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Academic and Technical Standards
Technical Standards for Matriculation, Promotion and Graduation
Please use as a Program supplement to the UND SMHS Technical Standards.
The Physician Assistant Program of the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences has a responsibility to society to graduate the best possible health care providers. All graduates of this institution must use professional knowledge, skills, and attitudes to function in a wide variety of health care settings and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. The technical standards are designed to ensure the graduation of capable, well rounded and appropriately trained health care providers. In order to fulfill this responsibility, six areas of competency that must be sufficiently developed to participate in, and to graduate from a professional program have been established.
- Health Care/Scientific Knowledge
- Clinical Skills
- Ethical and Professional Behavior
- Interpersonal and Communication Skills
- Lifelong Learning
- Health Care Systems-based Practice and Improvement
The educational programs offered at UNDSMHS are academically rigorous with the physician assistant education structured as a broad general training intended to produce "undifferentiated physician assistants." The academic standards and technical standards are intended to support that model. Whereas a truly undifferentiated physician assistant may not be achievable, the standards attempt to ensure that graduates of the school possess the background to pursue virtually any area of specialty. Thus all students must meet the academic standards and the technical standards to matriculate, to progress through the curriculum, and to meet the requirements for graduation.
Academic standards refer to acceptable demonstrations of mastery in various disciplines, before matriculation and after, as judged by faculty members, examinations, and other measurements of performance. Every effort is made to meet the academic needs of the physician assistant student within the professional program. When a student's ability to perform the technical standards is compromised, the student must demonstrate alternative means and/or abilities to perform the specified tasks. The following technical standards describe the basic competencies essential to successful completion of the Physician Assistant Program within the SMHS at UND.
Beyond the academic standards, students must demonstrate the following technical standards with or without accommodations. It is the student's responsibility to identify/disclose any disabilities if requesting any needed accommodations.
Technical Standards and Capacity
In order for a student to adequately address the six competency areas noted earlier, he/she must possess the requisite capacities/abilities described in the overarching UND SMHS Technical Standards document in addition to the areas below.
Students must be able to perceive, by the use of senses and mental abilities, the presentation of information through a variety of sources including small group discussions/presentations, large group lectures, on-line lectures, one-on-one interactions, hands-on demonstrations, laboratory experiences, patient encounters (at a distance and close at hand), diagnostic findings, procedures, printed and audiovisual material.
Students must be able to gather, comprehend, utilize and disseminate information effectively, efficiently and according to professional standards. Students are required to communicate in the English language through oral, written and electronic means, at a level consistent with competent professional practice. Students are expected to use grammar and vocabulary proficiently.
Students must be able to speak, hear, and observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. Students must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients, including speech, reading and writing when developing relationships with patients and caregivers. Communication in oral, written, and electronic form with the health care team must be effective and efficient.
3. Functional Activities
Students must have sufficient motor, tactile and sensory functions to: attend and participate in classes, groups, and activities which are part of the curriculum (may include prolonged sitting or standing); examine patients (including observation, auscultation, palpation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers); conduct basic laboratory procedures and tests; perform diagnostic procedures; provide patient care appropriate to the circumstances; and function in a wide variety of patient care venues including rapid paced/high demand and intense environments such as the emergency room and the intensive care unit. Examples of emergent treatment may include cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the administration of intravenous medication and the application of pressure to stop bleeding (utilization of both gross and fine muscular movements). Students must be able to work long and variable hours at all times of day and in all settings. Students must be able to maintain concentration with distracting noises and close proximity to fellow workers; work in building above or below ground level and with or without windows.
Students must also be able to transport themselves (via transportation and within institutions by elevator and/or stairs) from one location to another in a timely fashion in order to facilitate patient care responsibilities and to receive educational training. This includes the ability to relocate living arrangements outside the area in which the student customarily lives to complete clinical experiences.
4. Professional and Ethical Behavior
Students must possess the emotional health necessary for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of sound judgment, the prompt completion of responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and co-workers. Students must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. They must have a high level of compassion for others, motivation to serve, integrity, and a consciousness of social values and possess sufficient interpersonal skills to interact positively with people from all levels of society, all ethnic backgrounds, and all belief systems.
Students must demonstrate knowledge of and commitment to their professional code of ethics and behavior that reflects a sense of right and wrong. Students must develop and exhibit a sense of medical ethics, and also recognize and apply pertinent legal and ethical standards including adherence to confidentiality requirements.
Students must exhibit the ability and commitment to work with individuals in an intense setting to meet the needs of people of diverse cultures, age groups, socioeconomic groups and challenges without bias. These individuals may be severely injured; they may be limited by cognitive, emotional and functional deficits; and their behavior may create at times an aversive reaction. The ability to interact with these individuals without being judgmental or prejudiced is critical in establishing one's professionalism and therapeutic relationship. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that are critical to complete each program.
Students must be able to demonstrate higher-level cognitive abilities to collect, organize, prioritize analyze, synthesize and integrate large amounts of technically detailed and complex information within a limited time frame. This information will be presented in a variety of educational settings, including lectures, small and large group discussions, readings, demonstrations and individual clinical practice settings. The student must be able to analyze, integrate, and apply examination findings into a comprehensive therapeutic treatment strategy for the patient. The student must also be able to demonstrate the ability to utilize statistical information to interpret published reports regarding efficacy of care and apply those findings in a rational manner.
6. Behavioral and Social
Students must maintain the emotional health necessary for full utilization of their intellectual ability, exercise good judgment complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients. They must be able to promptly complete all duties involved in examination, evaluation, treatment, management, and discharge planning. They must be able to develop mature/sensitive/empathetic relationships with the patient, family, caregivers, and other members of the health care team. Students must have the ability to cope with and tolerate heavy workloads, demanding patients, life-threatening clinical situations, rapidly changing environments and conditions; display flexibility; and function appropriately with the uncertainties involved in patient care. Students must maintain alertness and concentration during long hours and variable work schedules. They must recognize and respond appropriately to potentially hazardous situations and be able to work independently and with others under time constraints. Students must prioritize requests and work concurrently on multiple tasks while maintaining an image of professionalism at all times.
NOTE: Each clinical facility may have additional technical standards that may affect a student's ability to complete clinical placements.
If any health sciences applicants or students have a question about whether he or she can meet these standards due to functional limitations from a disability, he or she should contact Disability Services for Students (DSS), the campus resource for confidential discussion and support regarding reasonable accommodations:
Disability Services for Students
Room 190 McCannel Hall Stop 9040
Grand Forks, ND 58202 – 9040