Supporting the Lifecycle of PAs

Supporting the Lifecycle of PAs

Supporting the Lifecycle of PAs

For over 15 years, Exam Master has supported Physician Assistant education, training, and certification. Preparing for education and training for a Physician Assistant career can be demanding and rigorous. As one of the fastest-growing professions in the world, Physician Assistant programs are tasked with producing large numbers of properly trained and competent PAs that can use their knowledge to understand and solve clinical challenges to promote the health and wellbeing of their patients. To show themselves competent, students must be able to apply the vast amounts of knowledge acquired to understand and solve clinical challenges. From acquiring initial knowledge and training to recertification, Exam Master provides resources to that help PAs navigate their journey.

 

Supporting All Phases of the PA Lifecycle

Beginning with the Pre-PA phase, Exam Master provides incoming PA students with resources to prepare for entering PA school. For programs, we have developed the Physician Assistant College Admissions Test (PA-CAT) to test applicant prerequisite knowledge as a component of the admissions process. We recognize the importance of readiness for PA school, so we developed a PA Academic Readiness Assessment for after the PA-CAT. This assessment helps programs and students further identify what areas they may need to focus on improving in order to be successful in the program. The readiness assessment and the PA-CAT are resources for students and programs that allow them to test their knowledge. After testing students and identifying important knowledge gaps, it is important to provide resources to remediate those gaps. Our PA Pre-Matriculation program provides students refresher courses in important prerequisite subjects for PA school. Students can review information and quiz themselves to prepare for the didactic year of their program. This Pre-Matriculation program can be used before students begin their didactic curriculum or in the first days of their program.

 

Resources to Assist the PA Journey

The Didactic/Clinical phase is typically 27 months of allocating student and educator time, energy, and resources. Exam Master provides resources for the didactic/clinical phase of their education such as remediation and self-study resources. These resources, plus our systems-based clinical question banks will allow students the opportunity to continue to remediate the knowledge gaps as they are learning in their classes and clinicals. While the resources help students during their education and during the study process for the PANCE, we also provide resources specifically dedicated to professional certification. Designed and updated based on the 2019 NCCPA blueprint, our PANCE/PANRE High-Yield question banks can be used to effectively study to pass the certification exams. We also provide special practice exams for both the PANCE and the PANRE, as well as a Common Medications Review.

Practicing PAs are often in search of resources to assist them with preparing for recertification exams and CME hours. Our practicing PA resources include academic support for PA educators and our partner products with Emory University. We partnered with Emory University to develop high-yield resources for practicing PAs. Our systems-based CME review and our Category I AAPA CME Self-Assessment provide practicing PAs with review information and 38+ CME hours. The Emory University products are regularly updated and provide practicing PAs with an efficient way to get their CME hours.

We were planning to attend various PA conferences around the country, but unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled many in-person events. In place of an in-person meeting, we have developed an informational video that reviews how we support the PA community with our resources. Click here to view our Lifecycle of a PA video! If you would like to further the conversation about Exam Master’s PA resources, contact us!

Related Topics: Physician Assistant | Pre-PA

Pre-Matriculation: Helping You Prepare for PA School

Pre-Matriculation: Helping You Prepare for PA School

Pre-Matriculation: Helping You Prepare for PA School

Physician assistant education and other graduate-level health professions education is designed to enroll students who are prepared for the rigors of the demanding health science curriculum. Many PA educators have expressed that their incoming students struggle with foundational subjects that are key to success in the didactic year of their program. Significant stressors impact PA program admissions departments when making admissions decisions, such as variability of GPA, variability in quality and content in previous courses, and the length of time since prerequisite courses were taken. As a partner of the PA community, Exam Master recognizes the importance of ensuring that students are ready for the didactic year of their programs. To mitigate this challenge, we have created the Physician Assistant Pre-Matriculation program to assist students as they prepare to enter PA school.

The Physician Assistant Pre-Matriculation program’s core focus is to prepare and refresh incoming PA students on these foundational subjects. PA educators often identify basic science subjects like Anatomy and Physiology as needing a level of remediation that they don’t have time to provide. Our PA Pre-Matriculation program provides a critical understanding of the basic prerequisite science subjects, emphasizing the minimization of knowledge gaps that could result in students falling behind in their early coursework.

Though the primary focus of the PA Pre-Matriculation program is preparation before matriculation, it can also be used during and after the didactic year, since knowledge gaps are usually identified after students have begun the curriculum. The PA Pre-Matriculation program is self-guided and online, so educators can prescribe the program to their students and monitor their progress through the subject learning modules without the need for direct guidance. For students who already know which subjects they struggle with, the self-guided nature of the PA Pre-Matriculation program allows them to take an active role to improve their performance. These students in particular have an opportunity to demonstrate their dedication to succeeding, and the educators can observe the whole process. 

Our PA Pre-Matriculation program is loaded with exercises and information that will help students succeed. Starting with a self-paced review, students can complete in-depth reviews of learning objectives that educators identify as most important. Students work at their own pace through the learning modules while educators and program administrators monitor their activity and results. Throughout the PA Pre-Matriculation program, students are given quizzes to review the information in the learning objective modules. The quizzes are embedded within the learning modules to provide a more interactive experience and help solidify learning. Students are also provided course-specific summative exams at the end of the Pre-Matriculation program designed to assess whether they have met the appropriate learning objectives.

For detailed information about the PA Pre-Matriculation program, click here.

Exploring Remote Proctoring of High Stakes Assessments

Exploring Remote Proctoring of High Stakes Assessments

Exploring Remote Proctoring of High Stakes Assessments

We recently participated in Prometric’s demonstration of their remote proctoring system called ProProctor™.  Remote proctoring has been gaining traction as an acceptable, secure delivery method for a variety of high stakes exams. More recently, remote proctoring has become acceptable for some credentialing examinations that were previously administered at testing centers, which are now closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Remote proctoring allows examinees to conveniently schedule and take an examination safely from their homes or other off-site locations and avoid the logistical hassles and inconveniences of having to appear at a testing center.

The concern for educators and administrators responsible for high stakes assessments are exam security and exam integrity. Ensuring that the results are fair, accurate and reliable over time is most important. Frankly, cheating is always a concern. Typically, these examinations require test-takers to be at a testing location, such as a computer lab, classroom or other location, where they can be monitored as a group. These involve using controlled access computers to ensure there is no cheating or other activities that may compromise the examination. The technologies and protocols now available with remote proctoring, including ProProctor™, offer a suitable alternative to the traditional computer lab, test center or classroom-delivered assessments.

In our ProProctor™ demo, we watched how much effort and work goes into ensuring the integrity of an examination from a remote setting. The better remote proctoring systems, like ProProctor™, do involve having human proctors who monitor examinations remotely. Human proctors are typically responsible for monitoring six to eight examinees at one time. These systems use a variety of technologies, processes, and protocols to ensure that exam security and integrity is protected. Our impression was that remote proctoring protects the examination process almost as well as it would be at a testing center, and probably better than a classroom or computer lab setting where the ratio of proctors to students is often not favorable.

As we learned from watching a demo of Prometric’s system, a big part of the remote proctoring process involves the initial technology set up, authentication of the exam candidate’s identity, and verification that the candidate’s examination environment strictly adheres to a stringent set of protocols. We are talking about the assessment of a candidate’s computer, capturing a candidate’s facial image for later monitoring, a thorough review of the candidate’s testing location, authentication via a government-issued ID, and including having candidates roll up their sleeves and show their ears to make sure they do not have hidden devices! During the examination, there is constant monitoring, both from human proctors as well as AI-type technologies that examine candidate movement and behavior during the assessment. Our impression was that very few candidates could or would attempt to game the system.  It is that good.

ProProctor™ will be used for early administrations of the Physician Assistant College Admissions Test (PA-CAT) as a safe alternative to testing centers. We believe Prometric’s remote proctoring system offers a robust and safe alternative for PA-CAT candidates. Testing for the PA-CAT begins May 1st.

Helping PA Programs Navigate the COVID-19 Crisis

Helping PA Programs Navigate the COVID-19 Crisis

Helping PA Programs Navigate the COVID-19 Crisis

Physician Assistant programs around the country are being significantly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. We share everyone’s deep concerns about this crisis, and we are very sorrowful for the negative impact this will have on so many people within the PA educational community, including faculty, students and staff.

As an online education company, Exam Master can help programs struggling with making the transition to remote teaching and assessment. We work with over 100 PA programs, many of whom have been asking us questions about how to transition to this new paradigm, and how can Exam Master’s assist them during this crisis. Some of the most common questions many of our clients have been asking us over the last several weeks include: 

  • How do we set up high-stakes online exams and what security options are available?
  • How can we set up remote online proctoring for our online exams?
  • Can Exam Master set up and run our program’s high stakes exams online temporarily?
  • Does a lockdown browser work remotely?
  • How to structure open book tests with summative exams?

ARC-PA and PAEA issued a joint statement providing guidance to PA programs as they meet the challenge of fulfilling their educational mission under these extraordinary COVID-19 circumstances. Exam Master has a collection of online resources that align with the recognized technologies deemed appropriate in the ARC-PA PAEA joint statement for delivery of coursework. Those technologies include e-lectures, streaming, and pre-recordings that can be used to help you transition to remote teaching and assessment during this trying time. This collection of online resources includes: 

  • A Pre-Matriculation Success program that is geared towards incoming and freshmen PA students who may need remediation during the didactic year. The online self-study program covers subjects identified by educators as needing effective remediation, such as Anatomy and Physiology.
  • Subject-based, formative quizzes for students to take during their didactic phase on subjects such as anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and biochemistry. Each quiz includes detailed explanations and references for student review.
  • A 38-hour systems-based review developed by Emory University that integrates didactic and clinical content and includes supplemental materials as well as a summative assessment. The systems-based review is generally geared towards students in the second semester of their didactic; however, the resource can also help support clinical training in a way that is complementary and may fill some gaps.

Our mission during this time is to help make programs aware of those Exam Master resources that are best-suited to helping them as they transition to remote teaching and learning during this particularly challenging time. One area that clients have been particularly interested in is exploring how remote proctoring might help them more securely deliver higher-stakes exams to students at home or off campus. We are looking to learn more about how programs are coping across the country. We are here to help PA programs needing assistance in a number of ways and encourage folks to reach out to us for a conversation.

A Bright Future Ahead for PAs

A Bright Future Ahead for PAs

A Bright Future Ahead for PAs

The Association of American Medical Colleges reports an intensifying shortage of physicians that will continue in coming years; physician assistants will be critical in helping fill in that gap. The AAMC projects that the United States will have a shortage of nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032. Fortunately, the physician assistant profession in 2020 is expected to continue the previously predicted trend of 31% growth between 2018 and 2028. This consistent increase in physician assistants, which begins with the competitive PA program admissions process, will aid the physician shortage while providing practitioners the benefit of flexible work schedules and a potential opportunity to practice remotely.

It comes as no surprise that over the past decade, there has been increased interest in flexible work options compared to traditional work arrangements. In December, CNBC released a list of the fastest-growing professions in 2020 that allow for remote and flexible work options. With the increase in industry interest and the development of technology promoting growth in telemedicine, the physician assistant profession is projected to be the third–fastest-growing in 2020 in terms of flexibility.

During the 2017-2018 cycle alone, over 27,000 candidates applied to PA school and the number continues to increase. According to ARC-PA, there are 250 accredited PA programs in 2019, and it has been predicted that there will be at least 300 PA programs in the United States by 2021. With the rise in program options for pre-PAs and the influx in applications, the demand for physician assistant positions is also increasing. AAPA predicts that in 2020 there will be over 170,000 physician assistants eligible for practice, and over 140,000 physician assistants practicing. With so many people pursuing this profession, applicants to PA programs —and those already studying— know that their journey to becoming a physician assistant will be a competitive one. 

Exam Master understands that candidates applying to PA programs are searching for every possible opportunity to set themselves apart from others during the process of applying to PA school. The average PA program can only accommodate 40-60 seats per cohort. Statistically, the need for physician assistants and the opportunities to become certified are increasing; however, the interest in the profession outpaces them both.  

To provide a tool that would provide an advantage to educators and applicants alike, Exam Master developed the Physicians Assistant College Admissions Test (PA-CAT). The 240-item PA-CAT provides students the advantage of displaying their knowledge of the 9 core subjects covered in most PA programs, which will allow programs to make a more informed admissions decision. Exam Master recommends candidates utilize the PA-CAT to strengthen your PA school application.

Register for the PA-CAT here.

Related Topics: PA Applicants | PA-CAT