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The Physician Assistant Studies Program at The University of North Carolina strives to provide an exemplary education to students for careers in primary health care. UNC PA students are taught to work as part of an Inter-professional team in providing preventive and primary healthcare services to patients. PA students entering their clinical practicums have received 12 months of intensive education in basic, behavioral, and clinical sciences. This includes intensive instruction in anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology and clinical medicine. PA students are trained to take medical histories, perform physical examinations, and perform medical procedures before entry into clinical practicums. They have taken courses on clinical decision-making and should be able to identify historical and physical findings common to frequently encountered forms of disease.

Schedule

During the clinical phase of the program, students will complete 10 Supervised Clinical Practice Experiences (SPCE), Evidenced-Based Medicine II course and capstone, 4-day PANCE board review workshop, and final program assessments and activities required for graduation.

 

SCPEs are composed of eight required cores and two elective SCPE.  The PA program utilizes UNC Health’s vast network of hospitals and clinical practices in addition to other clinical entities located in the state of North Carolina for clinical placements. SCPE will be arranged for all students in a neutral and non-discriminatory fashion, without regard to a student’s gender, race, sexual orientation, religious preference, or ethnicity. Every student is given a specific SCPE schedule for the clinical year which is posted NLT 5:00 p.m. EST on November 1 of the pre-clinical phase in eMedley. The schedule is developed by the Clinical Team after a thorough review of site and preceptor availability, evaluation of site ensuring compliance with program goals, learning outcomes, policies and procedures, and student academic performance.

Placements

SCPE placements allocated to four central hubs within North Carolina: Piedmont, Metrolina, Hanover, and Mountain. At least one SCPE is required to take place in a medically underserved area. Students should be prepared to live away from their local residence during the clinical year for a minimum of two SCPEs. If a student is not currently residing in the Chapel Hill/Raleigh/Durham region, the student is responsible for arranging housing and transportation. AHEC Housing maybe be available for SCPE placements greater than 60 miles from the PA Program. Clinical phase students will return to campus throughout the second year to participate in Call Back days and evaluation exercises.

 

Clinical Phase Courses

Students will complete 44 course credits for the clinical phase.

Family Medicine

PASC 800
Credit: 4 hours

Students are introduced to the principles of and practice of ambulatory care and family medicine with emphasis on disease prevention and health maintenance across the lifespan. The student will refine techniques in history taking, physical examination, health behavior counseling. Many of these sites provides care for the disadvantage and underserved populations exposing students to the diversity of community and family health needs and the occupation and environmental issues that influence health and healthcare decision making.

Internal Medicine

PASC 801
Credit: 4 hours

This SCPE provides the student the opportunity to understand the principles of general internal medicine. Student apply knowledge and skills learned in the didactic year to patient evaluation, and begin to apply patient management strategies to patients in an assigned clinical setting. Under the direction of a preceptor, the student will analyze the patient chart, monitor the patient’s progress, perform history and physicals, and plan therapeutic interventions. The student will learn to order specialty test, write orders, and request special consultation. Students will participate in discharge planning and disposition regarding home care and follow up.

Surgery

PASC 802
Credit: 4 hours

The SCPE provides experience in the management of patients with surgical problems. The student will learn pre-operative, intra-operative, and post-operative patient care. The student will scrub into surgical cases and assist the surgeon as indicated. The student will participate in the management of the surgical inpatient, and assist with discharge planning. The student will work as part of a surgical on-call team and respond to emergency situations in the emergency department and the operating room with the team.

Pediatrics

PASC 803
Credit: 4 hours

This SCPE provides the student exposure to the care of neonates, infants, children, and adolescents. The student will further refine the skills of history taking and physical examination physical examination specific to the pediatric population. The student will recognize normal development and appreciate common abnormalities of growth and development. Students will become familiar with the evaluation and treatment of common pediatric disorders. Emphasis will be on preventive care and family dynamics.

Women's Health and Prenatal Care

PASC 804
Credit: 4 hours

This SCPE provides the student an opportunity to gain experience in common gynecological conditions. The student learns about screening for breast and gynecologic cancers, normal and abnormal menstrual patterns, infectious disease, and family planning. The student participates in providing routine prenatal and obstetrical care.

Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine

PASC 805
Credit: 4 hours

The student will be exposed to and participate in the care of patients with psychiatric illnesses and psychosocial disorders. The student will develop skill in counseling patients, communicating with family members of patients living with these conditions, and managing common outpatient illnesses. Under the direction of the preceptor the student will become familiar with the use of psychotropic therapeutics. Students will learn to identify and refer “at-risk” patients.

Evidence-Based Medicine II

PASC 806
Credit: 4 hours

This continuation of the EBM I course prepares students to apply what they have learned in EBM I during clinical rotations. This will consist of EBM II 2021 materials and a Capstone Project. All assignments are due in the fall semester.  However, because some students plan more challenging rotations in the fall, assignments, including those related to the Capstone, will be available earlier in the semester. Credit will be assigned in the Fall semester.

Emergency Medicine

PASC 807
Credit: 4 hours

This SCPE provides in-depth exposure to the illnesses and injuries that necessitate emergency across the continuum of life. Students will participate in all aspects of emergency medical care. The student will interview, evaluate and examine patients presenting to the Emergency Department. Students will present all patients cared for to the precepting clinician. Emergency procedures and treatment will be guided by the clinical preceptor.

Medicine Elective I & II

PASC 808/809
Credit: 4 hours each

In addition to the above required core SCPEs, each student is required to complete two medical electives that may be chosen from among the following SCPEs. The MHSPAS Academic Excellence Committee (AEC) reserves the right to use a student’s elective SCPE(s) to place the student in an area of needed improvement if the student’s performance during core SCPEs was below standards for course outcomes and/or competencies. Additional specialty areas may be made available upon request.  Topic areas may appear on your academic transcript for each elective.

General Electives:

    • Home Health and Hospice Care
    • Urgent Care
    • Family Medicine
    • Wilderness Medicine
    • General Surgery
    • Emergency Medicine
    • Pediatric Emergency Medicine
    • Outpatient Internal Medicine
    • Psychology-Oncology Services, Support and Counseling
    • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R)
    • Psychiatric Emergency Services

Obstetrics/Gynecology:

    • Obstetrics and Gynecology Inpatient Consulting Service & Procedure Clinic
    • Women’s Health

Medicine:

    • Inpatient Cardiology
    • Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU)
    • Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU)
    • Outpatient/Inpatient Heart and Vascular
    • Dermatology
    • Infectious Disease (Outpatient / Inpatient)
    • Neurology
    • Nephrology
    • Hematology/Oncology
    • Bone marrow transplant
    • General Hematology-Oncology
    • Medical Surgical Intensive Care Unit (MSICU)/Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU)

 Surgery:

    • Outpatient Orthopedics (General Orthopedics)
    • Orthopedics & Sports Medicine
    • Orthopedic Trauma Service
    • Otolaryngology
    • Cardiothoracic Surgery
    • Surgical Oncology
    • Transplant Surgery
    • Urology
    • Plastic Surgery
    • Trauma-Surgical Intensive Care Unit
    • Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit
    • Inpatient Burn
    • Burn Intensive Care Unit

Pediatrics:

    • Pediatric Emergency Medicine
    • Pediatric Palliative Care
    • Pediatric Cardiology
    • Pediatric Nephrology
    • Newborn/Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
    • Pediatric Inpatient Infectious Disease
    • Pediatric Inpatient Gastroenterology
    • Pediatric Urgent Care

Radiology:

    • Vascular-Interventional Radiology
Primary Care/Rural Health

PASC 810
Credit: 4 hours

Students are introduced to the principles of and practice of ambulatory care and family medicine with emphasis on disease prevention and health maintenance across the lifespan. The student will refine techniques in history taking, physical examination, health behavior counseling. Many of these sites provides care for the disadvantage and underserved populations exposing students to the diversity of community and family health needs and the occupation and environmental issues that influence health and healthcare decision making.

Clinical Seminar I

PASC 820
Credit: 1 hour

Clinical Year Seminar I is designed to augment the student’s clinical experiences by reinforcing acquisition of medical knowledge, supporting development of interpersonal communication skills, distinguishing traits that promote professional excellence, implementing improvements in practice performance by applying critically appraised medical literature, and recognizing the impact of systems-based processes on individual patient care.  Topics will be presented in a sequence that prepares students to transition from their student role to that of an autonomous member of a physician/physician assistant team. Spring term.

Clinical Seminar II

PASC 821
Credit: 1 hour

Clinical Year Seminar II is designed to augment the student’s clinical experiences by reinforcing acquisition of medical knowledge, supporting development of interpersonal communication skills, distinguishing traits that promote professional excellence, implementing improvements in practice performance by applying critically appraised medical literature, and recognizing the impact of systems-based processes on individual patient care.  Topics will be presented in a sequence that prepares students to transition from their student role to that of an autonomous member of a physician/physician assistant team. Summer term.

Clinical Seminar III

PASC 822
Credit: 1 hour

Clinical Year Seminar III is designed to augment the student’s clinical experiences by reinforcing acquisition of medical knowledge, supporting development of interpersonal communication skills, distinguishing traits that promote professional excellence, implementing improvements in practice performance by applying critically appraised medical literature, and recognizing the impact of systems-based processes on individual patient care.  Topics will be presented in a sequence that prepares students to transition from their student role to that of an autonomous member of a physician/physician assistant team. Fall term.

As a complement to the SCPEs, students must complete courses in Basic Life Support (BLS) during the pre-clinical phase, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) prior to beginning the clinical phase.

Technology

Students are responsible for obtaining a laptop that meets the established requirements outlined by the School of Medicine IT department.   In addition, students are provided an iPad for use throughout the program with access to over 50 apps to assist with their training in and out of the clinical environment.  eMedley, CastleBranch, and Microsoft Classroom serve as the primary software components students will utilize to communicate with the program and preceptors, submit assignments, view and track SCPE schedules, log patient encounters, and ensure compliance with program, clinical, and immunization requirements.

Additional Information

Clinical Student Handbook

Frequently Asked Questions

Visiting Student Opportunities