In early 2000, national organizations representing PAs, including the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), and the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA) worked to develop a set of overarching competencies for PAs and the PA professions, simply known as Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession. The Competencies were subsequently nationally adopted in 2005, revised in 2012, and intended to serve as a ‘map’ for both the development and the maintenance of professional competencies inherent to PAs and the PA profession.
As noted in the Competencies document, some of the competencies are acquired during the PA education process while others are developed and honed throughout a PA’s career. The School of PA Medicine acknowledges the importance of the National Competencies and further recognizes that, although excellent benchmarks for PA performance, not all of the Competencies can truly be evaluated within a PA education program. As such, the School of PA Medicine has adapted the Competencies into specific measurable outcomes, each falling within the general heading of the original competencies (e.g., Medical Knowledge), but reduced to a specific and measurable performance item that best reflects the goals of the School as follows:
- Medical Knowledge: PAs must demonstrate core knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care in their area of practice. In addition, PAs are expected to demonstrate an investigatory and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations. Upon completion of the program students will be able to:
- Demonstrate the medical, behavioral, and social science knowledge necessary to both promote health, and evaluation and management a variety of pediatric, adult, and geriatric patient presentations.
- Demonstrate the ability to effectively recognize, assess, diagnose, and treat patients with a variety of problems seen in the emergent, acute and chronic clinical practice of medicine.
- Interpersonal and Communication Skills: PAs 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 completion of the program students will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge and application of effective interpersonal, oral and written communication skills.
- Communicate in a patient-centered and culturally responsive manner to accurately obtain, interpret and utilize information and implement a patient-centered management plan.
- Patient Care: PAs must demonstrate care that is effective, safe, high quality, and equitable; includes patient- and setting-specific assessment, evaluation, and management. Upon completion of the program students will be able to:
- Demonstrate the ability make informed decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient information and preferences, up-to-date scientific evidence, and clinical judgment.
- Demonstrate the ability to effectively work within a patient-care healthcare team.
- Professionalism: PAs must express positive values and ideals as care is delivered. Foremost, professionalism involves prioritizing the interests of those being served above one’s own while acknowledging their professional and personal limitations. PAs must demonstrate a high level of responsibility, ethical practice, sensitivity to a diverse patient population, and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements. Upon completion of the program students will be able to:
- Demonstrate professionalism in interactions with others including, but not limited to, patients, families, and colleagues.
- Demonstrate knowledge and application of an understanding of the PA role including ethical and professional standards regarding the PA profession.
- Practice-Based Learning and Improvement: PAs must be able to assess, evaluate, and improve their patient care practices. Upon completion of the program the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate research literature and develop educational evidenced-based practice-improvement research project.
- Systems-Based Practice: PAs should work to improve the larger healthcare system of which their practices are a part. Upon completion of the program students will be able to:
- Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate medical literature to ensure the appropriateness and cost effectiveness of patient resources.
- Demonstrate the ability to identify needed area(s) of change within a system-based practice and develop and present a plan for improvement.
Competency and proficiency in these functions and tasks is a learning process that will gradually occur over the breadth of the Master of PA Medicine Program at University of Lynchburg. Evaluation of these outcomes will occur via the use of multiple instruments, including, but not limited to, written and practical examinations, clinical preceptor evaluations, research projects, PANCE results, and graduate and post-graduate surveys.