A number of clinical experiences are offered during the first and second year of the physician assistant program. First-year clinical experiences begin as early in the year as possible. The sites are usually within a one-hour hour drive from Des Moines.

Clinical Benefits

  • Clinical experiences offer a break from the rigors of the classroom and let students apply the classroom material to the clinical setting.
  • It serves as a bridge between the first and second year.
  • The sites are sometimes free clinics or clinics serving under-served patient populations in the region. Many times, physician assistant program graduates serve as first-year clinical preceptors.

Supervised Clinical Practice Experience

The second year of the physician assistant program is divided into 48 weeks of Supervised Clinical Practice Experiences (SCPE). The 48 weeks are broken up into the following areas:

Course NumberCourse Name and DescriptionCredit Hours
PA 2302Psychiatry Rotation
Four weeks focusing on the evaluation, intervention, and management of the psychiatric patient.
PA 2303Emergency Medicine Rotation
Four weeks covering initial assessment and stabilization of patients in the emergency setting.
PA 2309Elective Rotation
Up to 12 weeks of electives, which may include cardiovascular surgery, infectious disease, tropical medicine, and many other areas of specialization. Experiences will be provided in geriatrics, pediatrics, and women’s health.
PA 2335Surgery Rotation
Four weeks of evaluation and management of common surgical problems, including preoperative workup, intraoperative care, and postoperative follow-up.
PA 2336Internal Medicine Rotation
12 weeks with emphasis on the clinic evaluation of common medical problems in adult health care, the role of the hospital in the delivery of integrated primary care services, and the specific needs of rural communities and women.
PA 2337Family Medicine Rotation
12 weeks of clinical experience in family medicine. Concepts and techniques studied in the preclinical year are applied. Emphasizes development of the knowledge and skills needed to assess and manage common medical problems.
PA 2340AProgram to Practice
This summer semester course is the first of three courses created to help guide the second-year PA student through the process of creating a master’s project.  The initial research will be conducted during this time period and written correspondence with the student’s advisor will take place, outlining the progress to date. Prerequisites: MSPA 1340, MSPA 1376C, MSPA 1381, MSPA 1389B, MSPA 1393B, MSPA 1398
PA 2340BProgram to Practice
This fall semester course is a continuation of PA 2340A.  The second-year PA student will gather more research data and continue to regularly share progress with his/her advisor.  A preliminary draft of the master’s project should be completed during this course. Prerequisite: PA 2340A
PA 2340CProgram to Practice
It is during this spring semester course the second-year PA student completes his/her master’s project, delivers an oral presentation, participates in the capstone SIM and SPAL assessments, and prepares for the national certification exam by sitting for individual comprehensive examinations.  Students also meet with their advisors for summative evaluations of their performance during this time. Prerequisite: PA 2340B

SCPE Sites

Students are assigned to core rotation sites. These can be at affiliated sites both in and out of Iowa. Electives are also available throughout the Midwest at our national affiliate sites. Rotation sites can be broken into the following categories:

  • Des Moines and Central Iowa
  • Statewide affiliates
  • Rural health clinics
  • Nationwide affiliates

Rural Health Clinics

  • Iowa has over 100 certified rural health clinics.
  • These sites are unique in that they are federally designated health care shortage areas that get the majority of their primary medical services from a physician assistant, with physician supervision provided from a remote site.

International SCPEs

PA students may be able to complete one of their clinical experiences internationally through the global health department.

We are proud of the breadth and depth of our clinical offerings and have developed a philosophy of early and regular reinforcement of the basic skills and fundamentals of the profession that are essential to the success of our graduates and the physician assistant profession.