May 16, 2021  
2020-2021 Catalog 
    
2020-2021 Catalog

Academic & Administrative Procedures (Department of Physician Assistant Studies)



Registration

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 Director 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. 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, 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, anatomical, physiological, and pharmacological demonstrations, 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. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with patients and 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 (proctoscopy, 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 reasonably required emergency treatment 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.

Attendance

Students are expected to attend all scheduled classroom and laboratory sessions. Course directors reserve the right to take attendance through electronic and other means. Students may be asked to sign attendance sheets to verify their attendance. No student may register or record the attendance of another student. Excessive absences are considered unprofessional conduct, which can contribute to a failing grade or dismissal from the program. Each student is responsible for obtaining and learning subject materials presented during their absence. Full attendance procedure is listed in the Student Handbook. 

Clinical practicum experiences generally require more than 40 hours per week to meet educational goals and objectives. Some activities require the student to attend educational activities during non-business hours, including taking calls, attending patient rounds, and providing patient care at off-campus sites. Students who become ill, have a medical emergency, or have some other reason that causes them to be absent from any portion of a clinical practicum are required to notify the Director of Clinical Education (DCE) as soon as possible. The DCE (or designee) is the only person authorized to approve excused absences from clinical practicum experiences. Students who become absent from these experiences can be required to repeat any or all of the practicum experience.

Dress Code

PA students are expected to convey a professional appearance and image and are expected to be neat and clean.  Attire for each didactic class will be scrubs.  Each class will be assigned a specific color of scrubs.  On Fridays, scrubs can be worn with the option of wearing tee-shirts that are associated with the PA profession or PA club.  Slacks or jeans can be worn on Fridays, but the jeans must be professional and without holes, rips, tears or fraying.  Scrubs can be modified based on religious preferences.  Short or long sleeved shirts can be worn under the scrubs for warmth but undershirts must be professional.  During labs and physical examination testing, students may be required to dress in such a way as to facilitate practice of physical exam skills (i.e. wearing of shorts with tank tops or sports bras).  However, outside of such labs, students should dress appropriately as outlined above. 

Leave of Absence

Students are permitted to request leave of absence because of a serious medical condition or for personal reasons. Leave of absence cannot be granted for more than one calendar year or if the student is not in good academic standing at the time. The Dean must approve any exceptions. Requests for leave because of a medical condition must be accompanied by documentation from a physician or licensed professional. This documentation should describe the nature of the functional disability and the estimated length of time for recovery. Leave of absence for personal reasons may not be granted if the student is not in good standing at the time of the request. Leave of absence for personal reasons cannot be granted if the sole purpose for taking leave is to avoid a failing grade or placement onto academic probation. Leave of absence requires approval by the program director and/or Dean.

Upon return from leave of absence, the student may be required to document continued compliance with health and technical standards of the program. Prior to readmission, the student must submit a request in writing. When leave of absence is for medical reasons, 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. A student returning from leave of absence due to personal reasons may also be required to provide documentation substantiating their readiness to return to full-time enrollment in the program. 

Academic Probation

Placement on academic probation serves as notice to the student that their continued enrollment is in jeopardy due to poor academic performance.  A student enrolled in academic remediation activities will automatically be placed into academic probation status. Students on academic probation are not eligible to graduate. Academic probation status is indicated on the student’s official transcript. Removal from academic probation may require successful completion of assigned remediation activities and remaining program requirements. 

Conduct Probation

Enrollment is considered implicit acceptance of the rules, regulations, and guidelines governing student behavior and promulgated by the institution. The student is responsible for being aware of these requirements and posted changes. In addition, all students are expected to know and obey the requirements of federal, state, and local laws. Any student who violates a provision of those laws is subject to disciplinary action, including expulsion, notwithstanding any action taken by civil authorities on account of the violation. PA students may be subject to misconduct penalties and placed on non-academic probation for breaches of conduct contained in the Student Code of Conduct and/or a course syllabus.

Dismissal

A student may be dismissed for poor academic performance. A student may be dismissed for reasons of unprofessional behavior or failure to comply with the Student Code of Conduct. Dismissal can result from failure to meet requirements outlined in an approved remediation plan. A dismissed student may appeal for reinstatement. The appeal must be made in writing, must address the cause for dismissal, and must provide support for the request. Students who do not meet minimum requirements specified for promotion and/or graduation may, after careful consideration, be offered opportunities to correct or remediate those deficiencies. Remediation activities are subject to approval by the Program Director of PA Studies. Reinstatement is not automatic. Reinstatement of enrollment under an approved remediation plan is subject to approval by the Program Director.

Readmission after Dismissal

Any student seeking readmission after dismissal must reapply for admission through the published admissions process.  Any student readmitted, who subsequently receives a failing grade in any course, will be dismissed without opportunity for subsequent readmission.

Withdrawal

The MPAS program adheres to the UNTHSC policy on withdrawals. A student who fails to complete any course within specified periods will not be permitted to progress in the curriculum or to graduate. Failure to attend classes or clinical experiences without notifying the Registrar or program director, will result in administrative withdrawal. Students who do not complete the withdrawal process will not be entitled to an official withdrawal and consequently, cannot be considered for readmission at a later date. Students who are not in good academic standing at the time of withdrawal must apply for readmission through regular the admissions process. The admissions committee will evaluate the student’s entire academic record prior to making an admission recommendation. Any student who withdraws due to poor academic progress or after receiving a failing grade in any course will be recommended for dismissal without opportunity for readmission.

Supervision of Medical Services

PA students are prohibited from performing any medical services or functioning without appropriate supervision.

Drug Screening/Criminal Background Checks

Assessment of student’s individual suitability to function in clinical and patient care settings is imperative to promoting patient safety and integrity of the health care environment. Some hospital and clinical facilities used by the program to provide students with supervised clinical practice experiences require the program to obtain criminal background checks and drug screening prior to students being permitted to attend educational activities there. Criminal background check and drug screening is conducted on all enrolled PA students according to UNTHSC policy. 

Employment

PA Studies program related requirements and activities have priority over employment. Some assignments may call for the student to attend patient care activities at unusual or irregular hours or at places that are geographically separate from the main campus and/or their primary residence. Failure to meet course expectations due to employment conflicts may be cause for dismissal from the program.

Weekends and Nights

Class learning activities during the didactic phase of PA education are typically conducted Monday through Friday during normal business hours. However, the program reserves the right schedule course activities that may require attendance during the evening hours or on weekends. The nature of clinical practica (rotations) will at times require attendance on weekends, at night, and on holidays.

Off-Campus Educational Activities

Some clinical practica and educational experiences take place off-campus and outside the immediate vicinity of Fort Worth. Attempt is made to assist students in obtaining housing; however, students are not guaranteed its availability and cannot be afforded special consideration due to family, housing, or employment concerns. Students should recognize that securing housing and transportation to off-campus clinical educational activities at remote clinical sites is their personal and financial responsibility. The program does not provide transportation to educational activities conducted off-campus. At no time should the university or program be considered responsible for paying student housing or transportation costs during educational activities.

Course/Instructor Evaluation

Each student is expected to provide evaluation of each course and instructor who provided instruction to them during the semester within five (5) class days after completion of the course. This responsibility is met by participation in the online course evaluations system and otherwise as defined in administrative policy.

Each student enrolled at the UNT Health Science Center (UNTHSC) is responsible for knowing current academic and administrative procedures that apply to enrollment in their chosen degree program. This section of the catalog provides selected academic and administrative procedures unique to the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree program. Other UNTHSC policies also apply to Physician Assistant students and are contained elsewhere in this catalog, student handbooks, or in official UNTHSC publications. The UNTHSC reserves the right to amend or add to these procedures 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.

Requirements for Graduation:*

Graduation requirements are listed in the catalog at the time of the student’s entry into the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) program. Normally, these requirements can be satisfied within 36 consecutive months. Students may be required to meet additional requirements in order to meet other Health Science Center, accreditation, state or national standards and/or regulations. Students who have met all requirements and been recommended for graduation will be awarded the MPAS degree provided they meet the conditions listed below:

  1. Have satisfactorily completed all academic requirements of the program for the class they graduate with.

  2. Have completed six academic years of credit at an accredited college or university, of which at least three were completed at the UNT Health Science Center (UNTHSC) at Fort Worth.

  3. Have complied with all legal and financial requirements of the UNTHSC at Fort Worth.

  4. Have exhibited the ethical, professional, behavioral, and personal characteristics necessary for practice as a physician assistant.

  5. Have completed an exit questionnaire and returned to the Office of the Registrar a clearance check form.

  6. Have met the following requisites and time limits: If a student withdraws, decelerates, or is dismissed and later re-enters the program, or if a student is granted an extension beyond 36 months, that student must meet the requirements listed for the class with whom he or she will graduate. A student who has been dismissed due to poor academic progress, and later is readmitted to the program, has no more than 36 months from the date of re-entry to pass any academic course(s) that was (were) failed, complete their specified remediation plan, and must also complete any subsequent incomplete courses. A student dismissed due to a failing grade in a clinical practicum course, who later is readmitted to the program, has not more than 12 months from the date of re-entry to successfully complete the course that was failed, complete their specified remediation plan, and any subsequent incomplete courses. The maximum time limit for completing all graduation requirements is 72 months.

* Students who do not fulfill all graduation requirements by the day of graduation will not be allowed to participate in commencement ceremonies without permission of the Dean (or designee). Students will not be considered graduates in any capacity until they have successfully completed all graduation requirements.