The Bootcamp for Physician Associate students at Chester University is an intensive training program designed to help students prepare for National Exams. It involves practising skills, receiving feedback from experienced trainers, and honing communication and consultation skills. The Bootcamp is structured over three days and covers a variety of conditions and scenarios, including multi-systems examinations. The program is designed to help students deal with stress and pressure in a simulated exam setting, and to conform to the standards required by OSCE assessors. The Bootcamp ends with the students having the opportunity to practice under exam conditions and receive feedback.
Who Dares Trains!
Putting the Physician Associate student through their paces.
I think it is essential to define what I mean by Bootcamp. The definition of a boot camp is an intensive way to obtain knowledge about a specialisation. In the case of the Physician Associate program, these are related to medicine.
A common practice is to take the students (usually 2nd years) through a whole range of skills working with ACEs, mannequins and clinicians to help them hone their skills and then receive focused feedback at the end of the process.
The idea of the Bootcamp comes from the military where soldiers are put under intense pressure and made to perform the skills they have learnt in their area of expertise. Unlike the military, we do not shout at students but guide them with structured feedback. They do feel pressured to perform which helps them deal with the stress of their upcoming OSCEs. This is also a valuable skill for a PA as they will inevitably find themselves outside of their comfort zone when out in the workplace. In particular Emergency Medicine and Breaking Bad news.
The ACE plays a very important part in this process, and because of their high level of knowledge and skill can replicate the patient journey in fine detail. This is what distinguishes us from volunteers or role-players, who give high-fidelity feedback on more than just communication skills. An Ace is trained to give feedback on the way a student handled the patient, and the efficacy of the techniques they are using. For example, the way the student auscultates and percusses the patient or the way the student used palpation.
Did the student perform the examination using the accepted methodology? Did they conform to the standards required by the OSCE assessors?
Each institution has its way of running the boot camps, but generally, the structure is something like this:
Day One: Introduction to the methodology and approach expected from the student. Consultation skills: History taking on a variety of conditions to be determined by the academic staff.
Challenging scenarios related to the workplace. It is not just patients that can be a challenge, but colleagues too, so it is important to learn how to have difficult conversations.
Day one usually ends with a group discussion about what they would like to cover over the remaining 2 days. At Chester University, the students worked with 4 experienced ACEs and we covered Cardio, Respiratory and GI. We practised them as stand-alone examinations and blended them, where a patient would present with a pathology that required a multi-systems approach. The students always find this a challenge but usually do well at this level of their training.
We also worked through MSK and Neurological examinations.
For a Physician Associate to prepare for National Exams it is always great for the team at Meducate Academy to get the feedback they deserve. We work hard to ensure the students get the best tuition and feedback.
The two years working with this cohort have flown by, as they say, and it has been a journey filled with surprises and detours. Plain sailing and a few rough patches, but when all is said and done we got there in the end!
Boot camps are a great way to help the students tie up any loose ends they may feel they have in their understanding, and I am pleased to say we and the academics were there to support them.
I got the sense that the students were more than ready for the nationals and we wish them all the luck for their future as Physician Associates.
As an aside, it was also great to get a ‘thank you’ card from the students, which was totally unexpected but very welcome. I look forward to being at their graduation.
So, it is onwards and upwards for the coming year and 2023 promises to be a good one with us working closely with our partners and also with Pharmacists at Wolverhampton University.
If you’re a Clinical Lead or Senior Lecturer and want to have a chat with us about how we can add value to what you already get in touch. We would love to give you a demonstration and a workshop at your institution. Please contact: email@example.com or on 07870 611850