Several Florida colleges and universities offer programs preparing students for national certification examinations and state licensure as physician assistants. PAs work under the direction of a licensed physician, completing physical exams, diagnosing and treating diseases, ordering tests, counseling patients, writing prescriptions and assisting with surgery in a variety of clinical settings, Miami Dade College states. U.S. News & World Report rates programs according to student satisfaction scores and faculty surveys, and several of Florida’s schools rank in the list.

University of Florida

The University of Florida School of Physician Assistant Studies is a full-time, two-year, two-part program. The first part is the didactic classroom phase, where students complete laboratory and initial clinical experiences at the UF Health Science Center. The second part encompasses 12 one-month clinical rotations. Graduates earn the Master of Physician Assistant Studies degree and a Certificate of Completion. U.S. News and World Report ranks UF’s program 43rd nationwide, with a score of 3.1 out of 5, based on student and faculty feedback regarding overall satisfaction and education quality. UF’s program ranks higher than any other Florida PA program.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University offers PA programs at its Fort Lauderdale, Southwest Florida, Jacksonville and Orlando campuses. The Fort Lauderdale program on NSU's main campus boasts more than 1,200 graduates, 15 full-time faculty members and a five-to-one student-to-faculty ratio. The Southwest Florida program offers a 60,000-square-foot teaching facility, 10 full-time faculty and a maximum enrollment of 60 students. The Jacksonville campus offers their newest program, with a low student-to-faculty ratio and a maximum enrollment between 45 and 60 students. NSU's Orlando campus also trains approximately 60 students per year in a state-of-the-art campus, led by industry leading faculty. NSU’s Fort Lauderdale program ranks highest by U.S. News & World Report, at 70th place.

Barry University

Barry University, located in Miami Shores, offers a technology-rich PA program. The curriculum incorporates an elective rotation as well as an option of an additional supplemental rotation. Students complete eight six-week rotations in areas including family medicine, women’s health, pediatrics and surgery. Courses include physiology, infectious diseases, physical diagnosis, medical pathophysiology, medical Spanish and community health research. Barry ranks 102nd in U.S. News & World Report’s 2011 list of the nation's top programs.

Other Florida Universities

Tampa South University’s Master of Science PA program is a 27-month primary care program, incorporating therapeutic, preventative and maintenance service instruction with case studies and problem-solving activities. Their clinical portion is 12 months long, with six-week rotations in areas such as emergency medicine, surgery, behavioral medicine and pediatrics. Florida’s Kaiser University also offers a 24-month program. Kaiser’s program boasts a nearly 90 percent graduation rate and 100 percent job placement. The PA program at Miami Dade College is a two-year, 88 credit-hour program located on the school’s medical campus. Courses cover basic sciences, clinical medicine, physical examination techniques and generally include a lecture and laboratory portion. Students complete clinical experiences during their second year.

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