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PA Student Technical Standards

Cognitive, Physical, and Behavioral Skill Prerequisites

In order to prepare to be a successful entry-level physician assistant (PA), incoming and matriculated students in the Cedarville University PA Program must possess a minimal set of "technical skills" as defined below.

Technical skills involve the cognitive, physical, and behavioral abilities students must consistently demonstrate and further develop over time to achieve the needed knowledge, skills, and competencies to successfully complete the PA Program and enter the PA profession. The technical standards define expectations and abilities that are necessary for admitted and matriculated students to achieve the level of competency required for graduation and the practice of medicine. Cedarville's PA Program is committed to maintaining the integrity of the program by preserving those elements deemed essential to the education of a PA and not compromising the health and safety of other students or patients.

PA Program applicants and matriculating students must possess independent ability, aptitude, and skills in the following areas: observation, communication, critical reasoning, motor and sensory functions, and behavioral and social attributes outlined below.

Note: students must be able to meet all technical standards on their own, without using an intermediary (someone trained to assist the student with performing skills).


Observation Skills

Demonstrate sufficient and accurate observation skills in the classroom, laboratory, and patient care settings.

Students should meet the following indicators, among others:

  1. Observe accurately and participate with people in the lecture hall, laboratory, and clinic at a distance and close at hand including non-verbal and verbal signals.
  2. Distinguish accurately changes in color of fluids, skin, and diagnostic media exams.
  3. Recognize accurately text, numbers, patterns, graphic illustrations, and findings on X-ray and other imaging tests.
  4. Observe accurately a patient’s condition and active performance of procedures regularly required during a patient encounter.

Communication Skills

Demonstrate effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills with fellow students, faculty, patients, and healthcare practitioners with differing personalities, cultural backgrounds, and degrees and types of illness.

Students should meet the following indicators, among others:

  1. Speak the English language clearly, efficiently, and intelligibly.
  2. Write the English language legibly, efficiently, and intelligibly.
  3. Elicit information, observe changes in patient mood, activity, and posture, and perceive non-verbal communications.
  4. Prepare and communicate concise oral and written summaries of patient encounters in a timely manner.
  5. Provide clear counseling and instruction to patients and their families.
  6. Record examination and diagnostic results clearly, accurately, thoroughly, and efficiently in a timely manner.
  7. Use a language interpreter effectively to communicate with a non-English speaking patient.

Critical Reasoning Skills

Demonstrate critical reasoning skills required to complete the full curriculum, acquire the required level of competency, and meet the demands of total patient care. These skills include, among others, intellectual, conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities.

Students should meet the following indicators, among others:

  1. Able to read the English language accurately and efficiently.
  2. Able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate, and synthesize information.
  3. Able to comprehend the spatial relationships of structures (e.g., three-dimensional relationships).
  4. Able to acquire, retain, assimilate, and apply large amounts of complex, technical, and detailed medical information.
  5. Able to synthesize and apply concepts and information from various disciplines in order to formulate diagnostic and therapeutic plans.
  6. Able to show appropriate judgment in patient assessment, diagnosis, monitoring, evaluation, and intervention, including planning, time management, and use of resources.

Motor and Sensory Function Skills

Demonstrate sufficient motor and sensory function to perform regular tasks of PAs, including performing physical examinations, treatment interventions, and caring for patients, among others.

Students should meet the following indicators, among others:

  1. Perform an adequate and complete physical examination and elicit information gained from proper use of examination tools and maneuvers in a timely manner.
  2. Participate safely in laboratory sessions, use standard medical and surgical instruments, assess patients, care for patients, and perform basic diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers and procedures.
  3. Show safety and efficiency in the various learning settings (i.e., classroom, laboratories, and clinical settings), including appropriate negotiation of self and patients in various patient care environments.
  4. Discern and evaluate accurately various elements of the spoken voice (pitch, intensity, and timbre), percussive notes, and auscultatory findings.
  5. Maintain physical stamina required to complete a rigorous course of didactic and clinical study.
  6. Respond quickly and appropriately to emergency situations.

Behavior and Social Skills

Demonstrate the behavioral and social skills that are critical to participating in a professional program and serving as a practicing PA.

Students should meet the following indicators, among others:

  1. Demonstrate personal qualities that facilitate effective therapeutic interactions (e.g., compassion, empathy, integrity, honesty, benevolence, confidentiality).
  2. Possess the necessary emotional health to maintain full utilization of mental faculties (including judgment, orientation, affect, and cognition).
  3. Establish rapport and develop mature and effective professional relationships with faculty, patients, the public, and other members of the health care team.
  4. Demonstrate impartial motives and attitudes in roles, functions, and relationships. Communicate with and care for patients who are different or have different beliefs without partiality, including but not limited to gender, age, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, culture, creed, military status, sexual orientation or identity, and religious or spiritual beliefs.
  5. Monitor and react appropriately to your emotional needs and responses.
  6. Be flexible, adaptable, composed, and emotionally stable during periods of high stress or uncertainty that may occur with didactic and clinical experiences and environments.
  7. Follow directions accurately with prompt completion of all responsibilities in the classroom and clinical setting.
  8. Comply with standards, policies, and practices set forth by the University and PA Program.

Scope and Applicability

These technical standards are considered prerequisites for entrance, continuation, promotion, and graduation from the PA Program. Students must consistently demonstrate both the ability and willingness to adopt the recognized professional and technical standards of the Program and University. By applying to the Cedarville University PA Program, a prospective student, through self-evaluation, is declaring their willingness to so comply.

Students will be required to indicate their ability to meet these standards as a condition of acceptance and during registration each semester while matriculated in the PA Program. Students who are not able to fulfill these technical standards prior to enrolling or at any time while in the Program, with or without reasonable accommodation, will not be permitted to enter or progress within the program.