Physician assistants (PAs) are medical providers who are licensed to diagnose and treat illness and disease and prescribe medication for patients under the supervision of a physician. In the primary care setting, PAs can provide almost all of the clinical services that physicians provide, including performing physical exams, diagnosing and treating illnesses and prescribing medications. Thousands of people in developed countries like US and UK have access to quality health care because of the availability of PAs in their communities. Basically, SMU-Master of Science in Physician Assistant studies is 2-year program comprising of two phases i.e didactic and clinical.


Program Objectives

The goals of SMU PAS program are to:

  1. Establish a sound PA program in compliance with accreditation standards capable of producing high quality healthcare providers.
  2. Contribute to the provision of high quality, compassionate healthcare to meet growing demand for primary care services, particularly to underserved populations.
  • Provide a technologically-proficient teaching and learning environment.
  1. Provide a competency-driven, practice-based training experience for students.


Career Prospects

They examine, diagnose, and treat patients. Employments opportunities are available in hospitals and other healthcare settings.


Program Structure

To earn a Master of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA), a student must fulfill the necessary requirements in both the didactic and clinical phases and earn a total of at least 100 semester credit hours.


Didactic Phase (52 credits)

GEN 520: Evidence-Based Biomedical Research

PAS 610: Principles of Physician Assistant Practice

MPH 610: Legal and Ethical Issues for Health Professionals

MMP 610: Medical Microbiology

PAS 615: Human Anatomy

PAS 620                : Physiology and Pathophysiology

PAS 625: Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics

PAS 630: Clinical Medicine

PAS 635                : Genetics and Diseases

PAS 640                : Patient History and Physical Examination

PAS 645                : Clinical Laboratory Medicine and Applications

PAS 650: Pediatrics and Women’s Health

PAS 655                : Principles of Surgery

PAS 660: Principles of Emergency Medicine


Clinical Phase (48 credits)

PAS 613                : Internal Medicine

PAS 623                : Emergency Medicine

PAS 633                : Surgery

PAS 643                : Pediatrics

PAS 653: Obstetrics and Gynecology

PAS 663                : Family Medicine

PAS 673                : Behavioral and Mental Health

PAS 683: Infectious Disease

PAS 693                : Selective Clinical Rotation

PAS 696: Comprehensive Examination

PAS 698: Thesis




GEN 520: Evidence-Based Biomedical Research

This course provides an overview of the research process and evidence-based health care research. The theories of scientific method and research designs are emphasized. Topics include critical literature evaluation, research theory, measurement, design, statistical analysis, interpretation and reporting. Small group sessions with research advisers emphasize practical application of research concepts and foster project development. The class emphasizes the practical utilization and application of the evidence-based approach to the appraisal of discipline-specific literature.


PAS 610: Principles of Physician Assistant Practice

This course introduces the physician assistant profession, including local, state, and national professional organizations and roles. Current licensure, certification, and recertification requirements are described, as well as issues facing the PA profession. The first half of the semester is devoted to examination of the history and evolution of the PA profession, current PA practice demographics and regulations, principles of quality assurance, risk management, and medical literature evaluation. The second half of the semester is devoted to the study of the ethical dimensions of PA practice. Topics include moral principles and ethical theories, as well as a series of seminar discussions on contemporary ethical issues confronting primary care providers in the 20th and 21st centuries.


MPH 610: Legal and Ethical Issues for Health Professionals

This course presents an overview of the legal issues facing the healthcare industry with some inferences on Cameroon. It provides students with a basic working knowledge of health law and Professional ethics. It is a comprehensive and inclusive review of a wide variety of health care legal issues. Students are provided with a realistic knowledge of health law and its application to the real world. At the end of this course, students are expected to validate the online institutional review board (IRB) training course on ethical issues in health research at the National Institute of Health (NIH)(


MMP 610: Medical Microbiology

Medical Microbiology orients students to the clinical applications of microbiology and is tailored to meet the needs of the Physician Assistant profession, presenting information basic to clinical practice. Students become familiar with the role of microorganisms in human diseases. The interactions of microorganisms with humans are highlighted, as well as the physical and chemical control of microorganisms.


PAS 615: Human Anatomy

This course is an intensive study of human gross anatomy and its correlations to clinical medicine. The knowledge gained from this experience leads the student to develop a fine appreciation for not only the structure of the human body, but also the interrelation of its parts, and exposure to clinical medicine from the anatomical perspective. Clinical correlation workshops with cases are included within the modules and discussion sections of this course to provide a clinical context for the learning of gross anatomy. Computer software is used to facilitate learning of anatomic structures and relationships. Throughout this course, instructional emphasis is placed on structure/function relationships and the clinical applications of such knowledge. The course relies on many independent and group study activities adapted for the goal of helping each member of the class to become a life-long learner. An additional goal of this format is the Physician Assistant-patient relationship, as students begin to develop the behaviors and attitudes of a medical professional.


PAS 620: Physiology and Pathophysiology

This course orients students to the clinical applications of physiology and pathologic states of diseases. The course is tailored to the needs of the Physician Assistant profession, while presenting information basic to clinical practice. Students become familiar with the pathophysiologic basis of signs and symptoms of various diseases. The course emphasis is mainly on pathophysiologic mechanisms related to several common disorders of various body systems, and parallels lecture topics in Clinical Medicine and Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics. Integration of lectures, visual aids, and case studies aids students in learning the concepts of pathophysiology and their clinical application.


PAS 625: Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics

This course is designed to prepare students for the pharmacological requirements of practice as a primary care physician assistant. Emphasis is placed on a description of drug categories, prescription writing, drug abbreviations and equivalents, principles of drug research, the laws on ethics of drug use in primary care medicine, utilizing of specific drugs and drug combinations for specific diseases, and performing literature reviews on current pharmacological problems. A research paper and presentation is required addressing a specific pharmacological problem that occurs in primary care physician assistant practice.


PAS 630: Advanced Clinical Medicine

This course offers a systematic study of the epidemiology, presentation, differential diagnosis, diagnosis, and management of disease processes based on the most current diseases which include Dermatology, Otolaryngology, Infectious Disease, Hematology/Oncology, Cardiology, Pulmonology, Gastroenterology, Renal Medicine, Geriatrics and Rheumatology. In each part, Clinical Medicine’s content is coordinated and integrated with the content in Physiology and Pathophysiology, and Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics.


PAS 635: Genetics and Diseases

Genetics and Disease assists physician assistant students in understanding the genetic basis of disease. The course is tailored to the needs of the Physician Assistant profession, while presenting information basic to clinical practice. Students become familiar with basic genetics and the basic principles of Mendelian genetics. The course explores the etiology, inheritance pattern, and treatment of various genetic disorders, which are commonly encountered in clinical practice. Information on modern diagnostic tools and the techniques used in medical genetics are presented. The course also investigates teratogens and their underlying principles.  Students will appreciate the basic principles of gene therapy, as well as the ethical, legal and social issues associated with genetic testing.


PAS 640: Patient History and Physical Examination

In this course, students learn how to do a complete (comprehensive) history and physical examination, a directed (focused) history and physical examination, as well as the history and physical examinations relating specifically to the pregnant patient, the pediatric patient, and the geriatric patient. Students are introduced to critical thinking and problem solving with a case-based learning lab exercise every week. In addition to the lecture and laboratory sessions, students perform histories and physicals on consenting patients in regional medical facilities.


PAS 645: Clinical Laboratory Medicine and Applications

This course provides students with a concise, practical guide on which laboratory tests are ordered, along with their clinical significance. The course guides students through what tests to order, the significance of specific abnormalities, lab errors, how results might impact differential diagnoses, and how the results impact the treatment plan.


PAS 650: Pediatrics and Women’s Health

This course orients students to the practical aspects of diagnosis and patient management of the pediatric and female populations. Students become familiar with disease prevention, health promotion, evidence-based medicine, diagnosis, and treatment in these two patient populations. The unit on pediatrics introduces students to the routine health maintenance and common health problems affecting the pediatric patient from the newborn period through adolescence. The lectures focus on health promotion, disease prevention, screening, common illnesses that affect the major organ system, pathology identification, patient education, and counseling for the pediatric patient and his/her family. The unit on women’s health focuses on the biological aspects, prevention, early recognition and amelioration of health issues unique to women.


PAS 655: Principles of Surgery

This course prepares the physician assistant student for both the General Surgery rotation, as well as practice as a surgical Physician Assistant. General surgical concepts needed for the PA to function in the general surgical environment, as well as surgical specialties, are presented. The course emphasizes the recognition of surgical problems in general practice. Pre-, intra-, and post-operative care are taught, as well as the various modalities of anesthesia.


PAS 660: Principles of Emergency Medicine

Principles of Emergency Medicine provides the physician assistant student with the knowledge base to diagnosis and manage common emergency conditions. Topics include, but are not limited to, multiple trauma, chest trauma, abdominal pain, burns, shock, and cardiac emergencies.


PAS 613: Internal Medicine Practicum (6 credits)

This eight-week inpatient rotation takes place at the Buea Regional hospital (BRH) and Mount Mary Hospital (MMH). You’ll become an integral member of the medical team that includes medical students, interns, residents, and attending physicians. You’ll become proficient in gathering medical data and making tentative assessments and plans as you participate in the management of patients on general medicine wards. This rotation requires overnight calls. Student housing is provided at Scott & White.


PAS 623: Emergency Medicine Practicum (4 Credits)

This four‑week rotation in area hospital emergency departments emphasizes the roles and functions of in-hospital emergency care. In high-intensity 12-hour shifts, you’ll gain experience in trauma evaluation and management, and learn the medical and surgical aspects of emergency intervention. You’ll gain firsthand experience in the management and treatment of patients triaged to urgent care and fast tracks for health care delivery.


PAS 633: Surgery Practicum (4 Credits)     

For this four‑week rotation will provide you with practical experience with general surgical problems, you’ll participate in the management of hospitalized patients seven days a week, including assisting in surgery, preoperative and postoperative care, and daily ward rounds. You’ll also attend structured teaching conferences and tutorials.


PAS 643: Pediatrics Practicum (6 Credits)

This six‑week outpatient rotation in general pediatrics puts you in touch with well and sick children in the pediatric wards of BRH and MMH. As you participate in ambulatory care, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of normal childhood development and become proficient in providing anticipatory guidance to parents and caregivers.


PAS 653: Obstetrics and Gynecology Practicum (6 Credits)

This six‑week rotation is divided into two three‑week experiences. The first gives you in-depth exposure to the management of labor and delivery. The second, focused on outpatient gynecology, gives you experience in well‑woman gynecologic exams, family planning, and outpatient prenatal and postpartum care.


PAS 663: Family Medicine Practicum (6 Credits)  

This six‑week rotation gives you practical outpatient care experience in a primary care setting. You’ll deliver acute care and continuing care and address health maintenance issues in partnership with your supervising internal medicine or family practice physician. During this rotation, you’ll demonstrate evidence‑based medicine practice skills and complete an evidence‑based research project.


PAS 673: Behavioral and Mental Health Practicum (4 Credits)        

This four-week rotation in L’hopital Jannot, Yaounde will offer you opportunities to obtain practical experience and assume patient-care responsibilities in the continuing care of patients in a psychiatric setting. Students study the basics of DSM-IV diagnostic criteria and psychiatric nosology, and the clinical presentation and treatment of psychiatric disorders.


PAS 683: Infectious Disease Practium (4 Credits)

This four-week rotation offers the student the opportunity to experience the evaluation and treatment of patients infected with HIV and other infectious diseases. The student is directly involved in the multidisciplinary approach and management of patients diagnosed with infectious diseases in both inpatient and outpatient settings.


PAS 693: Selective Clinical Rotation (4 Credits)

This four-week rotation gives you a chance to focus on a medical or surgical subspecialty that has special appeal for you. Your options include adolescent medicine, allergy/immunology, bariatric surgery, dermatology, hematology, internal medicine, nephrology, orthopedics, rheumatology, surgery, trauma care and urology. At the end of this rotation, student will write a comprehensive examination.


PAS 696: Comprehensive Examination (4 Credits)

A comprehensive examination is taken at the end of the training. This examination is done upon completion of the didactic phase and the clinical phase. Student are required to pass this examination before they can present their research thesis and subsequently certification.


PAS 698: Thesis (4 credits)

You must complete a satisfactory thesis to be awarded a Master’s degree. This piece of work, undertaken in the last semester gives you the opportunity to apply the techniques and theories you have learned during the didactic and practical phases. Thesis topics reflect the expertise of your lecturers and you may be asked to choose from a list of options. Supervision often starts with small groups of students studying similar topics meeting with their supervisors, who then guide students in deciding on the focus for their individual dissertations. The dissertation itself normally consists of a literature review followed by a piece of empirical work, involving either qualitative or quantitative research


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