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Haley Ann Cameron; MacLean, Michael MS, PA-C; Bierman, Jennifer MD; Martini, Mary C. MD; Vozenilek, John MD; Kwasny, Mary J. ScD; McGaghie, William C. PhD; Robinson, June K. MD
The Journal of Physician Assistant Education: 2012


The objective was to identify first-year physician assistant (PA) students' and thirdyear medical students' knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about melanoma and to assess an educational intervention.


Thirty first-year PA students and 29 third-year medical students (M3) at Northwestern University completed a questionnaire on participants' views of barriers and facilitators to performing melanoma screening. The students were given a pretest with a melanoma education model trainer to identify suspicious lesions, and following an educational intervention, students were given a posttest model trainer assessment.


Apart from time constraints (87% PA; 79% M3) and comorbidities (53% PA; 57% M3), lack of training was a frequently reported barrier to performing opportunistic surveillance (27% PA; 31% M3). Commonly reported facilitators included identification of patients at high risk for developing melanoma (60% PA; 69% M3) and skin-examination training to recognize melanoma (67% PA; 55% M3). With the melanoma trainer pretest, 35% of PA students and 27% of M3 students identified all of the melanomas (P = .61). Following educational intervention, 67% of PA students and 10% of M3 students identified all of the melanomas (P < .01). PA student identification of melanoma significantly increased from pretest to posttest (P = .035), while M3 decreased, but not appreciably (P = .063).


Education in melanoma detection may enhance the students' cognitive and technical skills necessary to perform accurate opportunistic surveillance. Although PA and medical students reported the same significant barriers and facilitators to performing skin exams, there was a difference in implementation of skills and in the management decisions.

Correspondence should be addressed to:

Michael MacLean, MS, PA-C

Physician Assistant Program

Department of Medical Education

Northwestern University Feinberg

School of Medicine

710 North Lake Shore Drive

Abbott Hall, 4th Floor

Chicago, Illinois 60611

Telephone: (312) 503-4926


Copyright © 2012 Physician Assistant Education Association

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