PA Student Wellness

The UFCOM School of Physician Assistant Studies is committed to the education and professional development of physician assistants who will demonstrate excellence, integrity, diversity, compassion, and service throughout their careers. We recognize that, particularly as a leading PA program, we must model and encourage healthy lifestyles for our students and patients. In an effort to support the health and well-being of our students, we have implemented a number of wellness-related initiatives. Some of these programs and resources are described below:

Culture of Wellness

  • PA students are encouraged to complete a monthly wellness screening to assess their functioning and identify whether they might benefit from accessing available resources.
  • All PA students are assigned to an advisee group with a consistent faculty advisor throughout the duration of the PA program. Goals of advisee groups include:
    • Fostering a supportive environment to promote mental, physical, and emotional wellness through peer and faculty support
    • Creating a safe space to discuss sensitive personal and professional topics
    • Developing a professional identity (includes lifelong learning skills)
  • The curriculum utilizes pass-fail grading during the first year to decrease competition and increase cooperation among students.
  • Formal policies allow excused absences from educational activities in order to access necessary personal health care.
  • The Assistant Dean for Medical Education facilitates monthly student advocacy meetings with other student leaders from each of the UF COM programs (MD, PA, MD/PhD, MS, PhD).
  • The second floor of the HSC Library is accessible by keycard only for students in the health science center colleges to provide access to a safe and quiet place for study on a 24-hour basis: https://library.health.ufl.edu/about-us/library-user-policies/24hr-study-space/
  • The COMmunity student interest group for medical and PA students was developed “to provide opportunities for the sharing of experiences, concerns, questions, advice, and stories with a mind towards building a supportive student community and reducing the stigma associated with talking about many of the struggles students face”: https://mcc.med.ufl.edu/organizations/community/
  • A variety of student organizations exist to encourage activities/hobbies both within and outside of medicine while fostering positive relationships among students: https://mcc.med.ufl.edu/organizations/
  • Opportunities to provide volunteer medical care through the Equal Access Clinic, Mobile Outreach Clinic, and international outreach trips provide inspiration and promote joy in medicine: https://equalaccess.med.ufl.edu/
  • Access to extracurricular activities including intermural sports, athletic facilities and waterfront activities: http://www.ufl.edu/student-life/recreation-fitness/
  • PA students with and without families have access to convenient housing in the newly-developed Continuum Graduate/Professional Community: https://www.thecontinuumforufgrads.com/
  • The International Student Center serves as a central resource for international students regarding visa status, as well as resources and benefits they are eligible for during their stay in the United States: https://internationalcenter.ufl.edu/international-students-scholars
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PA Students Competing in Intramural Sporting Events (Grad Cup CHAMPS!)

Efficiency of Practice (Learning)

  • The PA student course calendar is set up at least a semester in advance, allowing students to plan ahead for family obligations and other responsibilities.
  • The basic science curriculum exhibits an intentional curricular structure, where basic science didactics are followed by curriculum which integrates core knowledge with clinical information.
  • Use of “flipped classroom” teaching style helps to maximize comprehension/retention of information and improve critical thinking skills related to clinical decision-making.
  • Lectures are videotaped and posted online through e-Learning to allow students to watch at their convenience, and review while studying. Lectures can be accessed from anywhere and are available within 24 hours from the time the live lecture is completed.
  • Lecture notes are posted online to the learning management system in advance of the class session, allowing students to preview/review material to improve their learning.
  • The PA program provides opportunities for small group learning in the development of clinical skills.
  • Students participate in patient simulations and standardized patient interactions beginning in their first year in order to gain practical experience.
  • Tutoring service are available for PA students who need assistance with their coursework: https://osa.med.ufl.edu/tutoring/tutoring-request-form/
  • The Public Speaking Lab offers assistance to medical students seeking to develop effective speaking skills. The speech lab is a free service and provides an opportunity for individuals to brush up on this critical communication skill: https://cwoc.ufl.edu/programs/public-speaking-lab/about-the-public-speaking-lab/

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PA Students Learning with the Patient Simulator

Personal Resilience

  • The Office of Student Counseling & Development provides confidential, short-term, personal counseling to the graduate, medical, and physician assistant students in the College of Medicine: https://counseling.med.ufl.edu/
  • The UF Counseling & Wellness Center offers a number of mental health services for graduate students, including psychiatry and psychotherapy, groups, workshops, and other resources: https://counseling.ufl.edu/
  • All PA students in Florida who are struggling with a potentially-impairing condition have access to the resources offered by the Professionals Resource Network, Inc., which provides advocacy and monitoring services to help licensed health care professionals succeed in their path to recovery: http://www.flprn.org/
  • The Student Health Care Center offers primary and specialty care services for students at the University of Florida: http://shcc.ufl.edu/
  • UF GatorWell offers a number of health promotion services and resources for students in the UF Community and their spouses: http://gatorwell.ufsa.ufl.edu/
  • The UFCOM, UF Health, the University of Florida, and Alachua County/Gainesville have a huge variety of wellness-related resources available for medical students. Check out the Resources Hub here: https://wellness.med.ufl.edu/resources/
  • Access to 24/7 Crisis Services offered through U Matter We Care program: https://counseling.ufl.edu/services/crisis/