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Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies


In keeping with an interprofessional framework and an active, adult-learning environment, the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies utilizes pedagogies that emphasize active learning. Each pedagogical approach employed requires significant independent study and preparation on the part of the students in order to successfully participate in active learning opportunities.

The curriculum is anchored in a hybrid case-based learning pedagogy known by its acronym, PEARLS (Patient-centered Explorations in Active Reasoning, Learning, and Synthesis). PEARLS is the primary teaching/learning practice which guides other learning activities and implements a flipped-classroom approach. It is the Graduate Nursing Program’s structural framework for case-based learning. The goal of PEARLS is for students to synthesize biomedical science in the context of clinical cases through higher order learning conversations in peer groups. Small group environments are critical to the delivery of case based learning sessions. In each group, the students determine learning objectives for a case, research material to discuss the objectives, and then participate in collating their collective knowledge into responses that meet the science and clinical learning objectives of the cases. The faculty facilitator serves as a resource for the student-led case session process and ensures that the learning objectives are covered in adequate detail. Following the completion of each week’s PEARLS cases, the students receive the cases’ expected learning objectives. This offers yet another opportunity for self-directed integration of curricular material. Through this process, students actively become adept in their thinking about scientific mechanisms and clinical signs and symptoms. This pedagogy is learner-centric and incorporates scientific knowledge, clinical reasoning, health promotion and prevention, social determinants of health and population health perspectives across the lifespan.

The Structure Lab provides students with an approach to the structure of the major regions and systems of the human body by integrating normal anatomy, gross pathologic and histological anatomy, medical imaging, ultrasound, and physical diagnosis. During each session, students rotate in small groups through a series of situations in which they are questioned socratically by clinical and basic science faculty members. The content of Structure Lab correlates closely with the material covered in PEARLS, Simulation, Clinical Skills and group sessions.

Simulation provides students the opportunity to actively apply pharmacologic and physiologic principles learned in the PEARLS cases to clinical scenarios. During these sessions and the debriefings that follow them, students identify, analyze and synthesize relevant information and translate it into an implemented action plan. The Clinical Skills Center allows students to develop and practice communication and physical diagnosis skills. During these sessions, students have the opportunity to self-assess and debrief with their longitudinal coaches and to incorporate that feedback in approaching the clinical situation once again. Both simulation and clinical skills session are used as opportunities for active clinical learning, as well as to assess students in both formative and summative fashions.

The fresh-frozen human tissue lab of Northwell Health will be used for hands-on simulation and surgical skills instruction and assessment. 

Interprofessional team learning, comprised of nurse practitioner students, medical students and physician assistant students will be conducted, where appropriate, throughout the program.