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New Program: Masters of Orthopaedic Physician Assistant (MOPA) in Florida

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I just got this email from my undergrad's listserve, just thought I'd pass it along to you guys in case you are interested.




PA: Master of Orthopaedic Physician Assistant (OPA)

Are you interested in sports medicine and looking for a career in orthopaedics that does not involve medical school? The University of St Augustine is excited to announce that they have expanded their orthopaedic expertise into another health care field beyond physical and occupational therapy! They are now offering a Master of Orthopaedic Physician Assistant (MOPA) program created for those who wish to participate in a unique program specific to orthopaedics.

What is an Orthopaedic PA (OPA)?

Orthopaedics is an area of health care that deals primarily with the musculoskeletal system. The care of this system is shared among a number of professions including physical therapists, athletic trainers and orthopaedic surgeons. With increasing participation in sports, and with an aging population, orthopaedic services will continue to be in demand.

The OPA program at St Augustine University (USA) was inspired by the current OPA profession that has lacked any formalized didactic education for some time. Because USA is known for having a strong orthopaedics curriculum, the OPA program was designed to meet the needs in this specialty area. OPA will work as physician extenders for orthopaedic surgeons in their daily practices.

About the OPA Program

The OPA degree is a two-year program that combines a year of classroom/online learning with a full-year of orthopaedic-specific clinical rotations. Graduates of this program will be eligible to sit for boards conducted by the National Board for Certification of Orthopaedic Physician Assistants (NBCOPA). All students will be required to be members of the American Society of Orthopaedic Physician's Assistants (ASOPA), the professional body for this profession.

The OPA program was designed to offer those who are passionate about orthopaedics a specialized program to fit their needs. This unique degree prepares the student for the specialized field of Orthopaedic Physician Assistant, as opposed to the more generalist offering of a PA program. Instead of clinical rotations through multiple health care settings, the OPA student will experience multiple orthopaedic rotations exposing them to the various specializations within the orthopaedic field.

USA Program Objectives

Upon completion of the MOPA program, a student will:


  • Execute the skills necessary to participate in the triage, evaluation and treatment of orthopaedic injuries and diseases found in orthopaedic office practice and hospital settings.
  • Perform standardized and non-standardized evaluation and assessment procedures for clients with orthopaedic conditions across the lifespan.
  • Utilize effective clinical reasoning, judgment, and differential diagnosis skills to determine the best approach to comprehensive treatment.
  • Plan evidence-based non-surgical and pharmacologic treatment approaches in consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon.
  • Demonstrate technical skills for a wide variety of orthopaedic procedures and ability to assist with orthopaedic surgeries.
  • Appropriately order diagnostic imaging studies and communicate with the orthopaedic physician.
  • Establish clear written and verbal communication skills for patient interactions, professional communications and documentation purposes.
  • Value ethical, legal, and regulatory responsibilities of this profession.
  • Demonstrate independent and life-long learning skills for future contributions to the profession.

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FYI: OPA-C do not have enabling legislature allowing them to practice in the state of Florida and cannot site for the NCCPA exam. I believe that there are actually only a handful of state that allow OPA-C's to practice. Be careful!


If I am wrong about this please feel free to correct me.

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FYI: OPA-C do not have enabling legislature allowing them to practice in the state of Florida and cannot site for the NCCPA exam. I believe that there are actually only a handful of state that allow OPA-C's to practice. Be careful!


If I am wrong about this please feel free to correct me.


I believe Tennessee is the only state where an OPA can actually practice.

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I know 2 who practice in CA but they have been doing it so long they actually qualified as real pa's because it was before nccpa devised a test that they were licensed...of course they can never leave CA...



They might have been part of the handful that went to approved specilty PA training programs from back in the 70-80s. California had women health PA programs at UCLA/ Harbor Co, a Ortho PA program (at Cerritoes College I think) and an Allergy PA program. They all were discontinued by the mid 80s but the graduates were given a limited license to practice in their specialty. You are right they can only practice in California. I remember the first class at RCC had a limited license PA as a student. They wanted to have a full scope of practice.

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Maybe I'm not reading correctly so please correct me if I'm wrong but... St Augustine in FL has a program in which you would only be able to find a job in California???

LOL you are right hopeful29 you are not reading this right. The California OPA programs were a long time ago. There are maybe 100 California OPAs that graduated from these programs. The programs were phased out for the most part and those graduates were "grandfathered/grandmothered" in as PAs via a restrictive PA license issued by the state. California doesn't offer that option anymore.

Edited by LESH
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