Clinical Rotation Issues - Physician Assistant Students

The road to becoming a professional physician assistant includes many hurdles, including a series of clinical rotations. These rotations are vital experiences that a young physician assistant goes through to learn on-the-job skills, to determine the type of medicine they want to assist with, and to demonstrate their theoretical knowledge in real-world settings.

In other words: Clinical rotations are vastly important. Depending on your program, you might complete as many as ten different rotations. Without these successfully-completed rotations, a future physician assistant's education, graduation, and future will be in jeopardy.

If you're a physician assistant student, completing your rotations needs to be at the very top of your priority list. Unfortunately, there are several factors that could impact your ability to do so - including any misconduct that occurs during the course of your rotations.

Whether you stand accused of misconduct now or you're worried that any past misconduct might affect your future, you need to take action. It's time to hire an experienced student defense attorney. With the help of a clever, competent legal team, you'll be able to work to protect your future from any past misconduct.

The Importance of Clinical Rotations for a Prospective PA

A future medical professional's education involves two types of training: didactic and clinical. Didactic coursework typically occurs in a classroom. While a student completes didactic coursework, it's important to avoid all instances of academic misconduct (e.g., plagiarism or cheating).

Misconduct associated with clinical rotations typically involves more subjectivity. According to the description of Yale’s PA program, for instance, clinical rotations help students hone the knowledge that they learn during their didactic coursework in a real-world setting. Each PA student will likely face a mix of mandatory and elective rotations. These rotations may take place at a wide variety of locations, such as inpatient hospitals, outpatient primary care clinics, hospital emergency rooms, pediatric clinics, nursing homes, psychiatric facilities, or other medical settings.

While a PA student completes their rotations, their instructors will watch them carefully for competency and professional behavior. Much of the time, allegations of misconduct during clinical rotations are the result of ‘inconsistent behavior' or unprofessionalism. As this type of behavior can give a student's superiors a good idea of how they might behave when later employed, any misconduct during clinical rotations could certainly have a negative impact.

Professionalism standards in the medical field dictate that your behavior in all aspects of your academic life must be impeccable. If there is any evidence that this is not the case, your entire education and professional career could be in jeopardy.

This means that clinical rotation misconduct especially could wreak havoc on your future.

Misconduct Allegations and Clinical Rotations: Inconsistent Behaviors for Physician Assistant Students

For exmaple, Case Western Reserve University's PA student code of conduct closely mirrors that of the National Commission for Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). While it's best to check your school's specific code of conduct (academic, professionalism, and any other applicable policies) to learn about the behavior expected at your school, there are some standards of behavior that are common to all PA programs.

The following are examples of inconsistent or irregular behavior that may result in delays or disciplinary action interfering with clinical rotations:

  • Cheating or any dishonest behavior that influences student assessment (including plagiarizing)
  • Acting in a way that does not reflect the highest level of care towards a patient
  • Any behaviors that conflict with the accepted standards of the medical practice
  • Falsely representing facts to patients, physicians, or other medical professionals
  • Posturing as a certified physician or physician assistant
  • Avoiding professional accountability and responsibility
  • Discrimination of any kind against any other person
  • Failing to treat patients and families with respect
  • Failing to observe professional boundaries during a rotation
  • Performing any behavior that threatens the health or safety of another
  • Failing to respect a patient's right to informed decision-making
  • Failing to respect patient confidentiality
  • Wearing the white coat or other markings of a physician assistant at an incorrect time (e.g., to gain access to medical facilities outside of program use)

While these types of clinical misconduct might most directly affect your ability to complete a clinical rotation, any misconduct on your record could affect your ability to move through your program at your desired pace.

What Happens if you Can't Complete Your Physician Assistant Student Rotations?

The specific repercussions for failing to complete a clinical rotation may vary from program to program. According to the University of South Alabama Physician Assistant Handbook, a student who has collected a notice for violating the school's code of conduct will face a disciplinary hearing, during which the school will consider whether it is appropriate for the student to continue their education. The school could decide to suspend or expel the student, place the student on probation, or mete out penalties that could affect the student's future in other ways.

Dismissal or disciplinary action while you're in PA school can come as an incredible shock. After all, you've put in at least six years of rigorous education to get to this point. You've invested in your future, and you've come a long way.

It's time to work to make sure that a disciplinary roadblock doesn't prevent you from graduating and getting a great job. Hiring an experienced defense attorney is the best thing you can do to preserve your reputation and protect your future.

Joseph D. Lento Can Help You Protect Your Professional Future

For physician assistant students, accusations or findings of misconduct are far more than just a note in their permanent records. Misconduct can affect their entire future. Evidence of misconduct and interrupted clinical rotations can derail a lot for a future physician assistant.

If this sounds familiar, it's important to realize that you're not alone. You can take action today to protect the professional future you've worked so hard for. If your school has notified you that your behavior puts your clinical rotations at risk, reach out to the Lento Law Firm. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent years fighting for students nationwide who need a second chance. He'll help you work towards a successful outcome and help you protect your physician assistant future. Call us today at 888.535.3686 to learn more.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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