Didactic Phase

The Didactic Phase of Training incorporates 13 months of class, lab, and clinical activities.

Unlike most other programs, our students begin patient experiences in their very first week of the didactic curriculum!

Precepted by their principal faculty, and for an average of 4 hours per week during the Summer, Fall, and Spring first-year semesters, our students assist in evaluating and treating patients at the Mel Leaman Free Clinic at Emory & Henry College (located right next to our main building) - all this prior to their formal clinical rotations phase of training.

The didactic phase includes just over three semesters of graduate-level coursework as follows.


  • PA 501- Human Gross Anatomy

    Human Gross Anatomy includes lectures and cadaver lab instruction and dissection, in addition to clinical correlations and radiographic anatomy, providing students with in-depth training and experience in head-to-toe human gross anatomy and radiographic imaging pertinent to medical practice.

    Five semester credit hours.
  • PA 503 - Fundamentals of Biomedicine I

    Fundamentals of Biomedicine I includes lectures covering genetics and genomics and an in-depth study of physiology and pathophysiology and applications to patient care. The course is organized by body/organ systems aligning with Clinical Medicine I and Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapy I courses.

    2 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 504 - Fundamentals in Biomedicine II

    Fundamentals in Biomedicine II includes lectures covering the in-depth study of physiology and pathophysiology and applications to patient care; the course is organized by organ systems aligning with Clinical Medicine II, Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapy II, and Neuroanatomy courses.

    3 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 505 - Fundamentals in Biomedicine III

    Fundamentals in Biomedicine III includes lectures covering the in-depth study of physiology and pathophysiology and application to patient care. The course is organized by body/organ systems aligning with Clinical Medicine III and Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry II courses.

    3 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 506 - Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapy I

    Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapy I, II and III include lectures and lab experiences specifically designed to provide students with a foundation in the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and therapeutic use of pharmaceuticals for diverse patient populations with acute and chronic conditions throughout the lifespan and organized by body/organ systems aligning with the Clinical Medicine I, II and III courses, respectively. As with other courses, these courses will be taught with extensive use of a flipped classroom and team based learning design including significant case based learning sessions geared towards problem solving and medical decision-making skills within a collaborative interprofessional patient-centered team-based model.

    3 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 507 - Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapy II

    Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapy I, II and III include lectures and lab experiences specifically designed to provide students with a foundation in the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and therapeutic use of pharmaceuticals for diverse patient populations with acute and chronic conditions throughout the lifespan and organized by body/organ systems aligning with the Clinical Medicine I, II and III courses, respectively. As with other courses, these courses will be taught with extensive use of a flipped classroom and team based learning design including significant case based learning sessions geared towards problem solving and medical decision-making skills within a collaborative interprofessional patient-centered team-based model.

    3 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 508 - Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapy III

    Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapy I, II and III include lectures and lab experiences specifically designed to provide students with a foundation in the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and therapeutic use of pharmaceuticals for diverse patient populations with acute and chronic conditions throughout the lifespan and organized by body/organ systems aligning with the Clinical Medicine I, II and III courses, respectively. As with other courses, these courses will be taught with extensive use of a flipped classroom and team based learning design including significant case based learning sessions geared towards problem solving and medical decision-making skills within a collaborative interprofessional patient-centered team-based model.

    3 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 511 - Clinical Medicine I

    Clinical Medicine I, II and III courses include lectures and lab experiences providing students with in- depth training in the etiology, epidemiology, clinical manifestations, diagnostic evaluation - including laboratory, imaging, and procedural studies/tests, differential diagnosis, and the evidence-based treatment and management for diverse patient populations with acute, subacute and chronic conditions throughout the lifespan and organized by body/organ system. As with other courses, this course will be taught with extensive use of a flipped classroom and team based learning design including significant case based learning sessions geared towards problem solving and medical decision-making skills within a collaborative interprofessional patient-centered team-based model.

    8 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 512 - Clinical Medicine II

    Clinical Medicine I, II and III courses include lectures and lab experiences providing students with in- depth training in the etiology, epidemiology, clinical manifestations, diagnostic evaluation - including laboratory, imaging, and procedural studies/tests, differential diagnosis, and the evidence-based treatment and management for diverse patient populations with acute, subacute and chronic conditions throughout the lifespan and organized by body/organ system. As with other courses, this course will be taught with extensive use of a flipped classroom and team based learning design including significant case based learning sessions geared towards problem solving and medical decision-making skills within a collaborative interprofessional patient-centered team-based model.

    7 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 513 - Clinical Medicine III

    Clinical Medicine I, II and III courses include lectures and lab experiences providing students with in- depth training in the etiology, epidemiology, clinical manifestations, diagnostic evaluation - including laboratory, imaging, and procedural studies/tests, differential diagnosis, and the evidence-based treatment and management for diverse patient populations with acute, subacute and chronic conditions throughout the lifespan and organized by body/organ system. As with other courses, this course will be taught with extensive use of a flipped classroom and team based learning design including significant case based learning sessions geared towards problem solving and medical decision-making skills within a collaborative interprofessional patient-centered team-based model.

    8 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 514 - Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry I

    The Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry I and II courses include comprehensive lecture and lab experiences providing students with in-depth training in evidence-based behavioral medicine and psychiatry. The course is designed to introduce students to the biopsychosocial model of diverse patient populations with acute and chronic conditions throughout the lifespan, including end-of-life care (e.g., hospice and palliative care), integrating human physical and psychological development, human sexuality, and responses to stress, injury, illness and death. The courses also incorporate continual training and practice in mindfulness practices in healthcare; training in substance use, abuse and addiction issues; treatment adherence issues; motivational interviewing (MI) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET). Evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and management of psychiatric conditions and illnesses are covered throughout the courses, including progressively challenging case based learning sessions beginning with isolated conditions and progressing to comorbid conditions and multimorbidity; these sessions are geared towards problem solving and medical decision-making skills within a collaborative interprofessional patient-centered team-based model.

    Additionally, students will learn the basics of cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy and gain first-hand experience interviewing and evaluating patients with psychiatric disease under the supervision of  Dr. Richards ‘clinic’ at the Mel Leaman Free Clinic at Emory & Henry College

    3 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 514 - Behavioral Medicine & Psychiatry II

    The Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry I and II courses include comprehensive lecture and lab experiences providing students with in-depth training in evidence-based behavioral medicine and psychiatry. The course is designed to introduce students to the biopsychosocial model of diverse patient populations with acute and chronic conditions throughout the lifespan, including end-of-life care (e.g., hospice and palliative care), integrating human physical and psychological development, human sexuality, and responses to stress, injury, illness and death. The courses also incorporate continual training and practice in mindfulness practices in healthcare; training in substance use, abuse and addiction issues; treatment adherence issues; motivational interviewing (MI) and motivational enhancement therapy (MET). Evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and management of psychiatric conditions and illnesses are covered throughout the courses, including progressively challenging case based learning sessions beginning with isolated conditions and progressing to comorbid conditions and multimorbidity; these sessions are geared towards problem solving and medical decision-making skills within a collaborative interprofessional patient-centered team-based model.

    Additionally, students will learn the basics of cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy and gain first-hand experience interviewing and evaluating patients with psychiatric disease under the supervision of  Dr. Richards ‘clinic’ at the Mel Leaman Free Clinic at Emory & Henry College

    3 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 521 - Clinical Skills I

    Clinical Skills I, II and III include lectures, labs, and clinic experiences covering the in-depth study and practice of evidence-based patient interviewing, physical examination, diagnostic evaluation - including laboratory, imaging and procedural testing, patient counseling and education, and patient management for diverse patient populations throughout the lifespan. Clinical Skills I will emphasis the complete history and physical examination, including, but not limited to, documentation of care. Clinical Skills II and III will emphasize both a complete history and physical examination and documentation in addition to focused examinations organized by body/organ system aligning with the Clinical Medicine II and III courses and specific training on evidence-based technical skills and procedures. The courses also cover effective interviewing and communication skills, standardized patient and high-fidelity manikin simulation activities, and directly supervised clinical experiences in the Mel Leaman Free Clinic on campus. As with other courses, this course will be taught with extensive use of a flipped classroom and team based learning design geared towards problem solving and medical decision-making skills within a collaborative interprofessional patient-centered team-based model.

    3 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 522 - Clinical Skills II

    Clinical Skills I, II and III include lectures, labs, and clinic experiences covering the in-depth study and practice of evidence-based patient interviewing, physical examination, diagnostic evaluation - including laboratory, imaging and procedural testing, patient counseling and education, and patient management for diverse patient populations throughout the lifespan. Clinical Skills I will emphasis the complete history and physical examination, including, but not limited to, documentation of care. Clinical Skills II and III will emphasize both a complete history and physical examination and documentation in addition to focused examinations organized by body/organ system aligning with the Clinical Medicine II and III courses and specific training on evidence-based technical skills and procedures. The courses also cover effective interviewing and communication skills, standardized patient and high-fidelity manikin simulation activities, and directly supervised clinical experiences in the Mel Leaman Free Clinic on campus. As with other courses, this course will be taught with extensive use of a flipped classroom and team based learning design geared towards problem solving and medical decision-making skills within a collaborative interprofessional patient-centered team-based model.

    3 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 523 - Clinical Skills III

    Clinical Skills I, II and III include lectures, labs, and clinic experiences covering the in-depth study and practice of evidence-based patient interviewing, physical examination, diagnostic evaluation - including laboratory, imaging and procedural testing, patient counseling and education, and patient management for diverse patient populations throughout the lifespan. Clinical Skills I will emphasis the complete history and physical examination, including, but not limited to, documentation of care. Clinical Skills II and III will emphasize both a complete history and physical examination and documentation in addition to focused examinations organized by body/organ system aligning with the Clinical Medicine II and III courses and specific training on evidence-based technical skills and procedures. The courses also cover effective interviewing and communication skills, standardized patient and high-fidelity manikin simulation activities, and directly supervised clinical experiences in the Mel Leaman Free Clinic at Emory & Henry College. As with other courses, this course will be taught with extensive use of a flipped classroom and team based learning design geared towards problem solving and medical decision-making skills within a collaborative interprofessional patient-centered team-based model.

    Additionally, and specific to Clinical Skills III which covers the prenatal, newborn and pediatric examinations, students will complete mini-rotations at our local pediatric officers under the supervision of pediatric specialists.

    3 Semester Credit Hours

  • PA 531 - PA Practice I

    PA Practice I and II include lectures and seminars covering the history of the PA profession and current trends, PA leadership and stewardship, professionalism, interprofessional team-based practice, medical ethics, public health, health policy and healthcare systems, health care disparities, patient and healthcare diversity, cultural awareness, patient safety, quality improvement, prevention of medical errors and risk management. The courses also provide an introduction to malpractice and medical liability, legal issues and PA certification, licensing, credentialing and practice regulations.

    2 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 532 - PA Practice II

    PA Practice I and II include lectures and seminars covering the history of the PA profession and current trends, PA leadership and stewardship, professionalism, interprofessional team-based practice, medical ethics, public health, health policy and healthcare systems, health care disparities, patient and healthcare diversity, cultural awareness, patient safety, quality improvement, prevention of medical errors and risk management. The courses also provide an introduction to malpractice and medical liability, legal issues and PA certification, licensing, credentialing and practice regulations.

    2 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 541 - Research Methods & Design

    Research Methods and Designs includes lectures and seminars introducing students to theoretical frameworks, hypotheses development, literature searches, quantitative and qualitative research methods and designs, evaluation of research for efficacy and applicability to clinical practice, and writing publishable research papers. Throughout the course, clinical evidence-based research, practices and standards are evaluated for validity and applicability to patient care.

    2 Semester Credit Hours
  • PA 600 - Surgical and Advanced Clinical Procedures

    Surgical and advanced clinical procedures is divided between surgical skills and advanced clinical procedures. The surgery portion of the course will provide students with an understanding of basic surgical procedures, preoperative patient assessment, principles of postoperative care, the identification and management of common post-operative complications and routines of the operative suite including, but not limited to, sterile technique and patient transfer methods. The advanced clinical procedures portion of the course introduces students to common outpatient and emergency medical procedures and allows for in depth practice of these procedures. The course includes training in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), and procedures frequently completed for Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat (EENT), Respiratory, Cardiovascular, Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary, Dermatologic, and Orthopedicsystems.

    5 Semester Credit Hours