Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc)


Department of Physician Assistant Medicine

First Advisor

Heather Rollins, DMSc, PA-C

Second Advisor

Curt Stilp, EdD, PA-C

Third Advisor

Justin Gambini, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA



The future of healthcare relies upon how we train student clinicians. It is integral to continually reevaluate our methodologies of teaching and work to better approach the challenging task of educating competent and compassionate physician assistants in a short two-to-three-year window. While the traditional modality of teaching has been primarily lecture-based, there has been a growing movement to incorporate active learning into medical education. This learner-driven model puts students in the driver’s seat and allows for greater amounts of self-directed learning prior to class followed by the reinforcement of concepts during class time. Though lecture-based teaching could be the approach of choice by the majority of medical programs due to perceived simplicity and ease, active learning is not as complicated as one may think and has the versatility to be integrated in a number of ways. Student engagement drives knowledge retention, and the more students are able to retain, the greater success they will have in clinical rotations and in their first years as clinicians.

Currently, the literature supports active learning over conventional learning, but there are few articles describing how active learning can actually be implemented into medical education. The goal of this review is to reappraise the benefits of active learning and then describe ways to meaningfully integrate different forms of active learning into the physician assistant program didactic curriculum.