Physician Assistant Student Training for the Inpatient Setting: A Needs Assessment

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Abstract

Purpose

The number of physician assistants (PAs) practicing hospital medicine is rapidly expanding. Little research has been done to determine which inpatient medicine rotation experiences are most helpful to prepare PA students for a career in inpatient medicine. We aimed to determine those skills that practicing hospitalists believe are most critical for PA students to master and to describe hospitalists' current understanding of PA training. We also sought to evaluate the current performance of our own inpatient medicine rotation for PA students.

Methods

We surveyed 85 practicing hospitalists, including physicians and advanced-practice providers, from 3 hospitals in the Duke University Health System to identify (1) the clinical topics and skills deemed most essential for PA students on an inpatient medicine rotation, (2) the percentage of hospitalists able to correctly answer basic questions about PA training, and (3) current rotation performance. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize responses.

Results

Hospitalists identified the clinical conditions and health care systems with the most educational value for PA students. Hospitalists were found to have variable levels of understanding of the PA training pathway, with more than 20% incorrectly answering questions about the training process. According to mean responses, the rotation performed positively for 15 of 19 medical conditions. The majority of survey respondents suggested that a formal curriculum would help faculty teach and improve the learning experience for PA students.

Conclusions

Identifying the most essential content can facilitate curriculum development. Hospitalists have a knowledge gap about the training of PA students. The inpatient medicine rotation was rated positively, but survey responses suggested that a formal curriculum could have a positive effect and would be well received.

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