Preparation for the clinical year begins in the second semester of the PA program. Initial meetings are held with the Director of Clinical Curriculum, along with the faculty who oversee the clinical phase of the program. During the initial meetings, students are provided with a list of clinical sites that are available in the upcoming year. Administrative issues, such as transportation, housing (at distant sites), clinical responsibilities, grading and assessment, and schedules are discussed. Site descriptions are provided to students and they are allowed to set up individual meeting times to meet with faculty and/or the clinical director to discuss individual preferences. The process of site selection follows, during which students are asked to rank order their preferences for clinical sites.
During the third semester of the program, the clinical year schedule is finalized and disseminated to students well in advance of the beginning of the clinical year. Every student will be assigned to one distant rotation site where housing will be provided. The program relies on an extensive network of clinical affiliates who have longstanding relationships with the GW PA program and provide superb clinical training. Preceptors at these sites are often GW grads who have an intimate knowledge of the PA program curriculum. Clinical clerkships are often an opportunity for prospective employers to assess individual student capabilities as part of their ongoing recruitment strategy and outreach to identify new employees.
Students completing clinical clerkships at GW Hospital and its local network of affiliated teaching centers are often working side by side with other health professional students from GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Currently, more than 45 PAs are employed at the hospital and students will interact with a variety of clinical staff in addition to the staff PAs.
Clinical clerkships are very demanding due to long hours and academic responsibilities that take place outside of the clinical setting. Because of this, employment during the clinical year is not allowed. Exit interviews and graduate surveys reflect a high degree of satisfaction for the clinical training provided by the program. Feedback from preceptors and employers also reinforce the superb preparation students from the GW PA program receive during their training, which is reflected in their clinical preparedness and enthusiasm for learning in the clinical environment.