Primary care teams, composition, roles, and satisfaction of PA students during primary care rotations

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Physician Assistant Education








Purpose The goal of this study was to describe the characteristics of primary care teams, activities, and roles of physician assistant (PA) students as they encounter various primary care sites. Methods An electronic survey was distributed to secondyear PA students in 12 programs who had completed at least 4 weeks in a primary care rotation. Results Of the 179 students who responded (response rate 41%), 88% had completed their primary care rotations in urban settings, mostly in private practices (53%). Physician assistant students reported encountering many types of health care providers on their teams, and the 2 most favored features of the rotations were the interactions with their supervising clinicians and clinical responsibilities. About 68% interacted with other health profession students during their rotation (interprofessional experiential learning). Almost all students completed histories, physical examinations, and treatment plans, but less than 30% reported involvement in billing or care coordination and less than 10% participated in quality improvement projects. More than 60% were satisfied with team-based and interprofessional practices encountered during their primary care rotations, and 39% were more than likely to pursue primary care careers. Conclusions Team-based primary care had a positive impact on students, but more exposure to underserved clinical settings, care coordination, quality improvement, and billing is needed to prepare PA students for the practice of the future. This study is the first of its kind to explore the relationship between primary care sites and PA training in the era of health care reform.