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Mission Statement

The Primary Care Physician Assistant Program at USC is dedicated to the advancement of physician assistant education and emphasizes service to the medically underserved. The program is committed to preparing students from diverse backgrounds to positively transform the healthcare system. Students, graduates, faculty, and staff are committed to doing this through collaboration, inclusivity, innovation, integrity, excellence, and joy.


Video: Introduction to the Primary Care Physician Assistant Program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC 

Program Goals

  • Quality Education: Promote excellence, innovation and collaboration in education by providing teaching and learning opportunities rooted in a primary care philosophy by a team of clinically experienced and well-prepared educators, including faculty and staff.
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging: Foster a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the curriculum, and in the recruitment and retention of students and program team members.
  • Service: Equip students to address the social determinants of health in our local Southern California communities through widespread service opportunities.
  • Leadership: Foster collective community impact, which maximizes the efforts of others. Leaders are courageous, self-aware, humble, communicative, empathetic, compassionate and professional.

Indicators of Success in Achieving These Goals

1) Quality Education

  • Curriculum guided by a focus on a primary health care philosophy and includes key content as defined by the NCCPA, ARC-PA, PAEA and program competencies
  • Successful completion of summative examinations (didactic and clinical) that measure readiness for entry-level practice
  • Upon matriculation, our students are given the training to use technology in the classroom to enhance learning and mastery of coursework. Our classrooms are all designed to accommodate technology tools. Additionally, we have a specialized Integrated Learning Committee, which includes innovative faculty and staff who have mastered the various technologies and trained the entire team.
  • We emphasize interprofessional education as our program is part of the Keck School of Medicine. Our students learn interprofessional collaboration alongside students from medicine, pharmacy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing, dentistry and social work.
PANCE Results


2) Diversity, equity and inclusion

Admissions/Recruitment Holistic admissions process

  • Align with the program mission
  • Removal of standardized testing

Intentional Recruitment

  • To increase the number of underrepresented populations and communities in the program
  • Pre-PA Pathway program – diversify the PA applicant pool
  • Increase the representation of diverse images across all class content
  • Clinical cases and exams include variety of names, sexual orientation, gender identity
  • De-identified race and ethnicity in clinical cases to avoid implicit biases
  • Emphasis across the curriculum on trauma-informed care
  • Content specifically focuses on diverse populations specifically in BSc I, II, III and ATEd
  • Require Medical Spanish
  • Required rotation at LA General Medical Center (a public hospital)
  • Site development in medically underserved communities that align with our mission
  • Primary care selective rotation
Extracurriculars Students are encouraged to be involved in experiences beyond the classroom that exemplify the pillar of diversity, equity and inclusion such as:

  • All USC PA Pathways programming
  • Interprofessional Education and Collaboration in Geriatrics (IECG)
  • Interprofessional Education Day
  • Trojan Trainer
  • African-Heritage PA Student Interest Group
  • Christian Student Interest Group
  • Latine PA Student Interest Group
  • Jewish PA Student Interest Group
Alumni Alumni who participate in Interview Days, as Workshop Facilitators or OSCE Proctors receive training on:

  • The Program Mission
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Unconscious Bias
Faculty & Staff In recruiting staff and faculty, we adhere to the following:

  • All hiring managers and panels complete Unconcious Bias training
  • We adopt a standardized hiring process, including structured interviews, which support a higher degree of reliability
  • Offer team-building opportunities to support inclusivity
  • Promote culturally diverse holidays to create inclusive enviornment
  • Set clear expectations of supervisors ensuring equitable support of all team members
Retention To support the continued success of students, the Program has expanded our Learning Support Services including an increased number of diverse tutors and the Summer Bridge Program, which helps accepted students experience the program prior to matriculation.


3) Service

Curriculum Students participate in service directly through coursework. This includes several community-based projects and a Program Service Day.
Clinical Students participate in service during rotations as part of:

  • Interprofessional Education and Collaboration in Geriatrics (IECG)
  • Elective Street Medicine clinical rotation
Extracurriculars Students are encouraged to take part in service-based extracurriculars, such as:

  • Community health fairs
  • Trojan Trainer
  • Advocacy Trips
  • USC PA Pathways Program
  • Mentorship Opportunities
  • NHSC Scholars
  • Student-driven initiatives and drives
  • Special Interest Groups
  • Student leaders, representatives at the state, national and international levels
Alumni Many of our alumni go on to serve communities as National Health Service Corps Scholars or Loan Repayment recipients.

4) Leadership

Curriculum All students experience the principles of leadership and advocacy in the BSC I, II, III, Critical Thinking I, II, III, Advanced Topics in Medical Care Organization, Clinical Skills IV and Advanced Topics in Education courses.

Examples of this include:

  • Community-based services activities
  • Knowledge delivery
  • Critical self-reflection
  • Peer evaluation
  • participation in Interprofessional Education Day

All students engage in self-reflection in preparation for mid-semester coaching sessions with their advisor. During this session, professional growth planning is discussed.

Embedded in all the curriculum, throughout the coursework students have opportunities to demonstrate these skills in various areas of student life

  • Service activities
  • Building capacity as a leader (develop and display)
Clinical Students who exemplify leadership qualities during clinical rotations are identified through our preceptor evaluations. They work well on an interprofessional team, are key players in collaborative practice, advocate for high-quality care, and show the professional value of a PA on a care team.
Extracurriculars Students learn the role of leadership and advocacy in the community and individual health.

  • PA Program Student Leadership Board/ Graduate Student Government
  • Trojan Trainer
  • Students who serve in leadership roles: PAEA fellows, CAPA scholars, SAAPA representatives, Challenge Bowl, USC PA Program Tech Ambassadors
Alumni Alumni go on to serve in leadership roles in the U.S. Congress, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the California Academy of Physician Assistants, the Physician Assistant Education Association, the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, and other major associations that effectively guide health care and the PA profession.

  • Pi Alpha Honor Society
  • Alumni start new PA programs to expand the profession and many other alumni serve as faculty and leaders at other PA programs
  • State PA Board
  • Community-based practice PAs (those who continue to work at FQHCs)