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  Jul 28, 2017
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2013-2014 Graduate and Professional Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Physician Assistant Studies (MS)

 Program Description

Harding is proud to have established the first Physician Assistant program in the state of Arkansas in 2005. With its emphasis on practice in rural settings and missions, the impact the graduates have on the community, the state and worldwide is remarkable.

The Physician Assistant Program is part of the College of Allied Health and offers a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Physician Assistant Studies. the curriculum is an intensive 28 month medical education program comprised of 110 semester hours of coursework and an average of 2200 hours of supervised clinical experiences, with a focus on primary care and family medicine. For more information view our website, e-mail, or call (501)279-5642.

Upon the successful completion of this program, students will be eligible to sit for the national certifying examination (PANCE) given by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

The Physician Assistant Student Handbook contains a comprehensive description of all policies and procedures that apply to our students.


Department Chair/Program Director: Michael A. Murphy, M.D.


Michael A. Murphy, M.D.
     Department chair/Program Director
William White, M.D.
     Medical Director

Associate Professors:

John Henderson, M.D.
Gary Hill, M.P.A.S., PA-C
     Clinical Director

Assistant Professor:

Scott R. Greene, M.S., PA-C
     Academic Director
Mario Hofheinz, MS, PA-C
Mary Madill, MS, PA-C
Nicole Mount, MS, PA-C

Developing caring physician assistants who practice competent, patient-centered primary care in diverse environments.

The Physician Assistant Program is an integral part of Harding University, and embraces the six goals outlined in the University’s statement of mission and goals. The goals of the Physician Assistant Program are to:

  • Instruct physician assistants who will provide primary care reflective of their Christian faith and service to their community and to the world.
  • Develop practice-oriented critical thinking which recognizes dependence on God, is committed to lifelong intellectual excellence, and is built upon a foundation of general cultural knowledge.
  • Foster commitment to Christian values, ethics and integrity in personal and professional service as physician assistants.
  • Promote supportive personal and professional relationships.
  • Nurture lifelong personal habits that lead to a healthier quality of life physically, spiritually, psychologically and socially.
  • Emphasize a servant-leadership lifestyle that prepares graduates to have a respect for other cultures and an understanding of world missions.

The program has been awarded Continued Accreditation by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The approximate date for the next review by ARC-PA will be in 2014.

Admission Requirements
Note: New prerequisites will become effective beginning April 2014. See website for details.

All applicants must:

  1. Possess a bachelor’s degree which has been completed at a regionally accredited institution in the United States prior to matriculation into the Program.
  2. Meet all general requirements for admission to, and agree to abide by all policies and procedures for, graduate programs at Harding University. Graduate students at Harding are expected to maintain the highest standards of morality, integrity, orderliness and personal honor. Harding University reserves the right to refuse admittance or dismiss any student whose lifestyle is not consistent with the Christian principles that this University represents.
  3. Have an academic record of performance at the undergraduate level that is predictive of academic success and professional achievement as a physician assistant.
  4. The minimum total undergraduate GPA should be 3.0 on a 4-point scale. Written appeals of the total GPA requirement must be made to the admission director at the time of application. See website for full details.
  5. Complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test within 5 years prior to matriculation. See website for deadline. The GRE requirement is required for all applicants.

Please note: Applications will be strengthened by evidence of the successful completion of additional coursework, such as biochemistry, genetics, sociology, child and/or abnormal psychology or other life science, chemistry, and social science courses beyond the minimum required. We recommend that applicants take additional coursework for English and mathematics because of the need for strong analytical and communication skills.

Health care experience is required. It is strongly recommended that there be at least 100 hours of experience prior to submission of the CASPA application. Direct patient care experience may be either paid or volunteer and can include clinical experience as a health professional (nurse, health educator, paramedic, EMT, respiratory therapist, etc.) or experience as a medical/nursing assistant, clinic aide, orderly, patient care attendant, medical missions volunteer, etc. Time spent “shadowing” a physician assistant or physician in clinical activities will be accepted.

It is strongly recommended that coursework in anatomy and physiology and microbiology be completed within seven years prior to applying to the program.

Prerequisite Coursework
Prerequisite courses must be completed at a regionally accredited U.S. college or university with an average GPA of 3.0 on a 4-point scale, with no course grade below C. The following list references Harding courses:


Semester Hours   HU Course Numbers
  General Chemistry 4   CHEM 121 
  Organic Chemistry 4   CHEM 215  and CHEM 216  or CHEM 249 
  Human Anatomy & Physiology 8   BIOL 249  and BIOL 253  or BIOL 261  and BIOL 280 
  Microbiology 4   BIOL 271 
  Psychology 3   PSY 201  or PSY 240 
  College Algebra/Calculus/Statistics 3   MATH 151  or MATH 200  or MATH 201  or PSY 325  or BIOL 254 


All science prerequisites must be at a level acceptable for science majors and have an accompanying lab.

Upon application, a formal audit will be conducted on your undergraduate coursework to make this determination.

Transcripts documenting the completion of all coursework (including prerequisites) must be provided to CASPA (Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants).  For more information, see the heading CASPA Application and Deadlines on our Web site: It is expected that the majority of prerequisite work will be completed prior to the application deadline. Course substitutions that do not cover the scope of information covered in the prerequisite classes will not be accepted. If an applicant is accepted into the program with a conditional acceptance status (some prerequisite coursework is pending and/or graduation has not occurred), the completed transcript must be provided to the program before matriculation.

Only one prerequisite course may be left for completion the spring semester prior to matriculation into the program. All matriculating students must receive their bachelor’s degree no later than the end of the summer term prior to matriculation.

CLEP and Advanced Placement Courses: CLEP examination credit may not be used to meet any of the listed prerequisites, unless a comparable number of credits in advanced courses in the discipline have been completed. Advanced Placement (AP) credit may be used to satisfy prerequisite coursework provided that the AP credit is accepted by the applicant’s institution and is posted on the applicant’s official academic transcript.

All applicants who meet the minimum requirements will be considered for an interview regardless of their major area of study. A broad base of study in areas such as humanities, sociology and religion is encouraged. Submission of a completed application does not guarantee an interview, selection or admission into the Physician Assistant Program. The program is seeking applicants who are well prepared for the rigors of the academic curriculum and the clinical training of the program.

See website for complete details on admission requirements (

International Students

The TOEFL is required of all incoming international students. Students who (1) speak English as a second language, and have (2) not previously completed an undergraduate degree from an accredited American college or university must meet a minimum score on a nationally recognized test of English language proficiency such as the TOEFL or IELTS. However, in lieu of these exam, professional programs in the health sciences may assess such students with an interview and/or a writing exam. An iBT Score of 80 with a Speaking Sub-scale 27 are the required minimum scores.

Minimum TOEFL scores acceptable for admission to the university are 550 (paper-based test), 213 (computer-based test), or 79 (Internet-based test). The minimum IELTS score is 6.0. Scores must not be older than two years prior to the date of application to the university. Please note that individual programs may have more stringent minimum requirements.

Program Requirements:

  1. Technical Standards: All applicants must meet the minimum technical standards for admission to the Harding University Physician Assistant Program. These technical standards establish the expectation for proficiency in essential abilities necessary for students admitted to this program. This curriculum requires demonstrated aptitude in diverse skills and abilities related to observation, intellect, physical manipulation, communication and interpersonal skills. These abilities and characteristics must be possessed, with or without reasonable accommodation, by all students admitted into the program. Click here for these standards.
  2. Medical Terminology: Proficiency is required for acceptance into the program. A course in medical terminology is recommended for applicants who are not health professionals or for any applicant not confident of their ability in this area. Self-study courses are appropriate. No transcript record/grade for medical terminology is required. All applicants must pass a written examination given at the time of the interview with a score of 75% or better. A self-study course in basic medical terminology is available for  download in Adobe Acrobat format here.
  3. Ethical Standards: A candidate must demonstrate the highest level of professional demeanor and behavior, and must perform in an ethical manner in all dealings with peers, faculty, staff and patients.
  4. Health Requirements: Applicants selected for admission to the program must provide evidence of good health, no communicable diseases, and required immunizations and screenings prior to matriculation on forms provided. Students are required to maintain personal health insurance. Complete information is provided in the health packet provided after admission. Immunizations and screening tests required as follows:
        *Hepatitis B series and titer (this can take up to six months to complete),
        *Two MMRs,
        *Date of completion of primary polio series
        *Date of completion of primary tetanus series (DPT, DTaP or Td),
        *A 1 time booster of Tdap within past 10 years is required,
        *Positive varicella titer (if negative then series of two immunizations),
        *A two-step PPD skin test performed within four months prior to matriculation.
  5. Computer Requirements: Proficiency in basic computer skills (word-processing, databases, Internet searches and e-mail) is expected of all entering students, as the curriculum will incorporate the use of computer technology. Additionally, all students in the program will be expected to have access to the Internet. Students are required to have their own laptop computer upon entry into the program. Personal data devices are required prior to entry into the clinical phase. The minimum requirements will be listed after acceptance into the program.
  6. Equipment Requirements: All students will be expected to purchase or have the required medical equipment needed to meet program requirements. This will include acquiring an approved lab coat with a school-issued patch. The equipment list will be provided after acceptance into the program.
  7. Liability Requirements: Each student must carry physician assistant liability insurance coverage, which is included in program costs.
  8. Travel Requirements: Clinical experiences entail travel to clinical sites. PA students are responsible for all costs associated with travel to clinical experiences. Transportation and food are the most common out-of-pocket expenses. Some sites will require additional living arrangements to be made, which will be the responsibility of the student. Since portions of the program will require travel to various locations; all students are required to have access to a motor vehicle, a valid driver’s license, and auto liability insurance. Further information will be reviewed in detail at orientation. Accepted students are required to attend all orientation sessions scheduled by the program.
  9. Background Check Requirements: Students will be accepted on a conditional basis, contingent upon completion of the criminal background check with the return of acceptable results. All conditionally accepted students must consent, submit, and successfully complete a criminal background check through the program-selected criminal background check vendor as a condition of matriculation into the Harding University Physician Assistant Program. Failure to do so will constitute failure to meet the pre-matriculation requirements of the program and will result in the withdrawal of a conditionally accepted offer.
  10. Matriculation and continued enrollment in the Physician Assistant Program is contingent upon a completed criminal background check with acceptable results. Failure to consent to a criminal background check; refusal to provide necessary information to conduct a background check; failure to provide additional information wherein an investigation is warranted; and failure to comply with the investigatory procedures when a cause for further action is warranted due to (1) discovery of previously undisclosed information; (2) discovery of more egregious information than was previously disclosed; or, (3) discovery of conflicting information between or among the CASPA Application and/or the Supplemental Application and/or the Criminal Background Check Report and/or any and all documents considered part of an applicant’s CASPA application, will result in disciplinary action up to, and including, withdrawal of a conditional offer of acceptance, refusal of admission, or dismissal from the Physician Assistant Program.
  11. Some students may also be expected to submit to random drug testing required by clinical practice sites and/or the program. These additional costs will be the responsibility of the student. Criminal background checks and drug screen tests are common pre-employment procedures.
  12. Other: The Physician Assistant Program has a flat rate tuition per semester that remains the same throughout each academic year. Each August the cost may be adjusted by the University. This price will then remain the same for 3 terms (fall, spring, summer) and be adjusted the following academic year. As a private institution, there is no difference in tuition costs for in-state/out-of-state students. The program will cover lab supplies, malpractice insurance, BLS & ACLS costs, professional dues (ARAPA & AAPA). The student will be responsible for the University technology fee each term, books, laptop computer and required software, and medical equipment, graduation fee during the seventh term, and post-graduation expenses (e.g. national licensure examination (PANCE) and state licensure). For additional information please refer to

Application Procedure

  1. All applications are handled through CASPA (Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants) at Each new class matriculates in the fall term, and the application cycle begins in the spring and ends on November 1 of the year preceding the matriculation date. Applicant interviews and candidate selection occur between October and March of each year. For more detailed information concerning the application cycle and deadlines, see the program website:
  2. The general GRE must be completed by the deadline set on the website. Instructions for submission of scores can be found at
  3. Upon acceptance into the program, official transcripts showing conferment of undergraduate and graduate degree(s), if applicable, must be sent to the Physician Assistant Program. These must arrive prior to the program start date.

Questions may be directed to or (501)279-5642.

Submission of a completed application does not guarantee an interview, selection, or admission into the Physician Assistant Program.

Application Review and Selection for Interview

We will begin the interview process as applications are received from CASPA. Interviews will be offered to qualified applicants prior to the application deadline and student positions will be offered on a rolling admissions basis. Early application is strongly encouraged. Some student positions will remain available through the last interview date. The Admissions Committee reviews all completed applications for admission. Applications will be reviewed for traits of a competitive applicant who will be invited for an interview. These traits include but are not limited to:

  • Meets or exceeds the minimum academic requirements.
  • Provides explanation for total GPA that fall below stated criteria.
  • Has sought out adequate hours of shadowing/direct patient care contact hours to demonstrate knowledge of and commitment to this career path.
  • Has strong letters of reference.

Selected applicants will be asked to complete a supplemental application (including a $25 supplemental application fee) that is submitted directly to the program and will be sent via email to applicants who meet the academic requirements.

In addition, graduates of Harding or its sister schools and Arkansas residents will be given preference. Experience in rural health care or in missions will receive favorable consideration in the applicant selection process. Competitive applicants will be invited to attend a personal interview that affords the faculty an opportunity to further review the applicant’s credentials. Applicants are expected to demonstrate maturity, personal initiative, an understanding of the physician assistant role and excellent communication skills. This meeting enables the applicants to become acquainted with the program’s facilities, faculty, staff, and/or student.

Applications are encourage from those who can demonstrate a commitment to practice primary care in rural and urban medically under served areas, or in foreign or domestic mission fields.

Scoring of competitive applicants at the time of the interview will be based on an objective tool that awards points in many different areas. These areas include all of the above mentioned, plus communication skills, maturity level, and ability to answer questions asked during the interview process.

Selection and Notification for Admission:

The number of applicants recommended for acceptance will be determined annually by the Physician Assistant Program admissions committee.

After interviews are completed, interviewees will be informed about their status via e-mail. Based upon a review of the applications and interviews, the Admissions Committee may recommend one of the following:

  1. Acceptance: Accepted students will be notified by e-mail and by postal mail. All acceptance will be conditional, contingent upon completion of the criminal background check with acceptable results. Individuals who have not completed all prerequisites or graduate will have these additional contingencies added to their conditional acceptance, pending verification of completion of the required coursework and/or graduation.
  2. Hold: some applicants who do not receive an offer of acceptance prior to the final selection of candidates will be placed on hold status. These applicants will continue to be eligible for positions in the program until final selections are made.
  3. Admission Alternates: At the conclusion of the interview season, some applicants will be ranked as alternates and will be notified of their admission status on or before the program’s annual fall start date. Applicants not admitted from the alternate list must reapply if they wish to be considered in subsequent years.
  4. Non-Acceptance: Some applicants may be notified of non-acceptance at anytime in the process. Applicants wishing to be considered in a subsequent year must reapply, and must satisfy all admission requirements for that year.

All program decisions are final.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Financial aid information can be obtained at or by calling (501)279-4257. Students who are accepted into the program will be assigned a financial aid counselor after acceptance.

Accepted students who are non-US citizens will be required to submit documentation of financial ability to pay all expenses for the first year of study to the Physician Assistant Program and demonstrate adequate coverage for health insurance in the United States. A copy of the student’s status with the U. S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must accompany this. Status is demonstrated through presentation of the I-20, I-94, and Visa.

Degree Requirements

In order to complete the Physician Assistant Program, a student must register for and pass each course set forth in the program’s curriculum outline, including satisfactory completion of the Master’s Project. In addition, a student must be in good academic standing after completing the prescribed program. Normal progression is sequential enrollment in all program classes each semester beginning in fall 1 and successfully meeting all course and program objectives each term.

In addition to the University requirements regarding good academic standing at the graduate level, to remain in good academic standing in the Physician Assistant Program, a student must demonstrate the following:

  1. Compliance with all program policies on professionalism and professional conduct.
  2. Show evidence of effective interpersonal relations with peers, faculty, preceptors, and patients.
  3. Earn a minimum of a “C” grade in all of the PAS didactic phase courses.
  4. Obtain no more than 20 semester hours below a grade of “B” in the didactic phase.
  5. Maintain a current semester and cumulative GPA of 2.60 or better in the didactic phase.
  6. Receive “satisfactory” or better evaluations from all clinical practicum preceptors in the clinical phase.
  7. Complete each clinical practicum in the clinical phase with a final grade of 80% or higher.
  8. Pass each clinical phase non-practicum course (PAS 663 , 664 , 671 , 675 ) with a minimum grade of C.
  9. Meet no other criteria requiring him or her to be placed on academic warning or academic probation.


(listed in semester hours)

Physician Assistant Program courses listed MUST be taken in sequence.

Didactic Phase

Summer 1 (11 hours)

Clinical Phase

Fall 2 (19 hours)

Spring 2 (19 hours)

Summer 2 (12 hours)

Fall 3 (9 hours)