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Technical Standards of Performance for Candidates and Students (A3.13e)

Matriculated and enrolled students (both didactically and clinically) are expected to perform and be competent in many functions and tasks, which signify they are prepared for entry-level employment as a physician assistant.

While it is notable that academic standards be defined, understood, and accomplished, technical demands for graduation from Marietta College Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program also must be assumed.

The PA must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care.  Accommodations can be made for some technical standards, but a candidate/student should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner and not alter the learning outcomes and standards of the profession.  They must be able to integrate all information received by whatever sense(s) employed, consistently, quickly, and accurately, and they must have the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data.

Technical standards are those standards that refer to the holistic physical, cognitive, and behavioral abilities required for satisfactory completion of the curriculum. These will differ from those identified as exclusively academic, possessing components that are considered: general health, general abilities, observation abilities, communication abilities, physical (motor/sensory) abilities, intellectual (conceptual, integrative and quantitative) abilities, interpersonal abilities, mental health and behavioral/social abilities, technology abilities, professional and ethical abilities.

Such technical standards are considered within the program, in each course, preparing students for student learning outcomes, and framed within the professional competencies. All students must meet the technical standards throughout their training.

General Health

The candidate/student must possess and maintain the general physical health necessary for performing the duties of a physician assistant student without endangering the lives of patients and/or colleagues with whom the student might have contact, with the understanding of the potential for exposure to body fluids and communicable diseases. Any candidate/student whose performance is impaired by abuse of alcohol or other substances is not suitable for admission, continuation, promotion, or graduation. (See Substance Use Policy)

Furthermore, the candidate/student must have the physical and emotional stamina and capacity to function in a competent manner, and consistent with these standards, in the classroom as well as clinical and laboratory settings, including settings that may involve heavy full-time workloads, long hours, and stressful situations necessary to function under the demands of the program and the profession.

The candidate/student must take standard preventive health measures such as receiving required immunizations; being medically cleared for enrollment during their entire training; and maintaining health insurance coverage throughout the entire program. (See Matriculation and Pre-Clinical Requirements and Training Policy)

General Abilities

The candidate/student is expected to possess functional use of the senses of vision, touch, hearing, and smell in order to perform, interpret, and elicit, necessary skills for physical examination and clinical procedures throughout their entire PA training. All data received by the senses must be integrated, analyzed, and synthesized consistently and accurately. In addition, the individual is expected to possess the ability to perceive pain, pressure, temperature, position, equilibrium, and movement.

Observational Abilities

The candidate/student is expected to observe the patient accurately, at a distance and close at hand, and accurately assess health/illness alteration in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity, and postures, and perceive nonverbal communications. Inherent in this observation process is the use of the senses and sufficient motor capability to carry out the necessary assessment activities.

The candidate/student must be able to acquire information in all didactic and clinical settings through a variety of sources including, but not limited to oral presentation, written material, visual media, and live presentations/demonstrations.

Communication Abilities

The candidate/student is expected to be able to communicate effectively, both verbally and non-verbally, with patients and other professionals, in oral and written formats. This requires the ability to read, write, and effectively utilize the English language. Effectiveness often depends on using appropriate grammar, spelling, and vocabulary, as well as timeliness. The student/candidate is expected to comprehend and immediately respond to auditory instructions or requests, think clearly, and act appropriately, professionally, and calmly within stressful situations. The student/candidate is expected to work cooperatively while preserving relationships with other members of the education and healthcare team. The candidate/student is expected to participate in educational activities including examinations, demonstrations, simulations, presentations, evaluations, and labs.

Physical (Motor/Sensory) Abilities

The candidate/student is expected to be able to perform gross and fine motor movements required to perform a complete physical examination (including genital examination). The candidate/student is expected to have the psychomotor skills necessary to perform or assist with procedures, treatments, administration of medication, managing equipment, and emergency intervention. The candidate/student is expected to be able to maintain consciousness, equilibrium, and stamina to perform satisfactorily in the classroom and clinical experiences; this includes but is not limited to frequent, prolonged patient interactions and essential activities that include more than 8 hours of sitting, standing, walking and performing procedures for prolonged periods, as seen in surgical services or inpatient medicine.

The candidate/student should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. The candidate/student must be able to perform laboratory tests, work with scientific and other instruments and machinery, and perform essential skills and emergent treatment to patients. This includes, but is not limited to, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administration of intravenous medication, the application of pressure to stop bleeding, the opening of obstructed airways, the suturing of simple wounds, patient movement or transfer, and simple obstetrical maneuvers.

Intellectual (Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative) Abilities

The candidate/student is expected to have the ability to develop and refine problem-solving and critical thinking skills with sound judgment, emotional stability, maturity, empathy, and physical and mental stamina. This includes the ability to learn and function in a wide variety of didactic and clinical settings, displaying the ability to measure, process, retain, comprehend, conceptualize, integrate, calculate, analyze, synthesize objective and subjective data, and apply large volumes of material related to higher order art, practice, and science of medicine, including those that are legal, ethical, and moral in nature.  The candidate/student is expected to have the ability to make decisions that reflect consistent and thoughtful deliberation and clinical judgment. In addition, the candidate/student should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures.

Interpersonal Abilities

The candidate/student is expected to have the emotional stability required to exercise sound judgment and complete assessment and intervention activities. The candidate/student is expected to establish rapport and maintain sensitive, interpersonal relationships with individuals, families and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds. The candidate/student is expected to have the flexibility to function effectively under stress. Concern for others, integrity, accountability, interest and motivation are necessary personal qualities.

Mental Health and Behavioral/Social Abilities

The candidate/student must have the mental health and emotional stability to effectively handle stressful and emotionally charged situations, to overcome interpersonal challenges; to perceive one’s own emotional state and the emotional state of others; and to receive constructive criticism. This often requires a commitment to long hours of class, physical exams and procedure skill competency evaluations, clinical and self-directed study situations and environments.

The candidate/student must display flexibility in learning and be able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. They must accept responsibility for learning, exercise good judgment and promptly complete all responsibilities during their academic training, as well as the responsibility attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients.  The candidate/student must be able to work effectively, respectfully, and professionally as part of the educational and healthcare team, and to interact with instructors and peers, patients, patient families, and healthcare personnel in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner.

Technology Abilities

The candidate/student must be able to utilize computer technology to access and manage online medical information, access learning management systems, participate in computerized testing, conduct research, access and utilize virtual learning platforms and recordings, prepare multimedia presentations, and manage computerized patient records.

Professional and Ethical Abilities

The candidate/student must be able to understand the general, legal, and ethical standards of the medical profession.  Students must possess attributes such as deportment, compassion, empathy, altruism, integrity, responsibility, and tolerance.  Students must be able to recognize limitations in their knowledge, skills, and abilities and seek appropriate assistance from their preceptor.  The student must consistently display honesty, excellence, initiative, resilience, accountability, integrity, and respect for self and others.  They must maintain confidentiality and be dedicated to serving their preceptors, patients, peers, PA faculty and staff, Marietta College faculty and staff, the community, and the PA profession at all times.