Purpose: Healthcare experience (HCE) is required by most physician assistant (PA) programs for application, but it is not known what role HCE might play in the success of PA students. Communication skills are an important trait for a successful clinician, and previous HCE might lead to an improved ability to communicate with patients. This study examined the relationship between PA students’ healthcare experience (HCE) and their communication self-efficacy (SE). Methods: First-year PA students from Michigan PA programs were eligible to participate in an anonymous electronic survey. A previously validated survey to assess communication SE was used. HCE was assigned into 3 broad categories based on required training/education. Communication SE scores were compared for each program. Correlation between communication SE and HCE type and hours were analyzed.

Results: There was a 44% response rate (N=117). The most reported type of HCE was medical assistant (23.9%) and nursing assistant (31.6%). There was no difference in communication SE scores between PA schools (p=0.394). There was no correlation between communication SE and total HCE hours (p=0.367), type of training/education for HCE job (p=0.577), and the number of weeks of training/education (p=0.384). Conclusion: There was no correlation between the type of HCE and communication SE in first-year PA students. It is possible varying types or amounts of HCE could result in greater preparedness for PA school by improving traits outside of communication ability.

Author Bio(s)

Joseph Tocco, MS, PA-C, is a practicing PA at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit Michigan. He works in Cardiothoracic surgery. This article began when he was PA student at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI.

Sara F. Maher, PT, PhD, DScPT, OMPT, is the Associate Dean of Health Care Sciences at Wayne State University Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Detroit, MI. She is also a clinical professor of Physical Therapy.

Sara Lolar, MS, PA-C, is a clinical assistant professor at Wayne State University Physician Assistant Studies in Detroit, MI. She also works clinically in the emergency department at Detroit Receiving Hospital.




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