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Campbell University’s Physician Assistant Program is a 24-month graduate degree program with 12 months of didactic education and 12 months of supervised clinical experience. Graduates will receive the Master of Physician Assistant Practice (MPAP) degree upon successful completion. There is a 2-3 week summative session before graduation. The program starts in early August. Graduation is in July, after 6 semesters of study and training. All didactic courses are held on the main campus.
The PA program curriculum is a competency-based graduate medical education curriculum. The sequence of courses is designed to start with foundation courses in the basic sciences as well as clinical skills. Following the initial foundational coursework, subsequent courses teach clinical medical, surgical and pharmacotherapeutical concepts. Curriculum content is integrated such that the study of topics in a specific clinical discipline, such as cardiology, includes cardiology in clinical medicine, cardiology diagnostics such as EKG and appropriate laboratories, and cardiology pharmacotherapeutics. The history and physical examination course is a foundation course, teaching skills and techniques; the clinical assessment course which follows is a course in which the student practices those skills in supervised settings with patients. Assessment of students in the first year is by written examinations, performance on laboratory practical examinations, and participation in small group activities.
The clinical faculty design schedules to ensure that each student receives the appropriate clinical settings for required types of patient encounters. Clinical rotations are four-week supervised clerkship experiences in the major disciplines, a seminar in evidence-based medicine, and two clinical electives. Evaluation of clinical-year students includes a preceptor assessment of performance. In addition, clinical faculty assess student progress at mid-rotation by reviewing required student-submitted electronic patient logs, and a student self-assessment to verify that each student has clinical exposure to key patient encounters and settings. Clinical year assessment of student learning outcomes includes several methods: written patient history and physicals, written progress notes, online multiple-choice exams, oral presentations to preceptors and faculty, and computer-based PAEA authored end-of-rotation exams. Students demonstrate practice specific competencies that include communication skills, obtaining a patient history, performing a physical exam, performing specific clinical procedures, critical appraisal of diagnostic tests, and development of a differential diagnosis and treatment plan by completing faculty observed standardized patient encounters and clinical skills labs.
All students complete all didactic elements in the program at the same time. All students complete the required clinical experiences. The only elective study available in this curriculum is in the second year when students may undertake supervised clinical experiences in two four-week rotations of their choosing.
Curriculum design and operationalization is guided by the standards of accreditation for physician assistant education, as published by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The ARC-PA accreditation standards describe the required curricular components and required supervised clinical experiences for a program to receive accreditation. The curriculum described is designed to meet these accreditation requirements.