The School of Physician Assistant Studies supports the policy of the University of Florida regarding non-discrimination. This policy declares that the University of Florida is committed to non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations, and veteran status as protected under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act.
The University of Florida expects students to be honest in all of their university coursework. Therefore, students are required to commit themselves to academic honesty by signing a statement of such commitment as part of the admissions process. Violations of academic honesty are adjudicated by the School of Physician Assistant Studies faculty and the Professional Standards and Promotions Committee, with appeals to the Health Science Center Student Conduct Standards Committee. Procedures for dealing with matters related to academic honesty are outlined in the PA students’ Academic and Clinical Manuals and are reviewed by the School and updated yearly.
Background Checks and Drug Screening
As part of the CASPA application, applicants must acknowledge and provide details related to any former charges and/or convictions of a felony or misdemeanor. For any felony convictions that occur between the time of submission of the CASPA application and matriculation into the School of Physician Assistant Studies, the specific details, including date of charge(s), type of offense, and disposition of the case, must be reported to the Director’s office immediately. After matriculation into the School, should a student be convicted of any felonies at any time during his/her enrollment in the School, s/he must report the details immediately to the Director’s office. Failure to comply will be grounds for dismissal.
During the course of the clinical year, students will be required to undergo one or more national criminal background checks, which will include finger printing. In addition, certain clinical sites that are regularly used by the School of Physician Assistant Studies may require additional drug screening in order for students to have practice opportunities at those institutions.
A negative criminal background record or a failure to pass drug screening may impede clinical training or status in the School of Physician Assistant Studies. By accepting admission to the School, students agree to national criminal background checks and drug screening, and also agree to pay expenses associated with such screenings.
As an integral part of the Physical Diagnosis course in the academic year, students receive instruction and practice in physical examination of live “patients.” To provide the best learning opportunity for students to acquire skill in the physical exam, the School utilizes men and women professional models who serve as both teacher and “patient” to instruct students and provide practical experience in male rectal and genitalia exam and in female breast and pelvic exam. This is a required experience and generally serves not only as a teaching methodology but also as a means of helping students relieve nervousness associated with this rather sensitive part of the Physical Diagnosis course.
Certification and Licensure
Upon graduation from an accredited physician assistant educational program, physician assistants take a national certification examination, the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE), developed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) in conjunction with the National Board of Medical Examiners. Upon passing the PANCE, PAs receive a certificate which entitles them to add a “C” to their PA credentials (“PA-C”), indicating that they have met the defined course of study and undergone satisfactory testing by the NCCPA.*
To maintain their national certification and thereby the “C” behind their credentials, PAs must log 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and sit for a recertification every six years.*
Graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and passage of the national certifying exam are required for state licensure.*
State Practice Laws
For more than a century, states have been exercising their power to protect the public health and safety by regulating the practice of certain professions. About 800 occupations are regulated in the United States, including physicians and physician assistants. Each state writes its own laws, and one should expect to find variation from state to state in the structure and content of most laws.*
Great progress has been made in standardizing the regulation of PAs. All states, the District of Columbia, and the majority of U.S. territories have enacted statutes and regulations that define PAs, describe their scope of practice, discuss supervision, designate the agency that will administer the law, set application and renewal criteria, and establish disciplinary measures for violations of the law.*
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have enacted laws that authorize prescribing by PAs.*