Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the harmony between pediatric educational training in the didactic year and actual clinical practice by investigating the views and opinions held by practicing graduates of Pacific University School of Physician Assistant Studies and students. Pacific PA alumni and students (didactic year completed) volunteered their perceptions regarding: 1. Similarity of their didactic training in pediatrics and actual practice for several clinical conditions. 2. Necessity for training in pediatric procedures and physical exam. Group comparisons (Pacific P A alumni vs. Pacific PA students) were performed to investigate any possible differences in their perceptions.
Methods: A 22 question 5-point Likert scale survey was distributed on-line to 67 Pacific University physician assistant alumni, 31 class of 2003 Pacific PA students, and 32 class of 2004 Pacific PA students (total surveys sent =130). Overall mean and standard deviations were calculated for all Likert scale responses. Non-parametric t test comparisons were made between Pacific University PA Alumni (n=35) and Pacific PA student (class of 2003 and 2004; n=38) surveys for all Likert scale questions. Open-ended narrative responses were categorized into clinical areas/subsets, and tabulated per category.
Results: Pediatric didactic training was reported to be similar to clinical practice in 6 out of 12 categories and neutral in the other 6. No categories were different or very different from clinical practice. Separate training for pediatric physical exam is very necessary (mean=1.62), while separate training for suturing wounds, anesthetizing, and bandaging in pediatrics (mean=2.38) and casting and splinting fractures/sprains in pediatrics (mean=2.39) are necessary. Alumni and student perceptions differences were statistically significant in dx and tx allergies (p
Conclusion: While it is impossible to design a curriculum that exactly mimics clinical practice, internal evaluation of education curriculum is a valuable practice for upholding educational and clinical excellence. Pacific PA Alumni and students report that pediatric clinical practice is similar to didactic training. Open-ended narratives indicate a desire to have more hands-on practical skills training for pediatric and infant PE/WCC as well as dx of cardiac murmurs.
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