Featured Associate: University of South Carolina

The emerging University of South Carolina (UofSC) School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program opened its doors to students in 2017.  The fifth cohort of students began matriculating this past January.  The mission of the program is to produce highly competent, compassionate physician assistants who are committed to lifelong learning and advancing the PA profession. The program is dedicated to producing physician assistants who deliver high-quality, patient-centered care and excel as members of an interprofessional health care team, while making significant contributions to the health care needs of South Carolina and across the nation.

The vision of the program is to prepare physician assistant graduates to improve access to primary medical care for the citizens of rural and medically underserved areas of South Carolina as well as nationally.

Addressing both necessity and safety, the UofSC PA program has blended both in-person and virtual platforms to maximize student instruction over the past year and a half to continue the program without interruption.  Due to the benefit of efficient use of time and effective learning, asynchronous content remains in use even after restrictions are beginning to be being lifted.

The 27-month program spans seven semesters including a 15-month didactic phase and a 12-month clinical phase.  In the didactic phase, both PA program and School of Medicine faculty along with subject matter experts from our clinical partner, Prisma Health, instruct students in basic sciences and clinical medicine.  PA students have 24-hour access to the cadaveric anatomy lab and access to the world-renowned Ultrasound Institute located on the School of Medicine campus.  Additionally, students train in the Simulation and Interactive Learning Center (SILC), a joint medical academic partnership between the UofSC School of Medicine and the Columbia VA Health Care System, and the Prisma Health Simulation Center providing BLS, ACLS, PALS, and unique specialty-based simulations.   These programs employ advanced simulation techniques to facilitate the development of cognitive, psychomotor, and interpersonal skills.  This is a focused effort to provide education and training that develops high-quality patient care, enhances individual and team performance, and improves patient safety.

The clinical year provides students with valuable hands-on patient care consisting of nine core rotations including two in family medicine and one in orthopedics as well as two electives of the students choosing.  The students complete Capstone and Summative courses which include clinical research, community service, continuing medical education (CME), medical knowledge exams, patient interaction and education, clinical and psychomotor skills evaluation, PANCE review and preparation, professionalism assessment, interview skills development, and introduction to contracts and financial responsibility.  Students receive an intensive, well-rounded experience in preparation for transition into clinical practice.

Students are self-governing through elected class officers and activity chairs with representation on the Dean’s Council, American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), and the South Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants (SCAPA) committees.

To learn more about the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program, please visit our website Physician Assistant – School of Medicine Columbia | University of South Carolina or our social media outlets (Facebook @USCSOMPAProgram, Twitter @UofSCPAProgram, and Instagram @UofSCPAProgram links).

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