About Physician Assistant Program

Missions, Goals and Competencies

The primary mission of the Saint Louis University Physician Assistant Program is to educate men and women to become competent, compassionate physician assistants dedicated to excellence in healthcare and the service of humanity.

PAs are educated according to the medical model in a manner that complements the education of the physician. This similarity of instruction and training enhances the working relationship between the PA and the physician.

The SLU PA Program remains successful in attaining its goals related to the education of PA students, including the following:

  • The program seeks to produce graduates who are competent in the knowledge required of a PA program graduate.
  • The program seeks to produce graduates who are competent in the skills and abilities necessary for practice as a PA.
  • The program seeks to produce graduates who are competent in the attitudes and behaviors imperative for the PA profession.

Measures for evaluating achievement of these goals include excellent patient care and professionalism as assessed by preceptors who evaluate students during clinical rotations, formative and summative faculty assessments of students, a long history of outstanding scores and first-time pass rates on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) and excellent job placement rates.

The competency-based curriculum provides the entry-level graduate with the fundamental knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to function in a variety of roles within numerous clinical disciplines. The program seeks to produce graduates who are competent in the following areas:

The graduate should have a working knowledge of each of the following:

  • the clinical preparatory and pre-clinical sciences to include the applied behavioral sciences
  • the range of expected norms in patients of all ages
  • the signs and symptoms of disease and their relationship to one another
  • pathophysiology sufficient to identify deviations from the expected norms in patients of all ages
  • the norms for psychological and social behaviors and the recognition of deviations from these expected norms
  • fundamental health maintenance and patient management regimens
  • the problem solving process and how it may be applied to identifying health problems
  • the technical and human resources available to the primary health care provider
  • the role of the physician assistant within the health care team
  • the resources available for continued professional development


The graduate should acquire the competencies and skills to:

  • recognize the signs and symptoms of disease, while understanding their relationship to each other
  • obtain, organize and construct a clinical assessment which accurately describes the information available for a given patient at a given time
  • develop a problem list from the clinical assessment
  • apply problem-solving methods in clinical situations
  • manage common health problems with physician supervision
  • communicate empathetically and compassionately with patients
  • communicate effectively with physicians and other members of the health care team
  • competently perform technical procedures


The graduate should embrace and demonstrate the following:

  • respect for self, others and the right to privacy as well as respect for the PA profession
  • appropriate value judgments with respect to interpersonal relationships with peers, superiors, patients and their families
  • recognition of commitment and service to humanity, especially to the patient and the patient's family
  • recognition of moral, ethical and legal implications of his or her actions
  • recognition of patient and provider rights and restrictions
  • appreciation of cultural and value system disparities among varied populations of all socioeconomic levels
  • responsibility for maintaining continued clinical and professional competency


The program's general educational philosophy was founded on the premise that experiential learning is the most effective form of learning, and that it can be best achieved within an environment which:

  • encourages the participation of the whole person in the learning process
  • promotes self-initiated discovery
  • influences the learner's behavior and attitudes and has meaning for the learner
  • allows the learner to assess the acquisition of new knowledge, skills and attitudes which occur with effective learning

This philosophy of education serves as the foundation of the program's goals and objectives, and in defining the entry-level competencies expected of the graduate physician assistant. 

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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