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The Physician Assistant Curriculum

The physician assistant curriculum consists of 25 consecutive months of integrated didactic and clinical coursework. This sequencing allows students to start clinical rotations after two didactic semesters. Students will be placed in three primary care rotations, then return to the RRCC campus for a 10 week didactic session before finishing the balance of the clinical curriculum. Potential candidates who wish to read the entire policies and procedures governing the didactic and clinical curriculum may access the Physician Assistant Program Manual.

Note: Advanced standing or credit for experiential learning is not available for any course required as part of the professional curriculum.

The Didactic Curriculum

The didactic curriculum begins on campus in August of each year with of two consecutive semesters of full-time coursework and academic activities.

Students begin and continue through the Program as a cohort in the order scheduled by the Program.  All courses and academic activities are required. There is no provision for exemption of classes, part-time participation, advanced placement, or transfer of academic credit. Only those students who have been formally accepted by, and matriculated into, the Red Rocks Community College Physician Assistant Program can take courses with the prefix of PAP.

The nature of PA education is such that students must consider themselves full-time professional students.  Accommodations or excused absences are not available for non-emergent family needs, childcare, employment, transportation, or other personal issues.

Below is a list of the required courses within the didactic curriculum. The PA Program faculty is continually reviewing and evaluating the overall curriculum, individual course content, and course sequencing.  Therefore, course titles, credit hours, and sequencing may be changed without notice.

Required courses for the didactic curriculum include:

PAP 201, 202, 203 Professional Seminar I, II, III
PAP 204, 205, 206 Problem Based Learning I, II, III
PAP 207, 208, 209 Clinical Medicine I, II, III
PAP 210, 211, 212 History and Physical Exam I, II, III
PAP 214 Behavioral Medicine
PAP 220 Anatomy
PAP 221 Biochemistry
PAP 222 Physiology
PAP 223 Pathophysiology
PAP 224, 225, 226 Pharmacology I, II, III


In addition to the required PAP courses, students must successfully complete HPR 120 and HPR 130 (ACLS and PALS) prior to starting clinical rotations.

Students will also participate in required clinical learning experiences (CLE). CLE’s may include participation in community health fairs providing health screenings, education, or services for underserved communities and patient populations. Students will also spend time with community preceptors in primary care, specialty care, and other health care professionals who participate in the care of patients, such as physical therapists, pharmacists, etc.

Please click here to view the Physician Assistant certificate.

For Master's degree options offered through an affiliate institution, click here.

In addition to the above-described required courses, students are required to learn and demonstrate satisfactory competency in the following technical skills and procedures:

Skills Which Must be Adequately Demonstrated

  • Obtain and document a complete medical history
  • Perform and document a complete physical exam
  • Perform and document a focused physical exam
  • Recognition of normal and abnormal anatomy and physiology in a patient
  • Correlation of abnormal physical examination findings to a given disease process
  • Generate a problem list
  • Generate a differential diagnosis
  • Identification of conditions that constitute a medical emergency
  • Identification of indications for hospital admission
  • Write a SOAP note
  • Write hospital admission orders, progress notes, discharge notes
  • Write procedure notes
  • Orally present: medical history, physical exam, differential diagnosis, treatment plan
  • Interacting effectively within multidisciplinary teams
  • Obtain a consultation
  • Make a referral
  • Generate and deliver a patient education plan
  • Develop and document a treatment plan; including indications for discharge and discharge planning
  • Select appropriate clinical therapeutics and calculate dosages
  • Use clinical therapeutics reference materials
  • Write a prescription
  • Explain and obtain informed consent
  • Use universal precautions
  • Use sterile technique
  • Order & interpret laboratory tests
  • Order & interpret diagnostic imaging studies, and procedures
  • Management of an airway and initiate and manage oxygen therapy
  • Initiate and Manage IV Fluid Resuscitation
  • Otoscopy
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Transillumination
  • Obtain and evaluate vital signs: blood pressure, temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate
  • Obtain and evaluate: height, weight, head circumference, girth, BMI
  • Preparation and handling of laboratory specimens
  • Perform and interpret a urinalysis with microscopy
  • Use a Glucometer and interpret data generated from its use
  • Perform and Interpret an electrocardiogram
  • Sterile Field; set up and maintenance
  • Surgical scrub, sterile gowning and gloving
  • Wound preparation
  • Local anesthesia
  • Wound closure; suture, staples, adhesives
  • Splints: recognition and application
  • Casting, application and removal
  • Venipuncture
  • Injections: IM and SubQ

Skills for which the student must have adequate knowledge for use:

  • Urinary catheterization
  • Spirometry; perform and interpret
  • Endotracheal intubation
  • Ocular tonometry
  • Nasal packing
  • Foreign body removal: skin, nose, ears
  • Anuscopy and hemorrhoid treatment
  • Dermal biopsy
  • Nasogastric intubation
  • I & D Abcess
  • Ingrown toenail removal
  • Subungual hematoma, evacuation
  • Cerumen removal
  • Use of counseling techniques in a primary care setting

In addition to the above-described required courses and skills-based activities, students participate in required clinical learning experiences(CLE). CLE’s may include participation in community health fairs providing health screenings, education, or services for underserved communities and patient populations.  Students will also spend time with community preceptors in primary care, specialty care, and other professions who participate in the care of patients, such as physical therapists, pharmacists, etc.

The Student’s School Day During Didactic Training

PA students must expect to be in classes, approximately 40 hours per week throughout the didactic year. Students are expected to be present in every class unless unusual circumstances require a leave of absence. On occasion, students will be required to participate in educational activities during evening hours or on weekend days.

The PA curriculum is sufficiently intense to require the full attention of all students, regardless of academic or experiential background. Therefore, the Program does not make exceptions in class attendance or other requirements for students’ employment schedules, routine childcare needs, transportation or other non-emergent personal considerations.

The Clinical Curriculum

Students must demonstrate didactic and professional proficiency to progress to the clinical curriculum. The clinical curriculum includes twelve four-week rotations :

Required courses for the clinical curriculum include:

PAP 231, 232, 233 Professional Seminar IV, V, VI
PAP 234, 245, 236 Problem Based Learning IV, V, VI
Clerkships: Family Medicine I, II
  Internal Medicine I, II
  Women’s Health
  Emergency Medicine
  Surgery
  Pediatrics
  Psychiatry
  Geriatrics/LTC
  Primary Care
     Elective

Students will be assigned to clinical rotations at training sites outside of the metropolitan Denver area and/or in medically underserved areas. Students are required to accept rotation assignments as assigned by the Program.

Gainful Employment Information

The US Department of Education requires colleges to disclose a variety of information for any financial aid eligible program that “prepares students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation." (Click here for more information) The information provided here is the best available to us but represents one year’s data only. However, we hope that this information is helpful to our current students and to prospective students as they make their career and educational choices.

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two PA students studying a skeleton

Interested in becoming a preceptor for RRCC's Physician Assistant Program?
Apply here!
Preceptor Application

PA Info Sessions:
April 24, 2014 at 5:00pm in room 1529 (PA classroom)

May 15, 2014 at 5:30pm in room 1529 (PA classroom)

June 10, 2014 at 5:30pm in room 1529 (PA classroom)

Contact Info