Purpose: Previous research has explored various Physician Assistant (PA) student evaluative measures to see if they have predictive validity with regard to Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) scores. Recent literature has begun to evaluate how measures from the first year of didactic education might be helpful in identifying at-risk individuals early in the program. The purpose of this paper was to extend work in that area within a problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum. Method: Participants included 140 students from two consecutive PA classes. Data were imported regarding each student’s evaluative measures of multiple choice question (MCQ) examinations, patient management assessments (PMA), a form of modified essay question (MEQ) examination, and facilitator evaluation ratings (FERs) from the end of each of six curricular units that comprise the didactic year. Results: Correlational analyses revealed all MCQ and MEQ (PMA) scores correlated significantly with PANCE scores. Regression analyses revealed that scores from two specific MCQ unit exams and one specific MEQ unit exam produced a three-factor model that accounted for 57% of variance in PANCE scores. FERs, though significantly correlated with PANCE scores, did not add to the predictive power. Conclusions: Use of MCQ and MEQ scores from the first year of didactic training in PA programs can successfully predict PANCE scores and may therefore be helpful in identifying students who are at risk for poor PANCE performance on their first attempt. Having such information available can direct faculty to students who need extra help early in their educational programs to increase likelihood of their success. With the significant correlations between FERs and PANCE scores, it is clear that faculty who facilitate PBL are also able to identify students who might be at risk based on their interactions during PBL sessions and can also utilize this information to assist student

Author Bio(s)

Anthony J. Goreczny, PhD, is a Professor in the School of Health Sciences at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is also a licensed psychologist in the state of Pennsylvania.

Susan Hawkins, MSEd., PA-C. is a Professor in the School of Health Sciences at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. She is also a licensed physician assistant in the state of Pennsylvania.

John Laird, ND, is an Associate Professor in the School of Health Sciences at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is also a naturopathic physician.




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