on the results of a criminal background check. As a PA professional advances in his/her healthcare career, s/he can expect regular criminal background checks and credential verification as part of the participation, hiring, and employment process. The RIT PA Program requires that all PA students have an initial criminal background check prior to entering the professional phase of the program (year 3) and once again prior to the start of clinical rotations (end of year 4). The cost to each student for these screenings is approximately $130.00.
Drug Testing - In accordance with various state laws and regulations, some clinical affiliates may require PA students to undergo drug testing prior to beginning a clinical rotation. These additional authorizations and their associated fees must be completed by the student at the students’ expense. A PA student may not be allowed to participate in a clinical rotation(s), by the clinical affiliates, based on the results of this drug testing. As a PA professional advances in his/her healthcare career, s/he can expect regular, random drug testing, and credential verification as part of the participation, hiring, and employment process.
Basic and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (BLS/ACLS) Certification - Students are required to have current CPR /ACLS certification prior to the start of clinical rotations in the fifth year. This training is arranged through the PA Program in conjunction with the American Heart Association and hospital affiliates. The cost for this certification is $70.00-$150.00.
Physical Examinations and Immunizations - A history and physical examination (including various blood work, titers, TB testing, and current immunizations) are required prior to the start of clinical rotations. TB testing is also required prior to the start of the third year. Students must arrange for these examinations several months in advance of the start of clinical rotations. Costs may range from $ 300.00 – 400.00 depending on insurance coverage. Although the PA program cannot mandate that each student obtain the Hepatitis B vaccine, however it is very strongly recommended prior to the start of the third year. Lack of this vaccination may preclude students from most clinical training sites. Students may obtain this three injection vaccination series at the RIT Student Health Center or through private medical coverage. Costs may vary dependent upon health insurance coverage.
FIT Testing - Prior to the start of clinical rotations students are required to undergo Fit testing which tests the actual size and provider’s ability to use a respirator mask device that protects healthcare workers from inhaling harmful substances. These incurred costs will be the student’s responsibility and could range from $ 40.00 - $ 50.00.
Optional Costs - Student memberships to the following professional organizations:
Students are matriculated into one of the first three years, upon their acceptance into the physician assistant major. Students must complete academic requirements to progress on to the next academic year. Students must meet all program academic requirements, policies, and standards to advance from the pre-professional phase to the professional phase of the program. Once matriculated into the pre-professional phase, students are permitted to take a limited number of courses at another institution during the summer, pending program approval. It is important, however, that students take core science courses at RIT to ensure a consistent educational experience. Students are not permitted to skip class years (i.e. first to third year) once matriculated in the major.
Expected Functions and Tasks for Graduates of the RIT Physician Assistant Program
Graduates will demonstrate proficiency at performing the following skills, tasks and procedures when working with male and female patients across the life spectrum of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds with varying degrees of medical acuity, in a wide variety of medical settings. These settings include but are not limited to office-based practices, inpatient facilities and long-term care settings in urban, suburban and rural communities:
Demonstrate ability to properly triage patients with potentially life-threatening injuries or illnesses and the ability to initiate appropriate care
Demonstrate good interpersonal communication skills and the ability to develop an appropriate and professional rapport with patients, families and other healthcare workers
Obtain a comprehensive history, eliciting information pertinent to the development of a diagnosis. Each history will contain the following elements:
History of present illness
Past medical history
Review of systems
Perform a comprehensive physical examination
Obtain a problem focused history when appropriate
Perform a problem focused physical examination when appropriate
Differentiate between normal and abnormal physical exam findings
Order and interpret appropriate laboratory and diagnostic studies
Critically analyze history, physical examination and diagnostic study findings to formulate an accurate assessment and demonstrate medical decision making skills in the formulation of a treatment plan
Organize and document all patient data in written form to ensure the establishment of an accurate record compliant with all medical/legal standards
Deliver concise oral presentations (using either bullet or formal format) which accurately summarize pertinent patient data
Discuss the risks, benefits, associated with various diagnostic studies, treatment referrals and medication choices
Discuss and demonstrate proficiency in the use of evidence based medicine in medical decision making
Determine when additional intervention is needed and facilitate medical referrals and/or access to allied health providers (i.e. physician specialist, physical therapy, social work, hospice care, psychotherapy, etc.)
Educate and instruct the patient regarding symptoms, physical examination findings, assessment and treatment plan recommendations, including verification that the patient clearly understands all discharge instructions
Counsel patients regarding normal development and aging patterns as well as health maintenance, disease prevention, screening techniques, immunizations, and the risks/benefits of various lifestyle choices.
Demonstrate the ability to follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards in clinical practice.
Demonstrate knowledge of NY State guidelines regarding the recognition of child abuse and the physician assistant’s role as a mandated reporter
Maintain CPR/ACLS certification during the clinical component of the student’s education
Demonstrate professional integrity, honesty, dependability, respect for self and others, compassion, and an ability to protect patient confidentiality and trust.
Demonstrate commitment to the ideals of life-long learning, professional excellence, teamwork, and tolerance for diversity and community service.
Recognize and comply with the accepted standards within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Act of 1996.
Perform the following medical procedures with proper supervision:
Perform a pelvic exam including proper speculum, PAP smear and culture technique
Demonstrate digital rectal exam and the ability to test stool for occult blood using guaiac cards
Demonstrate proper breast exam technique and the ability to instruct the patient regarding self-breast exam
Demonstrate proper testicular exam technique and the ability to instruct the patient regarding self-testicular exam
Test visual acuity using a Snellen chart
Perform a venipuncture
Perform an arterial puncture
Start an IV
Obtain stool, urine, sputum, throat or wound drainage specimen for culture
Perform injections including subcutaneous, intradermal, intravenous and intramuscular
Interpret intradermal skin test
Insert a nasogastric tube
Obtain and interpret an electrocardiogram
Analyze spirometry readings
Demonstrate proper technique for a lumbar puncture
Insert and remove a Foley catheter
Demonstrate proper technique for a thoracentesis
Demonstrate proper technique for a paracentesis
Demonstrate the ability to utilize OSHA recommended Universal Precautions
Demonstrate the ability to use aseptic technique and the ability to establish a sterile field
Demonstrate proper wound care including skin closure using various suturing techniques
Apply casts and splints using proper materials and techniques
Demonstrate the ability to determine when supplemental oxygen is required by a patient and the factors which must be considered when determining the best delivery method and rate of flow
Demonstrate competency in the interpretation of plain radiographs of the chest, abdomen, spine and extremities
All candidates and students for the Physician Assistant (P.A.) Program must possess certain capabilities and skills, with or without reasonable accommodation. These include the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data. They must have functional use, with or without accommodation, of the senses of vision, hearing, and equilibrium. Their exteroceptive (touch, pain, temperature) and proprioceptive (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis, and vibratory) senses must be sufficiently intact to enable them to carry out all activities required for a complete P.A. education. Candidates must have motor function capabilities to meet the demands of P.A. education and the demands of total patient care. The candidate for the PA Program must possess the following capabilities and skills:
1. Observation: The ability to observe is required for demonstrations, visual presentations in lectures and laboratories, laboratory evidence and microbiological cultures, microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissue in normal and pathologic states. Candidates and students must be able to observe patients accurately and completely, both at a distance and closely. This ability requires functional vision and somatic sensation and is enhanced by a sense of smell.
2. Communications: Candidates and students should be able to communicate intelligibly, and to observe patients closely in order to elicit and transmit information, describe changes in mood, activity, and posture, and perceive non-verbal communications. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. Communication in oral and written form with the health care team must be effective and efficient.
3. Motor: Candidates and students should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation (with or without accommodation) and percussion, as well as carry out diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should have motor function sufficient to execute movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Such skills require coordination of gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and sensation.
4. Intellectual - Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities: Problem solving is a critical skill demanded of P.A.s and this requires all these abilities. Candidates and students must also be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and the spatial relationships of structures.
5. Behavioral and Social Attributes: Candidates and students must have the emotional health to fully use his/her intellectual ability, exercise good judgment, complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients.
The practice of medicine requires physician assistant candidates and students be able to develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and colleagues. To provide high quality patient care, physician assistant candidates and students must possess characteristics of adaptability, flexibility, and be able to function in the face of uncertainty. The healthcare environment requires candidates and students be able to tolerate physical and emotional stress and continue to function effectively and efficiently. He/she must have a high level of compassion for others, motivation to serve, integrity, and a consciousness of social values. Candidates and students must possess sufficient interpersonal skills to interact positively with people from all levels of society, all ethnic backgrounds, and all belief systems.
Candidates for admission to the PA Program are encouraged to ask questions about the program’s technical standards for clarification and to determine whether they can meet the requirements with or without reasonable accommodation. Any information and inquiries about disabilities are handled in a confidential manner, to the extent possible within the accommodation process, and should be directed to the PA Program Director.
The Physician Assistant Program faculty recognizes the responsibility to present candidates and students for the P.A. degree that have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of high quality patient care. The responsibility for these technical standards is primarily placed on the P.A. Program Interview Committee to select entering P.A. students who will be the candidates for the P.A. degree.