WCHP Academic Policies
The Department of Physician Assistant, the Westbrook College of Health Professions, and the University of New England are committed to offering a quality Physician Assistant education program that complies with the evaluative criteria of the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant. The program provides learning experiences to enable graduates to achieve the outcomes required for the practice of Physician Assistant. Please refer to the WCHP Graduate Program Progression Policies and Procedures (PDF) for a detailed description of academic standards.
A student in the Physician Assistant Program must have abilities and skills in five categories: observation, communication, motor, intellectual, and behavioral/social. All students admitted to the program must meet the following abilities and expectations upon matriculation and maintain these standards while enrolled in the PA Program. In the event a student is unable to fulfill these technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodation, the student will be subject to dismissal after admission.
Reasonable accommodation for persons with documented disabilities will be considered on an individual basis. However, a candidate must be able to perform these skills in an independent manner. Accordingly, the program requires each student to meet the following technical standards with or without accommodation:
Observation: Students must have sufficient sensory capacity to observe in the lecture hall, the laboratory, the outpatient setting, and the patient’s bedside. Sensory skills adequate to perform a physical examination are required. The ability to acquire sensory input using vision, hearing, and tactile sensation must be adequate to observe a patient’s condition and to elicit information through procedures regularly required in a physical examination, such as inspection, auscultation, percussion, and palpation.
In any case, where a student’s ability to observe or acquire information through these sensory modalities is compromised, the student must demonstrate alternative means and/or abilities to acquire and demonstrate the essential information without reliance upon another person’s interpretation of the information. It is expected that obtaining and using such alternative means and/or abilities shall be the responsibility of the student. The University will reasonably assist the student where necessary.
Communication: The student must be able to effectively and efficiently communicate in the English language using verbal, written, and reading skills, in a manner that demonstrates sensitivity to fellow students, patients, their families, and all members of the health care team.
- A student must be able to accurately elicit information, describe a patient’s change in mood, thought, activity, and posture. Students must demonstrate established communication skills using traditional means which may include the use of assistive devices.
- The student must be able to communicate complex findings in appropriate terms for patients/caregivers and other members of the health care team.
- A student must be able to communicate clearly and audibly during interactions with classmates, professors, patients, and members of the health care team.
- A student must be able to receive, write legibly, and interpret written and verbal communication in both clinical and academic settings.
- The student must be able to interpret and record legibly observations in a manner that is efficient and accurate using handwritten and electronic and dictating formats.
Motor: The ability to participate in basic diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers and procedures (e.g. palpation, percussion, auscultation) is required. Students must have sufficient motor function to safely execute movements required to provide care to patients. Students must be able to negotiate patient care environments and must be able to move between settings, such as clinic, classroom building, and hospital. Physical stamina sufficient to complete the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study in required. Long periods of sitting, standing, or moving are required in the classroom, laboratory, and clinical experiences.
The student must be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general and emergency diagnosis and medical care such as airway management, placement of intravenous catheters, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and suturing of wounds. At all times the ability to administer care to patients in a safe manner is paramount.
Intellectual: Students must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, and synthesize information effectively in a precisely limited time as would be appropriate for the individual’s level of training in a given clinical setting, while under stress, and in an environment in which other distractions may be present. Problem-solving, one of the critical skills demanded on Physician Assistants, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, students should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures.
Students must be able to read and understand medical literature. The student must be able to demonstrate mastery of these skills and the ability to use them together in a timely fashion in medical problem solving and patient care.
The student must be able to, with or without the use of assistive devices, but without reliance on another person, interpret x-ray, and other graphic images and digital or analog representations of physiologic phenomena (such as EKGs).
Behavioral and Social Attributes: Students must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the prompt completion of all academic and patient care responsibilities. The development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and other members of the health care team are essential. Flexibility, compassion, integrity, motivation, interpersonal skills, and the ability to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical practice are required.
Students must function professionally and effectively in any academic or clinical setting. Students must always demonstrate the psychological and emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the prompt completion of all academic and clinical responsibilities.
The student must demonstrate mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with University faculty and professional staff, peers and classmates, patients and other members of the health care team. Flexibility, compassion, integrity, motivation, interpersonal skills, and the ability to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical practice are all required.
Upon completion of a course of study, the faculty member in charge of that course submits the number of hours taught and a grade for each student to the academic coordinator. The M.S.P.A. program uses a standard letter grading system.