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The Physician Assistant Student

Medical University of South Carolina’s Physician Assistant Students have been selected from a competitive pool of applicants. Successful candidates are those with an excellent academic record, good communication skills, and some medical experience. Prior to beginning the clinical year, PA students spend approximately 15 months in intensive didactic study, developing the foundation of medicine required to care for patients.

Generally, a student will spend 4.5 weeks under the direct supervision of a licensed physician and/or a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or nurse midwife who is supervised by a licensed physician. Students will never work without a clearly identified on-site supervisor, nor will they see patients, make diagnoses, or carry out any procedure or treatment plan without the explicit prior approval of the preceptor. Students must wear a physician assistant student patch on their white coats and a visible nametag designating student status, and they must verbally identify themselves as physical assistant students. All charts and written orders must be signed with the student’s name clearly written followed by the designation “PA-S,” unless told otherwise by the rotation site. At no time may the student use other professional titles (e.g., RN, EMT) while on clinical rotation, nor may his /her name appear anywhere on a written prescription. All chart entries and written orders must be countersigned in accordance with rotation site policy.

It is the student’s responsibility, with the help of the preceptor and program faculty, to fulfill the clinical objectives of the rotation (please refer to specific rotation objectives handout).  Most specifically, the student is expected to:

  • take histories and perform physical examinations
  • perform and assist in routine laboratory procedures, as available
  • assess common medical problems and recommend management
  • orally present patients to the supervising preceptor
  • perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures as directed by the supervising preceptor
  • provide patient counseling about health care
  • assist the preceptor in the hospital and make rounds as allowed by the hospital by-laws
  • participate in evening, weekend, and emergency call
  • attend rounds, seminars, professional conferences, and other educational experiences
  • perform a minimum of three (3) complete patient work-ups each week assigned by the clinical preceptor, as available
  • perform at least six (6) focused, problem-based examinations each day
  • demonstrate the ability to write/dictate clear, concise notes using the SOAP format
  • demonstrate the ability to complete written progress notes, discharge summaries,H&Ps, and orders, as discussed with the preceptor (also through dictation when applicable)
  • scrub-in and assist in surgery (if applicable)

The student understands that he/she must devote full-time participation to the rotation. Absences, whether planned and approved in advanced or unplanned, may require the student to make up time missed. Students are to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times and observe the highest level of patient confidentiality at all times.

The student is at the clinical site for educational purposes. It is understood that the student will provide only those services for which they are qualified via education and/or experience and by pertinent legal regulatory process under supervision by the preceptor. Those services provided should not exceed the capabilities of the supervising physician.

Each physician assistant student carries professional liability insurance through MUSC. The South Carolina Workers' Compensation Law covers each student. For each scheduled rotation period a verification letter will be emailed or mailed to each site insuring that each student has: personal health insurance, a letter of recommendation, transcript certifying completion of OSHA, HIPAA, PPE, criminal background check, statement of confidentiality; statement of responsibility, immunization records including hepatitis, measles and tetanus; and proof of ACLS and BLS training. Actual compliance documents are housed on a secure server that students have access to from any internet accessible computer and can provide a copy of any document upon request.

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