Physician Assistant Technical Standards
Minimum Technical Standards for Admission, Continuation, And Graduation
In addition to the academic standards, students will be expected to meet the following minimum technical standards in order to successfully complete the program. Technical standards define the attributes that are considered necessary for students to possess in order to complete their education and training, and subsequently, enter clinical practice. These standards are prerequisites for entrance, continuation, and graduation from the Springfield College Physician Assistant Program.
Students must possess aptitude, ability, and skills in five areas:
- sensory and motor coordination and function
- integration, and quantitation
- behavioral and social attributes
The functions described below are critically important to the student and must be autonomously performed by the student. It should be understood that these are standards for minimum competence in the program.
Students must be able to observe demonstrations and conduct experiments in the basic sciences including, but not limited to, chemical, biological, anatomic and physiologic sciences, microbiologic cultures, and microscopic studies of microorganisms. Students must be able to observe intracellular details through a microscope, observe demonstrations in the classroom including films, projected overheads, and slides or other forms of visual presentation.
Students must be able to accurately observe a patient near and at a distance, noting nonverbal, as well as verbal signs. Specific vision related criteria include, but are not limited to, detecting and identifying changes in color of fluids, skin, culture media, visualizing and discriminating findings on x-rays and other imaging tests, and reading written and illustrated materials. Students must be able to observe and differentiate changes in body movement, observe anatomic structures, discriminate among numbers and patterns associated with diagnostic tests such as electrocardiograms and electroencephalograms, and competently use diagnostic instruments such as otoscope, ophthalmoscope, and microscope.
Students must be able to effectively relate to patients, conveying a sense of compassion and empathy. They must be able to clearly communicate with patients in order to elicit information, accurately describe changes in mood, activity, and posture of patients, and understand verbal as well as nonverbal communication.
Communication includes not only speech, but reading and writing. Physician assistant education presents exceptional challenges in the volume and breadth of required reading in order to master the subject area and to impart information to others. Students must be able to communicate quickly, effectively and efficiently in oral and written English in the classroom and later, with all members of the health care team. Specific requirements include, but are not limited to the following: rapidly and clearly communicating with the medical team on rounds or elsewhere, eliciting an accurate history from patients, and communicating complex findings in appropriate terms to patients and to various members of the health care team. Students must learn to recognize and promptly respond to emotional communications such as sadness and agitation.
Students must be able to read and efficiently, accurately, and legibly record observations and plans in legal documents such as the patient record. Students must be able to prepare and communicate concise but complete summaries of individual encounters and complex, prolonged encounters, including hospitalizations. Students must be able to complete forms according to directions in a complete and timely fashion.
Sensory and Motor Coordination or Function
Students must possess sufficient sensory and motor function to perform physical examinations using palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. This requires sufficient exteroceptive sense (visual and auditory, touch, pain, and temperature), proprioceptive sense (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis, and vibration), and motor function.
Students must be able to evaluate various components of the spoken voice such as pitch, intensity, and timbre. They must also be able to accurately differentiate percussive notes, auscultatory findings, including but not limited to, heart, lung, and abdominal sounds. Students must be able to accurately discern, through the auditory sense, normal and abnormal findings using instruments including, but not limited to tuning forks, stethoscopes, sphygmomanometers, Doppler devices, or auditory alarms.
Students should be able to execute motor movements to provide general care and emergency treatments to patients. The student, therefore, must be able to respond promptly to urgencies within the hospital or practice setting, and must not hinder the ability of their co- workers to provide prompt care. Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required of a physician assistant include arriving quickly when called and assisting in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), administering intravenous medications, applying pressure to arrest bleeding, maintaining an airway, suturing uncomplicated wounds, and assisting with obstetrical maneuvers. As further illustration, CPR may require safely moving an adult patient, applying considerable chest pressure over a prolonged period of time, forcefully delivering artificial respiration and calling for help.
Students should be able to perform basic laboratory tests such as wet mount, urinalysis, gram stain etc., and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures such as phlebotomy, venipuncture, placement of catheters and tubes. The administration of intravenous medications requires a certain level of dexterity, sensation, and visual acuity. Students must be able to measure angles and diameters of various body structures using a tape measure or other devices, measure blood pressure, respiration, and pulse, and interpret graphs describing biologic relationships.
Clinical rotations in ambulatory care settings require the ability to transport oneself to a variety of settings in a timely manner, while inpatient rounds require prolonged and rapid ambulation.
Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities
Problem-solving, a critical skill demanded of physician assistants, requires intellectual abilities which must be performed quickly, especially in emergency situations. These intellectual abilities include numerical recognition, measurement, calculations, reasoning, analysis, judgment, and synthesis. Students must be able to identify significant findings from the patient’s history, the physical examination and laboratory data, provide a reasoned explanation for likely diagnoses, and choose appropriate medications and therapy.
The ability to incorporate new information from many sources in formulating diagnoses and plans is essential. Good judgment in patient assessment, diagnostic and therapeutic planning is primary. When appropriate, students must be able to identify and communicate the limits of their knowledge to others.
Behavioral and Social Attributes
Students must possess the emotional health required for full use of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities associated with the diagnosis and care of patients and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients. Empathy, integrity, honesty, concern for others, good interpersonal skills, interest in people, and motivation are personal qualities that are required. Students must possess the ability to monitor and react appropriately to one’s own emotional needs and responses. For example, students need to maintain emotional demeanor and organization in the face of long hours, fatigued colleagues, and dissatisfied patients.
Students must be able to develop professional relationships with their colleagues, as well as with patients, providing comfort and reassurance to patients when appropriate, while protecting patient confidentiality. Students must possess endurance to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. All students are at times required to work for extended periods of time, occasionally with rotating schedules. Students must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the practice of medicine. Students are expected to accept suggestions and criticisms and if necessary, to respond by modification of behavior.