Frequently Asked Questions
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) stipulates that clinical instructional faculty may include: physicians who are specialty board certified in their area of instruction, NCCPA certified PAs, or other licensed healthcare providers qualified in their area of instruction (e.g. nurse practitioners or midwives).
Every student must complete a rotation within Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Women’s Health, Pediatrics, Behavioral Health, Emergency Medicine and Surgery as well as Primary Care and two elective rotations within other areas. However, we currently have a shortage of clinical instructional faculty specifically within Women’s Health, Pediatrics, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Behavioral Health.
You will find UNC PA students to be exceptionally well prepared and very comparable to a medical student. The didactic curriculum includes 57 credit hours of advanced anatomy, pharmacology, and clinical medicine courses across all body systems as well as evidence-based practice and interprofessional education. A 2nd year student should be able to perform comprehensive and focused H&Ps and develop a list of differential diagnoses and next steps. They have had some practice with patient education, standardized patients, and common medical procedures and most have had direct patient care experience even before starting the PA Program.
Students must have the opportunity for hands-on clinical training that allows them to develop strong critical thinking and clinical skills required to practice competently. The intensity of supervision will vary depending on the student’s stage in their education (e.g. early rotations vs. later rotations) and your level of comfort with their skills. It is typical for a clinical instructional faculty to start by having the student observe a few patient encounters, then transition to performing the H&P under direct supervision. Once you are comfortable with the student’s skills, allowing him/her to perform histories and exams without direct observation is appropriate. A common scenario would be to have the student present the patient to the clinical instructional faculty, discuss possible next steps, and complete the patient encounter with the clinical instructional faculty reviewing and confirming the student’s findings with the patient. Periodic direct observation throughout the rotation is recommended and a patient must never be discharged without the clinical instructional faculty evaluating the patient. The required or expected experiences for the students also vary depending upon the type of rotation. Please see the UNC PA Clinical Instructional Faculty Handbook (coming soon) for a list of expected types of patient encounters and clinical skills expected to be obtained by students.
Rotations are 4 weeks in length. Students are expected to engage in hands-on patient care experiences at least 40 hours per week, depending on your schedule. Students are expected to conform to your schedule, including evenings, weekends and holidays.
The UNC PA program utilizes an improved assessment method for clinical rotations. The process allows clinical instructors to assess student performance in a developmental approach. We ask you to provide students with regular feedback regarding their performance throughout the rotation as well as a written mid-rotation evaluation. At the conclusion of the rotation, you are asked to submit an electronic evaluation assessing student progress with regards to the rotation learning outcomes and the student’s proficiency with certain clinical skills. The assessment allows students to identify areas of improvement and strengths, guide their future educational goals, and provide a measure of their progress over the clinical phase.
Students may spend time with other qualified practitioners within the practice. All clinical instructional faculty must complete a clinical instructional faculty profile. It is typical for some groups to identify a primary clinical instructional faculty who will be responsible for coordinating the student’s experience. The student can then spend time with several practitioners within the group over the course of the rotation.
Yes, UNC School of Medicine carries institutional malpractice insurance, and all PA students are covered by a $3 million/$7 million liability insurance trust.