The University of Colorado PA Program has gained national recognition for its curriculum in primary care medicine. The Program offers a Certificate and a Professional Master’s Degree (MPAS-Pediatrics). In accordance with the mission of the program, the CHA/PA Program curriculum provides comprehensive physician assistant education in primary medical care with an emphasis on pediatrics and the need for service to disadvantaged, at risk and medically underserved populations. There are specific requirements that all students must complete to receive the MPAS degree from our fully accredited PA Program. Graduates are well prepared to perform in primary care practice with patients across the lifespan. Historically our students have performed above the national average in score and passing rate on the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) examinations.
The program curriculum aims to provide a strong foundation to equip students for a lifetime of learning, clinical care, and service. Students are expected to be self-directed, motivated, and responsible for their own learning using critical thinking and reasoning. Courses emphasize the integration of basic sciences and clinical medicine through the presentation of information in clinical context, employing the use of lectures, collaborative sessions, small group experiences, and problem-based learning to build knowledge, skills, and attitudes important for physician assistants. Interdisciplinary training is woven throughout to facilitate the development of an interprofessional approach to patient care.
Educational content is enhanced through the applications of family-centered care, behavioral and psychosocial perspectives as well as social and community initiatives for health and wellness. The program is strengthening curriculum through the integration of content in public health, oral health, professionalism, and ethics. Students with a personal area of interest may also have the opportunity to participate in specialized tracks to enhance learning in Rural, Urban-underserved, Global Health, and Leadership and Advocacy.
The curriculum includes a fully integrated clinical curriculum across all three years with clinical rotations in the hospital and community. During clinical experiences, students participate in history-taking, physical examination and assessment, development of a differential diagnosis and clinical decision-making and planning of treatments and interventions. Students work closely with preceptors and other members of the health care team and are evaluated on skills and competencies required for patient care.
As a part of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, the faculty of the entire school of medicine and affiliates contribute greatly to the quality of the learning experiences provided at the CHA/PA Program. Affiliations with the University of Colorado Hospital, The Children’s Hospital, Denver Health and Hospitals, National Jewish Center for Research in addition to community centers and clinics provide a network of clinical rotations to enhance the training of students. The faculty within the departments of Pediatrics, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Surgery, and others regularly participate in both classroom and clinical training of the CHA/PA Program students.
Graduation and awarding of the Masters of Physician Assistant Studies and Certificate of Completion are based upon the following requirements:
- Successful completion of all coursework and rotations of the University of Colorado PA Program
- Exhibiting Professionalism throughout the course of study
- Successful completion of the Comprehensive Clinical Knowledge and Clinical Skills Examinations
3rd Year Curriculum
The third year (June through May) consists of eleven, one month long rotations in a variety of settings. Required rotations and elective rotations are completed, including a one month in a rural site and a one month in a site designated as medically underserved.
The final month of the third year is the third year clinical seminar. This month takes place on campus and includes presentations of a clinical case integrating the concepts of evidence-based medicine. Students are required to pass all third year clinical rotations as well as the third year comprehensive exam consisting of components of knowledge and practical standardized patient exams in order to graduate from the program
Regular Track (34 hours)
Rural Track (34 hours)
Ambulatory Pediatrics in Academic Setting
Ambulatory Pediatrics (may be in pediatric subspecialty)
Inpatient Pediatric Medicine
Adult Internal Medicine
Women's Health (if not taken in 2nd Year)
Clinical Seminar (May of 3rd Year)
Ambulatory Pediatrics in Academic Setting
Family Medicine at single site in rural CO
Inpatient Medicine/Internal Medicine
Adult Internal Medicine
Clinical Seminar (May of 3rd Year)
Total Credits may be an additional +/-1 credit if they take two - 2 week rotations at 2.0 credits each or just one - 2 week rotation and a 2-week vacation.
*Subject to Change
3rd Year Course Descriptions
Specialized Tracks of the CHA/PA Program
The CHA/PA Program offers an outstanding curriculum with education across the lifespan with additional training in pediatrics. Our reputation and board pass rates may speak for themselves in preparation for practice! In response to student requests and the opportunity for additional learning beyond the regular curriculum, the CHA/PA Program offers students the opportunity to participate in tracks to help personalize and extend learning beyond our standard curriculum. These tracks include exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary education and clinical experiences, integrating students with others in the School of Medicine and across the campus with similar interests.
In 1993, the CHA/PA Program implemented the rural track and is now one of the official interdisciplinary tracks of the School of Medicine. The rural track is specifically designed to prepare students who wish to practice medicine in rural areas, especially in Colorado and Wyoming, with the skills needed to practice in rural areas. Approximately 65 percent of rural track graduates are currently practicing in rural communities.
During the first two years of the program, rural track students participate in interdisciplinary courses with lectures, small group cases and discussions and workshops, and an immersion week with other rural track students across the campus. During the third year, rural track students will complete a three- to five-month clinical rotation block in a rural community of less than 15,000-25,000. The School of Medicine recently received a grant to establish several rural training centers of excellence The student will live in the rural community during the rotation block and are expected to participate as much as possible in community events. The rotations completed at this location include Family Medicine, Pediatrics, OB/GYN/Women's Health and Urgent/EM care.
Up to 25 percent of each class may be enrolled in the rural track. Applicants apply to be part of the rural track during the initial admissions process through submission of an additional essay. Rural track applicants will be considered for both the rural and regular tracks. Admittance into the rural track will be determined upon a student’s acceptance into the program. Any accepted student not admitted into the rural track will automatically be admitted into the regular track.
Global Health Track
The Global Health Track is an official interdisciplinary track in the School of Medicine that is committed to equipping PA and MD students with global and public health skills. This track goes beyond medical tourism, and requires a true commitment to one site during your three years. The track seeks to promote in-depth projects, completed by students, in developing nations that are sustainable and create lasting positive change in a community.
The Global Health Track has nearly 40 mentors, most with their own projects abroad in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Caribbean. Currently, there are 8 sites to choose from including South Africa, Guatemala, Haiti, Tanzania, India, Rwanda, Peru, and Uganda. Some students bring their own existing close ties to groups abroad and we will consider additional long-term connections that are safe, legitimate educational experiences which satisfy the track requirements. Additionally, students may have the opportunity to work with global populations in Colorado (such as refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers).
Projects are varied in both topic and style. Examples include the effects of clean burning stoves on health of the household in the Peruvian Highlands, assessment of trauma services and outcomes in Tanzania, assessment and administration of health services in a Rwandan orphanage, and experiences of trauma in Eritrean refugees. There are many languages represented in the countries in the GHT. It is recommended students attempt to gain knowledge of the language of the country before and during your work abroad.
Urban/Underserved Track (CU-Unite)
CU-Unite is committed to serving the uninsured and those with limited access to health care in urban areas. Students completing CU-UNITE will have a thorough understanding of healthcare disparities and inequities, the multifaceted role of the healthcare provider in urban communities, and knowledge about health issues of specific populations of patients in urban areas.
CU-UNITE is an interdisciplinary program that includes collaboration with the School of Medicine – MD and Physician Assistant programs, and the College of Nursing Nurse Practitioner program. This track includes interdisciplinary didactic and clinical experiences as well as collaborative opportunities for CU-UNITE students to work in teams on various topics with an urban underserved focus.
A call for applications for this track will be made to accepted students.
LEADS (Leadership, Education, Advocacy, Development, and Scholarship)
LEADS is a Track within the School of Medicine dedicated to addressing the needs of the underserved and disadvantaged. The goal of LEADS is to expand your repertoire as health care professionals to provide individuals with the vision and skills to be leaders and advocates for patients and their needs.
The LEADS track provides learning opportunities to empower students with the vision and skills necessary to address currently unmet needs head-on and to create effective change where change is needed. LEADS will help develop skills to improve patients' opportunities and choices and to empower providers to act on their behalf. The LEADS Program does this through leadership and advocacy skills development and by providing guidance and mentorship through interdisciplinary coursework and projects.
A call of applications for this track will be made during the first year of the program.