University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository

University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository


PA Education


Dr. Mark Archambault


A key component of any educational program is determining whether students have attained the required degree of knowledge. Physician Assistant (PA) programs are no different and must verify PA students are properly prepared to enter clinical practice. This is a complicated process incorporating multiple steps and forms of assessment. There are two major components to utilizing competencies in PA education. First, the program must determine the specific competencies required for program completion. Guidance has been provided by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and other organizations, but programs themselves must ultimately determine the specific knowledge, skills, behaviors, and abilities required. Second, the program must develop evaluation methods to accurately assess if students meet expected competencies. Evaluation methods should be objective and align with learning activities completed by students. Unlike the didactic portion of PA training, clinical competencies cannot be fully evaluated through multiple-choice examinations or other more traditional and objective methods. Observed Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) have been used in medical education for decades.Other evaluation methods include patient encounter simulation and preceptor evaluations. Technology provides additional innovations that may further improve the evaluation of clinical competencies. This article will review clinical competency determination and discuss various evaluation methods.


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