Didactic Experience

During their first year at MEDEX—the didactic year—students spend the majority time in the classroom at the UW Health Sciences Building. The rigorous full-time coursework teaches the art of medicine such that students vastly increase their knowledge from their prior careers in healthcare. Outside the classroom, students are able to apply these new skills with retirement home volunteers, care for standardized patients, interview complex patients, and gain exposure to various medical procedures. The year includes two weeks of observation experiences with practicing PAs and MDs, reinforcing the classroom work and preparing students for the clinical year ahead.

What follows are some first-hand stories and videos about experiences in and outside the MEDEX classroom during the didactic year.



2018 Incoming Student Class

Something We Live and Breathe

On July 2nd, 2018, MEDEX Northwest welcomed 135 new students to the UW Medicine PA Education Program. Fully 32 percent were racial minorities, an important achievement for the school and the future of healthcare. In this increasingly diverse country, it’s important that providers reflect the patient population.

July 18, 2018 / Didactic Experience
Incoming Class 2017

MEDEX Incoming Class 2017: Healthcare As A Team Sport

Since 1969 MEDEX Northwest has admitted the best and brightest to its physician assistant program. This year saw 130 new individuals set aside the next two years of their lives to prepare for their place in the US healthcare system. Each was selected for their unique background and promise.

July 6, 2017 / Didactic Experience
Interprofessional Education

Making Things A Bit Easier For Everyone

For a second year now MEDEX PA didactic students have joined UW School of Dentistry students in the Mount Vernon, WA community to volunteer their services at a free dental clinic. This is interprofessional education at work, an opportunity for both groups to learn about one another in the service of patients in real need.

November 16, 2016 / Didactic Experience
MEDEX Tacoma Foot Project

MEDEX Tacoma Foot Project

Since 2014, the physician assistant students of the MEDEX Northwest Tacoma site have sponsored a homeless health project in partnership with Urban Grace Church. The objectives are simple: healthcare professionals tend to the feet of people who spend much of their days walking on the streets. MEDEX students get to practice their skills and provide care to those most in need. In this 9-minute video we gain intimate insight into individuals that we might otherwise pass by.

October 18, 2016 / Didactic Experience
Gwen Jackson

Hey, Maybe I Can Do That

Coming from a disadvantaged background gives Gwen Jackson empathy for others in similar straits. Now, as a MEDEX PA student, she’s working towards a healthcare career in primary care that will make the best use of her self-motivation and desire to be of service.

February 23, 2016 / Didactic Experience
Lois Thetford, PA-C

The Well-Child Workshop

Each year MEDEX Northwest offers the Well-Child Workshop to its physician assistant students across four sites. In this short video, faculty member Lois Thetford, PA-C, describes the thought and care that goes into teaching pediatric exams. PAs in training learn how to interact with children as patients through all stages of early development. Running time 9:50 minutes, color, HD format

February 2, 2016 / Didactic Experience

Engagement: Primary Relationships & Primary Care

What does it take to become a physician assistant? Apart from the basic clinical skills of medicine, one must cultivate trusting relationships with the patients. During their first year at MEDEX Northwest, PA students learn the necessary clinical skills in the classroom setting— taking a medical history, and conducting medical examinations. Then they apply this learning to their first patients: elderly, high-functioning residents at local retirement homes. Over seven weeks the students visit their assigned residents, applying their newly learned medical skills. Most importantly, the students develop relationships with their charge, discovering how to build patient rapport. In this video, we follow three first-year Seattle PA students as they move from classroom theory to patient engagement.

March 10, 2014 / Didactic Experience
Baby getting its heart checked

Heart Sounds Workshop

The Heart Sounds workshop is part of the autumn-quarter Basic Clinical Skills course at MEDEX. It provides students with the opportunity to learn about cardiac exams, and apply this knowledge to real patients with previously diagnosed heart murmurs. The hands-on experience allows students to interact with patients and faculty one-on-one. MEDEX Northwest works with community partners, like UW Neighborhood Clinics, to stage the clinical workshop for the purpose of training future physician assistants. Running time: 13:24 minutes, color, HD format

January 6, 2014 / Didactic Experience