Launching the BRITE Study: Can Telehealth Transform PA Clinical Rotations?

Early this year, PAEA awarded our research team’s regional collaborative among four PA programs in Maryland the 2020-2021 Faculty Generated Research Grant for our study, Building a Regional Center of Excellence for Optimizing Clinical Education through a Randomized-Controlled Crossover Study of an Innovative Telehealth Model (The BRITE Study). We are very grateful for the funding from PAEA, the Grants & Scholarship Review Committee, and the support from our regional partners. This month, we celebrated one milestone, the initial meeting to launch the project. We reviewed the key deliverables, timeline, and next steps of the project. All stakeholders are very excited, engaged, and looking forward to starting the first phase with needs assessment, exploring best practices for delivering telehealth clinical training experiences.  

As the number of PA programs grows rapidly, the shortage of clinical training sites is worsening. Recruitment and retention of supervised clinical practice experiences (SCPEs) will be critical for successful growth and quality. The current COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated our current clinical education model’s fragility and demonstrated how Telehealth could be an important tool for optimizing supervised clinical training experiences. There is an urgent need to innovate and develop new models of clinical education.  

The BRITE Study will explore innovative solutions to the clinical rotation crisis. The novel approach to clinical education optimization will include: building a Regional Center of Excellence for clinical education in collaboration with the University of Maryland Baltimore Center for Innovative Pharmacy Solutions, improving capacity for Telehealth-enabled clinical training, coordinating clinical activities among the four Maryland PA programs, and evaluating the efficacy, effectiveness, and impact of these innovations. To ensure success, we will develop strategic partnerships with regional health systems and site-specific regional clinical coordinators targeting preceptors and clinical sites, emphasizing primary care, especially those clinical sites serving underserved populations. 

Our study will provide evidence on the effectiveness of tele-enabled Supervised Clinical Practice Experiences (SCPEs) in PA education.  

There will be three phases to this research project. In Phase One, we will conduct a retrospective mixed-method critical analysis of existing telehealth educational exposures within Maryland PA programs to determine best practices. We will then build on the survey and focus group analysis data to redesign and enhance an existing telehealth curricular prototype. The curriculum will be grounded in the Telehealth Competencies recently developed by the American Association of Medical Colleges. Phase Two will focus on implementing the telehealth curriculum, building a regional clinical coordinating center of excellence, and optimizing Telehealth enabled clinical education. Phase Three will focus on implementing and evaluating PA telehealth SCPEs.  
In the short-term, we are seeking to increasing faculty competency in the delivery of Telehealth educational content, developing a best practice resource guide for managing the placement of PA students for telehealth clinical training, reducing the workload and burden of clinical coordinators in PA programs, and increasing the number of clinical training sites. In the long-term, we are working to create an innovative national model for PA clinical training, increasing workforce capacity competent in telehealth, generating a sufficient preceptor training supply, increasing health care equity, and addressing health crisis conditions impacting underserved communities.  
If you have are interested in the Faculty-Generated Research Grant or any other research grant opportunities, please contact PAEA Research at or 703-651-8540. Currently, applications are being accepted for the Don Pedersen Research Grant until 11:59 p.m. ET on October 31, 2021.