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Members of the Physician Assistant Class of 2024 recite the student oath during a ceremony on April 7, 2023, in Hershey.

Physician Assistant Program

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PA Program Competencies

PA Program Competencies

1. Medical Knowledge and Clinical Skills: Graduates will be able to recognize healthy versus ill patients in the context of the patients’ lives and determine the stage of illness — acute, at risk (emerging), or chronic illness. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to utilize up-to-date scientific evidence to inform clinical reasoning and clinical judgment.

  • PCPK 1.1: Differentiate between normal and abnormal health states in all organ systems
  • PCPK 1.2: Discern among healthy and ill patients on the basis of acute, chronic, and emerging disease states
  • PCPK 1.3: Demonstrate knowledge of anatomy, normal physiology, pathophysiology, patient history, clinical manifestations for general medical and surgical conditions in patients across the lifespan
  • PCPK 1.4: Develop a differential diagnosis, order and interpret laboratory and imaging studies, diagnose, treat and manage illness in patients presenting for care
  • PCPK 1.5: Perform basic primary care diagnostic and therapeutic procedures

2. Society and Population Health: Graduates will be able to recognize and understand that the influences of the larger community may affect the health of patients and integrate knowledge of social determinants of health into care decisions.

  • SPH 2.1:  Develop an understanding of cultural practices, socioeconomic, environmental, behavioral, and other social determinants that affect the health of individuals in the community
  • SPH 2.2: Apply the fundamental principles of epidemiology and determine the potential impacts of biology and genetics on patients, and incorporate them into decisions of care
  • SPH 2.3: Describe the role of structural disparities in illness and propose solutions to address barriers of care, such as health disparities
  • SPH 2.4: Implement appropriate strategies for disease prevention and health care maintenance
  • SPH 2.5: Engage with the health care team in determining the adequacy of individual and
  • community resources
  • SPH 2.6: Identify opportunities for quality and performance improvement processes within the healthcare system
  • SPH 2.7: Utilize evidence-based medicine to guide clinical decision-making and patient education

3.  Health Literacy and Patient-Centered Care: Graduates will be able to communicate with patients as partners who engage in shared decision-making and who communicate, interpret, and express themselves as individuals with unique personal, cultural, and social values.

  • HLC 3.1: Ascertain patient needs and goals while delivering culturally competent car
  • HLC 3.2: Demonstrate the ability to provide effective verbal, nonverbal, and written communication with patients, family members, and colleagues.
  • HLC 3.3: Provide effective, equitable, understandable, and respectful quality care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy, and other communication needs in an unbiased manner
  • HLC 3.4: Demonstrate the ability to organize and communicate information (test results, medical diagnoses, management strategies, and prognostic information) with patients and families in a way that is understandable, while using feedback strategies to ensure understanding

4. Interprofessional Collaborative Practice and Leadership: Graduates will be able to recognize that the patient is at the center of all healthcare decisions and to partner with the patient to define the patient’s health care goals.

  • ICPL 4.1: Advocate for patient needs as a part of an interdisciplinary health care team.
  • ICPL 4.2: Recognize the need to obtain referrals or consultative services in alignment with clinical practice specialty
  • ICPL 4.3: Use the full scope of knowledge, skills, and abilities of available health professionals to provide care that is safe, timely, efficient, effective, and equitable
  • ICPL 4.4: Collaborate and integrate clinical care and public health interventions to the delivery of patient centered care

5. Professional and Legal Aspects of Health Care: Graduates will be able to practice medicine in a beneficent manner, recognizing and adhering to standards of care while attuned to advancing social justice.

  • PL 5.1: Participate in difficult conversations with patients and colleagues using an unbiased and non-judgmental manner which demonstrates emotional intelligence
  • PL 5.2: Demonstrate an understanding of the professional responsibilities necessary to maintain PA licensure, credentialing, reimbursement, advocacy, policies, regulations, and laws surrounding the provision of health care
  • PL 5.3: Demonstrate professionalism, honesty, integrity, respect, reliability, and accountability to patients and society through daily interactions with other team members and patients.
  • PL 5.4: Demonstrate respect for self and others, while adhering to concepts of privilege and confidentiality in communicating with patients, families, and colleagues
  • PL 5.5: Demonstrate the ability to complete and review medical records, assignments, or other required tasks in a timely manner.
  • PL 5.6: Describe the role of the regulatory environment in actual clinical practice
  • PL 5.7: Recognize risk factors for burnout and the importance of self-care and well-being
  • PL 5.8: Apply the core principles of medical ethics to medical and health care decision making

6. Health Care Finance and Systems-Based Practice: Graduates will be able to articulate the essential aspects of value-based healthcare and apply this understanding to the delivery of safe and quality care.

  • HCFS 6.1: Discuss financial implications to the provision of healthcare on an individual and
  • global basis
  • HCFS 6.2: Differentiate between the types of health systems, funding streams, and
  • insurance, including the role of Medicare and Medicare as payors
  • HCFS 6.3: Demonstrate an understanding of basic billing and coding regulations for PA practice

Penn State PA Program competencies are based on PAEA Core Competencies for New Physician Assistant Graduates (02/2023).