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Excellence in Clinical Education

In the clinical phase of the curriculum, physician associate students care for patients in supervised clinical settings. Our students participate as integral members of the interprofessional patient care team with Yale School of Medicine faculty and community providers serving as preceptors.

The clinical phase provides students with experiences that allow them to hone their history taking, physical examination, diagnostic, oral and written communication skills. In caring for diverse patient populations who present with a wide range of medical and surgical conditions, students diagnose disease, formulate management plans, educate and counsel patients to promote health, apply cost-effective strategies, incorporate evidence and social determinants of health into decision-making, and respect the beliefs and dignity of every patient.

Students complete 52 weeks of clinical experiences and earn a total of 60 credits during the clinical phase of the program. Two rotation blocks are protected for the thesis project.

Core Clerkships (36 credits)

The nine 4-week core clerkships are carefully designed to ensure students have ample opportunity to care for patients across the lifespan and in all clinical settings. Students earn four credits on each of the following clerkships:

  • Internal Medicine I
  • Internal Medicine II
  • Primary Care I
  • Primary Care II
  • Emergency Medicine
  • General Surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatry
  • Women’s Health

Elective Clerkships (16 credits)

The four 4-week elective clerkships allow students to individualize their experience and explore areas of interest. Students choose from a wide range of medical and surgical subspecialties throughout the Yale New Haven Health System and in other clinical training sites across the country that are vetted by clinical faculty at the PA program. Students may select from already-established specialty rotations or work with the Program’s clinical team to develop specific areas of interest.

Elective rotations are worth four credits each.

Practice Enhancement Course (4 credits)

The Practice Enhancement course is a longitudinal course that continues the development of the professional knowledge, skills, and attitudes students need to become outstanding physician associates. Content also includes hands-on technical skill training and simulative experiences that are delivered during the clinical phase over multiple intensive periods. In this course, students earn additional valuable certifications such as Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT training) for providing care to patients with opioid use disorder. The course also includes preparation for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, or PANCE, through multiple modalities.

Rotation Sites

Yale Physician Associate students complete their clinical rotations in a variety of venues. Inpatient settings include tertiary care hospitals, community hospitals and long-term care facilities in the State of Connecticut. Outpatient experiences occur at community health centers, university clinics, urgent care centers, and private practice settings. The majority of rotations are completed in the State of Connecticut, although some mandatory and elective experiences are available out of state and vary based on availability and area of interest.

Institutions such as Yale-New Haven Hospital (York Street and St. Raphael campuses), Yale Health, and the Nathan Smith Clinic are within the city limits of New Haven. Clerkship sites within commuting distance of New Haven include: VAMC West Haven, Bridgeport Hospital, Greenwich Hospital, Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, Hartford Hospital, Bristol Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, Norwalk Hospital, Northeast Medical Group Clinics (NEMG) and private practices around the state.

Rotation sites around the state of Connecticut include but are not limited to:

  • Branford
  • Bridgeport
  • Bristol
  • Greenwich
  • Hartford
  • Middletown
  • Milford
  • New Haven
  • New London
  • Orange
  • Stamford
  • Trumbull
  • Waterbury
  • West Haven
  • West Hartford
  • Westerly, RI

Clinical Placement

PA program faculty will recruit clinical rotation sites and preceptors and will assign students to both mandatory and elective rotation sites as appropriate. Students may provide suggestions to clinical faculty for clinical sites or preceptors, but are not required to do so. Suggested sites or preceptors may only be vetted by program faculty.

Clinical Preceptors

The majority of the clinical preceptors within the Yale New Haven Health System are full time, ladder faculty or have voluntary faculty appointments with the Yale School of Medicine. Some sites afford students the opportunity to work with teams of medical staff including medical students while others provide one-to-one precepting by a physician or physician assistant.

International Rotations

International clinical rotation opportunities allow PA students to work with diverse patient populations, develop cross-cultural understanding, reflect on ethical aspects of global health learning, and explore health systems and approaches to medical care in other nations. Yale University and the Yale School of Medicine has a long tradition of supporting students in global health learning. As President Peter Salovey has stated, “Yale is at the forefront of educating the next generation with leadership skills in global health to improve the health and well-being of people around the world. I hope we will continue to build our global health work across the University.” This shows the University’s commitment to improving the global world and supporting all students engaged in global health learning. This requires students to be prepared for a safe experience prior to and during travel abroad:

The Yale Physician Associate Program is also committed to this cause and has enabled students the opportunity to complete a 4-week elective clinical rotation abroad since 2007. Clinical rotations outside the United States not only prepare PA students to learn medicine with diverse patient populations but also expose students to different cultures, communities and languages. PA students often learn alongside local trainees under the mentorship of clinical preceptors with long standing partnerships with our PA program. These experiences can be transformative.

An international rotation elective experience is merit-based, and placements are made via an application process and multidisciplinary committee review. PA students must be in good academic standing in order to be eligible for this international elective.

To support the traveling PA student, Yale provides a generous stipend to cover travel and travel clinic costs. Personal protective equipment, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) medications for those traveling to HIV endemic areas, and evacuation insurance are provided at no cost to the student. Over the past few years students have completed international clinical rotations at sites in Argentina, China, Peru, Uganda, and Rwanda.

Visiting PA Student Rotation Information

Opportunities for elective clinical year rotations are limited but, may be available for students from outside PA programs. For students interested in pursuing an elective rotation in the Yale New Haven Health System, the clinical coordinator at the visiting student’s program must contact Courtney Fankhanel, Director of Clinical Education to determine if an appropriate clinical rotation and site is available. Students and programs should not directly contact Yale New Haven Hospital preceptors or arrange rotations independently.

  • Students must be in good standing in an ARC-PA accredited PA Program
  • Students must have completed all didactic education requirements before being admitted to a clinical rotation
  • Yale does not offer observerships/externships