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Physician Assistant Technical Standards

The Physician Assistant certificate/ Master of Physician Assistant degree signifies that the graduate is prepared for entry into the practice of medicine. It follows that the graduate must have the skills and knowledge to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. It is essential for good patient care to require minimum standards for the education of the physician assistant. In the admission process, the University must judge not only the scholastic accomplishments and potential of the applicant, but also consider the applicant's current physical and emotional status, cumulative and progressive disability, and drug-induced impairments that may pose obstacles to the safe application of the student's knowledge and skill or prevent effective interaction with patients and co-workers.

Applicants are reviewed individually and on a case-by-case basis using the factors listed below. In accordance with University policy and as delineated by Federal and California law, the University does not discriminate in admission, educational programs or employment against any individual on the basis of that individual's handicap or disability and will make good faith efforts at providing reasonable accommodation as required.

Candidates for the Physician Assistant Program must possess the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze and synthesize data. They must have functional use of the senses of vision, hearing, equilibrium and taste. Their exteroceptor (touch, pain, and temperature) and proprioceptor (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis, and vibratory) senses must be sufficiently intact to enable them to carry out all the activities required to complete the activities described below. Candidates must have sufficient motor function capabilities to meet the demands of the PA program and the demands of total patient care. They must be able to complete the didactic and clinical curriculum in its entirety.

The candidate for the PA program must possess ability, aptitude and skills in five areas: observation, communication, motor, intellectual, behavioral and social.

  1. Observation: The candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences, visual presentations in lectures and laboratories, laboratory evidence and microbiologic cultures, microscopic studies of microorganisms, and tissues in normal and pathologic states. A candidate should be able to observe a patient accurately and completely at a distance and close at hand. Observation necessitates the functional use the sense of vision and somatic sensation and is enhanced by a sense of smell.
  2. Communication: A candidate should be able to speak, to hear, and to observe patients in order to elicit information, perceive non-verbal communication, describe changes in mood, activity and posture. A candidate should be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. Communication includes not only speech but reading and writing. Communication in oral and written form with the health care team must be effective and efficient.
  3. Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should be able to carry out basic laboratory tests (urinalysis, CBC, wet mount, gram stain, etc.) carry out diagnostic and therapeutic procedures ( phlebotomy, venipuncture, placement of catheters and tubes), and read ECG's and X-rays. A candidate should have motor function sufficient to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment for patients. Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required of a physician assistant are cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administration of intravenous medications, the application of pressure to arrest bleeding, the opening of obstructed airways, the suturing of simple wounds and the performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers. Such skills require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.
  4. Intellectual - Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of PA's requires all these abilities. The candidate must also be able to comprehend three dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.
  5. Behavioral and Social Attributes: A candidate should possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients. Candidates should be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads, and to function effectively under stress. They should be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainty inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that are assessed during the Admission and education processes.