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Self-Directed Learning in Physician Assistant Education: Learning Portfolios in Physician Assistant Programs

Neal, Jeremy H. MPAS, CCPA, CD; Neal, Laura D. M. MN, RN, CD

The Journal of Physician Assistant Education: December 2016 - Volume 27 - Issue 4 - p 162–169
doi: 10.1097/JPA.0000000000000091
Special Articles

Self-directed learning (SDL) portfolios are underused in the educational process and should be considered by physician assistant (PA) programs. Clinicians such as PAs are responsible for self-identifying their learning needs, competencies, and ongoing educational requirements. This article introduces an outline for SDL in the PA profession, for direct use by learners and indirect use by educators. Without a plan, many professionals may lack the insight, motivation, and knowledge needed to improve their skill set and establish goals for individual lifelong learning. This study conducted a review of the literature. Then, by incorporating SDL portfolios into PA educational methodologies, it constructed a concept map for individuals to monitor, self-direct, and actively participate in their own learning in academic settings and throughout their career.

Jeremy H. Neal, MPAS, CCPA, CD, is a physician assistant in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, with 21 years of military experience. He spent his final years of his military career working with the Canadian Forces Physician Assistant program and is currently pursuing further education.

Laura D. M. Neal, MN, RN, CD, is a medical-surgical nursing officer with the Canadian Armed Forces in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She holds a Master of Nursing specialising in Teaching and Learning and has worked extensively with the Canadian Forces Health Services educational system.

Correspondence should be addressed to: Jeremy H. Neal, MPAS, CD, CCPA, 14 Denham Way, Ottawa, ON K2S 1H6, Canada. Telephone: (613) 831-4094; Email:

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Copyright © 2016 Physician Assistant Education Association
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