Javascript is currently not supported, or is disabled by this browser. Please enable Javascript for full functionality.

Skip to Main Content
    Harding University
  Sep 21, 2021
2010-2011 Graduate and Professional Catalog 
Catalog Navigation
2010-2011 Graduate and Professional Catalog [Archived Catalog]

College of Sciences

Physician Assistant Studies Department

Program  Details - List of Courses 

Program Description

Harding is proud to have the only Physician Assistant Program in the state of Arkansas. With its emphasis on practice in rural settings and missions, the impact the graduates will have on the community, the state and worldwide will be remarkable.

The Physician Assistant Program is part of the College of Sciences and offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Physician Assistant Studies. The curriculum is an intensive 28-month medical education program comprised of 110 semester hours of coursework and an average of 2200 hours of supervised clinical experiences, with a focus on primary care and family medicine.

Upon the successful completion of this program, students will be eligible to sit for the national certifying exam (PANCE) given by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

Harding University’s Physician Assistant Program is located on the Health Sciences campus on Park Avenue, directly adjacent to the main university campus in Searcy. For more information call 501-279-5642 or e-mail

The Physician Assistant Student Handbook contains a comprehensive description of all policies and procedures that apply to our students.


Dean: Travis Thompson, Ph.D.


Michael A. Murphy, M.D.
     Program Director
William White, M.D.
     Medical Director

Associate Professor:

Gary Hill, MPAS, PA-C
     Clinical Director

Assistant Professors:

Tara Bruner, MHS, PA-C
Greg Davenport, MPAS, PA-C
Peggy Huckeba, R.N., M.S.E.
     Academic Director
Phil Tobin, MPAS, PA-C
     Assistant Clinical Director

Mission of the Physician Assistant Program

The mission of the Physician Assistant Program at Harding University is to develop knowledgeable and caring health care professionals who provide highly competent patient-centered primary medical care in diverse environments.

The Physician Assistant Program is an integral part of Harding University, and embraces the six goals outlined in the University’s statement of mission and goals. The goals of the Physician Assistant Program are to:

  1. Instruct physician assistants who will provide primary care reflective of their Christian faith and service to their community and to the world.
  2. Develop practice-oriented critical thinking which recognizes dependence on God, is committed to lifelong intellectual excellence, and is built upon a foundation of general cultural knowledge.
  3. Foster commitment to Christian values, ethics and integrity in personal and professional service as physician assistants.
  4. Promote supportive personal and professional relationships.
  5. Nurture lifelong personal habits that lead to a healthier quality of life physically, spiritually, psychologically and socially.
  6. Emphasize a servant-leadership lifestyle that prepares graduates to have a respect for other cultures and an understanding of world missions.


The Physician Assistant program has received continuing accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

Admission Requirements

All applicants must:

  1. Possess a bachelor’s degree which has been completed at a regionally accredited institution in the United States prior to matriculation into the Program.
  2. Meet all general requirements for admission to, and agree to abide by all policies and procedures for, graduate programs at Harding University.
  3. Have an academic record of performance at the undergraduate level that is predictive of academic success and professional achievement as a physician assistant. The minimum total undergraduate GPA should be 3.0 on a 4-point scale. Written appeals of the total GPA requirement must be made to the admission director at the time of application. See website for full details.
  4. Complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test within 5 years prior to matriculation. See website for deadline. No minimum score required. The GRE requirement is waived for those who have completed a graduate degree prior to the deadline posted on the Web site (

Please note: Applications will be strengthened by evidence of the successful completion of additional coursework, such as biochemistry, genetics, sociology, child and/or abnormal psychology or other life science, chemistry, and social science courses beyond the minimum required. We recommend that applicants take additional coursework for English and mathematics because of the need for strong analytical and communication skills.

Experience in direct medical patient care will add support to the application, as will demonstrated involvement in humanitarian service. Direct patient care experience may be either paid or volunteer and can include clinical experience as a health professional (nurse, health educator, paramedic, EMT, respiratory therapist, etc.) or experience as a medical/nursing assistant, clinic aide, orderly, patient care attendant, medical missions volunteer, etc. Time spent “shadowing” a physician assistant or physician in clinical activities will also be considered.

It is strongly recommended that coursework in anatomy and physiology and microbiology be completed within seven years prior to applying to the program. Current employment that actively uses that knowledge base will be taken into consideration by the admissions committee.

For more tips on applying, click here.

Prerequisite Coursework

Prerequisite courses must be completed at a regionally accredited U.S. college or university with an average GPA of 3.0 on a 4-point scale, with no course grade below C. A minimum of three (3) semester hours/units or four (4) quarter hours/units is required for each course:

Courses Semester Hours   HU Courses*
General or University Chemistry* 3    
Organic Chemistry* 3     or  
Microbiology* 3    
General or Developmental Psychology 3     or  
College Algebra or Calculus I or Statistics 3     ,  , or  
Human Anatomy & Physiology* 6     and  

Note: This minimum of 6 semester hours must be taken over two semesters. Students should take two semesters of A&P I and II to fulfill this requirement OR a semester of anatomy and a semester of physiology. These combinations should not be mixed. Also, for schools that do not offer human anatomy and physiology, acceptable coursework is that which is comparable to BIOL 261 -Vertebrate Morphology and BIOL 280 -Animal Physiology.

*Acceptable courses must be designated as counting toward a science major and must include a laboratory.

**The Harding courses that fulfill each requirement are listed for comparison to courses at other universities; to view the science department course descriptions, visit: Please note that course equivalencies will be determined by Harding University. Upon application, a formal audit will be conducted on your undergraduate coursework to make this determination.

Transcripts documenting the completion of all coursework (including prerequisites) must be provided to CASPA (Centralized Application Service). For more information, see the heading CASPA Application and Deadlines on our Web site: It is expected that the majority of prerequisite work will be completed prior to the application deadline. Course substitutions that do not cover the scope of information covered in the prerequisite classes will not be accepted. If an applicant is accepted into the program with a conditional acceptance status (some prerequisite coursework is pending and/or graduation has not occurred), the completed transcript must be provided to the program before matriculation.

Only one prerequisite course may be left for completion the spring semester prior to matriculation into the program. All matriculating students must receive their bachelor’s degree no later than the end of the summer term prior to matriculation.

CLEP and Advanced Placement Courses: CLEP examination credit may not be used to meet any of the listed prerequisites, unless a comparable number of credits in advanced courses in the discipline have been completed. Advanced Placement (AP) credit may be used to satisfy prerequisite coursework provided that the AP credit is accepted by the applicant’s institution and is posted on the applicant’s official academic transcript.

All applicants who meet the minimum requirements will be considered for an interview regardless of their major area of study. A broad base of study in areas such as humanities, sociology and religion is encouraged. Submission of a completed application does not guarantee an interview, selection or admission into the Physician Assistant Program.

See website for complete details on admission requirements (

Other Program Requirements

  1. Technical Standards: All applicants must meet the minimum technical standards for admission to the Harding University Physician Assistant Program. These technical standards establish the expectations for proficiency in essential abilities necessary for students admitted to this program. This curriculum requires demonstrated aptitude in diverse skills and abilities related to observation, intellect, physical manipulation, communication and interpersonal skills. These abilities and characteristics must be possessed, with or without reasonable accommodation, by all students admitted into the program. Click here for a detailed listing of these standards.
  2. Medical Terminology: Proficiency is required for acceptance into the program. A course in medical terminology is recommended for applicants who are not health professionals or for any applicant not confident of their ability in this area. Self-study courses are appropriate. No transcript record/grade for medical terminology is required. All applicants must pass a written exam given at the time of the interview with a score of 75% or better. A self-study course in basic medical terminology is available for download in Adobe Acrobat format from the program Web page. (
  3. Ethical Standards: A candidate must demonstrate the highest level of professional demeanor and behavior, and must perform in an ethical manner in all dealings with peers, faculty, staff and patients.
  4. Health Requirements: Applicants selected for admission to the program must provide evidence of good health, no communicable diseases, and required immunizations and screenings prior to matriculation on forms provided. Immunizations and screening tests required are as follows:
    1. Hepatitis B series and titer (this can take up to six months to complete),
    2. Two MMRs,
    3. Date of completion of primary tetanus series (DPT, DTaP or Td),
    4. Date of completion of polio series,
    5. Current Td or a one-time booster of Tdap (which is strongly recommended before starting clinical rotations) within past 10 years,
    6. Positive varicella titer (if negative then series of two immunizations),
    7. A two-step PPD skin test performed within four months prior to matriculation.

Students are required to maintain personal health insurance. Complete information is provided in the health packet provided after admission.

  1. Computer Requirements: Proficiency in basic computer skills (word-processing, databases, Internet searches and e-mail) is expected of all entering students, as the curriculum will incorporate the use of computer technology. Additionally, all students in the program will be expected to have access to the Internet.

    Students are required to have their own laptop computer upon entry into the program. PDAs are required prior to entry into the clinical phase. The minimum requirements will be listed after acceptance into the program.
  2. Equipment Requirements: All students will be expected to purchase or have the required medical equipment needed to meet program requirements. This will include acquiring an approved lab coat with a school-issued patch. The equipment list will be provided after acceptance into the program.
  3. Liability Requirements: Each student must carry physician assistant liability insurance coverage, which will be paid by the program.
  4. Travel Requirements: Clinical experiences entail travel to clinical sites. PA students are responsible for all costs associated with travel to clinical experiences. Transportation and food are the most common out-of-pocket expenses. Some sites will require additional living arrangements to be made, which will be the student’s responsibility.

    Since portions of the program will require travel to various locations; all students are required to have access to a motor vehicle, a valid driver’s license, and auto liability insurance. Further information will be reviewed in detail at orientation and throughout the didactic year. Accepted students are required to attend all orientation sessions scheduled by the program.
  5. Background Check Requirements: Students will be accepted on a conditional basis, contingent upon completion of the criminal background check with the return of acceptable results. All conditionally accepted students must consent, submit, and successfully complete a criminal background check through the program-selected criminal background check vendor as a condition of matriculation into Harding University Physician Assistant program. Failure to do so will constitute failure to meet the pre-matriculation requirements of the program and will result in the withdrawal of a conditionally accepted offer.

    Matriculation and continued enrollment in the Physician Assistant program is contingent upon a completed criminal background check with acceptable results. Failure to consent to a criminal background check; refusal to provide necessary information to conduct a background check; failure to provide additional information wherein an investigation is warranted; and failure to comply with the investigatory procedures when a cause for further action is warranted due to (1) the discovery of previously undisclosed information; (2) the discovery of more egregious information than was previously disclosed; or, (3) the discovery of conflicting information between or among the CASPA Application and/or the Supplemental Application and/or the Criminal Background Check Report and/or any and all documents considered part of an applicant’s CASPA application, will result in disciplinary action up to, and including, withdrawal of a conditional offer of acceptance, refusal of admission, or dismissal from the Physician Assistant program.

    Some students may also be expected to submit to random drug testing required by clinical practice sites and/or the program. These additional costs would be the student’s responsibility. Criminal background checks and drug screens are common pre-employment procedures.
  6. Other: In addition to paying for student liability insurance, the program will also pay the following: professional dues, costs associated with life support courses, and lab supplies. It is also the program’s responsibility to develop clinical sites for all rotations.

Application Procedure

  1. All applications are handled through CASPA (Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants) at Each new class matriculates in the fall semester, and the application cycle begins in the spring and ends on November 1 of the year preceding the matriculation date. Applicant interviews and candidate selection occur between October and March of each year. For more detailed information concerning the application cycle and deadlines, see the program web site,
  2. The general GRE must be completed by the deadline set on the web site. The official scores are to be sent directly to Harding. The institution code is 6267 and the departmental code is Allied Health (0601).
  3. Both codes must be used for the program to receive the scores.
  4. Upon acceptance into the program, official transcripts showing conferment of undergraduate and graduate degree(s), if applicable, must be sent to the Physician Assistant Program. These must arrive prior to the program start date.
  5. Applicants with formal health care experience must submit copies of any license, registration, or certification related to that field at the time of matriculation.

Questions may be directed to or (501) 279-5642.

Submission of a completed application does not guarantee an interview, selection or admission into the Physician Assistant Program.

Application Review and Selection for Interview

The Admissions Committee reviews all completed applications for admission. Applicants will be asked to complete a supplemental application (a $25 non-refundable fee will be assessed) that is submitted directly to the program. Applications will then be reviewed, looking for traits of a competitive applicant who will be invited for an interview. These traits include but are not limited to the applicant who:

  1. Has all application documents postmarked on or before the stated deadlines. We will begin the interview process before the application deadline, and student positions will be offered before the application deadline. A specified number of positions will be kept open until after all applications have been reviewed.
  2. Meets or exceeds the minimum requirements.
  3. Provides explanation for GPA’s that fall below stated criteria.
  4. Has sought out adequate hours of shadowing/direct patient care contact hours to demonstrate knowledge of and commitment to this career path.
  5. Has strong letters of reference.

In addition, graduates of Harding or its sister schools and Arkansas residents will be given preference. Experience in rural healthcare or in missions will receive favorable consideration in the applicant selection process. Competitive applicants will be invited to attend a personal interview that affords the faculty an opportunity to further review the applicant’s credentials. Applicants are expected to demonstrate maturity, personal initiative, an understanding of the physician assistant role and excellent communication skills. This meeting enables the applicants to become acquainted with the program’s facilities, faculty/staff and/or students.

Applications are encouraged from those who can demonstrate a commitment to practice primary care in rural and urban medically underserved areas, or in foreign or domestic mission fields.

Scoring of competitive applicants at the time of the interview will be based on an objective tool that awards points in many different areas. These areas include all of the above mentioned, plus communication skills, maturity level, and ability to answer questions asked during the interview process.

Selection and notification for admission: The number of applicants recommended for acceptance will be determined annually by the Physician Assistant Program admissions committee.

After interviews are completed, interviewees will be informed about their status via e-mail. Based upon a review of the applications and interviews, the Admissions Committee may recommend one of the following:

  1. Acceptance: Accepted students will be notified by e-mail and by postal mail. All acceptances will be conditional, contingent upon completion of the criminal background check with acceptable results. Individuals who have not completed all prerequisites or graduated will have these additional contingencies added to their conditional acceptance, pending verification of successful completion of the required coursework and/or graduation.
  2. Hold: During the admission process, the program will periodically offer a set number of positions (rolling admissions) to qualified applicants. Those applicants who do not receive an offer of acceptance prior to the final selection of candidates will be placed on hold status. These applicants will continue to be eligible for positions in the program until the final selections are made.
  3. Admission Alternates: At the end of the interview cycle , some applicants who had been on a Hold Status will be ranked as alternates and will be notified of their admission status on or before the program start date. Applicants not admitted from the alternate list must reapply if they wish to be considered in subsequent years. At the end of the interview cycle, all applicants who had been on a Hold status and are not ranked as alternates will be notified that they are no longer being considered for a student position.
  4. Non-Acceptance: Applicants wishing to be considered in a subsequent year must reapply, and must satisfy all admission requirements for that year.

All program decisions are final. Questions may be directed to or 501-279-5642.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Financial aid information can be obtained at or by calling (501) 279-4257. Students who are accepted into the program will be assigned a financial aid counselor after acceptance.


For a list of all courses in this program, click here. 


Master of Science