Marshall B. Ketchum University

School of Physician Assistant Studies

Physician Assistant Professional Competencies and Student Learning Outcomes (SLO)

The physician assistant profession defines the specific knowledge, skills, attitudes, and educational experiences requisite for physician assistants to acquire and demonstrate these competencies. Professional competencies for physician assistants include the effective and appropriate application of medical knowledge, interpersonal and communication skills, patient care, professionalism, evidence-based learning and improvement, and systems-based practice. Marshall B. Ketchum University (MBKU) has adopted these nationally recognized physician assistant professional outcomes as our student learning outcomes that articulate what the student will be able to do after he/she completes the MBKU School of Physician Assistant Studies program.

SLO 1: Medical Knowledge

Medical knowledge includes the synthesis of pathophysiology, patient presentation, differential diagnosis, patient management, surgical principles, health promotion, and disease prevention. Physician assistant students must demonstrate core knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care. In addition, physician assistant students are expected to demonstrate an investigative and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations.

SLO 2: Interpersonal & Communications Skills

Interpersonal and communication skills encompass the verbal, nonverbal, written, and electronic exchange of information. Physician assistant students must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, patients’ families, physicians, professional associates, and other individuals within the health care system. These effective interpersonal and communication skills will be used to create and sustain a therapeutic and ethically sound relationship with patients.

SLO 3: Patient Care

Patient care includes patient - and setting - specific assessment, evaluation, and management. Physician assistant students must demonstrate care that is effective, safe, high quality, and equitable. Physician assistant students must obtain a relevant medical history, adequately perform physical examinations, and determine appropriate management and treatment plans on patients of all age groups, appropriate to the patient’s condition. In addition, physician assistant students must demonstrate proficiency in technical procedures and health care that is effective, patient-centered, safe, compassionate, and culturally appropriate for the treatment of medical problems and the promotion of health.

SLO 4: Professionalism

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 assistant students must acknowledge their professional and personal limitations. Professionalism also requires that PA students practice without impairment from substance abuse, cognitive deficiency, or mental illness. Physician assistant students must demonstrate a high level of responsibility, ethical practice, sensitivity to a diverse patient population, and adherence to university and clinical site policies, legal, and regulatory requirements.

SLO 5: Evidence-based Learning & Improvement

Evidence based learning and improvement includes the processes through which physician assistant students engage in critical analysis of clinical practice, the medical literature, and other information resources for the purposes of self and patient care improvement. Physician assistant students must be able to: Locate, appraise, and integrate evidence from scientific studies related to patient’s health; apply knowledge of study designs and statistical methods to the appraisal of clinical literature on diagnostic and therapeutic effectiveness; and utilize information technology to manage information, access medical information, and support their own education towards lifelong learning skills and patient care.

SLO 6: Systems-based Practice

Systems-based practice encompasses the societal, organizational, and economic environments in which health care is delivered. Physician assistant students must demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger system of health care to provide patient care that balances quality and cost, while maintaining the primacy of the individual patient. Physician assistant students must demonstrate effective interaction with different medical practices and healthcare delivery systems, promote a safe environment for patient care and recognize factors that may impact patient care, recognize biases that contribute to health disparities, and apply concepts of population health to patient care.

Adapted from  AAPA, ARC-PA, PAEA, NCCPA (2012). Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession.