School of Medicine Technical, Non-Academic Standards

updated August 2017


Candidates must possess the capacity to perform physical examinations and diagnostic maneuvers. They must be able to respond to emergency situations in a timely manner and provide general and emergency care. They must adhere to universal precaution measures and meet safety standards applicable to inpatient and outpatient settings and other clinical activities.


Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with patients, their families, and members of the health care team. They must be able to obtain a medical history in a timely fashion, interpret non-verbal aspects of communication, and establish therapeutic relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to record information accurately and clearly, and communicate effectively in English with other health care professionals in a variety of patient settings.

Motor Function

Candidates must possess the capacity to perform physical examinations and diagnostic maneuvers. They must be able to respond to emergency situations in a timely manner and provide general and emergency care. They must adhere to universal precaution measures and meet safety standards applicable to inpatient and outpatient settings and other clinical activities.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities

Candidates must be able to learn through a variety of modalities including, but not limited to, classroom instruction; small group, team and collaborative activities; individual study; preparation and presentation of reports; and use of electronic technology.  Candidates must have the mental capacity to assimilate and learn a large amount of complex, technical and detailed information in order to formulate diagnostic and therapeutic plans. 

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Candidates must demonstrate the maturity and emotional stability required for full use of their intellectual abilities. They must accept responsibility for learning, exercising good judgment, and promptly completing all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients. They must understand the legal and ethical aspects of the practice of medicine and function within both the law and ethical standards of the medical profession. Candidates must be able to work effectively, respectfully and professionally as part of the healthcare team, and to interact with patients, their families, and health care personnel in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner. They must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and long work hours, to function effectively under stress, and to display flexibility and adaptability to changing environments. They must be capable of regular, reliable and punctual attendance at classes and in regard to their clinical responsibilities. Candidates must be able to contribute to collaborative, constructive learning environments; accept constructive feedback from others; and take personal responsibility for making appropriate positive changes. It is expected that minimum accommodation will be requested with regards to this set of standards.

Ethical and Legal Standards

Candidates must meet the legal standards to be licensed to practice as a PA in the State of California. As such, candidates for admission must acknowledge and provide written explanation of any felony offense or disciplinary action taken against them prior to matriculation in the School of Medicine. In addition, should the student be convicted of any felony offense while in PA school, they agree to immediately notify the Associate Dean for PA Education as to the nature of the conviction. Failure to disclose prior or new offenses can lead to disciplinary action by the School of Medicine that may include dismissal.

California Education Code 66024p and "Ban the Box"

In 2020, California became the fifth state to prohibit the use of criminal background checks in admissions considerations for graduate schools when the California Education Code 66024p was updated following passage of the Ban the Box bill. While this legislation generally prohibits post-secondary institutions from considering criminal backgrounds in the admissions process it does not prohibit criminal background checks for matriculated students. 

Students who matriculate into the Stanford School of Medicine, Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program will be required to undergo background checks as those are required to work with minors and to participate in clinical training activities at our partnering clinical training sites. Students with a history of a criminal conviction may not be able to successfully complete the curriculum and progress through the program and may not be able to graduate.  Given this, students with a history of a criminal conviction should discuss this with the program prior to matriculation.

In addition, criminal background checks are required for state licensure in California and a history of criminal conviction may be considered by the California Physician Assistant Board as well as other state medical boards and the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants in the licensure application. Applicants and matriculants with a criminal conviction should consult with these entities prior to matriculation to ensure they will be eligible for licensure upon completion of their degree.

Equal Access to the School of Medicine’s Educational Program

The Stanford University School of Medicine intends for its students and graduates to become competent and compassionate clinicians who are capable of meeting all requirements for PA licensure.

The School of Medicine has an institutional commitment to provide equal educational opportunities for qualified students with disabilities who apply for admission to the MSPA Studies degree program or who are enrolled as PA students. The School of Medicine is a leader in student diversity and individual rights, with a strong commitment to full compliance with state and federal laws and regulations (including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (as amended), and California law (Civil Code 51 and 54). A “qualified person with a disability” is an individual with a disability who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the School of Medicine’s educational programs, with or without accommodations. As previously noted, admitted candidates with disabilities are reviewed individually, on a case-by-case basis, with a complete and careful consideration of all the skills, attitudes and attributes of each candidate to determine whether there are any reasonable accommodations or available options that would permit the candidate to satisfy the standards. An accommodation is not reasonable if it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of self and/or others, if making it requires a substantial modification in an essential element of the curriculum, if it lowers academic standards, or if it poses an undue administrative or financial burden. Except in rare circumstances, the use by the candidate of a third party (e.g., an intermediary) to perform any of the functions described in the Technical Standards set forth above would constitute an unacceptable substantial modification.


As stated above, admission and promotion at the School of Medicine is conditional on the candidate’s having the willingness and ability to satisfy the technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodation.

Admitted candidates who have a disability and need accommodations should initiate discussions with the PA program Student Services Officer as the offer of admission is received and accepted. They are liaisons with the University’s Office of Accessible Education (OAE). It is the responsibility of a candidate with a disability to provide sufficiently current information documenting the general nature and extent of their disability, and the functional limitations proposed to be accommodated. Evaluating and facilitating accommodation requests is a collaborative effort between the candidate, the School of Medicine and the OAE. The School of Medicine reserves the right to request new or additional information.

Should a candidate have or develop a condition that would place patients, the candidate or others at risk or that may affect their need for accommodation, an evaluation with the School of Medicine and the OAE may be necessary. As in initial assessments, a complete and careful reconsideration of all the skills, attitudes and attributes of each candidate will be performed. This includes an assessment of their willingness, desire and ability to complete the MSPA Studies program curriculum and fulfill all requirements for PA licensure, and will be informed by the knowledge that students with varied types of disabilities have the ability to become successful medical professionals.