Curriculum and Competencies

Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies


Program Overview

The Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant (PA) Studies Program at Frostburg State University (FSU) is a professional degree program intended to prepare students academically and professionally for responsibilities, services, and leadership as a Physician Assistant. This graduate education program consists of two phases spanning 24 months to include intersessions and summers with a total of 117 credits. Phase I (didactic phase) represents the pre-clinical year and spans the first 13 months, representing 74 program credits. Phase II (clinical field education phase) represents 43 program credits including ten diverse supervised clinical field experiences (Supervised Clinical Practice Experience or SCPEs) and a four credit summative capstone course over a period of 11 months. Categorical learning domains include human anatomy, basic medical sciences, clinical medicine, clinical assessment and diagnostics, clinical patient care skills and interventions, professional development, research, and multiple field practice experiences. The program reserves the right to modify the curriculum sequence as deemed appropriate. The program additionally reserves the right to add additional courses after obtaining the approval of the University’s curriculum change process committees.

Clinical Education Experiences (SCPEs)

Each of the Supervised Clinical Placement Experiences (SCPE) spans a 4-week period, with the exception of one SCPE which will be three (3) weeks, and begin and end over the course of the second phase of the program (clinical field education). All PA students advance through the seven required SCPEs and three elective SCPEs during the second phase of the program. Only students deemed to be in good academic standing by the program are permitted to complete an elective. Specific SCPEs may be assigned to students deemed at risk by the clinical coordinator in place of an elective. Students may submit a request for a particular discipline with the understanding that the sequence of clinical placements is determined by the Clinical Coordinator (CC). Whenever possible, students are placed at clinical sites within a 150-mile radius of USMH and considered part of the western Maryland region. However, due to changes in availability of individual clinical sites, it is sometimes necessary for a student to travel further than this distance. In accordance with our mission, the program will also strive to assure that students are placed in one to three sites considered to be a rural area or which serves a large population of medically underserved patients.

It is the responsibility of the PA Program and not the students to identify and schedule sites used for the SCPEs. (ARC-PA standard A3.03). It may be possible for a student to suggest a clinical site for his or her use that is or is not part of the established clinical network of preceptors. Such sites must meet all of the established educational goals for the clinical experience and must agree to become legally affiliated with the FSU PA Program during the time the student is attending the site. The priority will be focused on established local sites and establishing new local sites. However, no student is permitted to contact a potential preceptor directly. All contact information must be provided to the PA program’s clinical coordinator to make contact with preceptors. Students are prohibited from contacting and making arrangements for their own clinical placement sites.  Failure to follow this protocol can result in dismissal from the program. It is the discretion of the PA Program to utilize student-identified sites and not all students may be placed at sites which they identify/request.

Students will be required to have reliable transportation and are responsible for the costs incurred for transportation and housing during all SCPEs whether placed there by their choice or by the program.

Course Sequence

Phase I - Summer I Credits
DPAM 601 Human Anatomy I 2
DPAM 631 Developing the PA Professional I 3
DPAM 610 Clinical Medicine I 3
DPAM 621 Basic Science I 3
DPAM 641 Patient Assessment and Diagnostic Methods I 3
DPAM 651 Pharmacology I 3
DPAM 660 Population Health 2
Phase I - Fall I Credits
DPAM 602 Human Anatomy II 2
DPAM 632 Developing the PA Professional II  2
DPAM 611 Clinical Medicine II 6
DPAM 622 Basic Science II 4
DPAM 642 Patient Assessment and Diagnostic Methods II 4
DPAM 652 Pharmacology II 3
DPAM 665 Research and Evidence Based Medicine 2
Phase I - Winter I Credits
DPAM 675 Geriatrics 2
DPAM 680 Pediatrics 2
DPAM 670 Functional and Preventive Medicine  1
Phase I - Spring I Credits
DPAM 603 Human Anatomy III 2
DPAM 633Developing the PA Professional III 2
DPAM 612 Clinical Medicine III 6
DPAM 623 Basic Sciences III 4
DPAM 643 Patient Assessment and Diagnostic Methods III 4
DPAM 653 Pharmacology III 3
Phase I - Summer I Credits
DPAM 685 Foundations of Surgery 2
DPAM 690 Emergency Medicine Intensive 3
DPAM 695 Transition to Clinical Practice 1
Phase II - Summer II Credits
SCPE 1 4
SCPE 2 4
Phase II - Fall II Credits
SCPE 3 4
SCPE 4 4
SCPE 5 4
SCPE 6 4
Phase II - Winter II Credits
SCPE 7 (Elective) 3
Phase II - Spring II Credits
SCPE 8 4
DPAM 709 Summative (Capstone) 4
SCPE 9 4
SCPE 10 4


Upon completion of the FSU PA Program, graduates are expected to be competent in the following areas with an emphasis on rural and medically underserved populations:

Medical Knowledge

  • Demonstrate an understanding for the medical, behavioral and social knowledge necessary to evaluate and manage patients across all ages and patient populations in both primary care and specialty settings.

Interpersonal Skills and Communication:

  • Elicit an accurate medical history from patients.
  • Perform a detailed physical exam relevant to the medical history.
  • Document a clinical encounter in the patient record.
  • Deliver accurate patient education that encompasses verbal, non-verbal and written forms of information to the patient and their care team that considers disease prevention and health awareness.
  • Provide an oral presentation of a clinical encounter.
  • Give or receive a patient handover to transition care responsibly.

Clinical Problem Solving:

  • Demonstrate an ability to formulate a differential diagnosis following a clinical encounter.
  • Demonstrate an ability to recommend and interpret appropriate diagnostic studies to assist in the evaluation and treatment of the patient.
  • Demonstrate the ability to develop and implement an appropriate therapeutic management plan, either pharmacological or non-pharmacological, based on the patient’s medical history, physical exam and diagnostic study findings.
  • Recognize a patient requiring urgent or emergent care, and initiate evaluation and management.
  • Demonstrate an ability to make informed decisions about the care of patients consistent with up-to-date scientific evidence, patient preferences, and sound clinical judgment.
  • Identify system failures and contribute to a culture of safety and improvement.

Technical Skills:

  • Demonstrate the ability to obtain informed consent and perform clinical procedures common to primary care to include: venipuncture, intravenous access, joint injections and aspirations, wound management, laceration repair, casting and splinting, strep screening, urinalysis, catheterization, performing pelvic exams, and interpretation of radiographic images, pulmonary function tests and ECGs.
  • Effectively utilize telemedicine equipment and demonstrate the ability to discern conditions that are appropriate for treatment using telemedicine/telepsychiatry.


  • Demonstrate professionalism with high ethical principles, sensitivity, and responsiveness to all patients, their care teams, and members of the healthcare team.