Physician Assistant Program: Clinical Rotations
College of Health Sciences

“Medicine is learned by the bedside and not in the classroom. Let not your conceptions of disease come from words heard in the lecture room or read from a book. See, and then reason and compare and control. But see first.”

-Sir William Osler, physician and founding professor of Johns Hopkins Hospital

PA Pediatric Exam PhotoOne of the unique offerings of the University’s Physician Assistant (PA) Program is its early clinical exposure which is incorporated into the didactic, competency-driven curriculum. Within a few weeks of starting their fall semester, newly matriculated students are exposed to patients in a hospital setting, in small groups facilitated by PA program faculty. These experiences allow students to practice history-taking and physical examination techniques learned concurrently in the classroom.

Pre-clinical exposures continue in their second and third didactic semesters as observational experiences in primary care settings. Students are assigned to a clinical site one morning weekly and are afforded opportunities to interact with patients, hone their communication and interpersonal skills and document case encounters. Students report that these experiences provide a greater understanding of health promotion, care delivery systems and informatics. Additionally these experiences help acclimate students in the transition to the clinical phase of the program.

The clinical year of the 25-month program consists of 10 rotations of five-week duration. Two rotations are in family medicine/primary care with the remainder in internal medicine, women’s health, pediatrics, behavioral/mental health, emergency medicine and general surgery. Students are afforded two elective rotations to gain additional experience in a discipline of personal interest. They return to campus after every rotation for assessments, case presentations and learning enhancement workshops.

The clinical team is led by the program’s medical director, Dr. John Fitzgerald, along with Jeanne-Marie Pennington, MSPAS, PA-C the program’s clinical coordinator. The program values the relationships with over 800 preceptors who play a critical role in the hands-on teaching and mentoring of our students.

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