The mission of the Department of Physician Assistant (DPA) at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is to provide an innovative advanced medical education to physician assistant students who will transform health care delivery to the multicultural population of South Texas.  The DPA promotes the importance of lifelong learning and self-evaluation in its students.

 1. Global Objective

The Department of Physician Assistant upholds a curriculum that embraces the physician assistant concept. The Department of Physician Assistant advocates the physician - physician assistant team model in the delivery of primary health care.


The Department of Physician Assistant is committed to the Physician-PA Team concept. Learners are taught in the ‘Medical School’ paradigm. During the clinical training phase, students are offered supervised clinical rotation experiences in private physician offices and community clinics. Seven of eight clinical instructive opportunities are in core rotations (Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, General Surgery, Internal Medicine, Ob/Gyn, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry).

The experiences reinforce a dedication to practice with supervision, utilizing the strengths of both professionals. The learner is exposed to the model of the PA in a semiautonomous role, under direct guidance of and in complement with the supervising physician.

2. Operational Objective

The Department of Physician Assistant provides opportunities for professional training as a physician assistant to qualified students from throughout Texas and the United States. Recruitment and retention efforts consider the health care needs and cultural distinction of a diverse population.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is the second largest Hispanic serving institution in the United States with over 28,600 enrolled. UTRGV has a minimum 3.0 GPA to be accepted into UTRGV graduate programs. UTRGV is a veteran friendly campus and the veteran’s department on campus works well with the PA department in assisting those veteran students in the PA program.

The Rio Grande Valley represents a unique opportunity to simultaneously promote education and health and to spur economic development of a region, which is not only among the fastest in the United States but also the poorest in this country, with 30 percent of its native-born and 40 percent of its foreign-born residents living in poverty. The students who are accepted into the Physician Assistant program reflect the demographics of the region, with nearly 65% coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. Thus, by improving student retention and certifying exam passing rates, the Academy for Success will advance both educational and health opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley.


The Department of Physician Assistant is dedicated to improving access to health care for citizens within the geographical scope of program boundaries, and specifically the south Texas border region. Recruitment and retention efforts consider a candidate’s desire to practice in Medically Underserved Area (MUA) of Texas and beyond. Compassion for cultural, psychosocial, disability and personal diversity is observed in all students. Within the program of study, public service commitments oblige all students to participate in the provision of health care to medically under-served populations.

The following table illustrates the diversity of the accepted class at UTRGV for the past five years:

 Total # accepted
50  50 64 80 100


12% 12% 11% 18% 20%


67% 65% 67% 64% 59%

African American

4% 4% 2% 1% 2%


17% 18% 17% 14% 19%


3. Functional Objective

The Department of Physician Assistant maintains a curriculum in physician assistant studies that prepares the graduate for a national board certifying examination administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).