Academic & Administrative Policies
Each student enrolled at the UNTHSC is responsible for knowing current academic and administrative policies and procedures that apply to enrollment in their chosen degree program. This section of the catalog provides selected academic and administrative policies unique to the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree program. Other UNTHSC policies also apply to PA students and are contained elsewhere in this catalog or in official UNTHSC publications. The UNTHSC reserves the right to amend or add to these policies and scholastic regulations at any time during an individual student's enrollment period provided that such changes or additions are intended to improve the quality of education and are introduced in a fair and deliberate manner.
Registration is conducted each semester and consists of paying tuition and fees as well as completing the appropriate registration forms and submitting them to the offices of the Registrar, Financial Aid and Student Affairs. Late fees are assessed for late registration for each day following the designated registration date. PA students are only permitted to attend courses and clinical practica listed on their official schedules and/or otherwise approved by the Chair of PA Studies. Students are not permitted to enroll in two or more courses scheduled to meet at the same time. Only properly enrolled students will be permitted to attend classes. No record will be kept of academic work done by individuals whose enrollment has not been duly authorized. A check returned because of insufficient funds will incur a penalty and may also result in additional charges for late registration.
Health and Technical Standards
All candidates must meet certain health and technical standards to participate in the physician assistant educational programs. Graduation signifies the graduate is prepared for entry into the practice of medicine as a physician assistant with the requisite knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and provide a wide spectrum of patient care.
A candidate for the physician assistant degree must have abilities and skills in five areas: Observation, Communication, Motor, Conceptual, Intellectual, and Behavioral. Technological compensation can be made for some disabilities in certain areas, but for the majority, the candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. The use of a trained intermediary requires a candidate's judgment to be mediated by someone else's power of selection and observation and is not a permissible accommodation.
- Observation: Observation requires the functional use of vision and somatic sensations. The candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and experience lessons in the basic sciences including, but not limited to, physiological and pharmacological demonstrations in animals, microbiologic cultures, and microscopic studies of tissues in normal and pathologic states. A candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand. Observation is enhanced by functional use of the sense of smell.
- Communication: A candidate should be able to speak, hear and observe in order to elicit information, describe changes in moods, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team.
- Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers. This includes performance of basic laboratory tests (urinalysis, CBC, etc.) and may also include diagnostic procedures (protoscopy, paracentesis, etc.) and reading EKGs and X-rays. A candidate should be able to execute movements which are reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required include the application of pressure to stop bleeding, the opening of obstructed airways, and the performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.
- Intellectual: Candidates should possess Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities. These include obtaining measurements and performing calculations, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of physician assistants, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, candidates should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand spatial relationships of structure.
- Behavioral: Candidates must have sufficient emotional health required for full use of their intellectual abilities in the exercise of good judgment and prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients in a mature, sensitive and effective relationship to patients. Candidates must be able to function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities which are assessed during the admission and education process.
Classroom and Laboratory Attendance
Participation in class and laboratory sessions is essential to good academic performance. Courses are typically offered only once during a student's enrollment period, therefore students are expected to attend all scheduled educational activities. Attendance is required at all laboratories, small group sessions, and clinical experiences. The program and/or course director reserves the right to take attendance and students may be asked to sign attendance sheets. No student may sign an attendance roster on behalf of another student. Excessive absences can be considered unprofessional conduct, can contribute to a failing grade or contribute toward consideration of dismissal from the program.
Each student is responsible for obtaining and learning subject materials presented during their absence. Instructors and/or course directors are not obligated to provide make-up sessions to students. The PA Student Performance Committee is permitted to consider attendance when reviewing a student's performance and making recommendations on probation, remediation and/or dismissal.
Clinical Practica (Rotations)
Clinical practicum experiences generally will require 40+ hours per week of attendance. Some practica may require students to be available for more than 40 hours a week in order to meet all educational and performance objectives; including taking call and attending to patient care experiences during non-regular hours. Other activities that may require additional attendance by the student include attending rounds and medical education activities; researching and presenting case studies. Students who become ill or have an emergency which causes them to be absent from any portion of a clinical practicum are required to notify the attending preceptor and the program as soon as possible. Excused absences are approved by the Vice Chair of Clinical Education in accordance with school policy. Clinical preceptors are not authorized to approve excused absences. Students will usually be required to make up any missed time from a practicum experience, even if the absence was considered excused. Students who miss more than 4 days of a practicum may be required to repeat all of the affected clinical practicum and may be subject to other sanctions as well, including dismissal. Most rotations will occur within the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Each student should anticipate a minimum of one rotation to be conducted outside of the Metroplex area.
Excused Absence for Special Activities
Excused absences from regularly scheduled activities are generally granted for emergencies (i.e., death in the family) or personal illness. Under certain circumstances, absences for special activities may also be approved by the Chair of PA Studies. Such approval must be documented and approved prior to the absence. Students are cautioned not to confirm travel plans or purchase nonrefundable tickets until written approval for the special activities absence has been obtained.
Leave of Absence
A student in good academic standing may request a leave of absence due to a medical or serious personal problem. Students seeking leave of absence should obtain assistance from the Office of Student Affairs. Requests for leave of absence must be submitted in writing. Leave cannot be granted for reasons of poor academic standing. Requests for leave of absence submitted by a student on academic probation shall be considered on a case-by-case basis. A request for leave of absence due to medical reasons must be accompanied by documentation from a physician or licensed professional describing the nature of the disability and the estimated length of time for recovery. A request for leave of absence due to personal reasons may also require substantiating documentation. Students must submit a written request for an approved leave of absence through the Chair of PA Studies to the Registrar before they can be placed into an approved leave status. In addition, prior to readmission into the program the student must submit a request for readmission through the Chair of PA Studies to the Office of the Dean. The request for readmission must be accompanied by documentation (such as a letter from a physician) substantiating the student's ability to participate fully in the academic program upon their return. The student may also be required to reaffirm their compliance with the Health and Technical Standards of the program. Leave of absence will not be approved beyond one calendar year.
This page last modified April 29, 2010