Physician Assistant Program Admission Requirements

Roles, Competencies, and Performance Criteria Expected of Graduates from the USF Physician Assistant Program

The University of St. Francis Physician Assistant Program has adopted the Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession established by the four national PA organizations (NCCPA, AAPA, PAEA and ARC-PA) as program learning outcomes.  The PA Program uses these outcomes to guide curricular change and development.  The competencies are grouped into six content areas:

Medical Knowledge

Medical knowledge includes an understanding of pathophysiology, patient presentation, differential diagnosis, patient management, surgical principles, health promotion and disease prevention. Physician assistants must demonstrate core knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care in their area of practice. In addition, physician assistants are expected to demonstrate an investigatory and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations.

Interpersonal & Communication Skills

Interpersonal and communication skills encompass verbal, nonverbal and written exchange of information. Physician assistants must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, their patients’ families, physicians, professional associates, and the health care system.

Patient Care

Patient care includes age-appropriate assessment, evaluation and management. Physician assistants must demonstrate care that is effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of wellness.


Professionalism is the expression of positive values and ideals as care is delivered. Foremost, it involves prioritizing the interests of those being served above one’s own. Physician assistants must know their professional and personal limitations. Professionalism also requires that PAs practice without impairment from substance abuse, cognitive deficiency or mental illness. Physician assistants must demonstrate a high level of responsibility, ethical practice, sensitivity to a diverse patient population and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements.

Practice-Based Learning and Improvement

Practice-based learning and improvement includes the processes through which clinicians engage in critical analysis of their own practice experience, medical literature and other information resources for the purpose of self-improvement. Physician assistants must be able to assess, evaluate and improve their patient care practices.

Systems-Based Practice

Systems-based practice encompasses the societal, organizational and economic environments in which health care is delivered. Physician assistants must demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger system of health care to provide patient care that is of optimal value. PAs should work to improve the larger health care system of which their practices are a part.

Technical Standards

The University of St. Francis Physician Assistant program requires certain skills and professional behaviors that are essential for admission, promotion, graduation, and entry into the profession.  Candidates must have skills in the areas of observation, communication, motor, intellectual/critical thinking, interpersonal and behavior/social attributes.  Reasonable accommodation for persons with documented disabilities will be considered on an individual basis.  Students wishing to request accommodations for disabilities should contact the Office of Disability Services Administrator at 815-740-3204.

  1. Observation Skills:  The candidate/student must possess sufficient visual, auditory and tactile sensation to perceive appropriate information presented in the classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings (ie., observe patients accurately at a distance and close at hand).
  2. Communication Skills:  The candidate/student should be able to speak, to hear, and to observe patients in order to elicit information, describe mood, activity, posture, and to perceive nonverbal communications. The candidate/student must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written forms.
  3. Motor Skills:  The candidate/student should be able to perform inspection, auscultation and palpation techniques during physical exam. The candidate/student should be able to execute movements reasonably required to move from area to area, maneuver in small places, calibrate and use large and small equipment, position and move patients, and provide patients with general care and emergency treatment.
  4. Intellectual/Critical Thinking Skills:  The candidate/student must possess the ability to problem solve, which requires the intellectual abilities of measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. The candidate/student must be able to read and understand medical literature.
  5. Interpersonal, Behavioral/Social Attributes:  The candidate/student must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgement, the prompt completion of all academic and patient responsibilities, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients, their families, and members of the healthcare team.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Physician Assistant Studies program is extremely competitive, with approximately 34-40 students admitted to a cohort class. Our admission procedure considers a holistic view of each applicant. We look for applicants with demonstrated intellectual capacity, personal maturity, communication and interpersonal skills, as well as a desire to serve others and the profession.

Click here to review USF’s PA Program Admission Requirements

Please note: we now require that candidates must have CASPA science (BCP) GPA of 3.0 to apply.

Students are required to submit to a criminal background check and a urine drug testing in order to matriculate. The fees associated with the background check and drug testing are the responsibility of the student. Refusal to submit to the background check or drug screen will result in dismissal from the program.


The program’s admissions committee carefully reviews all applications. Selected candidates are invited to the program for personal interviews. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission, nor does it guarantee an interview. Candidates are evaluated based on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, academic achievement, references, personal interview, motivation and quality of health care experience. Our program accepts candidates on a rolling basis.

Apply For Admission

Applications for admission to the P.A. program must be made through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA). To begin your application process, you should visit their website at USF application deadline is October 1. If you have any questions or need assistance with your application, call CASPA at 240-497-1895 to speak with CASPA’s customer service representatives.