Skip to main content

Technical Standards for Admission, Continuation and Graduation

The University of South Dakota physician assistant program affirms that no applicant to the program will be excluded on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, gender, transgender, sexual orientation, religion, age, genetic information, veteran status or disability. Otherwise qualified applicants with a disability will be considered in relation to the guidelines listed below.

In evaluating applicants for admission and preparing PAs, it is essential that the integrity of the curriculum be maintained, that those elements necessary for the education of the PA be preserved and that the health and safety of patients be maintained. While reasonable accommodation can be made for certain disabilities, those candidates and students who have a disability will be held to the same performance standards as their peers who do not have that disability.

Because the PA degree signifies that the holder is a person prepared for entry into the practice of medicine, it follows that graduates must have the knowledge, skills and ability to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. Therefore, candidates for the Master of Science in physician assistant studies (MSPAS) degree from USD must have certain sensory and motor functions that permit them to carry out the activities described in the sections that follow. They must be able to consistently, quickly and accurately integrate all information received by whatever sense(s) employed, and they must have the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze and synthesize data.

A candidate for the MSPAS degree must have abilities and skills of five varieties, including:

  1. Observation
  2. Communication
  3. Motor
  4. Intellectual, conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities
  5. Behavioral and social attributes

Technological accommodation may be available to assist for some disabilities in certain of these areas, but a candidate and student should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner without reliance on a trained intermediary to replace the candidate’s judgment or power of assessment and observation.

1. Observation

The candidate and student must be able to participate in activities determined to be essential by the faculty. This may include physiologic and pharmacologic demonstrations, anatomic dissection, microscopic studies of microorganisms, observation of tissues of normal and pathologic states, and accurate observation of the numbers and patterns on diagnostic instruments and simulations. They must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand with the ability to observe patient responses to physical exams. Observation necessitates the functional use of the senses of vision, hearing and somatic sensation.

2. Communication

The candidate and student must be able to speak to, hear, and observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communication. They must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with colleagues and patients. Communication includes not only speech but reading and writing. They must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team. They must be able to read and record observations in a legible, efficient and accurate manner including the effective use of electronic documentations.

3. Motor

The candidate and student must have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. They must be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Examples of such care reasonably required of PA’s are cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administration of intravenous medication, placement of catheters, the application of pressure to stop bleeding, suturing of simple wounds, assisting in surgical procedures, and the performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers. They must have adequate endurance to carry out clinical activities for extended periods of time. They must possess adequate sensorimotor function and equilibrium to assume reasonable body postures when performing these skills and to perform them in a manner that does not compromise test accuracy, treatment effectiveness, or patient safety.

4. Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

The candidate and student must have sufficient cognitive abilities which would include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis. Problem-solving, the critical skill demanded of PAs, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition they must be able to comprehend three dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures. They must be able to perform these problem solving skills in a timely manner.

5. Behavioral and Social Attributes

The candidate and student must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their 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. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, recognize multiple points of view, identify personal reactions and responses, and integrate these into clinical decision-making. They must be able to communicate with and care for, in a non-judgmental way, persons whose culture, sexual orientation, or spiritual beliefs are different from their own.