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School of Health Professions

Program Competencies

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Program Graduate Competencies 

  • The USM Physician Assistant Studies Program has developed a list of expected competencies for all graduates. These are mapped to and assessed by course outcomes and objectives listed in each course syllabus. Students should reference specific course objectives for more detail regarding requirements to meet these expectations. Our program competencies align with PAEA and AAPA competencies for PA graduates and practicing PAs, as well as our program’s mission, vision, and goals for our students. As a requirement for graduation, students must demonstrate competency in each program outcomes as measured by the program’s summative exam.
  • The educational objectives of the Physician Assistant Studies MSM program will enable students to meet the competencies required of all national physician assistant organizations.

Knowledge (KN)


Apply comprehensive knowledge of biologic and clinical sciences to provide acute, chronic, urgent, and emergent, patient-centered care to include women’s health, prenatal care, and care across the life span (infants, children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly). Demonstrate knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and apply this knowledge to patient care. Physician Assistants should be able to:

KN1: Apply principles of basic and clinical science, including anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, and genetics to identify, diagnose, and provide patient centered care to healthy and ill patients.

KN2: Recognize the etiology, risk factors, and epidemiology of various medical conditions.

KN3: Utilize history and physical findings; select, interpret, and apply diagnostic studies to formulate a differential diagnosis and to inform clinical decision-making related to patient care.  Apply the principles of evidence-based medicine.

KN4: Differentiate pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatment strategies, including patient education and counseling, in caring for healthy and/or ill patients who present with various medical conditions.

KN5: Utilize screening methods to detect conditions in an asymptomatic individual and apply interventions for prevention of disease and health promotion/maintenance.

Interpersonal Skills (IS)


Graduates of the Physician Assistant Studies MSM program will be able to communicate effectively with patients, families, and health team members, incorporating cultural humility and compassion to build meaningful therapeutic and interprofessional relationships.  Interpersonal and communication skills encompass the verbal, nonverbal, written, and electronic exchange of information. Physician Assistants are expected to:

IS1: Use effective communication skills to elicit and provide information to patients, families, and health team members and to provide complete, concise, and well-organized case presentations to physicians and other members of the healthcare team.

IS2: Demonstrate sensitivity, honesty, and compassion to establish rapport and develop meaningful, therapeutic relationships with patients and their families and promote health and wellness through shared decision-making.

IS3: Provide care that is responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy, and other needs. 

IS4: Establish respectful working relationships and interact effectively with all members of the health care team. Record and present pertinent patient data, including interpretive recommendations as part of a healthcare team.

Clinical and Technical Skills (CTS)


Graduates of the Physician Assistant Studies MSM program will be able to demonstrate the clinical and technical skills required to provide age-appropriate assessment, evaluation, and management of patients. Physician Assistants are expected to:

CTS1: Conduct effective, patient-centered history-taking and physical examination for comprehensive and problem-focused patient visits. Formulate a differential diagnosis and prepare a problem list based on the assessment of the patient.

CTS2: Convey aspects of a patient encounter to all healthcare team members through accurate and timely written and verbal communication.

CTS3: Perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and clinical skills associated with managing medical and minor surgical conditions considered essential for entry into practice.

CTS4: Counsel and educate patients and families from diverse backgrounds to empower them to participate in their care and enable shared decision-making.

CTS5: Use information technology to support patient care decisions and patient education aimed at disease prevention and health maintenance.

Professional Behaviors (PB)


Professionalism is the expression of positive values and ideals as care is delivered. Graduates of the Physician Assistant Studies MSM program will be able to demonstrate integrity, a deep understanding of the practice environment, and a commitment to lifelong learning that enables them to provide high-quality, equitable care for individuals and communities. Physician Assistants are expected to:

PB1: Work collaboratively with physicians, other health professionals, and health care teams to optimize team member roles and coordinate care.

PB2: Demonstrate respect for the dignity and privacy of patients, including maintaining confidentiality, patient autonomy, and informed consent in the delivery of team-based care.

PB3: Exhibit an understanding of the regulatory environment and laws and regulations regarding professional practice.

PB4: Approach the provision of quality care considering financial impact, safety, and cost-effective resource allocation.

PB5: Recognize the impact of societal, psychosocial, and cultural influences on health care and health outcomes to care for patients and communities.

PB6: Demonstrate commitment to ongoing learning and development, applying new knowledge and skills to patient care.

PB7: Understand the importance of continuing medical education and scholarly activity of the profession through research, publishing and/or education, and commitment to the education of students and other health care professionals.

Clinical Reasoning and Problem Solving (CRPS)


Graduates of the Physician Assistant Studies MSM program will be able to analyze and synthesize relevant clinical, diagnostic, cultural, and contextual information to diagnose and manage patients across the lifespan (prenatal, infant, children, adolescents, adult, and the elderly). Physician Assistants will be able to:

CRPS1: Synthesize information acquired through all aspects of patient encounters and the medical literature to develop appropriate differential diagnoses and management plans for acute, chronic, and emergent health conditions.

CRPS2: Interpret data collected from diagnostic, laboratory, and imaging studies and procedures to accurately diagnose acute, chronic, and emergent health conditions.

CRPS3: Formulate health management strategies, including pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic therapies, and patient education, in the prevention and treatment of acute, chronic, and emergent conditions.

CRPS4: Integrate understanding of cultural, socioeconomic, environmental, and other population level impacts on health into medical decision-making and the development of individualized care plans.

Practice-based Learning and Improvement (PBL)


Physician assistants must engage in critical analysis of their own practice experience, medical literature, and other information resources for the purposes of self- and practice-improvement. Physician assistants must be able to assess, evaluate, and improve their patient care practices by investigating patient care practices, appraising and assimilating scientific evidence, and improving the practice of medicine. Physician Assistants should be able to:

PBL1: Analyze practice experience and perform practice-based improvement activities using systematic methodology.

PBL2: Utilize information technology to locate, appraise, and integrate evidence from scientific studies related to their patients’ health and foster their own continuing medical education.

PBL3: Apply knowledge of research designs and analysis methods to the appraisal of clinical literature and other information.

Systems-based Practice (SPB)


Systems-based practice encompasses the societal, organizational, and economic environments in which health care is delivered. Physician Assistants must demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger system of health care. Physician assistants should be prepared to:

SBP1: Effectively interact with and effectively use different types of medical practice and delivery systems.

SBP2: Partner with supervising physicians, health care managers, and other health care providers to assess, coordinate, and improve the delivery and effectiveness of health care and patient outcomes.

SBP3: Accept responsibility for promoting a safe environment for patient care and recognizing and correcting systems-based factors that negatively impact patient care and advocate for quality patient care and assist patients in dealing with system complexities.

SBP4: Critically evaluate medical literature to improve patient care and apply medical information and clinical data systems to provide effective, efficient patient care.

SBP5: Facilitate referral to community resources, health facilities and agencies. 

Society and Population Health (SPH)


Recognize and understand the influences of the ecosystem of person, family, population, environment, and policy on the health of patients and integrate knowledge of these determinants of health into patient care decisions. Physician Assistants should be able to:

SPH1: Apply principles of social-behavioral sciences by assessing the impact of psychosocial and cultural influences on health, disease, care seeking, and compliance.

SPH2: Recognize the influence of genetic, socioeconomic, environmental, and other determinants on the health of the individual and community to improve the health of patient populations

The information presented here is planned for the USM Physician Assistant Studies Program providing accreditation is received from the regional accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the PA Program accreditor, ARC-PA.


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