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Technical Standards

PAs must have the knowledge and skills to practice in a variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of care based on the patient’s needs. In addition to academic achievements, exam results, and faculty recommendations, PA students must possess the physical, emotional, and behavioral capabilities requisite for the practice of medicine as a PA. In order to successfully complete the PA program, students must demonstrate proficiency in academic and clinical activities with regard to the competencies described below. 


Candidates and PA students must have sufficient sensory capacity to observe in the classroom, the laboratory, the outpatient setting, and at the patient’s bedside. Sensory skills adequate to perform a physical examination are required including functional vision, hearing, smell, and tactile sensation. All these senses must be adequate to observe a patient’s condition and to accurately elicit information through procedures regularly required in a physical examination, such as inspection, auscultation, percussion, and palpation.

Candidates and PA students must be able to:

  • communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and others in both academic and healthcare settings.
  • speak clearly.
  • communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written English with faculty and staff, patients, and all members of the health care team. Communication includes not only speech, but also reading and writing skills.
  • demonstrate reading skills at a level sufficient to accomplish curricular requirements, provide clinical care for patients, and complete appropriate medical records, documents, and plans according to protocol in a thorough and timely manner.
  • Perceive and describe changes in mood, posture, activity, and interpret non-verbal communication signs.

Candidates and PA students are required to possess motor skills sufficient to directly perform palpation, percussion, auscultation, and other basic diagnostic procedures; and execute motor movements reasonably required to provide basic medical care and emergency care to patients, including but not limited to: 

  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • administration of intravenous medication
  • application of pressure to stop hemorrhage
  • opening of obstructed airways
  • suturing of simple wounds
  • performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers
  • negotiating patient care environments and mobility between settings, such as clinic, classroom, laboratory, and hospital
  • maintaining sufficient physical stamina to complete the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study. Long periods of sitting, standing, or moving are required in classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings.

These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of PAs, requires all of these intellectual abilities. Candidates and PA students must be able to:

  • interpret dimensional relationships, and understand the spatial relationships of anatomical structures
  • search, read, and interpret medical literature

The ability to incorporate new information from peers, teachers, and the medical literature in formulating diagnoses and plans is essential. To complete the PA Program, candidates must be able to demonstrate proficiency of these skills and the ability to use them together in a timely fashion in medical problem-solving and patient care.

Compassion, integrity, ethical standards, concern for others, interpersonal skills, and motivation are all personal qualities important to providing compassionate and quality patient care. 
Candidates and PA students must:

  • demonstrate the maturity and emotional stability required for full use of their intellectual abilities. 
  • accept responsibility for learning, exercising good judgment, and promptly completing all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients. 
  • understand the legal and ethical aspects of the practice of medicine and function within both the law and ethical standards of the medical profession. 
  • interact with patients, their families, and health care personnel in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner. 
  • tolerate physically taxing workloads and long work hours, to function effectively under stress, and to display flexibility and adaptability to changing environments. 
  • contribute to collaborative, constructive learning environments; accept constructive feedback from others; and take personal responsibility for making appropriate positive changes.

It is our experience that a number of individuals with disabilities, as defined by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, are qualified to study and work as health care professionals and scientists with the use of reasonable accommodations. To be qualified for health sciences programs at MBKU those individuals must be able to meet both our academic standards and the technical standards, with reasonable accommodations if necessary.

For further information regarding services and resources for students with disabilities and/or to request accommodations, please contact the Enrollment and Student Services Office at

PA students are not permitted to be employed by or perform clerical or administrative tasks for the School. Students are not permitted to substitute for or function as instructional or clinical site faculty or staff. Students with specific prior knowledge, experiences, or skills may assist faculty in didactic and lab sessions to share their knowledge and skills.

Students are discouraged from working while in PA school due to the rigorous nature of the educational program. In the event a student chooses to work, they are not permitted to miss or reschedule lecture, lab sessions, journal clubs, seminar sessions or any part of their didactic or clinical educational requirements. The SPC and/or School of Physician Assistant Studies (SPAS) Director have the right to recommend termination of employment based on academics that fall below the minimum program requirements. This recommendation will be made in writing and placed in the student’s file.