Michigan Health Council survey shows effect of lack of educators on PA rotation programs

The Michigan Health Council (MHC) recently released a survey detailing the clinical rotation experiences from the 10 state physician assistant (PA) rotation programs.

The survey aimed to understand how students in PA programs get placed in clinical rotations, the costs of these 10 programs in Michigan, and the barriers present for these students to enter into clinical rotation and the Michigan workforce. 

 

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MHC conducted this survey due to continuous confusion in the space of PA clinical rotations. Michelle Wein, Director of Research at MHC and author of the survey report, said MHC has interest in understanding how the different programs conduct their rotations in hopes of standardizing the process among all the programs. 

“I think there is hope for collaboration among the programs to make the clinical rotation space a little bit less like the wild, wild west and more governed by actual guidelines and rules that we all agree to play by,” Wein said. 

The survey found that the 10 programs all have a different way of funding their clinical rotations. In some, the program is charged, the student is charged, or both. Below is a graph to show where charges come from among the programs.

 

Image: Michigan Health Council

 

The survey also found that most of the programs increase student tuition for the costs associated with placing students in rotations.

 

Image: Michigan Health Council

 

“Programs indicated that the fee for those rotations that are paid to take students can be anywhere from $100 to $1,500 per rotation,” the survey said. “But most respondents indicated it as closer to $500 to $800.”

The most expensive rotations include Emergency Medicine and Women’s Health. According to the survey, Women’s Health is also one of the most challenging rotations to get into. Pediatrics is also one of the toughest to get into. 

Wein said this is because there are not enough instructors or preceptors in the Pediatric and Women’s Health space to meet the demand of students. This will lead to less educated workers in the profession, she said, rather than addressing the issue by paying for more preceptors.

“There just aren’t enough preceptors, period,” Weir said. “So there’s a lot of demand for a very small amount of spots [in rotations], hence the [higher] fees associated with these rotations.”

Wein said a discussion with local leaders and between institutions is needed to come together to incentivize preceptors and educators in the state. Also, leaders need to come together to make sure that the programs with more money do not dominate the rotation, forcing smaller programs to close. 

MHC will continue to survey different intersections of the health care workforce to give recommendations to the legislature in the future with data to back up their recommendations.