Goals and Competencies | Physician Assistant Studies at PCOM
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Goals and Competencies 
Physician Assistant Studies

Program Goals

  1. To identify for admission those individuals with the pre-requisite academic background, a strong interest in the PA career, excellent interpersonal skills and the maturity necessary for physician assistant education.
    The PCOM PA program receives over 4,000 completed and verified applications for both campuses. In 2022-2023, we had more than 43 applicants competing for every one seat in the class. We feel extremely fortunate to be able to select the strongest candidates from the applicant pool.
  2. To provide a coordinated, comprehensive, didactic and clinical curriculum that will enable the graduate to deliver the highest quality of health care services.
    The PA program has more than 1,250 graduates. With national certifying board exam scores consistently above the national average, we are proud of the rigorous curriculum that enables our graduates to succeed.
  3. To promote a clinical and didactic environment that embraces the concept of a health care team that fosters communication, cooperation and compassion.
    The program believes strongly in its core values because they are the foundation of teamwork and cooperation. The faculty measures students' success in reflecting these values during frequent advisor meetings, and preceptors are asked to evaluate these standards in our students during rotations. The interprofessional education modules that occur throughout the didactic phase of the PA program allow students from various medical and health professions programs to learn about, from and with each other.
  4. To promote an understanding of information literacy by designing, conducting, presenting or interpreting research.
    The Evidence-Based Medicine and Research Practicum courses prepare students to produce papers eligible for submission to peer-reviewed journals. All finals papers are published in PCOM's Digital Commons. Additionally, PCOM students and graduates have presented at the AAPA national conference.
  5. To provide our students with the medical knowledge, skills and attitudes to engage in clinical practice as a physician assistant.
    The program's average pass rate is 97% over the past five years compared to the national average of 94% over the past five years. Preceptors for the Class of 2022 rated students during their clinical phase an average of 94% in clinical skills and an average of 98% in attitudes towards patients, colleagues and their professional role.
  6. To increase the racial and ethnic diversity among our student body reflective of the heterogeneous population of the United States by 2024.
    For the Class of 2023, the first year for which we have established this goal, we find that racial groups are mostly reflective of the U.S. population by the July 2021 U.S. Census Population Estimates. The greatest variance is seen in a slight over-representation of people who describe their race as Asian (10% at PCOM compared to 6% nationally), and a slight under-representation of people who describe their race as Black (8% at PCOM compared to 14% nationally). Three percent of the Class of 2023 did not identify any racial group that described them, or declined to answer. Other racial groups fell within 1% of the July 2021 U.S. Census Population Estimates. Regarding ethnicity, 15% of the Class of 2023 identified as Hispanic or Latino/Latina/Latinx, compared to 19% nationally.

Graduate Competencies

The program will instill in the new graduate the knowledge, interpersonal, clinical and technical skills, professional behaviors, and clinical reasoning and problem-solving abilities required for PA practice. Specifically, the graduate will be able to:

  • Provide care across the lifespan, regardless of medical condition, gender, race, ethnicity or other diverse quality.
  • Apply knowledge of basic sciences with a focus on clinical application.
  • Elicit a detailed and accurate history, and perform a comprehensive physical exam.
  • Obtain a directed history based on patient presentation, and perform a focused physical exam.
  • Communicate effectively as a health care professional.
  • Work collaboratively with other members of the healthcare team in providing appropriate patient care.
  • Analyze, integrate and synthesize data from the patient medical record.
  • Draw upon a fund of medical knowledge in order to formulate a differential diagnosis.
  • Interpret appropriate diagnostic studies.
  • Formulate and document an individual management plan.
  • Provide health education to the patient or his/her caregiver.
  • Perform the following clinical skills as dictated by the situation: venipuncture; splinting; suturing; urinary catheterization; Pap smear; EKGs; injections.
  • Manage life-threatening emergencies by employing ACLS and/or BCLS.
  • Utilize information databases to select evidence-based literature for application to patient care.
  • Critically appraise the medical literature.