Essential Functions | Physician Assistant Studies

Essential Functions | Physician Assistant Studies

Essential Functions/Technical Standards of Physician Assistant Education; Admission and Retention Requirements

Introduction

Physician Assistant training is recognized as a broad-based process requiring the acquisition of general knowledge in all fields of medicine and of the basic skills required for the practice of medicine. The education of a Physician Assistant requires assimilation of knowledge, acquisition of skills, and development of judgment through patient care experience in preparation for semi-autonomous and appropriate decisions required in practice. They must have functional use of the senses of vision, hearing, smell, equilibrium, and taste. Their exteroceptor (touch, temperature, and pain) and proprioceptor (position, movement, pressure, stereognosis, and vibratory) senses must be sufficiently intact to carry out all of the activities listed below and in program materials. It is essential to require minimum technical standards in order for graduates to provide competent, effective, and safe patient care upon graduation from the program.

Policy

The Pacific University School of Physician Assistant Studies endeavors to select applicants who have the ability to become highly competent Physician Assistants. Admission and retention decisions are based on both satisfactory academic achievement and “non-academic factors” that involve physical, cognitive, and behavioral factors that serve to ensure that the candidate can complete the technical standards of the academic program required for graduation. Thus, it is important that persons admitted possess the intelligence, integrity, compassion, humanitarian concern, and physical and emotional capacity necessary to practice medicine.

The School of Physician Assistant Studies, as part of Pacific University and the College of Health Professions, is committed to the principle of equal opportunity. Pacific University School of Physician Assistant Studies does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, and disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran status. When requested, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to otherwise qualified students with disabilities. However, the safety and welfare of patients shall never be put in jeopardy as a result of an effort to reasonably accommodate a student.

The student must possess the ability, aptitude, and skills in the following areas:

  • Observation
  • Motor and sensory function
  • Effective communication
  • Intellectual (conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities for problem solving and diagnosis)
  • Ethical and professional behavioral and social attributes.

Observation

The student must be able to observe demonstrations, visual presentations in lectures and laboratories, and conduct experiments in the basic sciences including but not limited to laboratory evidence and microbiological cultures, microscopic studies of microorganisms, and tissues in normal and pathologic states. The student must be able to observe a patient accurately and completely at a distance and close at hand. These observations require the functional use and integration of vision, somatic sensation, and other sensory modalities.

Communication

The student must be able to speak to, hear, and observe patients in order to elicit information, perceive non-verbal communication, and describe changes in mood, activity, and posture. The student must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients in English. Communication includes not only speaking, but writing, reading, and computer literacy. Communication with other members of the health care team in oral, written, and electronic form must be effective and efficient.

Motor and Sensory Function

The student must have sufficient motor and sensory function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, and percussion as well as other diagnostic maneuvers. The student will be required to integrate and coordinate both gross and fine motor movements, equilibrium, and sensation.

The student must have sufficient motor function to execute movements required to provide general care and emergency treatment of patients. The student must have the motor skills, sensation, vision, and dexterity to perform basic laboratory tests (e.g., wet mounts, urinalysis, gram stain), diagnostic and therapeutic procedures (e.g., venipuncture, placement of catheters), and read electrocardiograms and x-rays. 

The student must have the ability to effectively manipulate equipment and instruments necessary to perform diagnostic tests (e.g., stethoscope, sphygmomanometers, tuning forks) and treatment modalities (suturing of wounds, casting of extremities). Such skills require the coordination of gross and fine motor movements, equilibrium, and functional use of vision and touch.

Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities

These abilities include measurement, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. The critical skill of problem solving requires each of these abilities to be implemented under pressure and with time constraints. The student must be able to comprehend three dimensional relationships and the special relationships of structures. The student must possess sufficient intellectual capacity to collect and analyze complex medical data, laboratory data, and verbal information to reach logical conclusions in a timely manner consistent with the clinical environment. The student must demonstrate the ability to identify complex problems and reach conclusions through reading and comprehension of technical materials, medical and/or laboratory information, medical texts, and journals.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

The student must be able to understand the basis and content of medical ethics. The student must possess attributes that include compassion, empathy, altruism, integrity, responsibility, and tolerance. The student must have the emotional health to function effectively under stress and to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

The student must possess the emotional stability for full utilization of their intellectual capacity, to exercise sound judgment and complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients. The student must be able to develop mature, sensitive, effective, and culturally appropriate relationships with patients, peers, faculty, members of the health care team, and their community. The student must possess the necessary mechanisms to accept criticism and respond in the appropriate manner. The student must possess the interpersonal skills necessary to interact in a positive manner with people from all levels of society, cultural backgrounds, and belief systems.

Synopsis of Essential Functions | Physician Assistant Studies

The following essential functions of medical education identify the requirements for admission and retention for the Pacific University School of Physician Assistant Studies. These functions refer to the physical, cognitive, and behavioral abilities required for satisfactory completion of all aspects of the curriculum and the development of professional attributes required by the faculty of all students at graduation. The essential abilities required by the curriculum are in the following areas:  motor, sensory, communication, intellectual (conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities for problem solving and diagnosis), and the behavioral and social aspects of the performance of a Physician Assistant.

  1. The Pacific University School of Physician Assistant Studies curriculum requires essential abilities in information acquisition. The student must have the ability to master information presented in coursework in the form of lectures, written materials, and projected images.
  2. The student must have the cognitive abilities necessary to master relevant content in basic science and clinical courses at a level deemed appropriate by the faculty. These skills may be described as the ability to comprehend, memorize, analyze, and synthesize material. The student must be able to discern and comprehend dimensional and spatial relationships of structures and be able to develop reasoning and decision-making skills appropriate to the practice of medicine.
  3. The student must have the ability to take a medical history and perform a physical examination. Such tasks require the ability to communicate with the patient. The student must also be capable of perceiving the signs of disease as manifested through the physical examination. Such information is derived from images of the body surfaces, palpable changes in various organs, and auditory information (patient voice, heart tones, bowel, and lung sounds).
  4. The student must have the ability to discern skin, subcutaneous masses, muscles, joints, lymph nodes, and intra-abdominal organs (for example, liver and spleen). The students must be able to perceive the presence or absence of densities in the chest and masses in the abdomen.
  5. The student must be able to communicate effectively with patients and family, physicians, and other members of the health care team. The communication skills require the ability to assess all information, including the recognition of the significance of non-verbal responses and immediate assessment of information provided to allow for appropriate, well-focused follow-up inquiry. The student must be capable of responsive, empathetic listening to establish rapport in a way that promotes openness on issues of concern and sensitivity to potential cultural differences.
  6. The student must, in a timely manner, be able to accurately process and communicate information regarding the patient's status to physician supervisors and other members of the health care team. This information needs to be communicated in a succinct yet comprehensive manner and in settings in which time available is limited. Written or dictated patient assessments, prescriptions, etc. must be complete and accurate.
  7. The student must be able to understand the basis and content of medical ethics. The student must possess attributes that include compassion, empathy, altruism, integrity, responsibility, and tolerance. The student must have the emotional stability to function effectively under stress and to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

Pacific University Learning Support Services

Services and reasonable accommodations are available to students covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additional information is available on the Pacific University Learning Support for Students with Disabilities (LSS) webpages. Students who require accommodations are strongly encouraged to contact LSS office at 503-352-2107 or email lss@pacificu.edu

Students who receive accommodations are strongly encouraged to discuss their needs with School Administration, appropriate Faculty and Adjunct Clinical Faculty preceptors.