College of Health Sciences

Physician Assistant Program

Technical Standards

For students admitted to the program, the technical standards for admission set forth by the Physician Assistant program establish the essential qualities considered necessary to achieve the knowledge, skills and levels of competency stipulated for graduation by the faculty and expected of the professional program by its accrediting agency, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA).

All students admitted to the program are expected to demonstrate the attributes and meet the expectations listed below. These technical standards are required for admission and also must be maintained throughout a student’s progress through the Physician Assistant program.  During training, in the event that a student is unable to fulfill these technical standards—with or without reasonable accommodations—the student may be asked to leave the program.

  • Observation
    Students must be able to observe demonstrations, exercises and patients accurately at a distance and close at hand, and note non-verbal as well as verbal signals.
  • Communication
    Students should be able to speak intelligibly; hear sufficiently; elicit and transmit patient information in oral and written English to members of the health care team; describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and communicate effectively and sensitively with patients.  Students must possess demonstrated reading skills at a level sufficient to accomplish curricular requirements and provide clinical care for patients.  Students must be capable of completing appropriate medical records and documents and plans according to protocol in a thorough and timely manner.
  • Sensory and Motor Coordination and Function
    Students must possess motor skills sufficient to directly perform palpation, percussion, auscultation and other basic diagnostic procedures.  They must be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide basic medical care, such as airway management, placement of catheters, suturing, phlebotomy, application of sufficient pressure to control bleeding, simple obstetrical maneuvers, etc.  Such actions require coordination of gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.
  • Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities
    Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of Physician Assistants, requires that students have the ability to measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize.  Students must be able to independently access and interpret medical histories or files; identify significant findings from history, physical examination, and laboratory data; provide a reasoned explanation for likely diagnoses and prescribed medications and therapy, and recall and retain information in an efficient and timely manner.  The ability to incorporate new information from peers, teachers and the medical literature in formulating diagnoses and plans is essential.  Good judgment in patient assessment, as well as diagnostic and therapeutic planning, is essential.
  • Behavioral and Social Attributes
    Students must possess the ability to use their intellectual capacity, exercise good judgment, and promptly complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis under potentially stressful and/or emergency circumstances. They must also be able to develop empathic, sensitive and effective relationships with patients. They must be able to adapt to changing environments and to learn in the face of the uncertainties inherent in the practice of medicine.  Compassion, integrity, ethical standards, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admissions and educational process. The students must be able to use supervision appropriately and act independently when indicated.

Candidates accepted for admission to the Physician Assistant program will be required to verify that they understand and meet these technical standards. Admission decisions are made on the assumption that each candidate can meet the technical standards without consideration of disability.

Letters of admission will be offered contingent on either a signed statement from the applicant that she/he can meet the program’s technical standards without accommodation, or a signed statement from the applicant that she/he believes she/he can meet the technical standards if reasonable accommodation is provided.

The University reserves the right of final determination for applicants requesting accommodations to meet the program’s technical standards. This includes a review of whether the accommodations requested are reasonable, taking into account whether the accommodation would jeopardize patient safety, or the educational process of the student or the institution, including all coursework and internships deemed essential to graduation.

The Center for Personal and Professional Development and the Physician Assistant program will jointly determine what accommodations are suitable or possible in terms of reasonable accommodation, and will render the person capable of performing all essential functions established by the program.