Curriculum Overview

Our Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) program takes 27 months to complete. The first 15 months of the program are dedicated to the didactic education, along with the participation in a clinical mentorship program. The last 12 months of the program involve students pursuing their clinical clerkship rotations, which offer the students clinical education experiences in primary care, surgery, and emergency medicine

Didactic Learning Experiences

Click here for the curriculum map and a list of course descriptions. Please be advised, while the PA Program at CMU requires specific courses as prerequisites for enrollment, and many applicants may have significant health care education and employment experience, the program does not award advanced placement in the program.

Clinical Mentorships

Central Michigan University's PA Program offers the benefit of a mentorship for all first-year students. Although the program shares the critical requirements and expectations of many MSPA programs, there are two key areas of emphasis which make this program relatively unique.  Specifically, we educate students with a focus in providing and supporting primary and rural healthcare.  This is achieved through the clinical problem solving coursework series with the clinical mentorship experience and the summer II semester procedures course incorporating the Society of Critical Care Medicine's Fundamental Critical Care Support (FCCS) curriculum.


Starting in mid-January of the didactic year, each student undertakes a one-day-per-week mentorship for seven months, in which he or she shadows a local primary care practitioner and performs supervised hands-on patient care.  The mentorship opportunity allows students to apply their knowledge and skills in a clinical environment, to further enhance their clinical practical skills and build their confidence before pursuing the second year of studies. 

Our unique mentorship program allows students to:

  • Develop and improve patient evaluation skills.
  • Practice effective communication skills in establishing a productive provider-patient relationship.
  • Establish a professional student-mentor relationship.
  • Learn about other disciplines of the interprofessional team.
  • Review and discuss selected cases with their mentor.
  • Observe administrative 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. Students are required to return to campus at the close of each rotation to complete their end-of-rotation summative evaluation which is a formal examination and case presentation or simulated patient encounters using standardized patients or high-fidelity simulators.

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, Pediatrics, Women's Health, and Behavioral/Mental Health

A practice of the evaluation, documentation, diagnosis, and treatment of the wide range of problems common in primary care and 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.

[Revised August 2015]​