COVID-19 Information Center

This page provides the latest information that PAEA has curated for PA programs about the COVID-19 pandemic, including faculty development and other resources for PA faculty, students, and others. We know that the pandemic has greatly increased demands on faculty, and our highest priority is to support members however we can during this time.

The PAEA office continues to operate in a full-time remote capacity, and staff are committed to maintaining all possible member services. All usual face-to-face meetings will continue to be postponed or moved to a virtual format for the foreseeable future. We look forward to seeing our members in person again as soon as it is safe to do so.

Find more information under PAEA Resources below, but for a quick shortcut to most of PAEA’s COVID resources, check out these two carousels in our Digital Learning Hub:

If you need help setting up your account to access the DLH, please contact our Learning team at learning@PAEAonline.org. They are standing by to help.

PAEA Resources

The DLH contains a wealth of resources, both curated by PAEA and posted by your faculty colleagues, that can help as you move classes online and adapt – professionally and personally – to the new normal of our lives. Our Learning team has reorganized the resources relating to the coronavirus pandemic and to online teaching into two easy-to-access carousels:

As a PAEA member, you have free access to the DLH. We also encourage your contributions to hub as well.

PAEA Professional Learning Communities are an excellent way to connect with your colleagues around the country.

We added a new Covid-19 Info Exchange in the Professional Learning Community in March as a space for PAEA members to connect and share information on how they are managing during the pandemic. Please use this gathering space to share responses, ideas, questions, resources, and stories with your colleagues.

PAEA developed a number of customized webinars to help faculty adapt to online teaching and to share information on how to achieve clinical learning outcomes when clinical rotations are disrupted. All of these were recorded and are available below – click on the link to access the recording (and handouts if these were available). Many of these sessions are eligible for Category 1 CME.

Webinar Series: Student-Centered Learning in Times of Crisis

Telemedicine in PA Education – A Virtual Panel Discussion

  • Approved for 1.5 Category 1 CME hours by AAPA

Virtualizing Your Classroom – Leveraging Video

  • Approved for 1.5 Category 1 CME hours by AAPA

PAEA Student Webinar: “The PA Will See You Now”

Designed to help students develop a better on-camera presence for telemedicine visits.

  • Approved for 1.5 Category 1 CME hours by AAPA

Best Practices for Integrating Aquifer into Physician Assistant Education

In the early days of the pandemic, the Faculty Development Mission Advancement Commission (MAC) hosted two “Response Forums” — one on didactic education, one on clinical education. These forums were very well attended and provided a much-needed opportunity for PA faulty to connect and learn from each other as programs moved teaching online and adapted to lost clinical experiences for students. Access the recorded sessions below.

To reduce survey burden as much as possible, PAEA elected not to run our usual annual surveys in 2020, and instead pivoted to a series of short surveys designed to help us better understand the impact of COVID-19 on PA programs and how they have adapted and innovated. This information is being published as a series of Rapid Response Reports, available on the Digital Learning Hub.

PAEA has been working with our partners to advocate for resources for PA education, students, and practicing PAs during this time of significant new government support of health care and health professions education.

PAEA Exams

We appreciate the hard work of those programs that have been able to comply with PAEA’s proctoring policies, but we realize that it is increasingly difficult in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Below we identify important policy updates for our exams. PAEA is working with PA programs to support changes you may need with your purchases and to address program-specific questions. Please contact us directly for support: Chatexams@PAEAonline.org, or phone (866-749-7601).

  • PACKRAT®. PACKRAT is a student self-assessment that will continue to be available, without interruption. This exam can be delivered in a proctored or unproctored mode, onsite or remote, within a scheduled testing window. See instructions here. We encourage programs to leverage this option for students who are at home and might benefit from self-assessment and keyword feedback.
  • End of Rotation™. PAEA is temporarily waiving our proctoring policies for the End of Rotation exams effective immediately and through the end of December. ExamDriver scheduling and administration procedures will remain unchanged — programs will still need to assign a proctor to start the exam at the appointed time, and in the event of inappropriate behavior, provide rationale for auto-paused exams. Given this interim decision to waive the requirement for high-security remote proctoring tools, caution is advised when interpreting individual student performance, comparing scores to scores from previous administrations, and making inferences based on the national comparative data provided on score reports. The integrity of these administrations will rely on the honor system and codes of conduct of the educational institution, and thus cohort-level statistics may better reflect the shift in exam administration practices. Programs that wish to do so may continue to monitor students via remote proctoring services.
  • End of Curriculum™. PAEA has modified the PAEA Assessment Exam Policies for the administration of the PAEA End of Curriculum exam to include program eligibility requirements that must be met in order to administer the End of Curriculum exam. These requirements are important to maintain the validity of the assessment data we provide to all PA programs. In order to be eligible to administer the PAEA End of Curriculum exam, all programs must meet the following requirements:
    • Security: The PAEA End of Curriculum exam must be proctored in person –the use of remote proctors is strictly prohibited for this exam. The PAEA End of Curriculum exam must be administered using PAEA’s selected lockdown browser, Safe Exam Browser.
    • Graduation/Completion Date: The PAEA End of Curriculum exam must be delivered within the final four months of the program. Programs will not be able to schedule the exam before this point, so it is important to ensure that the graduation/completion date is accurate in ExamDriver.
    • Program Director Attestation: The Program Director must truthfully complete the below Attestation of Eligibility prior to requesting to schedule the PAEA End of Curriculum exam.

    If your program meets the above eligibility requirements and you would like to administer the PAEA End of Curriculum exam, please complete this form. Your program director will be asked to verify that your program meets the eligibility requirements after which you will be contacted by a member of the PAEA Assessment team with clarifying questions or approval and exam scheduling will be made available.

Students/Admissions

PAEA is working with the ARC-PA to help provide guidance to programs on how they can adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining the safety of their students, the quality of their instruction, and rigor of their programs. We are also advocating with the federal government on student loans and aid. We encourage students to direct questions about changes in didactic or clinical curricula to their programs.

Applicants can click here for updates and FAQs related to the CASPA application from our partner Liaison International.

Q. Will there be changes to the 20-21 CASPA application due to COVID-19?

A. For those applicants who are unable to obtain official transcripts, CASPA will grant an exception and allow them to upload unofficial transcripts instead. Applicants will be shown on-screen text that provides detailed instructions for how to take advantage of the new Transcript Hardship option. This exemption should only be pursued if applicants are unable to have their official transcripts sent to CASPA from any regionally accredited, post-secondary college or university they attended. Furthermore, this exception should not be used to circumvent any administrative holds that have been placed on student accounts that prevent the distribution of official transcripts. More information about this process is available in the CASPA Applicant Help Center. PAEA has also added a COVID-19 hardship essay to the CASPA application which will allow applicants to express how the pandemic has impacted their pathway to becoming a PA. This essay is optional, will be up to 2500 characters in length, and PAEA will continue to have the essay in CASPA for at least the next 5 application cycles.

Q. Will PA programs accept online and pass/fail coursework to fulfill prerequisite requirements?

A. PA programs are rapidly adapting to the impact of the COVID-19 on admissions. PAEA is in the process of collecting data from institutions on updates to their admission policies, including those related prerequisite courses that transitioned to an online or pass/fail format. We will share that information as soon as it is available. Please contact the school directly.

Q. I earned credit at a foreign institution; will I have issues getting my transcript evaluated?

A. All transcript evaluation services are still operational. However, they may have longer processing times than usual. For more information, please contact the evaluation service directly.

Q. Do you anticipate any application processing delays?

A. PAEA has received assurance from Liaison International that they will continue to provide uninterrupted service to all applicants. We do not expect any delays in processing applications.

Q. Does the PAEA Program Directory have the most up-to-date information?

A. All data in the directory was reported before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States. We are attempting to update information as quickly as possible. Please refer to program websites for the most up-to-date information.

For the latest information on the PANCE, we recommend visiting these sites from NCCPA and Pearson VUE.

Mental health issues have been on the rise across all age groups during the pandemic. Students can be especially affected by the additional burden of trying to maintain focus on their education during a time when that education is likely disrupted in some way, and they may have also additional responsibilities for care of children and other family members. The following resources, developed specifically for students, can be helpful. Please also see the general section on Mental Health on this page.

Mental Health

As the pandemic wears on, it has taken a well-documented toll on the mental health of many Americans and people around the world. Isolation, uncertainty, fear of illness, changing financial situations, new family responsibilities — all of these can lead to mental struggles and to increased substance abuse. The following articles and resources are designed for members who want to better understand issues that their students and colleagues may be facing, and to provide practical resources for addressing these concerns.

There is a wealth of information available on coping with the stress of the pandemic. Much of it focuses on taking care of yourself physically — eating and sleeping well, getting exercise, and adopting intentional mental wellness practices such as meditation and journaling. Experts also recommend taking time to connect with friends and family, finding time in the day to do things that bring you joy, and not being afraid to seek professional help if you need it. The following websites will provide a helpful starting point.

Substance abuse has been on the increase during the pandemic, both because of the additional stress many people are under and new barriers to accessing support groups and treatment. The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among many other organizations, have collected resources on the relationship between COVID-19 and substance abuse.

External Resources

Each of the national PA organizations has dedicated sections of their websites to information on how they are adapting their processes to changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Institutions of higher education have been trying to balance a host of competing priorities – student safety, continuing quality of education, financial viability. These websites can help provide perspective on the challenges facing higher education.