Advanced physical assessment class


Hey everyone,

When you took your advanced physical assessment course, was it mainly in person or was it online?

I feel like this class is SO important and it is primarily online. There are power point lectures and things but for the most part I feel like I have to teach this information myself. For the lab portion, we only meet a few times during the semester - once for orientation/HEENT exams, another for a standardized patient, male/female GU exams and then for our final head-to-toe examination check off. In between all of that we have open lab where we can sign up, come in and practice with partner...I guess faculty will be there to answer any questions we have regarding technique.

I just feel like this class should be more than just online. Other than going in and practicing, any tips on being successful?

Specializes in Adult Nurse Practitioner. Has 40 years experience.

Are you not doing any clinicals during this? I did as well as campus time and testing through demonstration.

Specializes in ER, progressive care. Has 7 years experience.

No clinicals while in this course. I don't start clinical until January 2017.

Specializes in Critical Care and ED. Has 34 years experience.

My class used Shadow Health which was a simulated patient experience. We had to interview the virtual online patient and ask multiple questions and write a SOAP note, as well as doing a simulated physical assessment on them. It was a very time consuming experience because you literally had to ask everything you could think of. Every week we'd also meet for a lab where we would learn to assess one new body system each time which was cumulative, meaning every week we'd have to incorporate all the things we'd learned in the previous week and add the new content, and we had to perform a physical assessment on our fellow students. At the end we had a timed physical assessment examination. We would also have a lecture in the morning. It was a very tough class. I would say that it was the toughest class I've done so far as it was so intensive and the professor was a tough cookie. I learned a lot though, and couldn't imagine becoming a good provider without being able to learn those skills in person.


181 Posts

Specializes in OR Nursing, Critical Care, Med-surg. Has 4 years experience.

My program has an advanced health assessment clinical and an advanced skill/procedure clinical; both require mandatory clinical hours with approved preceptors. We also have a mandatory 2-day on-campus skill lab.


359 Posts

What the OP described is pretty common. The online part of the class is really just explaining the ideas behind assessment techniques and the various findings (hopefully challenging you to think about what the mean especially in terms of ddx). For the skills side, there's only so many times a faculty member can watch you check cranial nerves or palpate the abdomen. It's really up to students to take the responsibility to practice these skills till you feel you can use them reliably. Doing that really doesn't matter re:online or in-person. Practice on other students is great cause you can help each other out and give feedback but it also runs the risk of the blind leading the bind.

Basically, what you want to come away from health assessment with is the ability to do a comprehensive history and physical exam, document it, and understand what normal and abnormal findings might indicate. Clinical time is fine but if it's not included (which it very often isn't), you'll be plenty of time to do exams once you enter clinical. There you'll be exposed to much more variety with a preceptor who can work more closely with you. The point is that you have the skills. The practice comes much more when you integrate that into patient care.