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PA students in a lab session

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Physician Assistant Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

Admissions / Financial Aid

Do you require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)?

Yes, students must submit scores for the GRE.  The program requires a minimum score of 4.0 on the Analytical Writing section and competitive scores on the Verbal and Quantitative sections.  The GRE code for the University of Saint Francis Department of Physician Assistant Studies is 1693.

Are there scholarships available?

While the University of Saint Francis does not offer scholarships specific for PA graduate students, there are several financial aid options available. Contact the student financial aid office for more information.

Is any transfer credit accepted or advanced placement given for the PA Program?

There is no transfer credit or advanced placement allowed in the curriculum. All students, regardless of their academic background must complete all USF curriculum requirements.

What is the USF PA Program really looking for in an applicant?

Practicing medicine is a very demanding profession. An ideal applicant has a bachelor’s degree with a GPA over 3.0. GRE scores are required. Analytical scores should be 4.0 or greater. This person has taken science courses (premed type curriculum of biology or chemistry major) and has earned A’s in most. After graduation, the applicant has worked in a position with direct patient care. The applicant has demonstrated clinical skill not only in job performance, but also in documenting many post-graduate learning opportunities such as training classes in CPR, EKG, ACLS, or any of a host of clinical education classes. With references, personal statements, and interviews, the applicant will communicate well his or her desire to practice medicine with a physician in a caring manner.

Do I really need patient care experience?

Yes. Although some students may have achieved high academic standards with a college degree, the curriculum demands an application of skills. A “head knowledge” and the ability to score high on written tests does not always transfer automatically when it comes to clinical reasoning and patient skills. The practice of medicine is much more than the accomplishment of academic success. Clinical reasoning and skill require special ability. The purpose of the patient care experience is to demonstrate some aptitude in the area of clinical skill and a pattern of success in working with patients.

How do I find out more?

Call the Graduate Admissions Office at 260-399-8000 or 800-729-4732, or visit our website.

PA Program Related Questions

What is unique about the PA Program at the University of Saint Francis?

Although the standards of achievement among PA programs are rather universal, there are unique qualities that define USF's program. Problem Based Learning, small class size and one-on-one clinical rotations ensures a highly effective learning environment with a close personal touch.

Do I need to go full time?

The PA program is a full time experience that requires not only a full academic credit hour load but also a substantial time commitment on behalf of the student.

Can I work for USF or the PA program?

No.  There are no graduate assistantships available for PA students at USF.  PA students are never a primary instructor for any PA curriculum component.   The PA program requires a substantial time commitment. 

Can I work while enrolled in the PA program?

The faculty highly recommends that students do not work at all while enrolled in the program. The time required to accomplish the curriculum leaves little time left over for working. It is recommended that any spare time be devoted to family or relaxation.

What is a typical daily schedule like?

Unlike most college courses that follow a fairly rigid schedule of classes, the PA daily schedule is varied, unusually flexible, and highly unpredictable. On some days, no classes will be scheduled allowing students to study independently or as groups. On some days, classes may be held for up to 12 hours. The faculty constructs schedules as needed on a week-to-week basis. However, daily schedules may change with little notice.

Does your curriculum use Problem-Based Learning?

Yes. Many medical schools and a few PA schools have found that Problem-Based Learning (PBL) enhances clinical reasoning skills and provides for content retention. PBL is a major component of the USF PA program.

Will I get to be involved in patient care early in the program?

Yes. It is important to our emphasis on clinical skills that the students begin almost right away with working with patients. In the first semester, students visit with hospital patients “one-on-one” for patient interviews while learning skills of medical history. This experience continues and intensifies throughout the didactic year.

Where are the clinical locations?

Most of the clinical sites used by PA students are in the Fort Wayne area. Students will not be required to travel more than 90 minute's normal driving distance for the daily commute to a clinical site (i.e round trip). Students should expect to be assigned for at least one rotation beyond this distance outside of Fort Wayne where housing is provided by a clinical affiliate. Additionally, a limited number of rotations may be experienced at requested distant clinical sites as the student and faculty can arrange them. Clinical students are required to have housing within a 90 minute commute from campus during the clinical year.

Can I do a clinical rotation near my hometown?

These opportunities are very limited. Because of legal and academic obligations this process takes time and effort to set up, but has been done by a number of students. Faculty are not obligated to accommodate these requests and students should not expect to do more than 2 rotations outside of the Fort Wayne area.

What computer hardware and software will I need?

The PA Program relies heavily on computer and Internet tools. The University of Saint Francis is a PC based institution using Microsoft software. Students will be expected to own a PC and have access to the Internet. The standard “entry level” model is sufficient for anything needed in the program. If this is not possible computer facilities are provided on campus, but, of course, the availability of these facilities is limited. The University of Saint Francis campus utilizes a wireless computer network.  Students are encouraged to use a laptop computer with a wireless card.  Currently, because of an agreement with Microsoft, Inc., all up-to-date operating software (Windows, Word, PowerPoint, Access, Excel, etc.) is available through the Campus Shoppe at minimal cost.

Besides tuition, USF fees and living expenses, what other expense should I expect?

You will need medical equipment, books, immunization and other clearance for clinical rotations such as a drug screen and criminal background check.  The table below shows required expenses, options, and recommendations. 


In addition to the published tuition, semester and technology fees, the following table illustrates a summary of expected and optional fees.  These are an estimate only and prices are subject to change.

Estimated Required PA Departmental Fees for 2012-2013

(beyond typical USF tuition/ semester/technology fees)

Name badge


Drug Testing x2


Annual Background Check


Annual TB testing x3


Annual Flu Shot x 2






Graduation Pictures




 Possible / Other Fees

Professional Association Membership – SAAAPA


Professional Association Membership – USF Local


Didactic Year PACKRAT retake


Clinical Year PACKRAT retake


Lost Records Search Fee


Hardcopies of Immunization or other Lost Records




 Books and Equipment Cost




Recommended / Optional

Summer I

Medical Equipment
















MD Consult







Summer II




Fall II

MD Consult







 As of January 2012

Post Graduate Questions

Is there job placement available?

Most PA positions are filled because of “insider information”. That is to say that PA clinical students find out about jobs while on clinical rotation with physicians. In addition there are several Internet sources listing PA job openings. The University of Saint Francis does have a job placement service that may be able to assist graduates seeking a position.

Do USF graduates find jobs as PA's?

Yes. University of Saint Francis PA graduates are employed across the country in areas such as hospital emergency departments, medical specialist groups, clinics and private practice offices. Nearly everyone that has graduated is working as a PA. Those that are not practicing as PAs are for personal reasons, not because a lack of availability.

What is required after graduation to practice as a PA?

After completion of the program and graduation in August, the graduate is eligible to apply for a temporary provisional license from the state to practice medicine with a physician. The PANCE exam is a computerized test given at many locations nationwide with testing windows over 50 weeks of the year. With a passing grade on the PANCE, the graduate is eligible for NCCPA certification. The certification gives the graduate the credential of PA-C. As a PA-C, the graduate is eligible to apply to the state for a license to practice medicine with a physician.

Can I move my license from one state to another?

All 50 states recognize the PA-C credential for licensure, but each graduate will need to apply to his / her individual state according to that state’s laws. Although eligibility is universal, the license is individual to each state and cannot be transferred.

Do I have to do anything to keep my PA certification?

Yes. Every PA-C must complete a minimum of 100 hours of continuing medical education over a 2-year period. Those CME’s must be documented by the NCCPA. In addition to the CME work the PA-C must pass a recertification exam every 6 years. If either the CME work or the recertification exam is not completed in a timely manner, the NCCPA will not renew the certification and the graduate will lose the PA-C. That means that the license to practice will be lost as well.

General Questions

Do you have on campus housing?

Dormitory housing is available if a PA student chooses to live on campus. There are no apartment facilities on campus for married students.