Delineation of technical standards is required for the accreditation of U.S. physician assistant programs by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for Physician Assistants (ARC-PA).
Physician assistants (PAs) are academically and clinically prepared to practice medicine on collaborative medical teams. The collaborative medical team is fundamental to the physician assistant (PA) profession and enhances the delivery of high-quality health care. Within the collaborative medical team, PAs are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and may serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider. PA education requires thousands of hours of general medical training, emphasizing versatility and collaboration. PAs practice in every state and every medical setting and specialty, improving healthcare access and quality.
Practicing medicine as a PA requires intelligence, sound judgment, intellectual honesty, appropriate interpersonal skills, and the capacity to respond to emergencies quickly and calmly. Essential attributes of the graduate PA include an attitude of respect for self and others, adherence to the concepts of privilege and confidentiality in communicating with patients, and a commitment to the patient’s welfare.
The essential abilities and characteristics embodied in these technical standards require Marquette PA applicants and students to possess specific necessary physical and cognitive abilities and sufficient mental and emotional stability. Doing so assures that candidates for admission, promotion, and graduation can complete the entire course of study and fully participate in all aspects of medical training. Marquette University PA program intends for its graduates to become medically competent and compassionate PAs capable of entering clinical practice and meeting all medical licensure requirements.
Nothing in these technical standards is meant to deter the application or participation of any student who might be able to complete the requirements of the PA curriculum with reasonable accommodations. Per Marquette policies, which, in turn, embody applicable federal, state, and local laws, the Marquette PA program does not discriminate in admissions or educational programs against any individual based on his/her disability. No otherwise qualified individual with a disability will be excluded from admission. However, the use of an intermediary that would, in effect, require a student to rely on another individual’s power of observation and/or communication is not considered a reasonable accommodation.
ETHICAL AND LEGAL STANDARDS
Students must meet the highest standards of ethical and moral behavior. Applicants and current students must meet the legal standards to be licensed to practice medicine in the U.S., the State of Wisconsin, and the Marquette University Physician Assistant Program's standards. Upon application to Centralized Application System for Physician Assistant (CASPA), candidates for admission must disclose and provide a written explanation to the Marquette University PA program of any felony offense(s), misdemeanor offense(s), and institutional action(s) taken against them before matriculation. This disclosure is required of all charges and convictions, including expunged and diverted offenses. Institutional actions include, but are not limited to, Title IX or Title VII violations, and all disciplinary actions. Further, after matriculation, students enrolled in the Marquette PA program must immediately notify the program chair of any arrest, charge, conviction, or institutional investigation or action occurring thereafter. A felony conviction or failure to disclose prior or new offenses may lead to disciplinary action, including dismissal.
Students must communicate effectively, in English, in multiple formats, including verbal, written, reading, and electronic, to understand and complete the curriculum. Students must use effective verbal and nonverbal communication when interacting professionally and during patient care. Students must be able to receive and understand information and ideas as well as express and exchange ideas. Relevant skills include the ability to acquire a medical history promptly; interpret non-verbal information; establish a therapeutic rapport with patients; record information accurately and clearly in medical records; and communicate effectively and efficiently with other health care professionals.
BEHAVIORAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SOCIAL ATTRIBUTES
Students must possess specific emotional attributes such as compassion, empathy, integrity, interpersonal skills, and self-motivation / regulation. These attributes are necessary qualities to develop into effective and caring physician assistants. Students must also be aware of their beliefs and biases that can affect personal, professional, and patient relationships. Students must have the willingness to work towards cultural competency. In addition, students must have self-awareness of their limitations and a desire to address these limitations. Notably, students must demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning through study and self-assessment as a core aspect of providing quality care during their career as a PA. Throughout the student process, from admission onward, students must display truthfulness, strong interpersonal skills, and respectful behaviors towards all individuals. The PA students must be able to tolerate physically and mentally taxing workloads, effectively carry out responsibilities, and function effectively under stress in academic and clinical environments.
COGNITIVE, INTELLECTUAL-CONCEPTUAL, INTEGRATIVE, AND QUANTITATIVE ABILITIES
Students must be able to demonstrate academic maturity and be able to comprehend, interpret, and synthesize, and apply technically detailed and complex medical knowledge from formal lectures, small group problem-based and active learning environments, and individual study of the medical literature. Students must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, synthesize, and apply information across modalities, appreciate three-dimensional spatial relationships, and think critically to learn to effectively diagnose and treat patients as an integral part of a health professions team.
Students must meet the required physical and mental essential abilities in the areas of observation and motor function.
Observation requires the functional use of visual, auditory, and somatic sensations (i.e., touch, pressure, pain, motion, temperature).
Students must be able to observe and actively participate in didactic and clinical environments, including demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences; visual and oral presentations in lectures and labs; laboratory diagnostic and microbiologic testing, technical skills-based training; simulations; patient encounters both at a distance and close at hand.
Students must be able to perceive essential structures and signs of disease as presented in the basic science / clinical courses and clinical rotations. PA students must also be able to assess and distinguish normal from abnormal physical examination findings.
MOTOR FUNCTION AND COORDINATION
Students must be able to demonstrate sufficient motor function and coordination that require both gross and fine motor movements, equilibrium, and functional use of tactile, visual, and auditory senses. Students must be able to obtain information from patients by palpation, percussion, auscultation, or other diagnostic maneuvers; document information elicited from patients in written histories and clinical notes; perform fundamental laboratory tests such as urinalysis, wet mounts, fecal occult blood testing, and other rapid diagnostic testing; execute motor movements required to provide general care and emergency treatment for patients including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, application of pressure to bleeding wounds, suturing, insertion of intravenous catheters, splinting of fractures, injections, urinary catheters, lumbar puncture, endotracheal intubation, removal of foreign bodies and abscess drainage; attend and participate in all classes, groups and activities requiring a motor component including anatomic dissections; read and write to record, interpret or complete lecture presentations, textbooks, ECGs, diagnostic imaging, case presentations, and Capstone papers; complete timed demonstrations of skills and competencies by Objective Structured Examination (OSCEs) or technical assessments; provide patient care within a reasonable time period appropriate to the patient care setting; competently function in outpatient, inpatient, surgical and other procedural venues with reasonable independence or as an assistant for surgeons, specialists and generalists as needed; participate in on-call responsibilities; and possess sufficient stamina to endure demanding physical and mental workloads.
The faculty and administration of MU PA believe that a diverse student body enhances the educational opportunities for all students and is beneficial to the profession at large. Students with an existing or newly diagnosed disability who wish to establish accommodations must contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at ODS@marquette.edu. Candidates may seek to document a disability and request reasonable accommodation at any time before or after matriculation. Candidates must follow the procedures of the ODS to document the existence and nature of the disability. Marquette ODS and PA will engage in an interactive process with the student to determine the necessity and reasonableness of the requested accommodation. Students may voluntarily share disability information with the program to best identify a reasonable accommodation. Once the need for and availability of a reasonable accommodation has been established, the ODS and the student will engage in an interactive process to determine the reasonableness of the requested accommodation. Some standard accommodations are communicated to faculty through an accommodation letter; non-standard or uniquely applied accommodations may require additional coordination, and will be specified in written communication between ODS, the student, and appropriate program administrators. It is the student’s responsibility to request clarification of, or adjustments to, the accommodations they have been granted.
If a student in the Marquette Physician Assistant Program is approved for the use of a reasonable accommodation and they decline to utilize it or have exhausted the exploration of reasonable accommodations and subsequently experiences academic difficulty, the candidate will be treated as any other candidate who experiences academic difficulty.
In general, candidates should establish the existence of a disability prior to the onset of academic problems. The accommodations process is not retroactive. If a candidate comes forward after failing a course(s) and maintains that the reason for the failure was a disability not previously claimed, Marquette University may consider the information, as appropriate, in making its decision regarding remediation, if any must be made. It is in the student’s best interest to explore necessary accommodations in a timely manner so that any barriers to access may be addressed prior to any difficulties being realized.
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 Marquette University administrators with a need-to-know this information. Except as provided by law, no mention of the candidate’s disability will appear in any Marquette University correspondence with external agencies unless the candidate specifically requests such disclosures in writing. If a disability-related need for accommodations exists in the clinical environment, the student will need to approach the program faculty well before clinical rotations, allowing time for discussion with clinical partners to identify what reasonable accommodations can be applied, and what limitations to reasonable accommodations may exist.
The Marquette PA program is extremely rigorous and fast-paced. Accommodations that may have been appropriate in an undergraduate program may no longer be appropriate in this program or its clinical components. There are limitations to what accommodations can be approved, taking into consideration the essential elements of the program itself, reasonableness of the requested accommodations and the fundamentals of clinical practice. Students who need accommodations to meet the technical and academic standards of the program are responsible for engaging in the interactive accommodations process.