Changing Education Paradigms

January 9, 2012 in PA Educators, PA Students

This video is eye-opening --- a MUST WATCH!

Einstein said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” So why then are we trying to enhance the same education model that was designed to maximize society for the industrial age? The problem is the model itself! “Strengthening” the model will only strengthen the problem.

The essence of education is to help individuals be successful in life and to positively contribute to society. How can this be better accomplished than by helping students find their passions and developing their talents for those passions? Dead is the age where we must force upon every student proficiencies across multiple domains, for in less than thirty seconds one can search the internet and gain access to expert knowledge and communicate with those in the know about such subjects, and then that learning will come naturally as it should, through experience solving real world problems via collaboration. I challenge any practitioner reading these words to tell me they learned more by sitting through a lecture than when confronted with a real world case where they solved a problem with the guidance of a caring mentor!

The question then arises, what are the implications for Physician Assistant education? I have some ideas that I will put into a blog post, but first let's hear some of your ideas. How should medical education be structured so as to maximize learning?

3 responses to Changing Education Paradigms

  1. I agree with you on all aspects. I am a respiratory therapist of 12 years and i can honestly say that i have learned more from face to face encounters with patients than any lecture ever taught me. I want to become a PA and I have reviewed several programs and most want all these classes as pre-reqs and no clinical experience. I do not agree with this at all because 9 out of 10 times you can take a med-student,resident,or PA student and they can recite you the book in which they have learned from but with that being said they can not apply what they are reciting. No doubt these folks are intellegent but a patient or a patients family does not want to hear what you know. I like the saying (Do not talk about it,be about it!!). I would like to see more PA schools offering lecture classes on line especially for experienced health care workers who are wanting to change careers. I feel that if someone is willing to pay the amount most programs require there should be more opportunites for the experienced health care worker. Someone like me wanting to change careers and already have a family, work experience, and established in a rural community can not just uproot there family and go to school. I would love to see more distance education options for the health care professional trying to change careers. I look forward to hearing fro, you.


    • Greg,

      There are a couple of distance education options for becoming a PA. In fact, the program where I was previously employed, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has a distance education option where the didactic component is spread out over two years. The year of clinical rotations however is still full-time but they try to establish those rotations where you live.

      There could definitely be more of these options. I think the challenge is that there are so many skills that must be taught that a lot of programs feel it’s just best to design an on-campus learning experience that is as accelerated as possible (just over two years for most programs), instead of lengthening it out and struggling with the logistics of how the students are going to get all of the important skills training.


  2. Marla said on May 5, 2012

    I am choosing my PA program based on the way they teach their curriculum, which is Problem Based Learning. Here is an explanation of PBL from Wikipedia:

    Problem-based learning (PBL) is a student-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject in the context of complex, multifaceted, and realistic problems (not to be confused with project-based learning). The goals of PBL are to help the students develop flexible knowledge, effective problem solving skills, self-directed learning, effective collaboration skills and intrinsic motivation.[1] Working in groups, students identify what they already know, what they need to know, and how and where to access new information that may lead to resolution of the problem. The role of the instructor (known as the tutor in PBL) is that of facilitator of learning who provides appropriate scaffolding and support of the process, modelling of the process, and monitoring the learning.[2] The tutor must build students confidence to take on the problem, encourage the student, while also stretching their understanding.[3]

    In my opinion, I think this will be a much more productive way of learning rather than a lecutre-based curriculum and will allow for more creative thinking and problem-solving skills to be utilized.

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