All candidates must meet certain health and technical standards to participate in the physician assistant educational programs. Graduation signifies the graduate is prepared for entry into the practice of medicine as a physician assistant with the requisite knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and provide a wide spectrum of patient care.
A candidate for the physician assistant degree must have abilities and skills in five areas: Observation, Communication, Motor, Conceptual, Intellectual, and Behavioral. Technological compensation can be made for some disabilities in certain areas, but for the majority, the candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. The use of a trained intermediary requires a candidate's judgment to be mediated by someone else's power of selection and observation and is not a permissible accommodation.
Observation: Observation requires the functional use of vision and somatic sensations. The candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and experience lessons in the basic sciences including, but not limited to, physiological and pharmacological demonstrations in animals, microbiologic cultures, and microscopic studies of tissues in normal and pathologic states. A candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand. Observation is enhanced by functional use of the sense of smell.
Communication: A candidate should be able to speak, hear and observe in order to elicit information, describe changes in moods, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team.
Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers. This includes performance of basic laboratory tests (urinalysis, CBC, etc.) and may also include diagnostic procedures (proctoscopy, paracentesis, etc.) and reading EKGs and X-rays. A candidate should be able to execute movements which are reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required include the application of pressure to stop bleeding, the opening of obstructed airways, and the performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.
Intellectual: Candidates should possess Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities. These include obtaining measurements and performing calculations, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of physician assistants, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, candidates should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand spatial relationships of structure.
Behavioral: Candidates must have sufficient emotional health required for full use of their intellectual abilities in the exercise of good judgment and prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients in a mature, sensitive and effective relationship to patients. Candidates must be able to function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities which are assessed during the admission and education process.