Technical Standards/Competencies

To meet requirements for entrance and progression in the MSPAS program, candidates and students must demonstrate the ability to meet the following technical standards:

  • Sufficient capacity for observation in academic, clinical, and other medical settings; functional vision, hearing, and tactile sensation sufficient to observe a patient's condition and perform procedures regularly required during a physical examination
  • Effective written and verbal communications skills sufficient to both academic and healthcare settings
  • Sufficient motor function to carry out movements necessary for patient diagnosis and care; for free movement in patient care and between facilities and buildings in academic and healthcare environments; physical stamina to complete didactic and clinical coursework
  • Sufficient intellectual ability to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, and synthesize, in the context of medical problem-solving and patient care
  • Sufficient emotional health and stability required for exercising good judgment and promptly completing all academic and patient care responsibilities
The following are graduation competencies required by the MSPAS program:

Medical knowledge includes an understanding of pathophysiology, patient presentation, differential diagnosis, patient management, surgical principles, health promotion, and disease prevention. Physician assistants must demonstrate core knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care in their areas of practice. In addition, physician assistants are expected to demonstrate an investigatory and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations. Upon completing the Misericordia University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, graduates are expected to:
  • Evaluate etiologies, risk factors, underlying pathologic process, and epidemiology for medical conditions
  • Identify signs and symptoms of medical conditions
  • Select and interpret appropriate diagnostic or lab studies
  • Manage general medical and surgical conditions to include understanding the indications, contraindications, side effects, interactions, and adverse reactions of pharmacologic agents and other relevant treatment modalities
  • Identify the appropriate site of care for presenting conditions, including identifying emergent cases and those requiring referral or admission
  • Identify appropriate interventions for prevention of conditions
  • Identify the appropriate methods to detect conditions in an asymptomatic individual
  • Differentiate between the normal and the abnormal in anatomic, physiological, laboratory findings, and other diagnostic data
  • Appropriately use history and physical findings and diagnostic studies to formulate a differential diagnosis
  • Provide appropriate care to patients with chronic conditions
Interpersonal and communication skills encompass verbal, nonverbal and written exchange of information. Physician assistants must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, their patients' families, physicians, professional associates, and the healthcare system. Upon completing the Misericordia University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, graduates are expected to:
  • Use effective listening, nonverbal, explanatory, questioning, and writing skills to elicit and provide information
  • Appropriately adapt communication style and messages to the context of the individual patient interaction
  • Work effectively with physicians and other health care professionals as a member or leader of a health care team or other professional group
  • Apply an understanding of human behavior
  • Demonstrate emotional resilience and stability, adaptability, flexibility, and tolerance of ambiguity and anxiety.
  • Accurately and adequately document and record information regarding the care process for medical, legal, quality, and financial purposes
Patient care includes age-appropriate assessment, evaluation, and management. Physician assistants must demonstrate care that is effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of wellness. Upon completing the Misericordia University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, graduates are expected to:
  • Work effectively with physicians and other health care professionals to provide patient-centered care
  • Demonstrate caring and respectful behaviors when interacting with patients and their families
  • Gather essential and accurate information about their patients
  • Make informed decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient information and preferences, up-to-date scientific evidence, and clinical judgment
  • Develop and carry out patient management plans
  • Counsel and educate patients and their families
  • Competently perform medical and surgical procedures considered essential in the area of practice
  • Provide health care services and education aimed at preventing health problems or maintaining health
Professionalism is the expression of positive values and ideals as care is delivered. Foremost, it involves prioritizing the interests of those being served above one's own. Physician assistants must know their professional and personal limitations. Professionalism also requires that PAs practice without impairment from substance abuse, cognitive deficiency or mental illness. Physician assistants must demonstrate a high level of responsibility, ethical practice, sensitivity to a diverse patient population and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements. Upon completing the Misericordia University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, graduates are expected to demonstrate:
  • Understanding of legal and regulatory requirements, as well as the appropriate role of the physician assistant
  • Professional relationships with physician supervisors and other health care providers
  • Respect, compassion, and integrity
  • Commitment to ethical principles pertaining to provision or withholding of clinical care, confidentiality of patient information, informed consent, and business practices
  • Sensitivity and responsiveness to patients' culture, age, gender, and disabilities
  • Self-reflection, critical curiosity, and initiative
Practice-based learning and improvement includes the processes through which clinicians engage in critical analysis of their own practice experience, medical literature, and other information resources for the purpose of self-improvement. Physician assistants must be able to assess, evaluate, and improve their patient care practices. Upon completing the Misericordia University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, graduates are expected to:
  • Locate, appraise, and integrate evidence from scientific studies related to their patients' health problems
  • Apply knowledge of study designs and statistical methods to the appraisal of clinical studies and other information on diagnostic and therapeutic effectiveness
  • Apply information technology to manage information, access online medical information, and support their curricular activities and life-long learning
Systems-based practice encompasses the societal, organizational, and economic environments in which health care is delivered. Physician assistants must demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger system of health care to provide patient care that is of optimal value. Physician assistants should work to improve the larger health care system of which their practices are a part. Upon completing the Misericordia University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies, graduates are expected to:
  • Use information technology to support patient care decisions and patient education
  • Interact effectively with different types of medical practice and delivery systems
  • Understand the funding sources and payment systems that provide coverage for patient care
  • Advocate for quality patient care and assist patients in dealing with system complexities
  • Apply medical information and clinical data systems to provide more effective, efficient patient care

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