Continuing Dermatology Education for Rural Physician Assistants in Ghana: An Assessment of Needs and Effectiveness

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Abstract

Purpose

To assess the effectiveness of lectures for continuing medical education (CME) in dermatology in a global health setting and to determine provider and patient demographics of physician assistants (PAs) practicing in rural Ghana.

Methods

Physician assistants from Ghana who attended dermatology lectures at the International Seminar for Physician Assistants in 2011 or 2014 were included in this study. Surveys were administered to participants to determine dermatology resource availability, commonly encountered skin diseases, and management practices. Quizzes were administered before and after CME dermatology lectures to assess short-term retention of lecture material.

Results

In all, 353 PAs participated in this study. Physician assistants reported seeing an average of 55 patients per day. The most commonly seen skin diseases were infections, with antifungals and antibiotics being the most commonly prescribed medications. Dermatology-related complaints represented 9.5% of total clinic visits. Among practicing PAs, 23.2% reported having internet access. A total of 332 PAs completed the quizzes, and a statistically significant increase in test scores was noted in postlecture quizzes.

Conclusions

This study reinforces the importance of dermatology education for PAs practicing in rural areas of Ghana and lends insight to critical topics for dermatology curriculum development. In addition, the increase in test scores after CME sessions suggests that lectures are an effective tool for short-term retention of dermatology-related topics. Our study indicates that as the need for health workers increases globally and a paradigm shift away from the traditional physician model of care occurs, dermatology training of PAs is not only important but also achievable.

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