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Clinical Curriculum

Clinical Curriculum

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:

PA 2337 Family Medicine

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. (12.0 credit hours)

PA 2336 Internal Medicine

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. (12.0 credit hours)

PA 2303 Emergency Medicine

Four weeks covering initial assessment and stabilization of patients in the emergency setting. (4.0 credit hours)

PA 2335 Surgery

Four weeks of evaluation and management of common surgical problems, including preoperative workup, intraoperative care, and postoperative follow-up. (4.0 credit hours)

PA 2302 Psychiatry

Four weeks focusing on the evaluation, intervention, and management of the psychiatric patient. (4.0 credit hours)

PA 2309 Elective

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. (12.0 credit hours)

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.