The didactic, or classroom, year of the MEDEX curriculum is designed to teach clinical reasoning skills by building a foundation of new clinical knowledge, and then applying this knowledge to clinical situations.  Summer quarter is a review of basic scientific concepts.  Autumn quarter teaches the skills of information gathering in a clinical setting with intensive history and physical exam instruction. Pathophysiology in autumn quarter adds the foundational information needed for understanding disease processes.  Winter and spring quarter cover the clinical diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders from all body systems.  By the end of spring quarter, students are able to perform a history and physical exam, identify differential diagnoses, arrive at the most likely diagnosis, and formulate a treatment plan for patient complaints that are commonly seen in primary care.

The method of teaching in the didactic year changes over the course of the quarters to enhance clinical reasoning skills.  All major body systems are taught once in anatomy and physiology, and repeated again in the basic clinical skills and pathophysiology courses.  In winter and spring, body systems are studied in blocks across the courses so that the content of each course is reinforced in the other courses.  Summer and autumn are fact- and skills-based courses where memorization and repetition are used to create the foundations needed for clinical care. Winter and spring use increasingly interactive methods for learning that include lectures from experts, small group work, team-based learning, problem-based learning and appreciative inquiry. Clinical reasoning problems are one example of assignments that cross courses to integrate knowledge and mimic patient care by walking through the assessment and treatment of a patient case that unfolds gradually. Faculty members are committed to making class time interesting and engaging while ensuring that all students learn medicine.

Click on the course name in the Didactic Timeline for details and a course description.

Didactic Timeline 

Summer Quarter (1st quarter) on campus in Seattle:

Course No.Name

Credit Hrs.

MEDEX 451/551Anatomy & Physiology

6

MEDEX 450/550Basic Science in Clinical Medicine

6

Autumn Quarter: 15 Credits

Course No.Name

Credit Hrs.

MEDEX 452/552Pathophysiology for Primary Care

6

MEDEX 453/553Basic Clinical Skills

5

MEDEX 457/557Behavioral Medicine I

2

MEDEX 470/570Professional Role Development I

1

MEDEX 473/573Technical Skills I

1

Winter Quarter: 19 Credits

Course No.Name

Credit Hrs.

MEDEX 454/554Adult Medicine I

7

MEDEX 456/556Maternal & Child Health I

3

MEDEX 458/558Behavioral Medicine II

2

MEDEX 460/560Principles of Patient Management

3

MEDEX 468/568Emergency Medicine I

2

MEDEX 471/571Professional Role Development II

1

MEDEX 474/574Technical Skills II

1

Spring Quarter: 19 Credits

Course No.Name

Credit Hrs.

MEDEX 455/555Adult Medicine II

7

MEDEX 462/562Maternal & Child Health II

3

MEDEX 472/572Professional Role Development III

1

MEDEX 459/559Behavioral Medicine III

2

MEDEX 461/561Principles of Patient Management II

3

MEDEX 469/569Emergency Medicine II

2

MEDEX 475/575Technical Skills III

1

Summer Quarter (second summer, master’s students only): 13 Credits

Course No.Name

Credit Hrs.

MEDEX 588Investigative Skills

5

MEDEX 540/541/542/543Focused Study Course

5

MEDEX 581Capstone Project I

3

 

Course Descriptions

Summer Quarter (1st quarter) on campus in Seattle: 12 credits

MEDEX 451/551: Anatomy & Physiology – 6 credits

Students are taught the anatomy and physiology of the following organ systems: endocrine, immune, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, gynecological, integumentary, musculoskeletal and neurological, with a focus on clinical examples of anatomic and physiologic principles encountered in primary care practice. The course is delivered partly online before arrival on campus, with two full weeks of in-class instruction and testing.

MEDEX 450/550: Basic Science in Clinical Medicine – 6 credits

This course is an intensive review of important basic science topics relevant to clinical medicine at the PA level. The material is necessary to the understanding and integration of information that will be presented throughout the remainder of the MEDEX curriculum. Topics include cell biology, genetics, immunology and microbiology. This course requires a short research paper.

Top

Autumn Quarter: 15 credits total

MEDEX 452/552: Pathophysiology for Primary Care – 6 credits

This course covers basic pathological and pathophysiological concepts of diseases commonly encountered in primary care practice. Pathophysiology is studied per organ system. Students will write a research paper.

MEDEX 453/553: Basic Clinical Skills – 5 credits

This course helps the student to develop mastery of a screening history and physical examination and thorough data-collection skills. In addition, students learn branching exams of the major organ systems, medical record-keeping and verbal presentation skills.

MEDEX 457/557: Behavioral Medicine I – 2 credits

Students learn process skills and interpersonal skills needed for a career in primary care practice with an emphasis on learning to efficiently guide clinical interviews and respond to patients’ emotional cues. Students will also learn assessment skills for the diagnosis of emotional problems and the management skills used in primary care practice to deal with these problems. Students will participate in an interview of a patient with a chronic mental illness.

MEDEX 470/570: Professional Role Development I – 1 credit

This course provides an opportunity to understand and develop relationships with other health professions; discover emerging issues in primary care across a wide range of urban and rural communities; and explore course topics through self-reflection essays and personal analysis.

MEDEX 473/573: Technical Skills I – 1 credit

Using lectures, simulation experiences and group exercises, this course introduces clinical reasoning, basic clinical procedures, laboratory medicine, radiology, and electrocardiography. Students will demonstrate the ability to assess a patient’s clinical condition using critical thinking skills that evaluate normal and abnormal findings associated with lab results, radiographs, and ECGs. The course includes simulation workshops, procedural demonstrations and lectures throughout the didactic year.

Top

Winter Quarter: 19 credits total

MEDEX 454/554: Adult Medicine I – 7 credits

This course provides a problem-oriented approach to the diagnosis and initial management of common primary care conditions. The organ systems covered in winter include eye-ear-nose-throat, rheumatology, gynecology, sexually transmitted disease, HIV, gastroenterology, orthopedics and hematology.

MEDEX 456/556: Maternal & Child Health I – 3 credits

This course introduces a systems-oriented approach to the diagnosis and initial management of common primary care problems in pediatrics and obstetrics. Topics include newborn, well-child, adolescent and sports exams as well as pediatric health maintenance and an overview of normal pregnancy and delivery in the primary care setting.

MEDEX 458/558: Behavioral Medicine II – 2 credits

This course provides in-depth coverage of common emotional problems seen in primary care. Specific topics include depression and mood disorders, HIV panel discussion, healthcare for people living homeless, chronic pain, sexual assault, sexual minorities, sleep medicine, anxiety disorders and PTSD, applied ethics. All students will participate in an interview of a patient with a chronic mental illness.

MEDEX 460/560: Principles of Patient Management I – 3 credits

This course teaches a systematic approach to patient management applicable to a primary care setting. The course is devoted to drug therapy and its administration. The organ-system approach generally matches the topic sequence in Adult Medicine I.

MEDEX 468/568: Emergency Medicine I – 2 credits

This course provides an approach to the diagnosis and management of common emergency conditions for primary care physician assistants. Topics include initial trauma assessment; multiple trauma to include head, spinal and abdominal trauma, eye-ear-nose-throat and dental emergencies, toxicology, orthopedic emergencies, psychiatric, cardiac, pulmonary, GU/gyn emergencies and shock.

MEDEX 471/571: Professional Role Development II – 1 credit

This course emphasizes knowledge, skills and attitudes for dealing with diverse population groups. Students will work in groups, focus on specific health and social parameters that are pertinent to a particular underserved population and make a presentation to their classmates.  Other topics include health care systems, use of medical interpreters and essentials of public health.

MEDEX 474/574: Technical Skills II – 1 credit

Using lectures, simulation experiences and group exercises, this course introduces clinical reasoning, basic clinical procedures, laboratory medicine, radiology, and electrocardiography. Students will demonstrate the ability to assess a patient’s clinical condition using critical thinking skills that evaluate normal and abnormal findings associated with lab results, radiographs, and ECGs. The course includes simulation workshops, procedural demonstrations and lectures throughout the didactic year. Workshops this quarter will include the gynecological exam, suturing and punch biopsy.

Top

Spring Quarter: 19 credits total

MEDEX 455/555: Adult Medicine II – 7 credits

This course provides a system-oriented approach to the diagnosis and initial management of common primary care conditions. The organ systems covered in spring include endocrinology, nephrology, urology, cardiology, dermatology, pulmonology and neurology.

MEDEX 462/562: Maternal & Child Health II – 3 credits

This course continues a system-oriented approach to the diagnosis and initial management of common primary care pediatric conditions. Topics include common respiratory, cardiac and dermatologic problems, and also issues of chronic illness in children.

MEDEX 472/572: Professional Role Development III – 1 credit

Current issues in healthcare delivery systems will be the focus of this quarter.  Topics include medical ethics, managed care, reimbursement, access and related issues.

MEDEX 459/559: Behavioral Medicine III – 2 credits

This course continues to provide in-depth coverage of common emotional problems seen in primary care. Specific topics include intimate partner violence, dementia, sexuality through the life span, substance abuse & alcoholism, the impaired provider, psychiatric and developmental disorders in children, somatization, and eating disorders.

MEDEX 461/561: Principles of Patient Management II – 3 credits

This course continues building on winter quarter material with a systematic approach to pharmacological therapies and follows the topic sequence of Adult Medicine.  It includes information on drug choice, drug administration and risk factor identification and reduction. Additional foci of the course include non-pharmacological therapies and an emphasis on health education and health promotion strategies.

MEDEX 469/569: Emergency Medicine II – 2 credits

Topics this quarter include chest trauma, environmental emergencies, pulmonary emergencies, genitourinary and gynecological emergencies including sexual assault, endocrine emergencies, neurological emergencies, cardiac emergencies including arrhythmias, and acute coronary syndrome, and toxicology.

MEDEX 475/575: Technical Skills III – 1 credit

Using lectures, simulation experiences and group exercises, this course introduces clinical reasoning, basic clinical procedures, laboratory medicine, radiology, and electrocardiography. Students will demonstrate the ability to assess a patient’s clinical condition using critical thinking skills that evaluate normal and abnormal findings associated with lab results, radiographs, and ECGs. The course includes simulation workshops, procedural demonstrations and lectures throughout the didactic year. Workshops this quarter will include the genitourinary exam, and casting and splinting.

Top

Summer Quarter (second summer, master’s students only): 13 credits total

MEDEX 588: Investigative Skills – 5 credits

The ongoing changes to healthcare delivery, continued advances in clinical research and publication, and evolution of the PA profession require that the modern clinician be able to locate, critically appraise, and apply current health research outcomes.  These skills are essential for PAs to remain up-to-date.  This course teaches basic concepts in measurement, biostatistics and epidemiology, and the skills needed to evaluate public health and biomedical research.  Through a series of lectures focused on research concepts, small group exercises, and online group discussions, students will acquire skills allowing them to review and evaluate current research results and apply reliable outcomes to their practice.

Focused Study Course – 5 credits

The focused study course will follow a small-group seminar format that allows students to select an area of special interest.  The various sections will share a common theme of providing high quality care within healthcare systems, but will diverge in focus and application. Students may select only one subject focus, and the different subject sections run concurrently.

Students will select one of the following options.

  • MEDEX 540: Healthcare for Rural and Medically Underserved Populations: This course will examine the nature and severity of disparities in health care access and delivery to rural and urban underserved populations.  Students will be challenged to consider these issues from the perspective of policy-makers as well as from the perspective as clinicians.
  • MEDEX 541: Public Health and Preventive Medicine:  This course will explore the principles, systems and practices of public health and preventive medicine at the local, state and national levels.  Students should recognize the breadth of health professions and how the interdisciplinary teams in which they work provide the structure for public health and preventive medicine at all levels of health care.
  • MEDEX 542: Academic Medicine and Specialty Practice:  Material will include faculty skill development, tools to thrive in an academic environment, interdisciplinary collaboration between primary care and specialty disciplines, and specialty practice at an academic medical center.
  • MEDEX 543: Global Health:  Material will include international healthcare systems, international models of healthcare professions, disease processes and management tools in developing countries, healthcare in areas experiencing armed conflict, promoting health and managing disease across borders, cultural competency, and national and international government and agency policy-making and its impact on care, quality and access.

MEDEX 581: Capstone Project I – 3 credits
Among the requirements for the master’s-level PA program is a Capstone Project.  Students will be expected to produce a finished product of sufficient depth and analytic rigor to demonstrate the independent thought appropriate to clinical master’s-level work.  Each student’s Capstone Project will relate to his or her focused study area. Students will work on their project over five quarters, beginning in the summer between the first (didactic) and second (clinical) years of the PA curriculum.  Students will plan and begin their project with input from faculty advisors.

Top