School of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Studies

Technical Standards

Technical Standards of Performance for Physician Assistant Students


The granting of a Masters of Science degree to a physician assistant student signifies that the holder is prepared for entry-level employment as a PA. In a professional role, the physician assistant must be able to provide medical services under a supervising physician within the scope and laws of medical practice. Thus, for the safety and welfare of patients, physician assistants must be able to demonstrate the technical knowledge and skills required for the delivery of health care services to a wide range of patients.

The mission of the University of South Dakota Physician Assistant Studies Program is to help meet the needs of patients in South Dakota and the region.

Therefore, candidates for the physician assistant profession must have somatic sensation and the functional use of the senses of vision and hearing. Diagnostic skills will also be lessened without functional use of the senses of equilibrium, smell, and taste. Additionally, candidates must have sufficient exteroceptive sense (touch, pain, and temperature), sufficient proprioceptive sense (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis, and vibratory) and sufficient motor function to permit them to carry out the activities described in the sections that follow. They must be able consistently, quickly and accurately to integrate all information received by whatever sense(s) employed, and they must have their intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data.

Such candidates for the MSPAS degree must have abilities and skills of five varieties including:

I. Observation;
II. Communication;
III. Motor;
IV. Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative abilities;
V. Behavioral and Social Attributes.
 

Technological compensation can be made for some disabilities in certain of these areas, but a candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. The use of a trained intermediary means that a candidate's judgement must be mediated by someone else's power of selection and observation.

I.  Observation: 
The candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences, including, but not limited to, physiologic and pharmacologic demonstrations in animals, microbiologic cultures, microscopic studies of microorganisms, and tissues in normal and pathologic states. A candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and up close at hand. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and somatic sensation.  It is enhanced by the functional use of the sense of smell.

II. Communication: 
A candidate should be able to speak, to hear, and to observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. Communication includes not only speech, but also reading and writing. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team.

III. Motor:
Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should be able to do basic laboratory tests, carry out diagnostic procedures, and read EKGs and X-rays. A candidate must be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment of patients. Examples of emergency treatment, reasonably required of physician assistants are cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administration of intravenous medication, the application of pressure to stop bleeding, the suturing of simple wounds, and the performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.

IV. Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: 
These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis.  Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of physician assistants, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, the candidate must be able to comprehend three dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.

V. Behavioral and Social Attributes: 
A candidate must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that should be assessed during the admissions and education processes.

The USD PA Program reaffirms that no applicant will be excluded on the basis of sex, creed, race or national origin.  Otherwise qualified applicants with a disability will be conisdered in relation to the guidelines as listed above.

Questions about the program's technical standards for clarification or to determine whether a student can meet the requirements with or without reasonable accomodations may be directed to the Program Director.  Revealing a disability is voluntary.  However, such disclosure is necessary before any accommodations may be made in the learning environment or in the program's procedures.  Information about disabilities is handled in a confidential manner.  Reasonable accommodations will be made to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  These require program and institutional approval.  Requests for accommodations must be submitted in writing, allowing sufficient time prior to matriculation for action on these requests.  Students who feel that they may not meet the technical standards are encouraged by The University of South Dakota and the Program so that the candidate might meet the admissions and educational standards.