Curriculum Section Table of Contents

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New Graduate Physician Assistant Competencies

The NC MSPAS program will provide a curriculum that allows its students to meet the new graduate degree core competencies suggested for optimal team practice within the six domains described and outlined below, with cross-cutting influences of cultural humility and on-going self-assessment. Students will progress towards the achievement of these competencies through a stepwise course progression, wherein they master individual course goals and learning objectives that align with ARC-PA Standards. All coursework has been designed to progress the student through deliberately mapped, assessed and tracked pedagogical practice to meet the program competency goals.

PAEA’s six domains of new graduate core competencies highlight evidence-based practice, cultural humility and ongoing self-assessment. The NC MSPAS student will show specific skills, knowledge and abilities in the following domains that allow for students to meet the expected core competencies required of optimal team practice within the five domains of competency described by the ARC-PA 5th Standards, with three additional program specific learning outcomes of health equity, lifestyle medicine, and health care law, finance and systems comprising eight total NC MSPAS program competencies:

  1. Medical Knowledge (MK) 
  1. Interpersonal and Communication Skills (ICS) 
  1. Clinical Technical Skills (CTS) 
  1. Clinical Reasoning and Problem-Solving Skills (CRPS) 
  1. Interprofessional Collaborative Practice-Professional Behaviors (PB) 
  1. Health Equity, Health Policy and Delivery (HEPD) 
  1. Health Care Law, Finance and Systems (HCFS) 
  1. Lifestyle Medicine (LM) 

Many assessments will be done over the 24 months of the program both by the physician assistant student and faculty to self-assess and formally assess the competency level expected of new graduates in the aforementioned domains. Specific to our program, longitudinal assessments will be occurring throughout the two years to make sure the student is able to join an interprofessional team upon graduation. These very specific assessments represent our Foundational Assessment Milestones or FAMS. Each FAM represents several of the competency domains. In sum, we believe the 13 FAMs represent a snapshot of the concrete skills, knowledge and abilities new employers seek. The program aims to instruct, observe and coach their students in the development of these activities through both self, peer and faculty assessment. Our students will grow in these activities from beginner, novice, and then competent during the 24 months of the program. 

FAM 1 Develop rapport and an atmosphere of inclusivity with patients from any backgrounds through communication and intrapersonal skills
FAM 2 Elicit preventive screening and problem-based health history and perform physical examination across the lifespan
FAM 3 Synthesize a problem list collected from patient data pertinent to the identification of health-related concerns
FAM 4 Recommend and interpret common diagnostic tests
FAM 5 Obtain informed consent for tests and/or procedures
FAM 6 Perform general procedures of a new PA graduate
FAM 7 Provide an oral presentation of a clinical encounter
FAM 8 Form a clinical question and retrieve evidence to advance patient care
FAM 9 Document a clinical encounter in the patient record with knowledge of basic billing and coding
FAM 10 Collaborate as a member of an interprofessional team
FAM 11 Recognize and evaluate a patient requiring urgent/emergent care
FAM 12 Promote a culture of safety and identify system failure
FAM 13 Recognize at-risk health behaviors, invite discussion and counsel a patient regarding preventive health initiatives

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) program is a continuous, 24-month program beginning in January. The program requires the completion of 123 credit hours.  In the case of program approved deceleration, all MSPAS students must complete all required components of the curriculum within 36 months of their first day of the program.

The curriculum is delivered as a combination of didactic, laboratory, and clinical coursework. Didactic and laboratory courses will be delivered by North Central College faculty in a traditional format. Case-based and problem-based learning models will be emphasized in order to prepare students for independent learning at the clinical sites and in future practice. Didactic courses may be offered in an online or blended format. Supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPEs) will be implemented at approved clinical affiliates with North Central College oversight of student learning.

Spring Semester Year One
Course Title Credit Hours Number of Weeks
MPAS 501 Foundations of Medical Science I 4 16
MPAS 505 Molecular Basis of Disease 3 16
MPAS 511 The PA, Patient & Society I 2 16
MPAS 515 Narrative Based Medicine & Communication 2 16
MPAS 521 Clinical Therapeutics I 3 16
MPAS 525 Evidence Based Medicine 2 16
MPAS 531 Clinical Medicine & Infectious Disease I 4 16
MPAS 541 Diagnostic Methods I 2 16
Total 22
Summer Semester Year One
Course Title Credit Hours Number of Weeks
MPAS 502 Foundations of Medical Science II 2 16
MPAS 512 The PA, Patient & Society II 2 16
MPAS 522 Clinical Therapeutics II 3 16
MPAS 532 Clinical Medicine & Infectious Disease II 4 8
MPAS 533 Clinical Medicine & Infectious Disease III 4 8
MPAS 542 Diagnostic Methods II 2 16
MPAS 551 Clinical Decision Making 3 16
MPAS 561 Patient Evaluation & Counseling in Primary Care I 2 16
Total 22
Fall Semester Year One
Course Title Credit Hours Number of Weeks
MPAS 503 Foundations of Medical Science III 2 16
MPAS 513 The PA, Patient & Society III 2 16
MPAS 523 Clinical Therapeutics III 3 16
MPAS 534 Clinical Medicine & Infectious Disease IV 4 8
MPAS 535 Clinical Medicine & Infectious Disease V 4 8
MPAS 543 Diagnostic Methods III 2 16
MPAS 552 Clinical Decision Making II 3 16
MPAS 562 Patient Evaluation & Counseling in Primary Care II 2 16
Total 22
Spring, Summer, Fall Year Two
Course Title Credit Hours Number of Weeks
MPAS 600 Bridge Course 3 4
MPAS 611 Medical Leadership I 1 16
MPAS 612 Medical Leadership II 1 16
MPAS 624 Clinical Therapeutics IV 1 4
MPAS 626 Evidence Based Medicine I & Applied Research 1 8
MPAS 627 Evidence Based Medicine II & Applied Research 1 8
MPAS 630 Emergency Medicine 6 6
MPAS 635 Internal Medicine 6 6
MPAS 640 Family Medicine 6 6
MPAS 645 Women's Health 6 6
MPAS 650 Pediatrics 6 6
MPAS 655 General Surgery 6 6
MPAS 660 Behavioral Health 6 6
MPAS 665 Elective I 4 4
MPAS 695 Summative Capstone Seminar 3 2
Total 57

Course Descriptions


Clinical Year

The students will begin their clinical year with 4 weeks of intense, specialty specific preparatory work prior to initiating their core clinical rotations. This month will include the fourth offering of Clinical Therapeutics, clinical certifications such as BLS, ACLS and PALS, emergency medical Spanish, billing and coding, and a return to evidence-based medicine case studies and capstone preparation.

Supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPEs) will be implemented at approved clinical affiliates with North Central College oversight of student learning. There are 7 core clinical rotations which include: Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, General Surgery, Internal Medicine, Women’s Health and Behavioral Health and one four-week primary care or surgical elective. The Medical Leadership courses will be delivered asynchronously during the clinical year. Students will have an intentional core-rotation specific asynchronous curriculum during their clinical rotations to help prepare them for return to campus day assessments. The return to campus day consists of two days at the end of each core-rotation where students are formally assessed, meet for classes and mentoring sessions with faculty advisors. The Summative Capstone course is where students will deliver their research project formally to their peers, including interprofessional colleagues in the School of Education and Health Sciences.

Program Facilities and Resources

The North Central College School of Education and Health Sciences built a 40,000-square-foot building on campus, steps from beautiful downtown Naperville at 160 East Chicago Avenue. The Health Sciences building houses the MSPAS Program, the Master of Occupational Therapy Program, another upcoming health science program, and an Engineering laboratory. Faculty and staff offices, skills lab, and didactic PA classrooms are located on the first floor. The third floor houses our simulation center with 5 CAE high and low fidelity mannequins, an Interprofessional Education (IPE) classroom, clinical year PA classroom, 5 Problem Based Learning (PBL) break-out rooms and 5 fully functional outpatient clinic rooms with a dedicated Standardized Patient lounge. A large student lounge and kitchen, showers and a lactation room are available for faculty, staff and students as well. 

North Central Facilities and Community Resources

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (P.A.) Program

The North Central College Master's Degree Physician Assistant program will prepare our diverse students to become competent medical providers who deliver humane, patient and relationship-centered primary care in collaboration with healthcare professionals while developing future leaders committed to community service, life-long learning and advancement of the PA profession.