Physician Assistant Program Competencies

The following are the Stanford School of Medicine Master of Science in PA Studies program’s competencies.  These competencies were developed based on the framework of the program’s mission and goals along with awareness of the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA)’s Core Competencies for New PA Graduates and the Physician Assistant Competencies which were written collaboratively by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), and The National Commission on Certification of the Physician Assistant (NCCPA), and the Accreditation Review Commission on Education of the Physician Assistant (ARC- PA.) 

The Stanford School of Medicine Master of Science in PA Studies program uses achievement of the following competencies as a guide for curriculum development and evaluation of the success of the program and its graduates. Upon completion of the Stanford School of Medicine Master of Science in PA Studies program, graduates are expected to achieve the following competencies:


1.     Medical Knowledge and Clinical Skills

a.     Recognize the difference between normal and abnormal health states across all organ systems

b.     Discern among acute, chronic, and emerging disease states 

c.     Demonstrate knowledge of the anatomy, disease etiology, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, differential diagnoses, management, and appropriate interventions for general medical and surgical conditions.

d.     Demonstrate ability to obtain a medical history and engage patients in both the in-person and virtual encounter settings

e.     Perform a basic physical exam during video encounters and both a comprehensive and focused physical examination for in-person encounters

f.      Recognize the limitations of a virtual encounter and when a patient needs to be seen in person

g.     Perform basic primary care diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

h.     Order appropriate primary care diagnostic laboratory and radiographic tests and provide or obtain accurate interpretations.

i.       Develop differential diagnosis and treatment plans that include pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions.

j.       Implement appropriate strategies for disease prevention and health care maintenance. 

k.     Utilize evidence-based medicine to guide clinical decision-making

l.       Demonstrate ability to provide appropriate patient education

m.   Recognize when referrals are needed and make them to the appropriate health care providers.


2.   Interpersonal and Communication Skills

a.     Recognize the cultural norms, needs, influences, and socioeconomic, environmental, and other population-level determinants affecting the health of the individual and community being served 

b.    Apply the core principles of medical ethics to medical and health care decisions

c.     Provide medical care across healthcare settings to patients of all ages, and diverse backgrounds, that is respectful, considerate, empathetic and equitable.

d.    Demonstrate the ability to provide effective verbal, nonverbal, and written communication to patients, families and other healthcare providers

e.    Review medical records, complete documentation, and communicate diagnostic findings and management strategies in a timely manner.

f.      Demonstrate the ability to acknowledge personal gaps in medical knowledge and ask for guidance and support when needed.

g.     Demonstrate the ability to collaborate with other healthcare professionals to optimize the care of patients


3.  Health Care Finance

a.   Demonstrate understanding of the basics of coding and billing 

b.  Understand different types of health systems and insurance types, including Medicare and Medicaid

c.   Recognize the financial implications of clinical decision making and treatment plans


4.   Professionalism and Leadership

a.  Demonstrate understanding of professional responsibilities around licensure, credentialing, reimbursement, advocacy, and laws, policies and regulations regarding medical practice.

b.   Demonstrate understanding of emotional intelligence and communication skills that establish a personal leadership style.

c.   Demonstrate understanding of the ability to shift leadership style to meet specific professional challenges

d.   Demonstrate strong reading, writing and analytic skills

e.   Demonstrate professionalism, integrity, honesty and respect for patient privacy and confidentiality. Attend to one’s own health, well-being, and abilities in order to maximize personal and professional performance.