Student Spotlight

Zach Wagner, OMS III

Class of 2019

  • Hometown: Napa, CA
  • Undergraduate Studies: Physiology / Developmental Biology, Brigham Young University
  • Clubs and Activities: SGA, Vice President of Student Welfare (Class of 2019)

Why did you choose RVU? I was excited about RVU’s innovative curriculum and quiet rooms for the babies to watch lectures too. What do you like...
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Faculty Spotlight

Brian Schwartz, PhD, MLIS

Director of Library Sciences; Associate Professor of Medical Humanities

  • Hometown: Denver, CO
  • Undergraduate Studies: English and Philosophy
  • Graduate Studies: Masters in Library and Information Science; Doctorate in Information Management

What class do you teach? Evidence-based medicine and a few guest shots in Primary Care Medicine Why did you...
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Physician Assistant (PA) Program

Rocky Vista University (RVU) has applied for Accreditation – Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The RVU Physician Assistant Program anticipates matriculating its first class in September, 2018, pending achieving Accreditation – Provisional status at the March, 2018 ARC-PA meeting. Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students. In the event Accreditation – Provisional status is not granted at the March, 2018 meeting, a 2018 cohort will not matriculate.

Program Mission

The mission of the Rocky Vista Physician Assistant Program is to prepare clinically competent, collaborative, and compassionate physician assistants to provide primary care.

Program Goals

The Program strives to achieve excellence in:

  1. Program completion  (measurement: at least 95% of students graduate from the program)
  1. National certification (measurement: the program meets or exceeds the national mean for first-time pass rates for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam [PANCE])
  1. Graduate employment (measurement: at least 95% of graduates who seek PA employment are certified, licensed and practicing as PAs within 12 months of graduation)
  1. Achieving the program mission  (measurement: employer surveys indicate high satisfaction with program graduates)

Central Application Service for Physician Assistants

Rocky Vista University partners with CASPA, a streamlined admissions process for PA programs. To access their website, please go to


Requirements and Prerequisites for the 2018-2019 Admissions Cycle

Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements prior to application:

  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university prior to application
  • Completion of the Graduate Records Examination
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8.
    ** Students with a CASPA verified Biology, Chemistry and Physics (BCP) GPA of 3.0 or higher are preferred.**
  • All candidates are required to have a minimum of 1000 documented hours of paid healthcare relevant experience.
  • The following coursework from a regionally accredited institution of higher education is strongly recommended prior to application:

 –   Biology

 –   General Chemistry

 –   Organic Chemistry

 –   Biochemistry

 –   Physics

 –   Statistics

 –   Behavioral Sciences

 –   Social Sciences

 –   Upper division coursework such as:

 –   Genetics

 –   Human Anatomy

 –   Physiology

 –   Microbiology

 –   Cellular Biology

 –   Medical Terminology

 –   Ethics

 –   Humanities

 –   Communication

  • Students must pass a background check and drug screen. Note: Applicant cannot have been convicted of any criminal offense, regardless of  its designation, involving a crime of moral turpitude or a crime against a child or elder
  • Travel Requirements: the program requires students to accept clinical rotation assignments at the discretion of the program.

Admissions Process

  • Submit CASPA application (Application must be verified by CASPA prior to the RVU deadline). **Verification may take up to 6 weeks for completion**
  • 3 letters of reference (Submitted to CASPA)
  • Submission of RVU candidate processing fee
  • Appear for interview, if invited
  • Accepted candidates will be required to make a non-refundable deposit of $500
  • Provide evidence of compliance with CDC guidelines for healthcare workers regarding immunizations, screening, and freedom from communicable diseases
  • Hold current BLS certification (health care providers) upon matriculation


To be considered for the class matriculating in September 2019, applications must be submitted and verified by CASPA no later than November 1, 2018. RVU will not guarantee review of any application, although verified, if it is received to the program after November 15, 2018.

  • Completed applications should be submitted by September 14, 2018 to allow for enough time for processing by CASPA and forwarding to the RVU PA Program.

Advanced Placement and Transfers

The RVU Physician Assistant Program does not grant advanced placement for any of its courses and does not accept transfers from other Physician Assistant programs.

The anticipated cost of tuition and fees for completing the MPAS will approximate $80,000-85,000. The RVU Board of Trustees determines tuition and fees for all RVU programs on an annual basis. A decision on the tuition and fees for the RVU PA class matriculating in 2019 will be made by the BOT in November 2018 and will be posted when approved. The RVU PA program benchmarks its tuition and fees to be competitive with private institutions offering PA education across the United States.


Cost to Attend

The cost of attendance has NOT been determined for the 2019-2020 academic year. Please see the sample below for the 2018-19 academic year. Cost of Attendance (Sample PDF)


Prior to Matriculation

Under construction


Refund of Tuition and Fees

A student who withdraws (either voluntarily or involuntarily) before the first day of class of a semester for which they have already paid their tuition and fees will receive a 100% refund for that semester, with the exception of any non-refundable deposits which will be retained by the University. Students who matriculate into the University, begin classes or rotations, and subsequently withdraw (either voluntarily or involuntarily) within the first seven calendar days of a semester shall receive a refund equal to the amount of their tuition for that semester less $4,000. Fees may be refunded with the exception of charges already incurred as of the date of withdrawal. Students who withdraw (either voluntarily or involuntarily) from the University after the first seven days of class or rotations but before the thirtieth calendar day of the semester shall receive a refund of 50% of the amount of tuition paid for that semester. No fees will be refunded.

Important Note: All dismissals are deemed involuntary withdrawals from the University. Students who are on a voluntary or administrative leave of absence will not be eligible for refunds. Any exceptions to this refund policy must be made by the Vice President of Academic Affairs.


The MPAS curriculum is sequenced and designed to address and integrate the entrustable professional activities (EPA) in which are contained the competencies the student must achieve to successfully enter the profession upon graduation. In the first two semesters (Didactic Phase) the learner will move from foundational concepts to clinically oriented content.  The subsequent five semesters (Clinical Phase) are dedicated to advancing the student to the level of “competent” for all thirteen EPA’s.  This is achieved through supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPE) and clinical seminars. Upon successful completion of the program, the student will be prepared to enter the physician assistant profession, obtain national certification, gain state licensure, and provide clinically competent and compassionate care as part of a collaborative patient-centered team.

Didactic Phase (Two Semesters)

Credit Hours

Total = 57

  MPAS 5001/5002: Interprofessional Seminar I, II

The student will develop the knowledge and skills to achieve competency in EPA-9 (Collaborate as a member of an interprofessional team). These two institution level courses are required for all RVU students.


  MPAS 5111: Foundations: Normal Human Development

The student will develop a foundational knowledge of normal physical, social and psychological development and function across the lifespan. Self-care for the student professional will be an integral part of the course.


  MPAS 5113/5114: Foundations: Molecular and Cellular Concepts I, II

The student will develop the foundational knowledge needed in pharmacology, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, physiology, and microbiology in order to understand the pathophysiology of illness and disease and the rationale for therapeutic intervention.


  MPAS 5115/5116: Foundations: Anatomy I, II

The student will develop the knowledge and skills to correlate human anatomy with structure, function, and the clinical assessment of pathology.   Lecture, cadaveric dissection, and virtual dissection will provide the student the opportunity to integrate the appropriate use of diagnostic imaging with clinical anatomy.


  MPAS 5131/5132: Clinical Medicine: Professional Seminar I, II

The student will develop the knowledge and skills to function effectively within the existing US healthcare environment and to advocate for positive change in the future.  The course will explore both macro and micro approaches to health care and its delivery by incorporating the principles of public health, cultural competency, communication competency, social determinants of health, patient advocacy, biomedical ethics, informed consent, patient safety, the impaired provider, and healthcare financing. Central to each of these discussions will be the role of the PA and the PA profession. This course will introduce the knowledge and skills to achieve competency in EPA 11 (obtain informed consent for tests and/or procedures) and EPA 13 (identify system failures and contribute to a culture of safety and improvement).


  MPAS 5133/5134: Clinical Medicine: Illness and Disease I, II

The student will develop a foundational knowledge of illness and disease using an organ system approach. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the presentation, pathophysiology, diagnosis, prevention and management of the most common diagnoses.


  MPAS 5135/5136: Clinical Medicine: Evidence-Based Practice I, II

The student will develop the knowledge and skills to achieve competencies within EPA-7 (formulate clinical questions and retrieve evidence to advance patient care) and EPA-6 (provide an oral presentation of a clinical encounter).  This course will provide the foundational knowledge from which the student will formulate a research proposal and design the capstone project.


  MPAS 5137/5138: Clinical Medicine: Skills and Assessment I, II

The student will develop the knowledge and skills to achieve competency for EPA-1 (Gather a history and perform a physical examination), EPA 3 (recommend and interpret common diagnostic and screening tests) and EPA-5 (document clinical encounters in the patient record), EPA 8 (Give or receive a patient handover to transition care responsibility), and EPA 12 (perform general procedures).


  MPAS 5139/5140: Clinical Medicine: Reasoning and Application I, II

The student will develop the knowledge and skills to achieve competency for EPA-2 (Prioritize a differential diagnosis following a clinical encounter), EPA 10 (Recognize a patient requiring urgent or emergent care and initiate evaluation and management), EPA-4 (develop and implement patient orders and management plans) and EPA-7 (formulate clinical questions and retrieve evidence to advance patient care) through integration of content from other courses and facilitated interprofessional small group sessions.


  MPAS 5150: Introduction to Supervised Clinical Practice Experience

The student will be oriented for entry into the 48 weeks of SCPE. Expectations, competencies, assessments and the successful completion of the graduate portfolio will be discussed.  Training for the clinical tracking system will be provided.  The student must pass the clinical assessments in order to progress to the SCPE.


Clinical Phase (Five Semesters)

Credit Hours

Total = 65

  MPAS 5251/5252/5253/5254: Clinical Seminar I, I, III, IV

The student will continue to move toward mastery level competency by integrating advanced level content in diagnostic reasoning, pharmacotherapeutics, and therapeutic/diagnostic procedures. These courses also serve as the formal beginning of the transition to practice through presentation of content on the business of medicine, licensure, lifelong learning, and job selection.


  MPAS 5261/5262/5263/5264: Supervised Clinical Practice I, II, II, IV  

The student will demonstrate competency in all thirteen EPAs in the patient care setting.  The student will be exposed to patients in out-patient, in-patient, emergency department and operating room settings. The student will care for patients across the lifespan, providing preventive, emergent, acute and chronic care for a wide range of health needs.


(48 weeks)

  MPAS 5271: Research

The student will be assigned four weeks of independent study during the year 3 spring semester in order to develop the graduate research project.  At the end of the four weeks, the student will have developed a viable research proposal which will become the foundation for the student’s Capstone project.  The proposal must receive program approval and IRB approval/exemption.


  MPAS 5272: Capstone

The student will demonstrate readiness for entry to the profession through mastery of the competencies for the newly graduated physician assistant (the competencies within all thirteen EPAs).   Demonstration activities include presentation of the required research project and presentation of the graduate portfolio.


  MPAS 5391: Independent Study

Program approved didactic or clinical course work primarily used for remediation purposes.

Variable credit

Rocky Vista University (RVU)  has applied for Accreditation – Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The RVU Physician Assistant Program  anticipates matriculating its first class in September, 2018, pending achieving Accreditation – Provisional status at the March, 2018 ARC-PA meeting.  Accreditation -Provisional is an accreditation status for a new PA program that, at the time of its initial accreditation review, demonstrated its preparedness to initiate a program in accordance with the accreditation Standards.  In the event Accreditation – Provisional status is not granted at the March, 2018 meeting,  a 2018 cohort will not matriculate.

Beginning in 2020 (the anticipated graduation of the first class of students), the program will publish in this location the  PANCE first time pass rate for each graduating class.

The program anticipates matriculating its first class in September 2018. This section will include the student handbook, policies, etc.

Due to the rigorous and lock step nature of the program’s curriculum, it is strongly recommended that PA students do not plan to work during their training.

  • Is the PA Program offered at the Utah campus? No. The RVU PA program is only offered at the Parker location.
  • When does the program begin?  Orientation to the program will be held during the last week of August. Classes begin the first week in September following the Labor Day holiday.
  • No prerequisite coursework is required? True. Although there is no “required” prerequisite coursework, the program considers those courses listed under “Requirements and Prerequisites” as foundational to physician assistant training. As such, the listed coursework is strongly recommended, but not a requirement for the program.
  • Does the GRE need to be taken within a certain time period prior to application? There is no requirement for the GRE to be completed within a certain time frame. The only requirement is that the GRE must be completed prior to application.
  • Does the program accept experiences gained during a healthcare training program toward the required 1000 hours of paid healthcare relevant experience?  While we understand many students will have participated in clinical encounters during a healthcare training program, the level of responsibility for students is different than that of a paid employee. Paid employees are typically required to provide care to patients that students are not expected to provide.
  • Do the 1000 hours of paid healthcare relevant experience have to be completed consecutively? No.
  • Do the 1000 hours of paid healthcare relevant experience have to be completed prior to application? Yes.
  • How does the program define healthcare relevant experience? Defining healthcare relevant experience will be left to the applicant to describe as part of the application process. The program does not identify specific experiences.
  • When can I apply for admission? The program partners with the Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA).  The CASPA application cycle will open on April 26, 2018 and applicants to the RVU PA Program can begin the application process on or after this date.  CASPA will forward to the RVU PA program only those applications that have been successfully verified.
  • How long does the CASPA verification process take? Once an applicant has completed and submitted the CASPA application, CASPA will verify that the information provided is accurate. The verification process and forwarding of the application to the RVU PA Program may take up to 6 weeks. The PA program must receive verified applications by November 1, 2018 in order to be considered. Applicants are encouraged to consider deadlines carefully and start the application process early. Please refer to the CASPA website for additional information:
  • What date should applications be submitted by in order to ensure the file gets reviewed? Files should be submitted by September 14, 2018 to allow enough time for processing and forwarding to the RVU PA Program.
  • How do I pay my candidate processing fee? Once the application is completed and verified, the applicant will receive an email from Rocky Vista University’s Admissions Office with further information on how to pay the processing fee.
  • How long is the program? The program is seven semesters (27 months).
  • Can I make an appointment to talk to program faculty about my application or prerequisites?  Neither the program faculty nor staff provide individual transcript, prerequisite or application advising, however, the RVU Office of Admissions does provide advising. Inquiries should be directed to
  • Will an arrest record preclude someone from applying to the RVU PA Program? An arrest will not preclude a candidate from being considered; however, an applicant cannot have been convicted of any criminal offense, regardless of its designation, involving a crime of moral turpitude or a crime against a child or elder. Please refer to the Admissions section of this website for information about background checks and drug screens.
  • Does the program accept AP credits to fulfill a prerequisite?  Only graded coursework appearing on the college transcript will be considered to fulfill the prerequisite requirements of the program.
  • What can be expected if I’m invited for an interview? Each applicant will participate in 2 individual interviews and 1 group interview. A tour of the campus will be provided. Interview dates and length of interview days for the 2018-19 application cycle are pending.

If you are interested in becoming a Physician Assistant, RVU will be holding General Information Sessions starting in April of 2018. Please check back then to RSVP.