Education (New)

The Case Western Reserve University PA program is a 102 credit-hour professional degree program that spans the course of 27 months. The program is a generalist program preparing learners to be leaders in PA practice in a variety of clinical settings. This intensive full-time graduate curriculum awards a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS in Physician Assistant Studies) from the School of Medicine upon completion.

The educational philosophy of the PA program emphasizes the practice of evidence-based, patient-centered medical care as well as accountability to patients, society and the profession through experiential learning and active community involvement. The first 15 months of the program are didactic in nature, divided into four semesters. This is followed by 12 months of clinical instruction comprised of twelve, four-week clinical rotations. Early clinical exposure is accomplished through pre-clinical clerkships in the first year. The PA program begins each year in May and ends in August. Students are recruited from the CASPA system.

The program design utilizes a hybrid blend of learning methodologies and styles including:

  • Asynchronous learning

  • Clinical simulations

  • Case-based learning and clinical correlations

  • Experiential learning in the community-the community is the “learning lab” of the PA program. Wellness, prevention, professionalism, communication skills and philanthropy are best taught directly in the community with patients in their own environment.

  • Early clinical exposure/Pre-clinical clerkships-by the beginning of November of their first year, PA students are placed in clinical sites in the community for one-half day a week to practice their clinical skills and begin to acculturate to the clinical environment and learn how to function on a team. The focus of this experience is to hone the students’ clinical skills in history, physical exam, oral presentation, medical documentation, communication skills, and professionalism. It also serves as an early critical-thinking activity.

  • Medical writing across the curriculum (MWAC) is introduced in the didactic phase through student reflections and progress in the clinical phase to the creation of a scientific poster, hot topic, and oral case presentations.

Organization and sequencing of coursework is both horizontally and vertically integrated facilitating a connected flow of systems and conditions, creating a curricular thread intended to enhance the development of critical thinking and problem-solving. Planned redundancies help build a strong pre-clinical knowledge base. Through demonstrations, case discussions and simulation activities, students learn critical thinking and how to synthesize information to formulate and implement a patient management plan. Simulation activities allow the students to participate in scenarios that closely approximate real-life patient encounters and, through a team-based approach (small group), create their care plans. Hands-on activities enhance the student’s ability to develop their critical thinking and technical skills. Experiential learning through community engagement introduces students to some of the concepts of team-based care and population health.