Physician assistants are trained to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses and provide treatment.
They must also know how to effectively work as a member of a healthcare team and to communicate patient cases to their attending physician.
Grand Rounds is a teaching tool used in the Stephens College Master of Physician Assistant Studies program that gives PA students an opportunity to practice those communication skills and work as part of a team while presenting medical cases to faculty members.
Melissa Lewis, a Stephens PA program staff member, said the importance of honing such skills is sometimes overlooked in PA education, but not at Stephens.
“The faculty for our PA program knew early on that they wanted additional emphasis on these important communications skills and therefore, we hold more Grand Rounds than most schools,” she said, adding that Stephens PA students generally participate in eight to 10 Grand Rounds a semester.
“In its essence,” Lewis said, “Grand Rounds represent a long tradition of teaching.”
The topic for each Grand Rounds is based on the medical cases presented to students during their Case Based Medicine Seminar. The instructor plays the role of a patient with an undiagnosed medical condition. Students then work as teams to take the patient’s medical history, to examine and treat the patient, order and interpret laboratory tests and X-rays and ultimately, to make a diagnoses and treatment plan.
“The student then picks one of these cases to present during Grand Rounds,” Lewis said.
On this day, a team of six students presents a case involving a 62-year-old woman with progressive tremors. During the presentation, faculty members and other students sit in the audience and listen to the case. Later, they ask questions about the presentation.
Eric Johnson, director of the PA Studies program, said although Grand Rounds are part of the PA program, they are open to the entire Stephens community and the general public, and anyone in attendance is encouraged to ask the students questions.
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