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Technical Standards for Students

The goal of the UTHSC College of Medicine and Physician Assistant Program is the broad preparation of students for the practice of medicine. This goal is achieved in part by undergraduate education, graduate medical education, and preparation for life-long learning. Modern medical education requires that the accumulation of scientific knowledge be accompanied by the simultaneous acquisition of skills and demonstration of professional behavior and interactions. Our faculty has the responsibility to graduate the best possible physician assistants; thus, progression in the Physician Assistant Program at UTHSC requires that students continue to meet or exceed the technical standards for the study and practice of medicine.

Students in the UTHSC College of Medicine must possess the following general qualities: critical thinking, sound judgment, emotional stability empathy, physical and mental stamina, and the ability to learn and perform tasks in a wide variety of educational and clinical settings. In all phases of medical education, students must use their intellectual ability and must maintain emotional stability, particularly when under stress. Graduates of the College of Medicine Physician Assistant Program must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care.

The College of Medicine requires that students continue to meet certain minimum technical standards. These standards must be met for matriculation and maintained throughout a student’s enrollment and graduation. Candidates for the Master of Medical Science – Physician Assistant degree must have the following essential functions: motor skills; sensory and observational skills; communication skills; conceptual, integrative and quantitative skills; and behavioral and social skills.

Motor Skills

PA students should have sufficient motor function to elicit information about patients by inspection, palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. Students should be able to execute motor functions across a variety of clinical settings necessary to provide comprehensive medical care to patient.

Sensory and Observational Skills

PA students must be able to observe demonstrations and participate in learning activities as required in the curriculum. They must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance, as well as, close at hand and be able to obtain a medical history directly from the patient, while observing the patient’s medical condition. This observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision, hearing and other sensory modalities.

Communication Skills

PA students must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively in oral and written form with patients. These skills must be performed at times in clinical settings when the time available for communication may be limited.

Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Skills

These skills include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem-solving and diagnosis, the critical skills demanded of physician assistants, require all these intellectual abilities. In addition, PA students must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.

Behavioral and Social Skills

Empathy, honesty, accountability, dependability, integrity, concern for others, and interpersonal skills are required for matriculation and throughout medical education. PA students must possess the emotional well-being required for the full use of their intellectual abilities; the exercise of sound judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients with empathy and compassion; and the development of appropriate, sensitive and effective interactions with patients. PA students must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads when stressed. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainty inherent in the clinical problems of many patients.

The UTHSC Committee on Admissions and the College of Medicine, in accordance with Section 504 of the 1973 Vocational Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities ACT [ADA] [Public Law 101-336, has established the aforementioned essential functions of physician assistant students.


Jan 17, 2024