Physician assistant students undergo rigorous training in classrooms and clinical settings to get their degrees. Becoming a licensed PA isn't easy, and some students may struggle. PA programs have remediation policies in place to help students stay on track with their PA education. When done properly, remediation can be a beneficial option for PA students. When done incorrectly, they can derail a student's education and future career as a PA.
Understanding Remediation for Physician Assistant Students
Almost all PA programs have a remediation policy. The Accreditation Standards for Physician Assistant Education from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) mentions that accredited PA programs should have a remediation policy. According to the ARC-PA standards, remediation is a “process for addressing deficiencies in a student's knowledge and skills, such that the correction of these deficiencies is measurable and can be documented.”
Why might your PA program recommend remediation to you?
- You may have underestimated the rigorous level of study required for a PA program, as well as the time commitment for it.
- You may struggle to adjust to sudden life changes, such as a divorce or job loss, that occur during your PA studies.
- You may have difficulty grasping the key concepts that are vital to passing your PA program.
Typically, PA programs use remediation to help students graduate on time. It's not a tool to hold students back. Effective remediation programs should assess an individual student's needs and deliver the best outcome for their PA education.
Remediation in the didactic phase
In the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) PA program, didactic remediation occurs when a student fails a core module in the program (gets less than 70%). The student then must meet with their advisor to formulate a remediation plan tailored to the student's mastery of the specific failed learning outcomes. Once the student completes these extra learning activities, they will take a remediation exam and must score a 70% or higher.
Remediation in the clinical phase
When PA students do clinical rotations, they must pass an end-of-rotation (EOR) exam. According to the remediation policies of the PA program at Emory and Henry College (EHC), students have two chances to remediate an EOR exam. Students may also have an opportunity to remediate a failed grade on a clinical preceptor evaluation, to achieve at least a 73%.
The EOR exams and preceptor evaluations comprise the Supervised Clinical Practice Experience (SCPE) course for PA students. If students fail an SCPE course, they must repeat it, which delays graduation and places the student on academic probation. If the student doesn't pass the SCPE course the second time, they are dismissed.
At the Michigan State University (MSU) PA program, students who do not pass assessments or exams must remediate them. The make-up assessment will address the skills or knowledge that the student has not mastered, and so are based entirely on individual progress. To get a passing grade for an exam, students must score at least a 70% on the remediated assessment. Furthermore, it's the student's responsibility to contact their instructor for a remediation assessment within one week of the failed exam.
Accredited PA programs must make their remediation policies available to you upon admission to the program, according to ARC-PA standards. No student ever expects to use remediation options when they start their PA studies, but it's vital that you still read and understand your school's policies before you begin your program. Unexpected events could prevent you from having the PA educational experience you planned for. Be prepared and know your remediation options ahead of time
When facing potential remediation, it's also important to contact a specialized student defense attorney-advisor to help you protect your rights to a PA education.
Benefits of Remediation for Physician Assistant Students
When done correctly, remediation programs can benefit PA students. Some schools don't trigger remediation options automatically. If your performance indicates a lack of mastery or deficient knowledge and skills required to finish your studies, your program advisor or director may ask to discuss the matter with you. They will let you participate in the formulation of a remediation plan, so you can decide what works best for you. In other cases, however, your remediation options may be limited and dictated by your program.
What are the benefits of remediation?
- Uninterrupted academic progress: Remediation options aim to get you back on track within the same semester, so you can still graduate on time.
- Identify and rectify problems: Remediation shows you which areas you struggle with and offers guidance on how to overcome those areas.
- Early intervention: Remediation often addresses a problem early, so that deficient knowledge doesn't hold a student back later on in their PA studies.
Risks of Remediation for Physician Assistant Students
Although PA programs offer remediation in the best interests of students, there are risks involved. When a school addresses remediation incorrectly, it can set a student's PA studies back an entire semester or year. A student loses time, resources, and money having to make up work that they didn't plan for. Some PA students are offered jobs on the condition they finish their program and pass their PANCE, and remediation at the end of a PA program can interfere with these plans. In addition, remediation, if not addressed appropriately, can diminish future educational and employment being diminished.
Protecting Your Rights as a Physician Assistant Student
Responding to your PA program's requests for remediation may seem intimidating because you're worried about graduating on time. Also, while your program has your best interests in mind, they have a reputation to uphold.
When you're facing a remediation situation, don't wait to respond, and don't try to handle it on your own. Contact a qualified student defense attorney as soon as possible, to help you resolve the matter quickly and get your PA education back on track.
Joseph D. Lento of Lento Law Firm has helped hundreds of graduate students across the country protect their rights in academic and disciplinary matters. If you want to protect your future as a physician assistant, contact the Firm today at 888-535-3686.