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In the didactic phase of the Physician Assistant (PA) Program, during the second, third, and fourth semesters, PA students are provided multiple opportunities to attend the Student-Engaged Medical Clinic (SEMC).  The clinic is located less than 1-mile from campus at the Blue Ridge Free Clinic.  Each PA student has the opportunity to attend the SEMC 2-3 times per spring, summer, and fall semesters, for a total of approximately 6-8 experiences annually.

PA students see free clinic patients under the direct supervision of licensed providers as part of the SEMC.  Typical duties include obtaining patient histories, performing physicals exams, forming a differential diagnosis, performing common bedside procedures, and determining appropriate management plans.  A unique inter-professional experience, students also have the opportunity to collaborate with physician specialists, pharmacy staff, nursing staff, and allied health professionals including dietitians, and mental health counselors.

By having the opportunity to care for a rural, underserved population, students may be more likely to choose a rural, primary care practice setting upon graduation from the PA Program.

This opportunity for students to gain valuable clinical experience while still in the didactic phase of the PA Program is extraordinary.  Students gain not only clinical experience by treating complex patients who have multiple chronic conditions, but also learn much about professionalism, culturally competent care, and working with inter-professional teams. 

For more information about the Student-Engaged Medical Clinic, please contact the PA Program.  Four of the current PA Program faculty are part of the Board of Directors with the Blue Ridge Free Clinic.

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