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Hi everyone, I'm hoping for some advice in an area with which I am not familiar. I am starting physician assistant school in a few weeks and I'm very interested in emergency medicine. Some of the ER docs who I was previously working with as a scribe have offered to allow me to return to the ER on weekends as my schedule allows to get some practice doing histories, physicals and learning basic procedures on real patients --- sort of like a clinical rotation, I suppose, with the MD in the exam room, watching and listening the entire time. 

 

I am planning to take them up on this generous offer, as I am eager to learn and I want as much exposure to the ER as possible while i am in school. However, I would hate for one of the doctors to be held 100% accountable if I were to make a serious mistake. Is there such a thing as malpractice insurance for physician assistant students? If so, which insurance company has the best reputation for this purpose?

 

Thank you in advance for your help!  

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Your school maintains adequate insurance for you. However, they won't cover you unless you're on an assigned rotation or other activity supervised by a licensed faculty member (including adjunct clinical faculty, i.e. preceptors)

 

I'm not sure what the law is in your state, but I don't think personal malpractice insurance for you is 1) available or 2) would solve the hypothetical problem you're worried about.

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This sounds sketchy from a legal standpoint. You're not going to be on an official rotation. You obviously won't have a license. Really, all you should be doing is shadowing type activities. I mean they don't let scribes suture I'm assuming.... and as a first year (not on an official rotation), in my opinion, there's really no difference.

 

Now on the positive side, this is a generous proposal from these docs. Indicates that they think highly of you. Keep lines of communication open, especially if you're interested in emergency medicine!

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I did something similar to you, but it was Ortho instead.  I returned during Christmas break for a week or two and did a "mini-rotation" before I started clinical rotations that following February.  I pretty much just went in a got the history and did a brief physical exam. I presented the patient to the physician and said what my thoughts were regarding the diagnosis and plan.  He would then go in the room with me and repeat everything. I didn't do any of the procedures but he walked me through each one so by the time I had my real Ortho rotation I was doing joint injections by day 2.  It was really helpful but idk about insurance. As long as you don't do any actual procedures or anything, you should be fine but I'm really not sure. 

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I find it funny that I stumbled across this malpractice insurance website from a non-associated dermPA post almost immediately after reading this....

 

There is a link directly to this malpractice insurance site from the AAPA website.....

It has FREE PA student coverage for what you're talking about. I honestly don't know anything about this company - maybe some more seasoned PAs can chime in as to whether it's good or not! I see that they got an A+ on the Better Business Bureau, too, if that helps. 

 

Keep in mind, with further digging I see it is a CLAIMS made policy....

 

Here's the link:

https://www.cmfgroup.com/pa/

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I find it funny that I stumbled across this malpractice insurance website from a non-associated dermPA post almost immediately after reading this....

 

There is a link directly to this malpractice insurance site from the AAPA website.....

It has FREE PA student coverage for what you're talking about. I honestly don't know anything about this company - maybe some more seasoned PAs can chime in as to whether it's good or not! I see that they got an A+ on the Better Business Bureau, too, if that helps. 

 

Keep in mind, with further digging I see it is a CLAIMS made policy....

 

Here's the link:

https://www.cmfgroup.com/pa/

 

Good tip! I'm a little wary of the fact that it doesn't cost anything - I would have expected a discounted rate for students, but not completely free. Sounds a bit too good to be true haha. I'll have to research this a bit more, but it sounds like it is worth looking into. Thank you!  

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I find it funny that I stumbled across this malpractice insurance website from a non-associated dermPA post almost immediately after reading this....

 

There is a link directly to this malpractice insurance site from the AAPA website.....

It has FREE PA student coverage for what you're talking about. I honestly don't know anything about this company - maybe some more seasoned PAs can chime in as to whether it's good or not! I see that they got an A+ on the Better Business Bureau, too, if that helps. 

 

Keep in mind, with further digging I see it is a CLAIMS made policy....

 

Here's the link:

https://www.cmfgroup.com/pa/

 

Better Business Bureau doesn't mean anything. Companies pay to be on there. If you research the BBB, you'll see that the whole thing is pretty much a scam.

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Regardless of the good intentions of the docs it sounds like they haven't thought this through fully.  You should, in theory, get plenty of exposure to taking H&P during your program (I'm one semester in and it has been heavily emphasized).  

 

Additionally, doing H&P before you even know what to do sounds counter productive - for you, the patient, and the doc.  It's one thing to have a PA student who is ready for clinical rotations after didactic year spending time in an ER taking H&P and presenting to a doc or PA but to have a brand new student who has no formal education under their belt attempting it....well if I were a patient I'd be less than impressed with 'PA students' who seemingly learned nothing before sent on rotations (remember, they don't know our process and wouldn't expect to see a student who is just starting school).  

 

Instead of jumping on this opportunity that you think sounds great for you, the best thing to do might be to evaluate the whole situation and consider what is best for everyone involved - perhaps shadowing or scribing would be more legally productive for everyone (including the patient) and you can still learn and see a lot in an ER.  

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