Technical Standards

A Physician Assistant (PA) must have the knowledge and skill to practice in a variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of care based on the patient’s needs. In addition to academic achievements, exam results, and recommendations, physician assistant students must possess the physical, emotional, and behavioral capabilities requisite for the practice of medicine as a PA. In order to successfully complete the PA clinical training program, candidates and students must demonstrate proficiency in academic and clinical activities with regard to the competencies described below.


Candidates and PA students must have sufficient sensory capacity to observe in the classroom, the laboratory, the outpatient setting, and at the patient’s bedside. Sensory skills adequate to perform a physical examination are required including functional vision, hearing, smell, and tactile sensation. All these senses must be adequate to observe a patient’s condition and to accurately elicit information through procedures regularly required in a physical examination, such as inspection, auscultation, percussion, and palpation.


Candidates and PA students must be able to:

  • Communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and others in both academic and healthcare settings.
  • Speak clearly.
  • Communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written English with faculty and staff, patients, and all members of the health care team. Communication includes not only speech, but also reading and writing skills.
  • Demonstrate reading skills at a level sufficient to accomplish curricular requirements, provide clinical care for patients, and complete appropriate medical records, documents, and plans according to protocol in a thorough and timely manner.
  • Perceive and describe changes in mood, posture, activity, and interpret non-verbal communication signs.

Motor Coordination and Function

Candidates and PA students are required to possess motor skills sufficient to directly perform palpation, percussion, auscultation, and other basic diagnostic procedures; and execute motor movements reasonably required to provide basic medical care and emergency care to patients, including but not limited to:

  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • administration of intravenous medication
  • application of pressure to stop hemorrhage
  • opening of obstructed airways
  • suturing of simple wounds
  • performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers
  • negotiate patient care environments and must be able to move between settings, such as clinic, classroom, laboratory, and hospital
  • maintain sufficient physical stamina to complete the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study. Long periods of sitting, standing, or moving are required in classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of physician assistants, requires all of these intellectual abilities. Candidates and PA students must be able to:

  • measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize. 
  • interpret dimensional relationships, and understand the spatial relationships of anatomical structures.
  • search, read, and interpret medical literature.

The ability to incorporate new information from peers, teachers, and the medical literature in formulating diagnoses and plans is essential. To complete the Physician Assistant Studies Program, candidates must be able to demonstrate proficiency of these skills and the ability to use them together in a timely fashion in medical problem-solving and patient care.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Compassion, integrity, ethical standards, concern for others, interpersonal skills, and motivation are all personal qualities important to providing compassionate and quality patient care.

Candidates and PA students must:

  • possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the completion of all academic and patient care responsibilities.
  • develop mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients, faculty and other members of the health care team.
  • function in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical practice and adapt to changing environments.
  • possess flexibility, compassion, integrity, motivation, interpersonal skills, and concern for others.

Individuals with disabilities (as defined by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act) may be qualified for the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) program with the use of reasonable accommodations.  A student requesting accommodations will be required to provide documentation in the form of testing and/or medical opinions.  After reviewing that documentation the university may require him/her to submit to our own testing and/or medical evaluations.  To be qualified for the MPAS program, candidates and students must be able to meet both our academic standards and Technical Standards, with or without reasonable accommodation. Accommodation is viewed as a means of assisting students with disabilities to meet essential standards by providing them with an equal opportunity to participate in all aspects of each course or clinical experience. (Reasonable accommodation is not intended to guarantee that students will be successful in meeting the requirements of any one course or clinical education.)

The Use of Auxiliary Aids and Intermediaries

Qualified students with documented disabilities, who are provided with reasonable accommodations, may use an intermediary or an auxiliary aid. Such reasonable accommodations should be designed to help the student meet learning outcomes without eliminating essential program elements or fundamentally altering the MPAS curriculum. No disability can be reasonably accommodated with an intermediary that provides cognitive support or substitutes for essential clinical skills, or supplements clinical and ethical judgment. Thus, accommodations cannot eliminate essential program elements or fundamentally alter the MPAS curriculum.