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Curriculum Questions

1. Are all classes taught by the PA faculty?

PA faculty teach a number of the courses in the PA curriculum, depending on their areas of specialty and their academic and professional interests. In addition to PA faculty, the PA courses are also taught by more than 300 physicians and basic science faculty in the College of Medicine who prepare and deliver classroom lectures in their areas of expertise. In all clinical science courses, there is always a PA faculty member serving as Coursemaster for that course, who attends the lectures, takes notes, and writes the exam questions directed toward the desired knowledge base of a physician assistant, based on published course objectives. The Coursemaster concept ensures that the classroom education and testing provided to PA students remains at the level expected of physician assistants and also ensures continuity of coverage for all evaluation methodologies.

2. Does the School of PAS provide human cadavers for dissection?

The University of Florida School of Physician Assistant Studies is one of only a handful of Physician Assistant educational programs in the nation that provide human cadavers for dissection in the Gross Anatomy course as well as the Advanced Clinical Practicum course. Despite the growing cost for human cadavers, the School feels strongly that dissection on a human cadaver provides an opportunity that is unmatched in medical education and allows PA students to grow in confidence about their knowledge of the intricate structure of the human body. While prosection permits students to memorize structure, the UF School of PAS feels that it fails to provide the dissecting skills necessary to expose and delineate all body structures. The dissection exercise offered by the U.F. School of Physician Assistant Studies increases students’ self-confidence as well as paralleling the same education that physicians have in basic medical education.

3. Is a computer required for the curriculum?

College of Medicine Computer Requirement

All students are required to own a laptop computer and bring it to class on a regular basis. The College of Medicine does not endorse a specific operating system or computer brand. This requirement focuses on function and open standards. The following list of capabilities are required at a minimum:

  • Hardware
    • Modern, network-aware operating system
      • Windows XP or above, Mac OSX 10.4 or above
    • WiFi Wireless network capability
      • (802.11g is strongly recommended.)
      • This may be built-in, or a plug-in card.
    • Display resolution at least 1024×768 pixels
    • Sound capable with headphone jack
    • At least one USB port
    • CD read/write / DVD read media drive
      • (Full DVD read/write is recommended.)
    • Long life battery (* see below)
    • Printer


  • Malware protection
    • Current, fully-patched operating system
    • Anti-viral software installed and up to date
    • Anti-spyware software installed and up to date
  • Modern, standards-compliant Web browser
    • Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape, Opera, and Safari are good choices.
  • Standards-based email client
    • Must be capable of accessing campus Gatorlink email.
    • Some students may wish to use the campus Webmail exclusively.
  • Standard “run time” environment for Java programs
  • Software to read/write Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint formats
    • MS Office or Open Office (free!) from
  • Ability to read PDF files

* Laptop batteries have a limited life span. It is very common for students to experience less than one hour battery life. This is a sign that the battery is old and should be replaced. Given the length of the school day, we strongly encourage students to replace old, failing batteries and invest in a second spare battery. The Lithium ion (LiON) battery type is preferred.

4. Will there be opportunities for encountering live patients during the first year?

PA students perform history and physicals on hospitalized patients, including geriatric patients, as part of the Hospital Practicum course in Spring semester. Their experiences are presented to a physician in Internal Medicine, and following the student’s presentation, a complete writeup of the history and physical is prepared, submitted to the physician, and graded by the physician.

During the Advanced Clinical Practicum course in Summer A semester, all PA students have time in the Operating Room to observe and/or participate as assistant on a surgical case.

5. How are students introduced to the male and female genitalia exams?

As an integral part of the Physical Diagnosis course in the academic year, students receive instruction and practice in physical examination of live “patients.” To provide the best learning opportunity for students to acquire skill in the physical exam, the School of PAS utilizes men and women professional models who serve as both teacher and “patient” to instruct students and provide practical experience in male rectal and genitalia exam and in female breast and pelvic exam. This is a required experience and generally serves not only as a teaching methodology but also as a means of helping students relieve nervousness associated with this rather sensitive part of the Physical Diagnosis course.

6. Can a student complete the curriculum as a part-time student?

The School of Physician Assistant Studies’ curriculum requires a full-time commitment from students. No part-time study program is offered.

7. Are students allowed to be employed during their enrollment in the School of PAS?

Outside employment, whether inside or outside the University, is strongly discouraged during enrollment in the School of PAS. Physician assistant education is definitely a full-time endeavor. However, while School approval is not required for a student to start work, it is essential that the work must not interfere with the student’s education. If, in the judgment of the faculty, outside employment is diminishing the student’s ability to be an effective learner, the student will be required to reduce or eliminate his/her work.

8. Does the School of PAS offer remedial work in areas of weakness?

Each incoming PA student is assigned a faculty advisor who monitors the performance of that student carefully and regularly, in order to identify any academic or other concerns and to provide direction and resources that will assist the student in improving his/her performance. The School also provides an academic support program under the direction of the Academic Coordinator, to assist students in need of remediation or independent study. Now five years in existence, this academic support program has proved very successful in identifying areas that need strengthening and in providing the resources and direction students may need in order to improve their performance.

9. Will the School of PAS curriculum adequately prepare its graduates for clinical practice?

Feedback received from School graduates as well as clinical preceptors, physician supervisors/ employers, and numerous other sources indicates overwhelmingly that the University of Florida School of Physician Assistant Studies prepares its graduates to function at the highest level of proficiency and clinical competence.