Saint Louis University

Physician Assistant Program

Technical Standards

Students enrolled in the Saint Louis University Physician Assistant Program must be able to complete all requirements leading to the Master of Medical Science degree. This degree signifies that the holder is a clinician prepared for entry into the practice of medicine as a physician assistant, possessing the knowledge, skills and competencies necessary to function in a variety of clinical situations and to provide a broad spectrum of care consistent with physician assistant practice.

To achieve success in the program and the profession, individuals must possess certain more specifically defined abilities and skills. Saint Louis University has systems in place to assist any student who has a documented physical, psychological or cognitive disability. SLU is committed to full compliance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. A student who believes he/she may not be able to perform one or more of the listed essential program requirements should discuss the issue with personnel in the Disability Services (314.977.3838; DuBourg Hall, Room 36, 221 North Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63103-2097). Any student who believes they cannot meet or fulfill any part of the technical standards must contact Disability Services which will document the matter and address reasonable accommodations for the student if warranted.

Students enrolled in the program must have the emotional and intellectual ability to learn, assimilate, analyze and integrate information and data. Motor function capabilities must allow candidates to meet the demands of PA education and patient care. Candidates must be able to develop mature, sensitive, effective relationships with patients and colleagues. They must be able to tolerate physical and emotional stress and a fast-paced academic and clinical environment and continue to function effectively. They must be adaptable, flexible and able to function in the face of uncertainty.

In addition to acquiring the knowledge, skills, abilities, attitudes and behaviors detailed in the general PA program objectives, the technical standards must be met by each physician assistant student. If students are unable to meet or fulfill the technical standards with or without reasonable accommodation as determined by the Saint Louis University Disability Services their status as a PA student may be affected. The technical standards require that the physician assistant student, with or without reasonable accommodations must demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Communicate effectively and sensitively with patients, health professionals, teachers, staff and peers in settings where communication is typically oral or written or when the time span available for communication is limited. Students must be able to understand and convey information, accurately perceive nonverbal communication, and describe findings related to patients.

  2. Observe demonstrations and visual adjuncts used in classroom, laboratory and clinical instruction. PA students must be able to observe patients accurately and completely from a distance and at close range.

  3. Elicit data from patients via palpation, percussion, and auscultation. These skills and others necessary to carry out a variety of diagnostic maneuvers and therapeutic procedures require coordination of gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and sensation.

  4. Acquire, assimilate, interpret, integrate and apply information from direct observation, oral communication, written messages, films, slides, microscopes, imaging science, ECG readouts and other material or media.

  5. Possess motor function sufficient to execute movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients, such as those required in physical examination, airway management, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, suturing and assisting in surgery. 

  6. Perform problem-solving tasks quickly and efficiently in an environment which may change rapidly, without warning or in unpredictable ways. Such tasks require not only intellectual-conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities, but also the ability to comprehend three-dimensional and spatial relationships.

  7. Exercise sound judgment and perform all tasks related to the care of patients in a responsible and professional manner.

  8. Carry out procedures involved in learning the sciences fundamental to medicine. This includes the ability to participate fully in curricular activities and requirements in the classroom, laboratory and clinical setting. It also may include performing physical exams on a classmate.
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