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Physician Assistant: Getting Started

Resources and links for the Physician Assistant program at Springfield College.

National PA Day Health Fair at Springfield College (ca. 1990). Courtesy of Springfield College, Archives and Special Collections.

About this research guide

This guide will help you navigate library services, use databases to locate scientific journal articles, news and magazine articles, find books and ebooks, use evidence-based practice resources, and find tips for using the internet wisely in your field.

The tabs on the side of the page will help you navigate between topics. Please contact me, your librarian, with any questions you might have (see contact info in the box to the left).

Have questions? Need assistance?

As the librarian serving as the subject specialist for the Physician Assistant Program, I help students (and faculty) at all levels with:

  • Helping you plan your research strategy: what information you need, where to find it, and how to access and use it efficiently
  • Database searching tips and tricks
  • Distinguishing between types of scientific articles and reference sources
  • Tracking down books and the full text of articles from other libraries
  • Purchasing materials for the library with input from students and faculty
  • Group instruction and one-on-one consultations

Why can't I just use Google?

Google is great at finding information from many different places very quickly.  It can be a great tool when looking for certain types of information--think finding hours for your favorite pizza place or a local news report.  When it comes to research within your field, though, Google tends to fall short.  There are three main reasons for this:

  1. Lack of quality control.  Google provides many results, but gives no indication of whether the results are scholarly or not.  Most often, Google Search results will not be peer-reviewed (If you don't know this phrase, that's ok! See your Research Glossary) and not fit to use in your work.  
  2. Lack of access.  When you do find scholarly sources through Google (typically through Google Scholar), it is likely you will not be able to access the full text of that item.  The library picks the best resources for your field so that you can access it directly.  When we don't have a book or article available, we can usually request it from another library to have sent to you!
  3. Biased search results.  Google tailors its search results to the user, meaning any results you find could be biased.  You might see results that favor your opinion or that are promoted by businesses through Google.  In your work, you should always be looking at all sides of an issue before coming to a conclusion--something you can't do if your research eliminates certain perspectives from the start!

Would you want your doctor to be treating you based only on Google research?

Keep reading to learn how to find better results through library resources!

	 Photograph of a female Springfield College physician assistant student taking an older woman's blood pressure. The older adult is sitting in a hospital-like bed and wearing a hospital gown. The photograph is in black and white.

Image credit: Courtesy of Springfield College, Archives and Special Collections