Curriculum Overview

Our Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA) program takes 27 months to complete. The first 15 months of the program is dedicated to the didactic education, along with the participation in a clinical mentorship program. The last 12 months of the program are the clinical clerkships, which give the students a full range of hands-on experiences in general medicine and primary care. Clinical clerkships may take place anywhere in the state of Michigan; however, the Clinical Coordinator makes a strong effort to place each student in the same region of the state for their entire clinical year.

Didactic Learning Experiences

For a listing of courses, click on Course Listing.

Clinical Mentorship Internship Program

Unlike any other Physician Assistant Program in the state of Michigan, Central Michigan University's PA Program offers the benefit of a mentorship for all first-year students. Throughout the fall, spring, and summer sessions (didactic year), each student undertakes a one-day-per-week mentorship in which he or she shadows a local family practice physician and performs hands-on patient care work as assigned.

Our unique mentorship program allows students to:

  • Improve patient evaluation skills
  • Practice effective communication skills in establishing a productive provider-patient relationship
  • Establish a professional student-mentor relationship and provides the opportunity to interact with future colleagues
  • Present selected cases to mentor for critique
  • Develop an appreciation of the complexities of the medical profession
  • Observe administrative activities and aspects of office practices
  • Build confidence and become comfortable in a clinical setting

Clinical Clerkship Experiences

Students spend the last 12 months of the program completing eight core clinical clerkships with an exam coinciding at the end of each clerkship. Students are required to return to campus every six weeks to present one significant case experienced at their clinical clerkship; these presenations are called "OSLERs" (Objective Simulated Long Examination Record).

The core clinical clerkships are:

Emergency Medicine

An introduction to triage and stabilization of patients with life threatening conditions and procedures performed in the emergency department. Emphasis is placed on skills required to perform and document a problem oriented history and physical, formulation of a differential diagnosis, order and interpret tests necessary to confirm or rule out a primary diagnosis and provide patients with appropriate patient education. The student will also learn strategies for interacting with patients and/or families in various levels of stress.

Family Medicine I, II, III, IV 

A practice of the evaluation, documentation, diagnosis, and treatment of the wide range of problems common in primary care/ family medicine. The student will develop proficiency in office procedures commonly performed in a family medicine office.

General Surgery 

The development the skills necessary to evaluate and manage patients with a variety of surgical problems. The clerkship will provide students with the opportunity to develop an understanding of the role of the surgeon, anesthesiologist, assistant surgeon, circulating nurse, scrub nurse, scrub tech, recovery room, surgery floor nurses, aids, and techs in the care of the surgical patient.

Internal Medicine

The focus is on in-depth evaluation and ongoing treatment of patients with complex problems and/or chronic illness. Students learn the skills necessary to evaluate and manage the effects of chronic disease on multiple body systems and to perform or assist in procedures commonly done in internal medicine.


​The elective rotation is designed to reinforce education in an area requiring additional training, enhance clinical education in a specialized area, or to further a student's education in an area of particular interest.


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