Student life is filled with opportunities to take in the city of Los Angeles and to experience health care in an urban setting. Our students are active in the USC PA Pathway Program, Interprofessional Education and Collaboration in Geriatrics (IECG), Trojan Trainer, service projects and health fairs. There are a variety of experiences that our students actively participate in to enhance their training and expand their passion for patient care.

A shot of campus.Campus

Located on our beautiful Alhambra campus, the Primary Care PA Program is a 10-minute drive to the Health Sciences Campus, where students will have classes, rotations and activities alongside other health professions students. From our campus, it is easy to get to many of the diverse neighborhoods in Los Angeles, with access to Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley all the way to Downtown Los Angeles and the coast.

Extracurricular Opportunities

PA works with childrens,showing them how sutures are made.USC PA Pathways Program (formerly known as the USC PA Pipeline Program)

The USC PA Pathways Program is made up of five programs that focus on encouraging local youth and their families to seek higher education and careers in health care. The Pathways Program was established almost a decade ago under the guidance of Maria Maldonado, PA-C, MPAP, MPH, assistant clinical professor of family medicine and Pathways Recruitment Director. Under her leadership, students from the PA Program volunteer their time to lead educational sessions, organize expert panels and conduct workshops that highlight the diversity of careers in the medical field.

Studens visit Washington D.C. to advocate for PA issues.Advocacy Trip

Over spring break, students are invited to attend the Annual Advocacy Trip to Washington, D.C. In an effort to promote leadership, students work with team members at the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) to learn how both organizations work to advance legislation on behalf of the profession and patient care.

As part of the experience, students are introduced to the lobbying process, the issues that affect PAs and what is going on in Washington from top professionals who have their thumbs on the pulse of the city. Students are able to gain insight into the current state of affairs on the Hill that will affect their future, as well as get inside input on how to present themselves with their own representatives.

PAEA debriefs the students about which current legislation they want to be supported by Congress. These are the topics students will be discussing with their representatives in the following days. The students are encouraged to add their own personal experiences and input while speaking with the representatives, making the topics that much more meaningful.

The goal of the trip is to promote students to take a role in leadership in the future, advocating for the PA profession. The PA profession is still young and needs to find its place in existing and new legislation. As future PAs, students gain a better understanding of what is needed to support the role of PAs on a national level and ensure PAs are provided with the appropriate legal rights. The trip is an opportunity for students to witness what goes on behind the scenes in our national organizations and discover what they can do to become leaders in the future.

Interprofessional Education

PA students interact with members of the community where they live.Interprofessional Education and Collaboration in Geriatrics (IECG)

IECG provides an interdisciplinary geriatric experience for teams of USC interprofessional students to include: medicine, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, psychology, and social work students. The goal is for students to discuss best practices in caring for older adults as future health care providers.

Each interprofessional team meeting is facilitated by a faculty mentor and is followed by a brief lecture on the fundamentals of geriatric care. Each student will also be paired with an older adult resident from one of our community housing sites. Students will meet individually by phone or virtual platform with their older adult partner once per week for up to 30 minutes for the duration of the program. Students will utilize the skills and assessment tools learned in the lectures and team meetings with their older adult partners during their weekly meetings.  The program’s overarching goal is for students to work together across disciplines to learn how collaborative practice supports healthy aging.

Trojan Trainer

Trojan Trainer is an interdisciplinary, mentorship opportunity where PA and medical students work in teams paired with an unsheltered individual. The person experiencing homelessness teaches students about what it is like to live on the streets, and some of the challenges and humanizes the patients from this vulnerable population. Essentially a flipped concept of a patient navigation program, the patients have a lived expertise of being unsheltered that they can share with PA and medical students.

PA students compare notes via PC laptop.The health of patients, families, and communities are improved through interprofessional teamwork and high-quality care and safe patient outcomes are achieved when professionals from many disciplines work collaboratively and synergistically toward a common goal. Once a year, health professional students gather from across USC to learn about interprofessional teamwork. On Interprofessional Education Day, students from occupational therapy, PA, pharmacy, physical therapy, dentistry, medicine and nursing work together collaboratively on a case.

Health Fairs

Primary Care Physician Assistant Program students participate in a variety of activities outside the classroom, including health fairs.  Our goal is two-fold: 1) to offer free healthcare for the public to promote early detection of diseases and to provide lifestyle modification education, and 2) to provide students with additional opportunities to practice their skills.  We strive to create the most opportunities for our students via hosting our own annual health fair in addition to collaborating with the USC School of Pharmacy as well as with PA Program alumni.

Each year, the Primary Care Physician Assistant Program produces an annual free health fair geared towards treating the local underserved populations of Los Angeles.  The health fairs have traditionally been held each November, so it is often the first time 1st year students interact with patients and also a chance for 2nd year students to serve the community just before beginning their rotations.  We collaborate with the medical, pharmacy, and occupational therapy schools to provide a wider range of health services for our patients than we could alone, as well as to develop and strengthen interprofessional relationships. The fair offers flu shots, BMI screenings, cholesterol screenings, diabetes screenings, eye exams, ENT exams, lung exams, and diabetic foot exams, in addition to patient education about smoking cessation, healthy eating, stress management, and skin safety.

Innovation in PA Education

PA students learn in a supportive, interactive environment.Integrated Learning

Our program features technology to enhance learning for all students. Oftentimes medical education can be overwhelming and hard to bridge connections in the classroom. By leveraging iPads and other innovative learning tools, our team works with students to improve their ability to take in and learn advanced materials. Our faculty are trained to make the classroom functional for all learners and truly bring together everything our students learn.


A Keck PA examines an infant with students and mother looking on.Special Student Projects

Throughout our curriculum, students explore medicine and population health through creative projects that follow our mission. These include service projects, creative storytelling for populations and our capstone project during our Advanced Topics in Education course.