Year One: Didactic - 54 credits

The first year of the program is the didactic year. Students are in class full-time for 12 months.


PA 501 - Clinical Anatomy and Physiology (4 credits)
PA 502 - History and Physical Examination I (3 credits)
PA 504 - Clinical Medicine I (4 credits)
PA 510 - Pharmacology I (2 credits)
PA 515 - Pathophysiology I (2 credits)
PA 619 - Preventative Medicine and Health Promotion (1 credit)
PA 506 - Clinical Reasoning I (2 credits)


PA 503 - History and Physical Examination II (3 credits)
PA 505 - Clinical Medicine II (4 credits)
PA 511 - Pharmacology II (2 credits)
PA 513 - Diagnostic Methods I (1 credit)
PA 516 - Pathophysiology II (2 credits)
PA 517 - Research Seminar (1 credit)
PA 575 - Ethics of Health Care (Values Seminar) (3 credits)
PA 507 - Clinical Reasoning II (2 credits)


PA 508 - Physician Assistant History and Role (1 credit)
PA 606 - Clinical Medicine III (4 credits)
PA 607 - Behavioral Aspects of Medicine (3 credits)
PA 612 - Pharmacology III (2 credits)
PA 614 - Diagnostic Methods II (1 credit)
PA 617 - Pathophysiology III (2 credits)
PA 618 - Clinical Skills Development (2 credits)
PA 620 - Advanced Cardiac Life Support (1 credit)
PA 608 - Clinical Reasoning III (2 credits)

Year Two: Clinical Rotations - 45 credits 

During the second year of the program, students complete nine clinical rotations over the course of a 12 month period.

The DeSales PA Program is affiliated with over 900 clinical preceptors, which means students can complete the entire clinical year without having to relocate. Unlike programs that require students to secure their own rotation sites, DeSales has five clinical coordinators and a clinical assistant on staff to place students in each of their nine rotations during their second year of study.

The vast majority of our clinical sites are located within 30 minutes of the University. Some are located approximately an hour's drive from campus, but these are optional and offer free housing. Elective rotations are available in local and nationally renowned sites. Students may also opt to complete their elective rotation abroad in Manchay, Peru or Arusha, Tanzania.  One elective rotation is required during the clinical year.

Core Clinical Rotations

PA 630 Emergency Medicine (5 credits)
PA 631 Family Medicine I (5 credits)
PA 632 Family Medicine II (5 credits)
PA 633 Internal Medicine (5 credits)
PA 634 OB/GYN (5 credits)
PA 635 Pediatrics (5 credits)
PA 636 Psychiatry (5 credits)
PA 637 General Surgery (5 credits)
PA 799 Elective Rotation (5 credits)

Requirements of the program

For successful completion of Year One and Year Two, students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. Students must earn a grade of C or higher in all courses.

  • Because of differences in health care delivery across the globe, the patient care hours must be completed within the United States and its territories.
  • All prerequisite courses must be completed by the date of matriculation.

  • Advanced placement in the professional phase of the Physician Assistant Program is not possible.

  • Matriculating students will need to complete the Program's immunization requirement and submit both a Criminal Record Check and a Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance.(Forms will be provided.)

International Rotations

The DeSales University physician assistant program is proud to offer 5-week and 1-week elective international rotations; five-week rotations are offered in Peru and Tanzania, one-week rotations are offered in Honduras. 

5-Week Rotation: Peru
Students work with Dr. Giordano Uchofen at the Centro Médico de Manchay, a semi-desert area of hills outside of the Peruvian capital. It is home to 80,000 people, mainly poor indigenous migrants from the highlands, 55% of whom are living in absolute poverty.  In the clinic, students will have the opportunity to work in many areas:  pediatrics, psychiatry, physical therapy, outpatient surgery, urgent care, and dentistry. 

5-Week Rotation: Tanzania
Students work at two locations, a local dispensary at Lumen Christi Institute in Maji ya Chai and Meru District hospital.  In the dispensary, they work with a physician and physician-assistant analogue (called a Clinical Officer), and provide basic primary care to local villagers.  At the hospital, which serves a population of 300,000, they rotate among many wards:  diabetes, mother/baby, pediatric, general medicine, HIV, surgery, and dental. The hospital offers primary diagnostic services like x-rays, ultrasound and laboratory services as well 2 operating theatres.

1-Week Rotation: Honduras
The 1-week rotations are generally offered in January and July in Honduras.  Students have the opportunity to work with a DeSales University physician assistant alumnus, Jackie Borst, who started the non-profit International Impact through Medicine Foundation.  Patients are seen in an on-site clinic in Zambrano, as well as in a remote mountainous region of Honduras where a 2-day mobile clinic is offered.

These rotations are offered in support of the DeSales University mission, “to enrich the human community and enhance the dignity of the individual through its educational endeavors.”  Because of increasing interest in global health, the DeSales University physician assistant program believes it is vital to offer structured, streamlined, educationally sound, ethically-responsible experiences for students to learn about medical care in developing country settings.  

More importantly than simply learning about how medicine is practiced in a different environment, DeSales physician assistant students who participate in the international experiences will learn the following:

  • The relationship between health and the social determinants of health

  • Barriers to health and healthcare in low-resource settings

  • Major causes of morbidity and mortality in the region in which they are working

  • Healthcare delivery strategies in low-resource settings

  • Cultural and ethical issues in working with underserved populations

  • Adaptability of clinical skills and practice in a resource-constrained environment

  • Humility, flexibility, professionalism, and cultural sensitivity when working within a different healthcare context

Work Policy

The PA Program realizes that students have different financial obligations and may need to work while being a student. The Program believes that our students are educated adults and they are capable of making a personal decision about the necessity of working. However, we fully expect the PA Program to be the student's first priority. This curriculum will require a great deal of commitment on the part of the student. We do not encourage students to work, but we allow the students to make this personal decisions themselves. The student does not need to disclose to the program whether work is taking place.

During the clinical phase of the program, the Program will not allow the student to alter the rotation or site schedule to accommodate a working schedule. Students are reminded that the clinical rotation schedules may include night shifts and weekends as part of the learning experiences.

Physician Assistant students: to receive full consideration for the next academic year, your CASPA application must be verified by CASPA no later than December 1.

Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA)

DeSales University Information Sessions

Program Information