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Department of Physician Assistant Medicine 

In order to be successful in the Weber State University (WSU) Physician Assistant (PA) program and in the practice of medicine, it is essential for students to possess the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to function in a variety of clinical settings. These skills are necessary to provide a wide spectrum of patient care responsibilities required by the curriculum and the profession. 


PA students must be able to use vision, hearing, and somatic senses to accurately observe a patient at a reasonable distance and close up, noting verbal as well as nonverbal patient communication. Students must be able to observe and actively participate in lectures, small group activities, demonstrations, and case-based learning. In circumstances where a candidate's ability to acquire information through observation is compromised, the student must demonstrate alternative means to acquire and demonstrate the essential information without reliance upon another person's interpretation of the information. Specifically, students must:
  • Have the capability to use instruments commonly used in evaluation and diagnosis of disease (e.g., stethoscope, ophthalmoscope, otoscope, etc.).
  • Visualize and discriminate findings on X-rays and other imaging studies and interpret digital or analog representations of physiologic phenomena, such as EKGs.
  • Acquire information from electronic media, written documents, films, slides, videos, or other media.
  • Observe and differentiate changes in body movement
  • Observe anatomic structures
  • Efficiently read written and illustrated materials
  • Observe and detect signs and symptoms of disease processes and observe subtle changes inherent in the progression of illness
  • Possess visual acuity necessary to perform general and surgical procedures



PA students must be able to communicate effectively and respectfully using verbal, written, and reading mediums, in a way that demonstrates sensitivity to patients, their families, and members of the healthcare team. Specifically, students must:
  • Communicate clearly with patients and families to elicit information including a thorough history from patients, families, and other sources.
  • Be proficient in English to prepare a legible patient evaluation and present the evaluation orally in a focused manner to other healthcare professionals.
  • Accurately describe changes in mood, activity, and posture.
  • Perceive verbal as well as non-verbal communications, and promptly respond to emotional communications (sadness, worry, anger, agitation, confusion).
  • Adjust form and content of communications to the patient's functional level or mental state.
  • Engage in collaborative relationships with patients and families regardless of race, religion, beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
  • Record observations and plans legibly, efficiently, and accurately.
  • Complete forms as directed in a complete and timely fashion.
  • Prepare and communicate precise but complete summaries of individual encounters.
  • Access and use electronic systems sufficient to review and create documentation in electronic records.
  • Possess sufficient hearing for required diagnostic functions and patient care according to generally accepted community standards.
  • In emergency situations, understand and convey information for the safe and effective care of patients in a clear, unambiguous, and rapid fashion, including receiving and understanding input from multiple sources simultaneously or in rapid-fire sequence.


    Congnitive Function

    PA students must recall large amounts of complex information and be able to quantify, analyze, integrate, synthesize, solve problems, and reach diagnostic and therapeutic judgments. Specifically, students must:
    • Learn through a variety of modalities (e.g., lectures, small group discussions, individual, etc.)
    • Demonstrate skills in clinical reasoning, critical thinking and problem solving.
    • Identify significant findings from history, physical exam, and laboratory data.
    • Perform a mental status evaluation and perceive subtle cognitive and behavioral findings.
    • Recall and retain large quantities of complex information.
    • Manage several tasks or problems simultaneously.
    • Identify limitations in their own knowledge, skills, and abilities, and seek assistance when appropriate.
    • Incorporate new information from peers, teachers, and the medical literature in formulating diagnoses and plans.
    • Show good judgment in patient assessment, diagnostic, and therapeutic planning.



    Motor Function

    PA students must have sufficient coordination of both gross and fine motor function, equilibrium, and functional use of touch, vision, and hearing to execute movements reasonably required to provide general patient care and emergency treatment in accordance with currently acceptable medical practice. Specifically, students must:
    • Perform palpation, percussion, auscultation, and other diagnostic maneuvers necessary to inspect and elicit physical signs and recognize normal vs abnormal findings.
    • Utilize gross and fine manual palpation, touch, vibratory sensation, and temperature sensation in describing and evaluating various body parts.
    • Respond promptly to medical emergencies. 
    • Perform basic diagnostic, therapeutic, and emergent procedures (e.g., venipuncture, airway management, placement of intravenous catheters, administration of intravenous medicines, maternity care, advanced cardiac life support, suturing and knot tying, pap smear and endocervical culture, arthrocentesis, application of pressure to control bleeding, etc.)
    • Endure physically demanding workloads and function effectively under stress.

      Behavioral, Emotional & Social Attributes

      PA students must have the capacity to learn, understand, and comply with accepted ethical principles and state and federal laws governing the medical profession. PA students must be able to relate to patients, staff, and colleagues, with honesty, integrity, non-discrimination, self-sacrifice, and dedication. Specifically, students must:
      • Demonstrate the five components of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
      • Maintain an appropriate professional demeanor and demonstrate the capacity to be aware of, control, and express emotions judiciously and empathetically.
      • Identify personal biases and recognize multiple points of view, integrating them appropriately into clinical decision-making.
      • Communicate with and care for persons whose gender, culture, sexual orientation, spiritual beliefs, or social beliefs are different from their own in a non-judgmental way.
      • Work collaboratively with classmates to sustain a non-competitive learning atmosphere, and with colleagues and patients to develop collaborative professional relationships, including establishing appropriate professional boundaries.
      • Endure physically taxing workloads and high stress environments.
      • Adapt to changing environments and display flexibility in the face of uncertainties inherent in the training process and the practice of medicine.
      • Give and accept suggestions and criticisms appropriately and without defense, implementing modifications as recommended.



Reasonable accommodations are available to assist students in certain cases of disability. In accordance with University policy and as delineated by federal and Utah law, the WSU PA program does not discriminate in admissions against any individual based on that individual’s disability and will make good faith efforts at providing reasonable accommodation as necessary. 

Accommodations are considered reasonable if they do not fundamentally alter the program or assessment, impose an undue burden to the department, or pose a direct health or safety risk to any other individuals, including patients.

  • Students Seeking Accommodation

    Students must contact Weber State University’s Disability Services Center (DSC) to document the existence and nature of the disability and to request an accommodation. The nature of the disability does not need to be disclosed to the program. 

    • Students are eligible to establish a disability and seek reasonable accommodation at any time before or after matriculation.
    • Students are encouraged to seek accommodation without fear of judgment or retaliation. All claims and proceedings under this provision will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law and University policies. Dissemination of information related to the existence of a disability will be restricted to University administrators with a legitimate need to know this information. Except as provided by law, no mention of the candidate's disability will appear in any university or program correspondence with external agencies unless the candidate specifically requests such disclosure in writing.
    • In evaluating applicants for admission and in preparing candidates for the MPAS degree, it is essential that the integrity of the curriculum be maintained, that those elements deemed necessary for the education of a PA be preserved, and that the health and safety of patients be maintained. While reasonable accommodation can be made for specific disabilities on the part of the student, those students who are disabled will be held to the same fundamental standards as their nondisabled peers.
    • Students are encouraged to establish the existence of a disability and acquire accomodations prior to the onset of academic problems. The program will not remediate an academic failure resulting from a claimed disability that was not documented and approved by Disability Services and brought to the program's attention in a timely fashion.
    • Students who refuse reasonable accommodation and subsequently experience academic difficulty will be held to the same standards as any other student who experiences academic difficulty.


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