The Physician Assistant Curriculum

See the Master's degree tab for the Fall of 2018 cohort curriculum

The RRCC Physician Assistant Master's degree (MPAS) curriculum consists of didactic coursework integrated with clinical experiences. The MPAS is a 27-month, 120 credit program.  Potential candidates who wish to read the 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

Didactic curriculum begins on campus in August with two consecutive semesters of full-time coursework and academic activities and an additional 8 weeks of content, procedural training, and integration through case studies and simulation.

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 within the MPAS program.

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.

MPAS proposed courses are listed in the Master's degree tab but are subject to change prior to matriculation. 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.

Students will participate in 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.

The Master's degree will be conferred by RRCC starting with the entering class of 2017.

As part of the requirements of the Program, students are required to learn and demonstrate satisfactory competency in the following technical skills and procedures:

Skills which must be adequately demonstrated


At the completion of the program, the physician assistant student will be able to:

  • Apply HIPAA policies
  • Explain and obtain informed consent
  • Apply principles of universal precautions
  • Obtain and document a complete medical history
  • Perform and document a complete physical exam
  • Perform a focused exam and document in SOAP format
  • Identify normal and abnormal anatomy and physiology in a patient
  • Correlate abnormal physical examination findings with a disease process
  • Generate a problem list
  • Generate a differential diagnosis
  • Identify conditions that constitute a medical emergency
  • Recognize indications for hospital admission
  • Write hospital admission orders, progress, and discharge notes
  • Write a procedure/surgical note
  • Orally present a medical history, physical exam, differential diagnosis, and treatment plan
  • Interact effectively within interprofessional teams
  • Recognize the timeliness and appropriateness of a referral
  • Write a referral/consultation note
  • Generate and deliver patient education
  • Develop and document a treatment plan/discharge plan
  • Select appropriate clinical therapeutics and calculate dosages
  • Write a prescription
  • Use appropriate clinical reference materials
  • Prepare and handle laboratory specimens
  • Order appropriate laboratory tests and interpret results
  • Order appropriate diagnostic imaging studies and interpret results
  • Initiate and manage IV fluid resuscitation
  • Obtain and evaluate vital signs to include blood pressure, temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, and oxygen saturation
  • Perform and interpret an electrocardiogram
  • Prepare and maintain a sterile field
  • Perform surgical scrub, sterile gowning and gloving
  • Administer appropriate procedural anesthesia
  • Prepare a wound for closure
  • Close a wound using suture, staples, and/or adhesives
  • Apply an appropriate dressing and bandage
  • Choose and apply an appropriate type of splint
  • Choose and apply an appropriate type of cast and remove the cast
  • Perform venipuncture
  • Administer intradermal, subcutaneous, and intramuscular injections
  • Obtain a pap smear
  • Use counseling techniques in a primary care setting
  • Recommend appropriate screening tests for age and gender

At the completion of the program, the physician assistant student should be able to demonstrate proficiency, or at minimum, explain with progression toward competency post-graduation:

  • Urinary catheterization
  • Spirometry
  • Airway management/endotracheal intubation
  • Evaluation and management of an eye injury or complaint
  • Ocular tonometry
  • Epistaxis management
  • Foreign body removal from the skin, nose, ears, eyes
  • Dermal biopsy
  • Nasogastric intubation
  • Abscess incision and drainage
  • Ingrown toenail removal
  • Subungual hematoma evacuation
  • Cerumen removal
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Arthrocentesis and joint injection
  • Burn care
  • Arterial puncture
  • Dislocation reduction
  • Spine stabilization and support
  • Intraosseous access
  • Central line placement and care

The Student’s 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 on weekend days or later evenings.

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 in which students are placed in the following settings:

  • emergency department
  • inpatient (hospital)
  • outpatient
  • operating room
  • to provide exposures to the following populations of patients:
  • pediatrics
  • adolescents
  • adults
  • women's health/prenatal
  • elderly
  • patients seeking care for behavioral/mental health conditions
  • patients needing surgical management, including pre-operative and post-operative care

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." 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.