PA Program Academic Policies

Enter your search term & enter. Esc or X to close.

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.

Christian Brothers University has applied for Accreditation - Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). CBU anticipates matriculating its next class in 2018 for the new program, pending achieving Accreditation - Provisional status at the September 2017 ARC-PA meeting. 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.

PA Program Academic Policies

PA program policy, if more stringent than University policy, supersedes University policy.

Academic Performance

All completed courses will be graded on a letter grade basis. Listed below are the grade options, the scale used and the quality points awarded per credit hour. Passing grades are considered a “P” or a “C” and better.

A                         > 90.00% 4.0
B+ 87.00% to 89.99% 3.5
B 80.00% to 86.99% 3.0
C+ 77.00% to 79.99% 2.5
C 70.00 to < 76.99% 2
P > 70% 0
F < 70% 0
FA Failure secondary to excessive absences 0
FN Failure secondary to not attending 0
I Incomplete (until removed) 0
NR Not recorded 0
AU Satisfactory Audit 0
UA Unsatisfactory Audit 0

Progression Standards

Normal progression occurs over 29 continuous months; 7.5 semesters; Spring I, Summer I, Fall I, Spring II, Summer II, Fall II, Spring III, and Summer Session 1. Students must successfully pass all courses in a didactic phase semester to matriculate to the next semester (earns a “P” or a “C” or better). Students who do not successfully pass a course may have the option to repeat the course. Repeating a course may result in deceleration, as some courses can only be offered once a year. Students should consider the financial impact of deceleration before accepting an offer to decelerate. Students can have a maximum of one (1) course or rotation repeat across the curriculum. The repeat course grade will be used for GPA calculations. A second failing grade across the curriculum or a second failing grade in the same course or rotation automatically dismisses a student from the program.

Students must successfully complete the academic year before matriculating to the clinical year. To progress to the clinical phase of the program, students must successfully pass all parts of the Didactic Comprehensive Evaluation course. Students who do not pass all parts of the Evaluation after two (2) attempts will be dismissed from the program and will not proceed to the clinical phase of the program. To graduate, students must pass all part of the Summative Assessment. Students who do not pass all parts of the Summative after two (2) attempts will be dismissed from the program and will not graduate from the program.

Failure to maintain a 3.0 or better cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale at the end of any semester will result in Academic Probation for the first incidence and Probation Failure for a consecutive incidence, resulting in dismissal from the program. If a student attains at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA at the completion of a probationary semester, Academic Probation will be removed. A student with Probation Failure may appeal to the Vice President for Academics to remain in the program.

A student dismissed from the program can reapply for admission through CASPA; however, admission is not guaranteed. Any student readmitted or decelerated who has not attended CBU for one (1) academic year or longer will be placed under the degree requirements and academic regulations listed in the Catalog of the year of reentry. Any readmitted or decelerated student will be placed on Academic Probation during the first semester back.

Students who fail to meet academic standards or need to take a leave of absence may be subject to deceleration. Some reasons for deceleration include course failure (grade below a “C”), lapse in professionalism, or a requested and approved leave of absence. Deceleration cannot be longer than one year. Students must graduate within five (5) years of starting the program.

Withdrawal Policy and Procedure

The PA program follows the Christian Brothers University Withdrawal Policy. Information about withdrawing from the university can be found on the Student Resources webpage.

Graduation Requirements

A candidate for the degree of Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies must meet the following requirements:

  • All required program courses have been completed with a grade of “C” or better or a “P”
  • A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better has been achieved
  • A 70% or higher on all components of the Summative Assessment has been achieved

The university may have additional requirements such as the discharge of all financial obligations. Failure to do so may result in the withholding of final grades and/or official transcript and/or the degree to which the student would otherwise be entitled.

It is the student’s responsibility to complete all degree/certificate requirements and to know the university’s requirements for graduation.


Remediation is the process used to resolve a student’s inability to demonstrate a competency on an examination and provides an opportunity for the student to demonstrate mastery of the failed content. A score of less than 70% on any part of an examination will require remediation. Failure to make the appropriate contacts or remediate after a failed component of a course will be considered an academic deficiency.

Goals of Remediation: To assist the student in mastering the area of study in which they have demonstrated a deficiency. Students will be reassessed to determine impact of remediation.

Guidelines for Remediation: The didactic and clinical phases of the program have distinct policies based on differences in the examination and evaluation processes.

Didactic Phase
All failed didactic phase examinations must be remediated. Over the course of the four (4) didactic phase semesters, a student will have the opportunity to remediate a maximum of two (2) failed examinations with a potential grade change. Only one exam can be remediated in any single course. Once notified of their failing grade, the student MUST contact the Instructor of Record (IOR) to address the method for remediation of the deficient content. Given the structure of the program, the remediation activity must be concluded within two weeks of the contact with the IOR. Remediation activity may include a re-test over the material or student review and/or revision of missed material. The highest score a student can achieve is 70% or the lowest “C” achievable based on the grading scale. Remediation of other activities and assignments within the didactic phase are at the discretion of the course director, however no grade change is permitted. Failure of a third exam will result in dismissal from the program.

Clinical Phase
Students have the opportunity to retake a maximum of two (2) failed EOR exams during the clinical year. The retest must take place within 7 days of the original EOR exam.  Failure of the retest will constitute failure of the rotation and necessitate repeating the rotation prior to graduation. Students may repeat only one (1) failed rotation.

Completion Deadlines and Requirements

Students must successfully complete all PA Program courses (110 credits) to earn a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree.

The program must be completed within five (5) years from day of matriculation.

Core Competencies for Academic Progress and Graduation

Between 2003-2004, the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) led an effort with three other national PA organizations (Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), and Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) -- formerly Association of Physician Assistant Programs (APAP)) to define PA competencies in response to similar efforts conducted within other health care professions and the growing demand for accountability and assessment in clinical practice.

The PA profession defines the specific knowledge, skills, attitudes, and educational experiences requisite for physician assistants to acquire and demonstrate these competencies. The clinical role of PAs includes primary and specialty care in medical and surgical practice settings. Professional competencies for physician assistants include the effective and appropriate application of medical knowledge, interpersonal and communication skills, patient care, professionalism, practice-based learning, and improvement and systems-based practice. Patient-centered, physician assistant practice reflects a number of overarching themes. These include an unwavering commitment to patient safety, cultural competence, quality health care, lifelong learning, and professional growth. Furthermore, the profession’s dedication to the physician-physician assistant team benefits patients and the larger community.

The Christian Brothers University PA Program core competencies are based on this model. Some of these competencies will be acquired during your formal PA education and training, while others will be developed and mastered as you become a seasoned practitioner in the art of medicine. Successfully meeting the program’s progression standards detailed earlier on this page, evidenced through assessments based on learning outcomes as defined in the syllabi will provide a foundation for which to grow as you graduate and enter the PA profession.

The CBU PA program embraces the six core competencies as developed by the NCCPA and approved by ARC-PA. They are:

Medical Knowledge
Medical knowledge includes the synthesis 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 investigative and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations. Physician assistants are expected to understand, evaluate, and apply the following to clinical scenarios:

  • evidence-based medicine
  • scientific principles related to patient care
  • etiologies, risk factors, underlying pathologic process, and epidemiology for medical conditions
  • signs and symptoms of medical and surgical conditions
  • appropriate diagnostic studies
  • management of general medical and surgical conditions to include pharmacologic and other treatment modalities
  • interventions for prevention of disease and health promotion/maintenance
  • screening methods to detect conditions in an asymptomatic individual
  • history and physical findings and diagnostic studies to formulate differential diagnoses

Interpersonal & Communications Skills
Interpersonal and communication skills encompass the verbal, nonverbal, written, and electronic exchange of information. Physician assistants must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, patients’ families, physicians, professional associates, and other individuals within the health care system. Physician assistants are expected to:

  • create and sustain a therapeutic and ethically sound relationship with patients
  • use effective communication skills to elicit and provide information
  • adapt communication style and messages to the context of the interaction
  • work effectively with physicians and other health care professionals as a member or leader of a health care team or other professional group
  • demonstrate emotional resilience and stability, adaptability, flexibility, and tolerance of ambiguity and anxiety
  • accurately and adequately document information regarding care for medical, legal, quality, and financial purposes

Patient Care
Patient care includes patient- and setting-specific assessment, evaluation, and management. Physician assistants must demonstrate care that is effective, safe, high quality, and equitable. Physician assistants are expected to:

  • work effectively with physicians and other health care professionals to provide patient centered care
  • demonstrate compassionate and respectful behaviors when interacting with patients and their families
  • obtain essential and accurate information about their patients
  • make decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient
  • information and preferences, current scientific evidence, and informed clinical judgment
  • develop and implement patient management plans
  • counsel and educate patients and their families
  • perform medical and surgical procedures essential to their area of practice
  • provide health care services and education aimed at disease prevention and health maintenance
  • use information technology to support patient care decisions and patient education

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 acknowledge their professional and personal limitations. Professionalism also requires that PAs practice without impairment from substance abuse, cognitive deficiency[CAC6] , 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. Physician assistants are expected to demonstrate:

  • understanding of legal and regulatory requirements, as well as the appropriate role of the physician assistant
  • professional relationships with physician supervisors and other health care providers
  • respect, compassion, and integrity
  • accountability to patients, society, and the profession
  • commitment to excellence and on-going professional development
  • commitment to ethical principles pertaining to provision or withholding of clinical care, confidentiality of patient information, informed consent, and business practices
  • sensitivity and responsiveness to patients’ culture, age, gender, and abilities
  • self-reflection, critical curiosity, and initiative
  • healthy behaviors and life balance
  • commitment to the education of students and other health care professionals

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

  • analyze practice experience and perform practice-based improvement activities using a systematic methodology in concert with other members of the health care delivery team
  • locate, appraise, and integrate evidence from scientific studies related to their patients’ health
  • apply knowledge of study designs and statistical methods to the appraisal of clinical literature and other information on diagnostic and therapeutic effectiveness
  • utilize information technology to manage information, access medical information, and support their own education
  • recognize and appropriately address personal biases, gaps in medical knowledge, and physical limitations in themselves and others

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 balances quality and cost, while maintaining the primacy of the individual patient. PAs should work to improve the health care system of which their practices are a part. Physician assistants are expected to:

  • effectively interact with different types of medical practice and delivery systems
  • understand the funding sources and payment systems that provide coverage for patient care and use the systems effectively
  • practice cost-effective health care and resource allocation that does not compromise quality of care
  • advocate for quality patient care and assist patients in dealing with system complexities
  • partner with supervising physicians, health care managers, and other health care providers to assess, coordinate, and improve the delivery and effectiveness of health care and patient outcomes
  • accept responsibility for promoting a safe environment for patient care and recognizing and correcting systems-based factors that negatively impact patient care
  • apply medical information and clinical data systems to provide effective, efficient patient care
  • recognize and appropriately address system biases that contribute to health care disparities
  • apply the concepts of population health to patient care

Adopted 2012 by ARC-PA, NCCPA, and PAEA
Adopted 2013 by AAPA

Degree Awarded

A Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree will be conferred at graduation.

PA Resources and Links