Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

MS in Physician Assistant Studies (PA)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Eric Van Hecke, MPAS, PA-C, CAQ-EM, DMSc Candidate


Background: Experiential learning is part of the pedagogical model of educational theory. Instruction of students using this model has been shown to improve educational outcomes. Students learning medicine, with an emphasis on physician assistant students in this paper, have been traditionally taught in a lecture-based model following a more experiential model by beginning with didactic studies and then a period of time in clinical practice, respectively. This paper is intended to shed light on the current ways the experiential learning model is being utilized in medical education and in the development of educational objectives using student’s perspectives and unique learning styles. Purpose: To investigate the current literature on experiential learning and whether its use is beneficial in medical education and in particular, PA education. Methods: A comprehensive literature review was conducted using various databases focusing on literature discussing experiential learning pedagogy implementation during didactic phase of physician assistant and medical professional education. Exclusion criteria included articles published before 2017 (except for three articles used to give context to definitions and history of experiential learning theory), articles too specific to different pedagogical learning theories, and articles not related to experiential learning strategies applicable to students studying medicine. Databases used were Google Scholar, PubMed, National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), Health Affairs, Science Direct, and Journal of Physician Assistant Education (JPAE). Conclusions: Experiential learning theory has sufficient evidence to support that its use, in conjunction with traditional lecture-based learning, is beneficial to the education of students learning medicine. Introducing experiential learning in the didactic year of PA education may be more beneficial to students than the current one year didactic with primarily lecture-based learning, and one year clinical set-up.


SC 11.PAS.2023.Nyflot.JR