Precepting

Dear Health Care Providers,

Have you ever wanted to give back to your profession in a way that would have a long-lasting impact? Have you considered being a preceptor before but have questions about the role?

The Mississippi State University Master of Physician Assistant Studies has the perfect opportunity for you - Becoming a Mississippi State University PA Student Preceptor! Your generous participation will not only have a lifelong impact on the PA student, but will be personally rewarding with the knowledge that you have had a primary role in mentoring the next generation of Mississippi PA providers.


Besides helping to train the next generation of medical professionals, you will benefit by:

  • Learning to seek out and organize new knowledge
  • Possibly earning category II CME or equivalent credits toward certification
  • Having access to quality student recruits for future positions
  • Rotations build on the didactic year. The students’ clinical experience is organized in ambulatory, inpatient, emergency, and surgical settings. The focus in all clinical experiences is medical care across the lifespan and includes pregnancy, infants, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly.
  • With the guidance and supervision of physicians, PAs, and other qualified preceptors, students gain higher levels of clinical skill and confidence. The PA program provides structured learning activities and timely feedback to students during the clinical year. Students assume increasing responsibilities for their education, provision of patient care, functioning as a team member, adjusting to change in the healthcare system, practice of evidence-based medicine and becoming life-long learners.

Purpose of Rotation Manual

The manual for each clinical rotation has goals that have been well defined for each specialty.

  • Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes are the responsibility of the Program and represent the educational foundations that have been established for each student.
  • Instructional Objectives and Rotation Expectations are guidelines for the Preceptor to follow in supervising each clinical practice experience.
  • The Problem List is a comprehensive list of specific specialty disease diagnoses and skills that are the responsibility of each student. Our program goal is that there is familiarity with each, augmented by reading assignments, rotation experiences, and specific patient exposures.

The Clinical Phase

  • The clinical phase directly follows the didactic phase and is 12 months in length. The clinical phase takes place at diverse training sites and consists of a wide range of clinical learning situations.
  • The mandatory clinical rotations include:
  • Family Medicine (8 weeks)
  • Internal Medicine (6 weeks)
  • Emergency Medicine (4 weeks)
  • General Surgery (4 weeks)
  • Pediatrics (4 weeks)
  • Women’s Health (4 weeks)
  • Behavioral Medicine (4 weeks)

General Objectives

Each required rotation has a set of defined learning objectives. General objectives are provided for the preceptors and for the students in a clinical year student handbook. Specific rotation expectations with minimum diagnoses exposures outlined in the rotation syllabus under Instructional Objectives. These expectations are not meant to be all-inclusive, but rather form a matrix of minimum exposure with which the student must be familiar or have completed during the clinical year.

Review

The instructional objectives are written in a behavioral format wherever possible. The PA program seeks feedback from preceptors as well as students regarding the applicability of objectives to the actual learning situation. Information from the preceptors, the PA students, as well as graduate PAs, will be taken into account during the annual review of objectives.


Preceptor Frequently Asked Questions

Who can be a preceptor?

You are eligible to serve as a preceptor if you are:

  • A medical doctor (MD), doctor of osteopathy (DO), physician assistant (PA), nurse practitioner (NP) or a certified nurse midwife (CNM).
  • Licensed and in good standing with your state licensing board and medical specialty board.
  • Have practiced for at least a year in your current discipline.
  • Are willing to assist students in meeting their learning objectives for the rotation.       

What kind of clinical experiences are you seeking?

All second year PA students are required to complete clinical rotations in primary care (family medicine), pediatrics, internal medicine, emergency medicine, general surgery, and women’s health, where the focus is on gynecology/prenatal health. All rotations with the exception of family medicine (8 weeks) and internal medicine (6 weeks) are 4 weeks. In addition, students will have the opportunity to select one 6-week elective that can be completed in any discipline. All experiences should provide hands-on patient care for a minimum of 35 hours a week. Participation in call, weekend rotations, and other activities, such as visits to long-term care facilities or nursing homes with preceptors, is highly encouraged.

What can I expect from a second year MPAS student?

Second year students should be able to perform comprehensive and focused histories, and physical examinations. While their clinical reasoning skills will strengthen over time, they should be able to develop a list of differential diagnoses, and determine the next steps in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions.

They should have basic skills in patient education and counseling related to common medical problems, and will have had practice with medical procedures such as phlebotomy, splinting and wound care. Experience and ability of each student may vary, as they come from diverse backgrounds.

What is required of the students during the clinical experiences?

Each rotation the student will have learning objectives that will guide the experience. The program provides this information to both the preceptor and the student in advance of the rotation. On the first day of the rotation, preceptors should meet with the student to discuss mutual expectations, and should have a mid-rotation meeting to assess progress. Daily, informal honest feedback is important to help a student refine their skills and grow into successful health professionals. A final evaluation completed by the preceptor will assess the student’s knowledge, assessment and clinical reasoning skills, and professionalism. Program clinical faculty are available at any time throughout the rotation to provide support as needed.

How do I incorporate a student into my practice setting?

Effective preceptors create an atmosphere that allows the student appropriate learning opportunities. It is typical on the first day or two to allow the student to become oriented to the practice and observe the preceptor. Then after a preceptor observes the student performing history and physical examinations, and feels comfortable with their skills, they should be able to progress to doing these without direct observation. The student then can present the patient to the preceptor, discuss possible next steps, and complete the patient visit with the preceptor confirming the student’s findings. The program recommends periodic direct observation throughout the rotation.

Students also need to practice clinical procedures as opportunities arise. This includes phlebotomy, starting IVs, wound care, splinting and pap smears, which are taught in the first year and need to be reinforced throughout the clinical year. Students in a surgical setting need to be involved in the pre- and postoperative management of patients, and as appropriate, should assist in surgery.

Are the student and institution covered in the event of a malpractice claim?

Both the student and Mississippi State University are insured in the event of a malpractice claim. For additional information, please contact the program a PA@meridian.msstate.edu.

Are the students trained for OSHA and HIPAA?

Our students are trained and aware of HIPAA and OSHA regulations and have been trained in post-exposure incident management. In addition, we require proof of full immunization before the start of clinical rotations and we perform annual tuberculosis screening.

Preceptors often find that having a student in the practice is a rewarding experience for both staff and patients. It provides preceptors the opportunity to help shape the next generation of Mississippi health care providers, to give back to and promote the medical profession, and feel personally gratified. The Mississippi State University Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program recognizes the integral and important role of preceptors in educating our PA students, and will recognize this contribution in a variety of ways including certificates for Category II CME credit. Additional means of recognizing preceptors are being pursued. At any time, we welcome your input in making this a valuable experience for preceptors.

Whom should I contact to become a preceptor?

Contact the program at PA@meridian.msstate.edu