Curriculum Overview

The Wake Forest PA Program curriculum centers on inquiry-based, small-group, self-directed learning based on real patient medical problems. 

Students benefit from inquiry-based learning (IBL) by developing a sound, clinically relevant knowledge of the basic and clinical sciences; learning the importance of good interpersonal skills; developing independent learning skills; and accepting responsibility for their own education. 

IBL produces independent learners who can continue to learn on their own in life and in their chosen careers.

The Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) Process

Working in small groups, students begin to work through a patient case using information they already possess, allowing them to appreciate what they already know. 

They also identify what they need to learn to better understand the patient’s problem and how to resolve it. They research the information needed using a variety of resources (books, journals, reports, online information, and people with appropriate areas of expertise). 

The learners then apply what they learned in order to more fully understand and resolve the case. 

After they have finished, learners assess themselves and each other to develop skills in self-assessment and the constructive assessment of peers. Self-assessment is a skill essential to effective independent learning.

The objectives of IBL are to produce learners who will:

  • Engage the problems they face in life and career with initiative and enthusiasm
  • Problem-solve effectively using an integrated, flexible, and usable knowledge base
  • Employ effective self-directed learning skills to continue learning as a lifetime habit
  • Continuously monitor and assess the adequacy of their knowledge, problem-solving, and self-directed learning skills
  • Collaborate effectively as a member of a group

Clinical Practice Competencies

The Wake Forest School of Medicine PA Program guides students through the acquisition of key learning outcomes, which then become the competencies necessary to practice medicine successfully as PAs as well as realize their full potential for leadership.

Our program adopts the Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession [1] as a basic framework for the core curriculum. These competencies were developed and adopted through a collaborative initiative by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), the Accreditation Review Commission for Education of the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) and the American Academy of PAs (AAPA). Our program has built upon this framework by enhancing the curriculum with additional attention to leadership, scholarship and intellectual curiosity.