University of Charleston Physician Assistant Program – Now Accepting Applications!
February 2, 2012 in Prospective PAs
This is a very exciting time in PA Education and especially for the University of Charleston Physician Assistant program. We have been working diligently over the last several months to develop an outstanding program. I’m happy to report that we are now accepting applications. So what’s going to be so great about the UC PA Program?
Dedicated caring faculty
We have experienced core Physician Assistant faculty members who are passionate about PA Education. Each of us has been involved in PA Education for years. Given the remarkable gift of a blank canvas with which to build a new program, we have asked ourselves from day one, “How can we do things differently? How can we do things better? What was missing in our experiences as PA students and the previous programs we’ve been a part of as educators?” Asking these fundamental questions has resulted in a creative curriculum designed with the student in mind. We are also fortunate enough to benefit from having two physicians on our team, both contributing some of their invaluable time in their capacities as Medical Director and Associate Medical Director. We will add three additional full-time faculty who will begin October this year in preparation for our inaugural class matriculating in January 2013.
Faculty led learner-centered teams
We understand that many of the most profound learning experiences come in the context of strong mentoring and collaboration in close knit groups. We have structured our program to have small class sizes and excellent faculty to student ratios so we can take advantage of this idea. Each student will be placed on a faculty-led team with around five other students. These teams will meet regularly to talk medicine and help each other become the best they can be.
Analytical thinking and problem-solving
Our curriculum will have a heavy emphasis on the meat of medicine, problem-solving! Medicine is not about memorizing facts and figures. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain things that must be memorized. But the art and practice of medicine is not about regurgitating the proper dose of an antibiotic or memorizing the three most common presenting symptoms of Cushing’s disease. Rather, it’s about having a sound understanding of fundamentals and being able to logically work through a complex set of data. It’s about appreciating the unique dynamics involved in human interaction and understanding the role they play in making clinical decisions. The focus of our curriculum will be upon learning and applying critical principles of disease and patient care. Throughout the pre-clinical phase of the program, during our Patient-Centered Care series of courses, students will be challenged by paid actors and sophisticated simulation mannequins to apply their knowledge and skill to simulated clinical situations.
Our curriculum will include a focus on training our future Physician Assistants to be exceptionally resourceful. Beginning in the first semester, students will learn to access excellent information quickly. There are several outstanding web-based tools that have been designed for clinicians to use at the point-of-care. Our students will become extremely comfortable with these tools so they can take advantage of maximizing patient care through clinical decisions that are backed by evidence.
Pass/fail credit system
The entire concept of the Physician Assistant profession is based on collaboratively working with a supervising physician. Furthermore, the entire medical industry is rapidly moving toward a model of patient-centered, team-based care. We want to reinforce this concept by communicating to our students that the patient is what truly matters, not the grade. In our program, students will be challenged to learn as much as they possibly can so they can treat patients to the best of their ability, not so they can obtain a certain grade. From day one, students will be asked to do everything they can to elevate each other to excellence, rather than striving to outperform each other. The patient is what truly matters.
Outstanding medical community
The Charleston area has an outstanding medical community. CAMC Memorial Hospital, one of the best medical centers in the Appalachian Region, sits less than a mile from campus. Even before I began my duties as Program Director, during the interview process, I could feel the enthusiasm for this program. We have been overwhelmed by how supportive everyone in the medical community has been. Medical and educational leaders from around the entire region have extended their hand in offering whatever support they can. We are confident this will result in outstanding training opportunities for our students.
Active and collaborative learning
We strongly value utilizing innovative educational techniques. We will consistently employ educational approaches that break away from the traditional lecture. There will be more learning through engaging students as active participants, and less from sitting as passive listeners. Consequently, students will retain more and feel comfortable in applying their knowledge and skills in real world settings.
Self-reflective practice portfolios
For their capstone project, students will create a self-reflective practice portfolio. Towards the end of their didactic phase, students will use several tools to perform a critical self-analysis of their knowledge, skills, and attitudes. They will identify their strengths and their weaknesses. They will then develop detailed plans of improvement where needed. Throughout their clinical year, they will continually assess their progress in overcoming their weaknesses through self-reflective practice and establish new goals and plans. This project will better prepare students to be well-rounded clinicians and will cultivate a consistent pattern of self-reflective practice that will prove to be a major strength for them throughout their careers.
If you are passionate about making a difference in the lives of others through becoming a highly competent medical practitioner, a world class education awaits you at the University of Charleston Physician Assistant Program!