Physician Assistant Studies

Academic Standards, Grading, and Student Progress

The Student Progress Committee will review each student’s scholastic achievement record, clinical learning progress, and professional behavior at the end of each quarter. The academic and clinical standards that must be met by each student are outlined in the Graduation Requirements from the Physician Assistant Program section. The professional standards that must be met by each student are also outlined in the Evaluation of Professional Conduct section.

The evaluation process by the Student Progress Committee includes first a review by each Course Director or Clinical Preceptor, followed by review by the Faculty Advisor, the Director of Academic or Clinical Services, and finally by the Program Director. The findings of these reviews are then presented to the Student Progress Committee by the Director of Academic or Clinical Services. If a student fails to meet academic, clinical, and/or professional standards, the Committee will meet with the student in question.

Depending on the nature of the academic, clinical, and/or professional deficiency, the Committee will determine the status of the student’s academic/clinical standing, which may include warning, probation, or dismissal from the program.

The categories of Academic/Clinical Standing are:

  1. Good Standing: Status of a student who has met course and clinical requirements in a satisfactory manner, and has demonstrated appropriate professional behavior. 
  2. Warning: Status of a student whose performance in an academic course or clinical rotation places him/her in jeopardy of falling below the minimum stated standards, or who has exhibited questionable professional behavior.
  3. Probation: Status of a student whose performance in an academic course or clinical rotation has fallen below the minimum stated standards, or who has exhibited unacceptable professional behavior. 
  4. DismissalAction whereby a student is dismissed from the Physician Assistant Studies Program of South College due to failure to adhere to academic, clinical, and/or professional standards. Dismissal will occur after review of the student’s academic and/or professional deficiency by the Student Progress Committee, the Program Director, and following approval by the South College Executive Vice President.

The causes of and consequences for receiving a Warning, Probation, or Dismissal will be:

Warning

A student who receives a grade of less than 70% on any quiz, exam, or other individual assessment tool (or who fails any pass/fail exercise) in a didactic course or clinical rotation will receive a warning and must meet with the Course Director (didactic or clinical) for remediation. No remediation will be offered for final exams or final projects. A student may also receive a warning for questionable professional behavior. 

  • Warning in a Didactic Course: The Course Director and student will review the questions and answers that the student missed on the exam or other assessment tool. The Course Director will ensure that the student understands the material and will make recommendations to the student for satisfactory performance on future exams/assessments. The student and Course Director will fill out the Didactic Remediation form. Acquisition of knowledge will be measured by student performance on the cumulative portion of the course midterm and/or final exam. Copies of the Didactic Remediation form will be made for the Chair of the Student Progress Committee, the Course Director, the Director of Academic Services, the student’s faculty advisor, and the student’s file.
  • Warning in a Clinical Rotation: If a student scores below 70% on a graded activity during the Clinical year, the student and Course Director will fill out the Clinical Remediation Form. The Course Director will provide the student with a list of topics that were missed on the exam or other assessment tool. The student will be issued a remediation plan and a deadline for completion of his/her plan. After the remediation plan has been completed, the student will be re-examined based upon the nature of his/her deficiency. On re-examination, the student is expected to achieve a minimum grade of 80%. Failure to adhere to deadlines and/or failure to achieve a minimum grade of 80% will result in referral to the Student Progress Committee. Copies of the Clinical Remediation Form and any correspondence will be made for the Chair of the Student Progress Committee, the Course Director, the Director of Clinical Services, the Director of Academic Services, the student’s faculty advisor, and the student’s file.
  • Warning for a Professional Behavior Issue: A student with a professional behavior issue will meet with the Student Progress Committee. If the committee determines that the student exhibited questionable professional behavior, the student will be warned that additional behavior could lead to probation or dismissal, depending on the nature of the behavior.

Probation

A student will be placed on Probation if: (1) his/her cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, or (2) he/she fails to exhibit appropriate professional behavior.

  1. Students with a Cumulative GPA Below 3.0: A student with a cumulative GPA below 3.0 at the end of any didactic quarter or clinical rotation will receive notification from the Student Progress Committee that they are on Probation. If the student fails to raise his/her cumulative GPA to 3.0 or higher at the end of the next didactic quarter or clinical rotation, he/she will be dismissed from the Physician Assistant Studies Program. If the student raises his/her cumulative GPA to 3.0 or higher at the end of the next didactic quarter or clinical rotation, he/she will be removed from probation. If a student’s cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 a second time, he/she will be dismissed from the Physician Assistant Studies Program.
  2. Students Cited for a Professional Behavior Issue: A student who fails to exhibit appropriate professional behavior must meet with the Student Progress Committee to define a plan for remediation. The student and the Director of Academic Services/Director of Clinical Services must sign the remediation plan. If the student fails to fulfill or achieve the minimum outcomes described in his/her remediation plan, he/she will be dismissed from the Physician Assistant Studies Program. If the student fulfills the outcomes described in his/her remediation plan, he/she will be removed from probation.

Dismissal

Students will be dismissed for failure to comply with academic, clinical, or professional standards. Students will be dismissed from the Physician Assistant Studies Program when:

  1. A student fails (grade below a 70%) any didactic course or clinical rotation;
  2. A student has a cumulative GPA of less than 3.0 at the end of any didactic quarter or clinical rotation and then fails to raise his/her cumulative GPA to 3.0 or higher at the end of the next didactic quarter or clinical rotation; 
  3. A student’s cumulative GPA falls below 3.0 for a second time (at the end of a didactic quarter or clinical rotation);
  4. A student fails to achieve the plans and outcomes listed in a remediation worksheet; 
  5. A student fails to successfully complete the Capstone research project, Didactic Summative review, and Clinical Summative Review, with a minimum grade of 80%;
  6. A student’s professional conduct violates the performance standards set forth in the Physician Assistant Studies Program’s Honor Code, the South College Student Code of Conduct, state or federal law, or for moral turpitude, unprofessional behavior, criminal activity, or other reasons as defined by the College;
  7. South College reserves the right to dismiss at any time a student who, in its judgment, is undesirable and whose continued enrollment is detrimental to him/herself or his/her fellow students or whose presence is disruptive to the learning environment or the orderly operation of the College.

Grading

Course Directors (in concert with the Course Instructors and Clinical Preceptors) will determine the means by which the final grade will be computed, which may include exam scores, oral presentations, written assignments, laboratory exercises, practical examinations, class participation, clinical participation, clinical performance, and other means of evaluation. Except in the case of an error on the part of faculty, preceptors, or administration, no grade changes will be honored after the end of the course. All didactic courses and clinical rotations will be graded with a letter grade of A, B, C, or F. All didactic courses and clinical rotations will be assigned appropriate credit hours. One credit hour is equal to approximately 10 hours of lectures, small group conferences, and required practice sessions per quarter. One credit hour for laboratory sessions is equal to approximately 20 contact hours per quarter. One credit hour of clinical is equal to approximately 30 contact hours per clinical rotation. Course Directors also determine grade adjustments for the purpose of standardization with the A-F scale. Where objective testing is used, scores and grades will be correlated as follows:

 

Letter GradeQ.P.Percentage Score Range
A 4 90-100%
B 3 80-89%
C 2 70-79%
F 0 0-69%

 

Students enrolled in the Master of Health Science, Physician Assistant Studies Program at South College must successfully complete all didactic courses with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in order to proceed to the clinical learning phase of the program. In addition, in order to graduate and be awarded a Master of Health Science degree, students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 at the end of the clinical learning phase. Successful completion of the program is defined as having a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale for the entire program. 

Attendance and Testing

The Physician Assistant curriculum requires students to master a large amount of information and skills in a very short period of time. Excused absences must be obtained from the course instructor or course director, in person, by phone, or by e-mail. The Physician Assistant program utilizes the following attendance and testing policies:

Attendance:

  1. Attendance for all scheduled lectures, laboratory sessions, and student meetings is mandatory for all didactic students.
  2. Call back clinical days are mandatory for all clinical learning students.

  3. While the program makes every effort to schedule classes and rotations on weekdays, students may be required to attend classes and/or clinical rotations on Saturday and Sunday. Participation is mandatory.

  4. Didactic courses and call back clinical learning days may utilize an attendance and grade reduction policy that may result in a failing course grade of “F” for unexcused absences. Course directors will outline and discuss their attendance and grade reduction policies in their course syllabus.

Testing:

  1. Absence will typically be defined as being 15 or more minutes late for a scheduled class or laboratory session.
  2. Instructors may offer “make up exams” in the event of an “excused absence” with the permission of the Director of Academic Services, within a reasonable period of time.
  3. Make-up exams will not be given in the case of an “unexcused absence.”
  4. Students who are late for a scheduled exam will not be allowed additional time to complete the exam and will not be allowed to enter the classroom and initiate the exam if another student has already completed the exam and left the room.

Course Syllabi and Objectives

For every course and clinical learning rotation, students will be provided with a complete syllabus, which includes specific, measurable, course goals and learning objectives, outlining the intended scope of the course. Course descriptions and course schedules will also be included. Students will be expected to learn all information identified in the course goals and learning objectives, and should expect to be tested on such material.

Each instructor in concert with the course director reserves the right to alter the syllabus as time, teaching materials, new clinical and scientific information or the necessity of a sequenced integrated Physician Assistant curriculum dictate. Any altered materials will be made available to the student at lecture time. If there are questions regarding course goals, course objectives, learning objectives, or expected course outcomes the student is expected to direct their questions first to the course instructor then the course director and if needed to the Director of Academic Services.

Food and Beverages

Eating and drinking are prohibited in all areas of the college except in the student center. The student center, located on the first floor, has a refrigerator for storage of food and drinks, microwave ovens, vending machines, and ample seating. It is permissible to have a bottle of water with a secured screw-on top in the classroom, but it must be stored out-of-sight (in backpacks, purses, briefcases, and other appropriate carry-in bags) and must not be left on desktops, tabletops, counters, floors, or any location where it is visible.

Dress Code

The following standards of dress and appearance are to be observed by students at all times:

  1. Students are expected to look professional and wear appropriate professional attire at all times. During the didactic year faculty may allow for casual dress in the classroom.
  2. Torn clothing, hats, exercise clothing, sleeveless T-shirts or shirts with obscenities, mini-skirts/mini shorts, crop tops, denim clothing, and bare feet are never permitted.
  3. When students are in clinical laboratories appropriate dress will be discussed by faculty.
  4. Men should wear slacks and dress shirts. Women should wear dresses or skirts/slacks and blouses. Dress length should be appropriate for a dignified and professional appearance. 
  5. Shoes should be clean. Athletic shoes, open toed shoes (men and women) and/or sandals, or spike (or stiletto) heals should never be worn. 
  6. While present in any clinical setting or facility, students will be subject to rules and regulations established by that facility and South College concerning professional behavior.
  7. When in contact with the general public while representing South College and when seeing patients, students are expected to look professional and wear appropriate professional attire
  8. Visual displaying of jewelry or other objects by means of body piercing, with the exception of one pair of earlobe earrings, is prohibited. This prohibition applies while on campus and while off campus when participating in a South College required or sponsored academic, social, or other activity. Any jewelry, including jewelry not displayed by means of body piercing, that interferes with one’s ability to comply with any applicable requirements or standards (e.g., medical practice, hospital) is also prohibited.
  9. Visual displaying of tattoos is prohibited, with the exception of acting as a patient during a laboratory. Visual displaying of tattoos that offend a reasonable standard of decency (e.g., obscene, sexually explicit, vulgar) are prohibited at all times.
  10. In the presence of and if subject to an external policy (e.g., medical practice, hospital) that is stricter than this policy, then the external policy shall control.

The following general standard is to be observed when performing student activities within any clinical settings and community service activities. Throughout the program students will be assigned clinical duties and responsibilities at affiliated hospitals or clinical settings. During all of these clinical learning experiences the student will be expected to present himself or herself as a future health care professional and to dress as follows: 

  1. A clean, laundered short white lab coat.
  2. Men should wear dress slacks, dress shirts and a tie.
  3. Women should wear dresses or skirts/slacks and blouses. Dress length should be appropriate for a dignified and professional appearance.
  4. Shoes should be clean and polished. Athletic shoes, opened toed shoes and/or sandals, shorts, mini-skirts, denim jeans are not appropriate and should never be worn.
  5. The appropriate South College Physician Assistant Program student insignia, which will be available from the PA office. This is to be sewn on the coat’s breast pocket; the insignia designates you as a Physician Assistant Student at South College.
  6. A name tag must be worn with the words “[student’s name] Physician Assistant Student” at all times pinned to your coat above the breast pocket.
  7. When and if faculty request it and throughout the clinical year all students must wear a photo ID badge.

During the clinical learning year the following dress code will be in place. Men should wear dress slacks, dress shirts and a tie. Women should wear dresses or skirts/slacks and blouses; dress length should be appropriate for a dignified and professional appearance. Shoes should be clean. Athletic shoes, open toed shoes, and/or sandals, shorts, mini-skirts, denim jeans are not appropriate and should never be worn. While present in any clinical setting or facility, students will be subject to rules and regulations established by that facility and South College concerning professional behavior. Since these clinical opportunities are a privilege extended to the Physician Assistant Program, students are reminded of their responsibility to dress and conduct themselves in a courteous and professional manner when dealing with patients, staff, faculty and peers in those sites. When and if the student is in doubt about the appropriate dress they should address their questions to either the Academic Coordinator and/or the Clinical Coordinator faculty member.

Evaluation of Professional Conduct

In concert with the core competencies for the Physician Assistant profession, the faculty of the Masters of Health Science, Physician Assistant Studies Program at South College has established standards for evaluating the professional conduct of all students. This evaluation of professional conduct is in direct compliance with the core competency of professionalism that is required of practicing Physician Assistants in their daily clinical life. At the end of every quarter, the principal faculty will conduct a professional review of students.

Professional conduct evaluations will include the components of the Physician Assistant Studies Program Honor Code, the South College Code of Conduct, and the following considerations:

  1. Concern for the welfare of patients as evidenced by: thoughtful and professional attitude in obtaining history and physical examinations; avoidance of foul language, offensive gestures, inappropriate remarks, or remarks with sexual overtones; treatment of patients with respect and dignity both in their presence and in discussions with peers; and manifestation of concern for the total patient.
  2. Concern for the rights of others, shown by: treating professional and staff personnel, peer members of the Physician Assistant class, and members of the health care team in a considerate manner and with a spirit of cooperation; acting with an egalitarian spirit towards all persons encountered in a classroom setting or a professional capacity regardless of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability; and assuming an appropriate and equitable concern of duties among peers.
  3. Responsibility to duty which involves: effectively undertaking duties with alacrity and persevering until complete or notifying responsible persons of problems; punctual attendance of classes, rounds, conferences and other clinical duties, or offering appropriate explanation when unable to be present; notifying course directors and supervising clinical preceptors of absence or inability to carry out duties; seeing patients regularly, assuming responsibility for their care with appropriate supervision; identifying emergencies and responding appropriately; and ensuring that he/she can be located when on duty by faculty or staff personnel.
  4. Trustworthiness, that is: being truthful and intellectually honest in communication with others; acceptance of responsibility for meeting multiple demands by establishing proper priorities and by completing work necessary for the optimal care of patients; discerning accurately when supervision or advice is needed before acting; and maintaining confidentiality of information concerning patients. 
  5. Professional demeanor, which means: a neat and clean appearance in attire that is professional to the patient population; maintaining equilibrium under pressures of fatigue, professional stress, or personal problems; and refraining from the use of drugs or alcohol on campus, during clinical rotations, and during any South College meeting or activity.

The following general standards are to be observed when performing student activities within any clinical settings and community service activities.  Throughout the program students will be assigned clinical duties and responsibilities at affiliated hospitals or clinical settings.  During all of these clinical learning experiences the student will be expected to present himself or herself as a future health care professional and to dress as follows:

  1. A clean, laundered short white lab coat.
  2. Men should wear dress slacks, dress shirt, and a tie.
  3. Women should wear a dress or skirt/slacks and blouse.  Dress length should be appropriate for a dignified and professional appearance.
  4. Shoes should be clean and polished.  Athletic shoes, opened toed shoes and/or sandals, shorts, mini-skirts, and denim jeans are not appropriate and should never be worn.
  5. The appropriate South College PA Program student insignia must be displayed, which will be available from the PA office.  This is to be sewn on the coat’s breast pocket; the insignia designates you as a Physician Assistant Student at South College.
  6. A name tag must be worn with the words “[student’s name] Physician Assistant Student” at all times pinned to your coat above the breast pocket.

 

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