The first-ever cohort of Physician Assistant Studies students, a full class of 32 students, returned to class on August 17. The second-ever cohort, a full class of 34 students, will begin on October 5.
Because of the pandemic, both cohorts will spend half of their time in the classroom and half of their time learning remotely.
The importance of in-person instruction
"It’s important for students to start interacting with classmates and faculty to help students prepare for being in clinics," said Dr. Joe Weber, department chair, director, and associate professor of the Physician Assistant Studies program.
Students have assigned days on campus and rotate days so every student will be on campus at least twice a week.
While on campus, students will follow the same precautions to help stop the spread of COVID-19 that undergraduate students are following.
Taking class in person is important for a number of reasons, according to Weber:
● Physical examination skills, both learning and testing, require hands-on training.
● Social interaction is important both for students and for faculty.
● Some examinations required onsite and proctored environments.
● Medicine is generally a very human-to-human interaction-based environment.
Students put skills into practice
"This is a very exciting time for our students to enter the clinical phase of the program," Weber said. "They now get to put the over 1,000 diseases, over 700 medications, and hundreds of procedural skills into practice."
Students will begin clinical rotations in medical facilities around the state on September 28. They'll work at hospitals, clinics, and physician offices in areas of medicine such as:
● behavioral health
● emergency medicine
● family medicine
● internal medicine
● women’s health
Each rotation lasts six weeks.
"Then students will be back on campus for two days of intensive testing before moving on to their next rotation for a period of one year," Weber said.