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Physician Assistant Program


The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program at Christian Brothers University trains physician assistants (PAs) to better serve patients in the community, region, state, and nation. We've partnered with nationally-renowned medical facilities to offer exceptional clinical experiences during both phases of the program, with an orthopedic thread.

Our emphasis is on evidence-based primary care and preventive medicine, the provision of health care to the medically underserved, and the use of information technology in medicine. The program promotes interdisciplinary team care, patient advocacy, and the delivery of primary health care for all patients.

Your training will provide you with the knowledge and experience to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment as a general practitioner. After graduation, you must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) and apply for state medical licensure to work with a supervising physician or surgeon.

Why Become a Physician Assistant?

Physician assistants enjoy a great work-life balance and a high level of job satisfaction. PAs perform services the supervising physician might provide, and can work with a relatively high degree of autonomy. Also, PAs are the only medical care provider who can change their area of practice from one medical specialty to another without additional formal training or certification.

Career & Salary Outlook

The PA profession is seeing tremendous growth. U.S. News & World Report ranked physician assistant (PA) as the 3rd best job overall and the 2nd best healthcare job in 2020. Salaries have been rising with demand - the median PA salary has gone from $104,131 in 2016 to $115,000 in 2018, according to the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) 2018 Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants Annual Report.


CBU is located on a 75-acre wooded campus in midtown Memphis, Tennessee - about four miles east of downtown and close to major medical centers. The physician assistant program is a graduate program in the CBU School of Sciences.

PA Program Structure

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program is based on active-learning, student engagement, and an integrative approach.

Coursework: 15 months
Clinical rotations: 14 months


Applications will be accepted beginning April 30, 2020 through the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) for the cohort starting January 2021.

Program Mission and Goals

In keeping with the university’s institutional goals, the program embraces educating minds, touching hearts, and remembering the presence of God.

Our mission is to educate and prepare diverse and exemplary individuals to become caring, competent, ethical, and professional physician assistants who can practice clinically in a wide variety of settings and positively affect their patients, the community, and the health care system through evidence-based and preventive medicine, leadership, life-long learning, utilization of information technology, the provision of health care to the medically underserved, interdisciplinary team care, patient advocacy, and the delivery of primary health care for all patients.

PA Program Goals:

  1. Recruit and matriculate qualified applicants from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.
    • For the most recent cohort:
      • The program recruited and matriculated applicants from 21 to 33 years of age
      • Two matriculates have dual citizenships
      • 8 from large cities; 4 from mid-size cities; 4 from urban settings; 8 from large towns; 7 from small towns, and 4 from rural, isolated areas
      • Ethnicities include White, Black, Asian, Asian Indian, Korean, Philipino, Chinese, Mexican, and American Indian
      • Languages spoken include English, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, and Gujarati
      • Experiences include research, scribe, office manager, technicians (lab, vet, patient care, ER settings, and pharm settings), CNA, health screening, lab assistant, medical lab scientist, medical record clerk, hospital volunteer, dental assistant, nanny, medical assistant, medical interpreter, EMT, first responder, patient advocate, medical mission trips, soccer and tennis players, and Boy Scout
    • For all cohorts:
      • The program matriculated students from Canada and Romania
      • 45% of all matriculates are from Tennessee
      • 55% of all matriculates are from other states: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Illinois, Minnesota, Kansas, and Wisconsin to attend our program
      • 62% of all matriculates are from the midsouth region
  2. Prepare students to address community health issues and health disparities in the context of societal and economic systems.
    • The program was awarded a 2019 HRSA grant for $835,163 over five years to prepare students to work in underserved areas and address the opioid epidemic.
    • Students on rotations are completing community-based projects with community-based partners.
      • Project: Stressors in Chronic Disease of Rural Communities
      • Project: Evaluation of Awareness of Community Health Resources and Their Effect on Overall Health and Quality of Life
    • Students complete health disparity assignments that relate to the socioeconomic issues of today.
    • Students complete rotations in rural, urban, and city medical facilities that address the needs of the underserved, such as Christ Community Center and Leland Medical Clinic.
    • Students complete a poverty simulation with other community partners
    • Students ride the bus to the Civil Rights Museum and have to figure out the bus schedule to reflect the challenges and barriers Mid-South residents experience in trying to access healthcare.
    • Graduate and employer surveys will further evaluate this goal after the first cohort graduates. Results will be published at that time.
  3. Attain and maintain an accredited program that ensures graduates will have the requisite knowledge and skills for entry into PA practice.
    • The program is currently in its third year of accreditation-provisional.
    • Preceptors are evaluating our students on the Core Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs). For the first 5 rotations completed by our students this past year, we were able to capture the average scores of students by rotation discipline. The scale is out of 5 possible points with 5 being the highest point value a preceptor can assign to a given EPA. A score of 3 or higher is considered passing for each EPA. The average scores by discipline are as follows:
           Practicum / Preceptor Scores Averaged
           BM: Behavioral Medicine Practicum / 4.73
           EM: Emergency Medicine Practicum / 4.68
           FM: Family Medicine Practicum / 4.57
           GS: General Surgery Practicum / 4.83
           IM: Internal Medicine Practicum / 4.50
           OR: Orthopedics Practicum / 4.86
           PE: Pediatrics Practicum / 4.64
           PG: Prenatal & Gynecologic Care / 4.49
          Overall Average
      / 4.67
    • The program will update the above report when the first cohort graduates at the end of June 2020.
    • Graduate and employer surveys will further evaluate this goal after the first cohort graduates. Results will be published at that time.
  4. Prepare PA students for team-based care through inter-professional education.
    • Students are oriented in their first semester to IPEC (Interprofessional Educational Collaborative) competencies.
    • Students are introduced to community learning groups where they go through the phases of forming, storming, and norming.
    • The cohorts have Interprofessional experiences with the Southern College of Optometry students, Union University social work students, and Union pharmacy students. The students are able to observe each other with real patients in a real medical setting. History taking, examinations, review of medications, patient care access, social needs, lab tests, and patient education occur. A debriefing follows. Students are asked at the end of the event if this would have a positive impact on their future practice. The result is below.
    • Students are introduced to and learn about teams. The TeamSTEPPS Pre-and Post-Training Knowledge Assessment is given.
    • Graduate and employer surveys will further evaluate this goal after the first cohort graduates. Results will be published at that time.
  5. Graduate competent physician assistants that function as professional members of the healthcare team in a variety of clinical settings to meet workforce needs.
    • Currently, we have no graduates. Information will be forthcoming after our students graduate at the end of June 2020.
  6. Foster a culture of professional involvement, leadership, and advocacy.
    • Currently, we have no graduates. Information will be forthcoming after our students graduate at the end of June 2020.


The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), 12000 Findley Road, Suite 150, Johns Creek, GA 30079 accredits Physician Assistant programs in the United States.

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Christian Brothers University Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Christian Brothers University.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

PA Resources and Links