MD Program

Contact the PBA Program

1216 MERF
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2600
Phone:(319) 384-3027
Fax: (319) 335-8643

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    Exam Basics

    Students participate in one exam in five clerkships: Ambulatory Practice Module (APM), Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/Gyn), Psychiatry (Psych), Pediatrics (Peds), and Surgery, as well as the Physician Assistant (PA) Program. The aim of these examinations is to provide learners opportunities for focused practice, clinical feedback, patient-centered feedback, and an opportunity for remediation prior to the end of each primary care clerkship. 

    Exam dates and times are established by the clerkships, and occur during the last half of the clerkships. The exam times are set a year in advance and are not flexible. During an exam, a student will have between 2 and 4 encounters with Standardized Patients (SPs), depending on the size of the clerkship and its exam. Because of the complex nature of the exam, the exam will start at the posted time. If a student is delayed in reaching the test site, they will be admitted on arrival but any lost time cannot be made up.

    Each encounter lasts 15 minutes and is followed by a 10 minute "interstation activity" session. During the interstation session, a student might be asked to complete a written assignment (such as a clinical note), might complete a series of questions about conditions within the differential diagnosis, or could receive feedback from a faculty member who observed the encounter. Students are required to arrive 20 minutes prior to the start of the exam and stay 15 minutes after the completion of the exam.

    Please look below to see the current PBA exam schedule, tips on writing a clinical note and how to do well on the PBA exam .                          

     Clerkship                         Date                                      

     APM                            September 19, 2014

                                           December 12, 2014

                                            March 27, 2015

                                            June 27, 2015

     

    Neurology                 July 17, 2013  

                                          August 15, 2014

                                          September 12, 2014

                                           October 10, 2014

                                           November 7, 2014

                                           December 5, 2014

                                           January 23, 2015

                                            February 20. 2105

                                            March 20, 2015

                                            April 17, 2015

                                            May 15, 2015

                                            June 12, 2015

     

                OB/Gyn           August 7, 2104                      

                                             September 18, 2014              

                                             October 30, 2104                   

                                             December 11, 2104    

                                             February 12, 2105

                                             March 26, 2015

                                             May 7, 2015

                                             June 18, 2015            

                           

     

                Pediatrics        July 25, 2014 

                                             September 5, 2014                

                                             October 17, 2014                   

                                            December 5, 2014     

                                            January 30, 2015      

                                            March 13, 2015           

                                            April 24, 2015

                                             June 5, 2015

     

               Psychiatry       July 17 , 2014               

                                           August 14, 2014                    

                                           September 11, 2014                          

                                           October 9, 2014                                

                                           November 6, 2014                           

                                           December 4, 2014

                                           January 22, 2015       

                                           February 19, 2015

                                           March 19, 2015

                                           April 16, 2015

                                           May 14, 2015

                                           June 11, 2015                

               

                Surgery         July 18, 2014             

                                           August 29, 2014                               

                                           October 10, 2014                              

                                           November 21, 2014   

                                           January 23, 2015

                                           March 6, 2015

                                           April 17, 2015

                                           May 29, 2015

     

                 OB/Gyn      August 7, 2104                      

                                         September 18, 2014              

                                         October 30, 2104                   

                                         December 11, 2104    

                                         February 12, 2105

                                         March 26, 2015

                                         May 7, 2015

                                         June 18, 2015            

                                                     

     Psychiatry                 July 17, 2014       

                                            August 14, 2014                    

                                            September 11, 2014                          

                                            October 9, 2014                                

                                            November 6, 2014                           

                                            December 4, 2014

                                             January 22, 2015       

                                             February 19, 2015

                                             March 19, 2015

                                             April 16, 2015

                                             May 14, 2015

                                             June 11, 2015

     

     Pediatrics                        July 25, 2014

                                                   September 5, 2014                                               

                                                   October 17, 2014

                                                   December 15, 2014

                                                   January 30, 2015

                                                   March 13, 2015

                                                   April 24, 2015

                                                   June 5, 2015

     Surgery                            July 18, 2014

                                                  August 29, 20134

                                                  October 10, 2014

                                                  November 21, 2014

                                                  January 23, 2015

                                                  March 6, 2015

                                                  April 17, 2015

                                                  May 29, 2015

      PA Program                 September 19, 2014

                                                 December 12, 20134

                                                 March 27 2015

    Tips to Write a Post-Encounter Clinical Note

       You will be asked to write a clinical note immediately after some clinical encounters.  The time you have for the note is 10 minutes, the same amount of time as you will have for your USMLE 2 Clinical Skills Exam. If you finish your encounter with the Standardized Patient early, you may use the additional time for the note.

    You will be asked to type your patient notes using a standard template. The template is similar to the one you will use for the USMLE 2 Clinical Skills Exam. You can use either a narrative or checklist style for your note. You should record pertinent medical history and physical examination findings obtained during the encounter. If you complete a case for which no physical examination was necessary, leave that section of the patient note blank.

    You will also be asked to provide a differential (maximum of three diagnoses) for the patient.  The diagnoses should be listed in order of likelihood. You should also identify the pertinent positive and negative findings in the history and physical examination sections of your note that support each potential diagnosis you list. Finally, you will list the diagnostic studies you would order next for that particular patient. Treatment, consultations, or referrals should not be included.  If you have a case for which you think no diagnostic studies are necessary, write "No studies indicated" rather than leaving this section blank.

    Tips on How to Do Well on Your PBA Encounters

    1. Always read the patient summary page carefully. It contains information about the patient’s problem, the tasks you need to accomplish in the 15 minute encounter, and the role you are being asked to take on. It is wise to read it a second time just to be sure.

    2. In taking a patient’s history you want to collect useful information about the chief complaint. One way to guide your history taking is to use the “OLD CARTS” mnemonic:
    a. Onset
    b. Location & radiation
    c. Duration
    d. Character
    e. Aggravating/associated factors
    f. Relieving factors
    g. Temporal factors/course
    h. Severity

    3. Try to come up with a reasonable differential diagnosis early in the encounter. In fact, you are encouraged to look at the patient’s chief complaint before meeting the patient and jot down 5 to 7 diseases which could be responsible. While taking the patient’s history you should ask questions that will help you sort out the diseases in your differential.

    4. When performing your physical exam ask yourself how the information you are collecting will help you care for the patient. If you can’t come up with a good reason for doing a specific part of the PE it might not be worth your time to do the maneuver.

    5. Towards the end of our encounter with the patient, it is a good idea to share with the patient what you think is going on, what you plan to do next, and what the patient can anticipate will happen depending on whether they follow through with your suggestions.

    6. Use good communication skills while you interview the patient. This means starting information gathering with open-ended questions, asking concise and understandable questions, using smooth transition statements during the encounter, voicing empathy, summarizing the information back to the patient, and pacing the encounter skillfully so that the patient does not feel rushed or that there is too much silence. Your non-verbal skills are also important in communicating a professional demeanor to the patient.