Department of Physician Assistant Studies
Mission, Vision, Educational Philosophy and Goals

Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies is to provide educational experiences which prepare physician assistant graduates to enhance access to primary medical care, with a hope to increase care for the citizens of rural and medically-underserved Eastern North Carolina and beyond. We seek to achieve this mission in an educational community where faculty, staff, clinical instructors, students, and other health care providers work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect, cooperation, compassion, and commitment.

Vision Statement

The vision of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies is to offer our students educational and experiential opportunities that will allow them to exceed national standards of medical competence as graduates.  Our students will develop the professional discernment and human empathy that will facilitate their ability to merge technology and compassionate care throughout their careers as physician assistants.

Educational Philosophy Statement

We are dedicated to providing the highest quality education and instruction possible by immersing faculty and students in an environment that cultivates a sense of academic, professional, and service excellence. We respond to suggestions for modification and enrichment of the program from all who participate in the educational process because we view learning as a reciprocal and collegial interaction.

Program Goals

These goals support the mission and vision of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies:

Goal: To maintain a primary care-oriented educational program that includes exposures to rural and medically-underserved populations.

Outcome: The curriculum is designed with a primary care focus. Oversight of curriculum development is provided by the program faculty with feedback from the medical director. The curriculum focuses on primary care and embraces the Competencies for the PA Profession as designated by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, utilizing their "blueprint" as a guideline in developing curriculum content. All students are exposed to rural and medically-underserved populations by doing one or more clinical rotations in medically-underserved areas and/or areas with a shortage of health professionals. The yellow circle below represents the area where most of our core rotations are located.

Provider Shortage and Medically Underserved

Goal: Achieve a first-time pass rate on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) that meets or exceeds the national average.

Outcome: Success of this goal is evidenced by a 100% first-time PANCE pass rate in 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013. Over five years, the program's first-time PANCE pass rate average is 99.5%, which is 6 percentage points higher than the national average.


Goal: Recruit, select, and educate a highly qualified student population mostly from North Carolina, with representation from rural communities without regard to ethnicity, culture, gender, or religion.


Recruitment Outcomes

Goal: Students will utilize simulated and practice-based learning in order to develop the clinical competence and skills necessary to practice as physician assistants.

Outcome: As students progress through the program, they perform 20 graded objective structured clinical examinations with simulated patients throughout the didactic and clinical portions of the curriculum in order to assure clinical competence and meet program outcomes.During the second fall of the didactic curriculum, students take Introduction to Clinical Practice, the capstone course for the didactic curriculum that is taught using practice-based learning. In this course, each student must demonstrate competence in performing a patient history and focused physical exam, developing an appropriate differential diagnosis, and formulating an evidence-based plan of management. At the end of the clinical year, all students must take and pass a summative assessment composed of a knowledge base exam, professionalism evaluation, interpersonal skill evaluation, and patient care skills. 

Goal: Graduates will be able to demonstrate professionalism in their interactions with patients and other members of the health care team.

Outcome: The ability of each student to demonstrate professionalism is evaluated during objective structured clinical examinations throughout the didactic and clinical portions of the curriculum, and adequate performance is required to graduate from the program. Each student's professional behavior is evaluated during the didactic phase of training and by preceptors during the clinical phase of training in order to assure students demonstrate professionalism.

Goal: Maintain accreditation by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)

Outcome: East Carolina University's Department of Physician Assistants within the College of Allied Health Sciences has been accredited by ARC-PA since 1997. The approximate date for the next comprehensive review of the Department by ARC-PA will be June 2015.

Our Program

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