Upon completion of a bachelor’s degree and required prerequisites, the Physician Assistant Program includes 26 months, 7 semesters of intense Problem-Based Learning (PBL) modules with clinical experiences. These units of study are based on the most common disease states and preventative medicine guidelines utilized in medical practice. The curriculum is designed to prepare primary care providers for medical practice. All physician assistant courses are sequenced and are required of all students. 

The first year of study (Phase I: Didactic) is completed on campus in Carbondale. This first year is centered on the PBL modules, as well as laboratory and clinical experiences. 

The second year (Phase II: Clinical Rotations) is held at several Illinois locations, called hubsites. Second year students may be required to relocate to one of these hubsites. During the clinical rotation phase, students complete rotations in emergency medicine, family medicine, geriatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, surgery, and one elective of the students’ choice.

Phase III (the final eight weeks of the program) is the preceptorship. Students may complete the preceptorship at a site of their choice, with faculty approval. 

Problem-Based Learning is ideally suited to PA education because students actively learn both the basic and clinical sciences. It is an innovative method of integrating and developing the medical knowledge, cognitive skills, and interpersonal growth required to produce what is desired in an SIU physician assistant graduate.

The PBL cases used are based on real patient problems that are carefully selected by faculty to stimulate students’ learning in all relevant areas of basic clinical and behavioral sciences. A humanistic approach to medicine is stressed by the use of these cases.  Patient cases are designed to incorporate signs and symptoms of patient’s varied problems that providers encounter in practice. PBL also encourages recall and effective application of knowledge and skills essential to the PA profession. Students work together, in small groups, with the assistance of a faculty facilitator to investigate carefully designed patient cases and identify learning issues. PBL provides flexibility for students as to when and how they study. The group, the facilitator, and the problem, all help to focus the student’s learning efforts. 

Below is a list of courses that students must complete to receive their degree. Descriptions of individual courses below may be found in the Course Description section of the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Graduate Catalog. 

Requirements for Physician Assistant Studies Program
(Professional program - 90 credit hours, 7 semesters)

First-Year Sequence (Phase I):  54 hours
Physician Assistant 500, 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 511,
512, 513, 514, 515, 521, 522, 523, 524, 525, 531, 532, 533, 534,
535, 536, 547, 550, 599

Second Year (Phase II and Phase III):  36 hours
Physician Assistant 545, 551, 580, 581, 582, 583, 596, 599

Total: 90 hours

Physician Assistant curriculum guide:

Semester 1 – Summer    (Unit 1) – 10 credit hours
PA 500-1    Introduction to the Profession
PA 501-3    PBL, Unit 1
PA 511-1    Pharmacology
PA 521-2    Clinical Anatomy and Integrated Science
PA 531-2    Patient Evaluation
PA 547-1    Research Methods

Semester 2 – Fall    (Units 2 & 3) – 22 credit hours
PA 502-3; PA 503-3    PBL, Units 2 and 3
PA 506-1    Patient Education/Behavioral Science
PA 507-1    Diversity in Medical Practice
PA 512-1; PA 513-1    Pharmacology II, III
PA 522-2; PA 523-2    Clinical Anatomy and Integrated Sciences II, III
PA 532-2; PA 533-2    Patient Evaluation II, III
PA 550-2    Clinical Mentoring - Phase I
PA 599-2    Master’s Seminar

Semester 3 – Spring    (Units 4 & 5) – 22 credit hours
PA 504-3; PA 505-3    PBL, Units 4 and 5
PA 506-1    Patient Education/Behavioral Science
PA 514-1; PA 515-1    Pharmacology IV, V
PA 524-2; PA 525-2    Clinical Anatomy and Integrated Sciences IV, V
PA 534-2    Clinical/Procedural Skills
PA 535-2    ACLS/EKG
PA 536-1    Introduction to the Surgical Setting
PA 550-2    Clinical Mentoring – Phase I
PA 599-2     Master’s Seminar

Semester 4 – Summer    6 credit hours
PA 551-1    Clinical Mentoring – Phase II
PA 580-1    PBL Tutor Group – Phase II
PA 581-3    Clinical Rotations I
PA 599-1    Master’s Seminar

Semester 5 – Fall    12 credit hours
PA 551-2    Clinical Mentoring – Phase II
PA 580-2    PBL Tutor Group – Phase II
PA 582-6    Clinical Rotations II
PA 599-2    Master’s Seminar

Semester 6 – Spring    12 credit hours
PA 551-2    Clinical Mentoring – Phase II
PA 580-2    PBL Tutor Group – Phase II
PA 583-6    Clinical Rotations III
PA 599-2    Master’s Seminar

Students in Phase I will register for section 1 of PA 599. 
Those in Phase II will register for section 2.

Semester 7 – Summer    6 credit hours
PA 545-3    Health Care Systems
PA 596-3    Preceptorship

A limited number of Electives are also available to PA students.

PA Elective Courses –  (for credit hours, see Graduate Catalog)
PA 508    Holistic Medicine
PA 585    Independent Study
PA 601    Continuing Enrollment (this class is available to PA Program students who have completed all Program requirements, but need to complete the Master's Project.)