|“I like being a part of something that is going to be successful and prominent in Arkansas.”
-Ashley Fairchild, Depew, OK
Physician assistant students have to complete a specific number of clinical rotations during the clinical phase of the program. There are several core or required clinical rotations which generally include family medicine, internal medicine, pediatric medicine, general surgery, women’s health and emergency medicine. PA Programs depending on emphasis may include additional core rotations such as behavioral medicine, geriatric medicine, community medicine, orthopedic medicine, etc. The length of the core rotations are usually 4-8 weeks in length.
Elective rotations are additional rotations that encompass a wide variety of medical and surgical disciplines, and are the choice of the students. These rotations are generally 2-6 weeks in length.
During clinical rotations, the PA students are placed with supervising physicians and/ or physician assistants who are known as preceptors. PA students who are on clinical rotations during the second phase of their educational process, function very similar to a 3rd or 4th year medical student. The goal is for the PA student to obtain hands-on experience in the different clinical settings and disciplines.
Students are expected to be able to conduct a thorough comprehensive history and physical examination or a problem-oriented history and physical exam without a lot of guidance. The preceptor should only have to work with the student fine-tuning these skills at this point.
Students should be requested by the preceptor to develop a differential diagnosis, logically determine which labs and diagnostic tests should be ordered for the patient, and formulate a diagnosis. The student should also be developing management plans for the patients to include prescriptions, patient education, referrals, ordering additional tests, follow-up and goals of management.
Additionally, the students with the guidance of the preceptors should be able to interpret lab tests, ECGs, CXR, abdominal plain films, skeletal films, PFTs, bone density scans and other standard diagnostic tests.
Students will be prepared to round on patients in the hospital setting, be on call with the preceptor, , assist in surgery, participate with traumas, and perform a large array of clinical procedures with the direct oversight by the clinical preceptor.
The goal of the clinical phase of the program is for the students to better apply their clinical knowledge and skills to patients. The students should be comfortable in the medical or surgical discipline by the second to third week of the rotation.