PA Program Profile: Chapman University

Chapman University PA program in Irvine, California, has already learned a lot in their short time as an accredited program. Now, Program Director Michael S. Burney, EdD, PA-C, is ready to share their knowledge with all of you. Enjoy!

Tell me a little bit about how this program came about.

Recent analyses of emerging models of effective health care delivery have suggested that the PA is playing an increasingly important role in health care. When we examined data in California, the demand for PA education became even more apparent to us, especially because of the ever-growing gap between primary care physicians and the demand for primary care. Thus, Chapman University committed to develop a PA program to educate health care professionals serving Southern California. This commitment included hiring a core of highly qualified faculty to develop a curriculum and developing state-of-the-art, high tech facilities to deliver the curriculum.

What do you think makes your program unique?

We value individualized student instruction, so we have implemented a one-to-four faculty-to-student ratio. We engage our students in active learning experiences, including lecture and team-based assignments where they work with different peers in each class. With this collaborative learning method, students gain presentations skills and learn to problem-solve and work in partnership with each other.

Our program also values the integration of technology in the classroom; our students use iPads to take their exams, and our classrooms are all Apple TV-centric, enabling instructors and students to share information and presentations easily. Faculty also utilize technology in the clinical skills labs by teaching via our simulation mannequins. In addition to our advanced use of technology, we also value hands-on experiences for our students. Our PA students recently performed live women’s health examinations, allowing them to gain experience with real patients and a chance to practice professionalism and patient care.

Do you do any team-building or philanthropic activities with your cohorts?

At Chapman, we value the development of leadership qualities in our students, and we have therefore sought to engage them in community outreach as much as possible. Faculty members, alongside our students, volunteered at the Orange County Special Olympics and participated in the health screening of athletes on two separate occasions in 2017.

PA student Vivian Acevedo and Graham Danyleyko, MPAS, PA-C, participated in an open forum with the Coalition of Orange County in April 2017 on the topic “White Coat; Provider Briefing on Health Care Reform.” The talk focused on highlighting the successes of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the role that community health centers play in delivering quality health care services in Orange County, CA.

In addition, our students visited Dana Hills High School and spoke to the Health and Medical Occupations program about PA work experience and what it looks like to be a PA. Our PA students also participate in Interprofessional Education (IPE) experiences in pharmacy each trimester, working on cases with all students from Chapman University’s Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences.

Students continually have opportunities to practice their clinical skills and pair with different classmates in the clinical skills lab. We hope that by exposing our students to a diverse variety of leadership experiences outside of the classroom, we will graduate compassionate, patient-centered medical providers of the highest quality who are leaders in their communities, life-long learners of medicine, and professionals who possess strong clinical skills, cultural sensitivity, ethical values, and respect for health and well-being.

Credit: Chapman University PA Program

Credit: Chapman University PA Program

We hear a lot about networking and collaboration in the PA world. How have you been able to collaborate with other programs or community members?

Faculty have reached out to their alma mater institutions and colleagues, such as the Western University of Health Sciences PA program, Cornell University PA program, Drexel University PA program, Interservice PA program, and the USC PA program for assistance. Many practicing PAs have participated as visiting faculty in the development of our new PA program.

We have also enjoyed the participation of visiting faculty members such as cardiologist Dr. Brian Kolski, and psychiatrist Dr. Richard Granese during the students’ first-year didactic experience. Our medical director, Ari Babaknia, MD, is actively involved in our program, working with the medical community of Orange County to provide excellent supervised clinical education experiences for our students.

What are you doing to foster innovation in your program?

Our curriculum uses simulation and case-based scenarios mixed with traditional lecture to deliver content to the students. We stress our physical exam practical experiences and hands-on lab time from day one in the program with a personalized educational relationship with a highly experienced faculty team. We have modern and technologically based physical examination labs, a clinical skills lab, a simulation lab, and a standardized patient lab. Our classrooms utilize the most modern methods of a shared student and faculty experience by using audio, video, apps, and online and hardback textbook resources. Faculty enjoy using a “flipped classroom” to encourage student participation and innovation when completing assignments.

If you could give developing programs one piece of advice, what would it be?

Keep the students’ education and success at the forefront of all of your decisions. Value your faculty, staff, and the shared faculty-student experience in the development of future PAs.