How Residential Blocks Work

Aurthi recounts her experience in 1st year PA School at PA Consortium, debunking the myth that PA Consortium is 100% online.

Starts at 3:02

Residential Blocks

Residential blocks are where PA students come to Toronto for several weeks at a time for in-classroom learning.

Residential Blocks:

  • September – 4 weeks long – Intro to the PA Role
  • December – 1.5 weeks long  we had a wrap up for certain courses, followed by an introduction of courses that would be new to us in second semester before Christmas Break.
  • April – 2 weeks long
  • July – 2nd half of July
  • August  – first half of August

Between residential blocks is online learning

Moving on to online learning, that   fills in the gap between those Residential Blocks, and it’s a lot of self-learning.

You are given a set number of lectures and you do that on your own time. And the good thing about online learning is you get to schedule your own day. Tuesdays every week are designated for LCEs (longitudinal clinical experiences / clinical placements), then you have the other days of the week to work around that.

Most courses are delivered as recorded lectures

You then have weekly online meetings for each course to make sure you’re staying on top of things. And this could be through class discussion or this could be through quizzes to make sure you’re up to date. it helps yoy keep on top of things.

The time between residential blocks, that is, online learning is probably the time when most of the people fall behind. But you do have the in-class portions (residential blocks) where you are able to mingle with class.

How tests work in PA Consortium

For minor tests & quizzes, these are delivered online at home. However for tests you actually go to a proctor location. For those closer to Toronto, you go to a building University of Toronto’s campus and take the test. For people who are further away, the PA student actually sets up their “test taking” site, which is approved through the UofT PA program coordinator. Sometimes these “test” are  five minutes from home for the PA student. Sometimes these “test” sites are a bit of a longer drive. There’s a lot of flexibility and the program tries to make it work for you.

Making Arrangements to stay in Toronto for the Residential Blocks

AirBNB is a common, option for the students who are coming from afar. And I think from September residential block to December, there are a lot of people who start pairing with other classmates to get a place together. Choosing a location to stay means staying close to campus via walking, biking or subway. PA students try to book these accommodations as early as possible so that they can save some money.

Schedule During a Residential Block

Every day in a residential block is different.  Sometimes we have super long days where we start at 8 am  and we finish at 5pm. Or sometimes we have shorter days where we start around like 9 am or 10:30 am and we finish at 3pm.

Most of the days we have clinical skills. There are also dome days there is a lunch hour dedicated discussing and providing feedback

And there’s no fixed schedule per se for each week of the residential block. They usually try to post it before you come for the residential block so you can prepare for it on the weekend.

Screenshot of Aurthi’s Residential Block in December (1st year PA School)

A Week in the Life of a PA Student in a December Residential Block:

The major focus for December was clinical skills, specifically the female and male pelvis and then the biopsychosocial module. The next day we’d see SPs or standardized patients. We had our clinical skills exam, which had the EPBL, which is electronic problem based learning.

We had an Intro to Pharmacology Course and there’s this rational prescribing framework that the professor thought was very important that we address it in person that we can   have a conversation, which is probably a bit easier than online.

We had a curriculum committee meeting that the curriculum committee meeting rep went to, which is n “end of semester one” check in where students provide feedback.