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School of Health Professions

PA Program Didactic Curriculum


The 13-month didactic phase of the curriculum is dense to ensure every student masters the information and skills necessary for success.

This phase of the curriculum focuses on human structure and function, physiologic systems governing body function, pathological and behavioral alterations causing clinical manifestations of illness, and therapeutic principles underlying the management of illness and injury.

Both discipline-specific and interdisciplinary learning experiences with medical and nurse anesthesia students delivered in traditional and team-based fashion are used to define the shared knowledge base requisite to entry-level practice.

Once students have mastered a specified body of knowledge and core skills, they enter a period of critical thinking and reasoning designed to integrate the basic and pre-clerkship sciences of medicine. Concepts in epidemiology, principles of pathology and pathophysiology, the clinical manifestations of illness and injury, and the ability of testing to assist in the diagnostic and management processes are integrated within the Problem-Solving in Medicine course. Courses in Electrocardiography and Diagnostic Testing are used to reinforce student understanding of diagnostic test selection and interpretation. Together, these courses provide the foundation of information needed to select medications for the management of disease.

Learning about the role of the PA and the importance of cultural beliefs and alternative care practices to the outcomes of care are addressed in the courses Professional Roles Issues and Cultural Competency. Critical thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving, are intrinsic to the curriculum and essential to practice. Students are also prepared for the development and writing of the master's paper, required for graduation, in a course on Health Research Methods. Faculty within the PA Program and the College basic science and clinical faculty all participate to present these didactic experiences.

See descriptions of all didactic courses.


Advancement to the Clinical Curriculum


Students must have passing grades in all didactic phase courses and must make a passing grade on the comprehensive clinical readiness examination before they will be allowed to begin core clinical rotations.

Explore our clinical curriculum.


PA Students Partner with Seniors to Refine Spanish Skills


Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the United States with a large Spanish-speaking population, so knowing medical Spanish is helpful. The Physician Assistant Spanish Elective course is a two-week elective takes place after physician assistant students have completed their didactic training and are about to begin their clinical training, a fitting time to work on their spoken Spanish. The elective offers a unique opportunity for students to work directly with Spanish-speaking seniors in the Houston community to develop their Spanish vocabulary.

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Cast and Splint Day


One of the highlights of the didactic year is our cast and splint day. Follow us on Facebook for more photos of program highlights and updates.

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