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School of Medicine Columbia

Technical Standards

We take your success very seriously. Our technical standards will ensure you have the physical, emotional and mental capacity to succeed in our program.

School of Medicine Technical Standards

  1. All candidates for admission should possess sufficient intellectual capacity, physical ability, emotional and psychological stability, interpersonal sensitivity and communication skills to acquire the scientific knowledge, interpersonal and technical competencies, professional attitudes and clinical abilities required to pursue any pathway of graduate medical education and to enter the practice of medicine.
  2. All candidates should be aware that the academic and clinical responsibilities of physician assistant students will, at times, require their presence during day, evening and overnight hours, seven days per week.
  3. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress.

PA Program Technical Standards

  1.  All candidates for admission must fulfill the minimum academic requirements for admission.
  2. All candidates for the PA degree must complete all required courses and supervised clinical practicum experiences as indicated in the Graduate School Bulletin.
  3. All candidates for admission and all candidates for the PA degree must possess sufficient physical, intellectual, interpersonal, social, emotional, psychological and communication abilities to:

    Candidates should possess the personal qualities of integrity, empathy, concern for the welfare of others, commitment to life-long learning and motivation. They must possess the emotional and psychological health required for the full use of their intellectual abilities; the exercise of good judgment; the prompt completion of all responsibilities associated with the diagnosis and care of patients; and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients, patients' families and professional colleagues. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to be flexible and to function in the face of ambiguities inherent in any clinical situation. Candidates must be able to speak, to hear, to read, to write and to observe patients in order to elicit information, to describe changes in mood, activity, posture and behavior and to perceive nonverbal communications. Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in the English language in oral and written form with all members of the health care team. Candidates must be mobile and able to function independently within the clinical environment.

    Candidates must be able to observe patients accurately both close-at-hand and at a distance. Observation requires the functional use of the sense of vision and other sensory modalities and is enhanced by the functional use of the sense of smell. Candidates must have sufficient exteroceptive sense (touch, pain and temperature), proprioceptive sense (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis and vibratory) and motor function to carry out the requirements of the physical examination. Candidates must have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic operations. They must be able to use effectively and in a coordinated manner those standard instruments necessary for a physical examination (e.g., stethoscope, otoscope, sphygmomanometer, ophthalmoscope and reflex hammer). Candidates must be able to execute motor movements required to provide general and emergency treatment to patients, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, administration of intravenous medication, application of pressure to stop bleeding, intubation, suturing of simple wounds and performance of obstetrical maneuvers; all such actions require coordination of both fine and gross muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.

    Candidates must be able to observe demonstrations, collect data and participate in experiments and dissections in the basic sciences, including, but not limited to, demonstrations in animals, microbiologic cultures and microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. They must be able to understand basic laboratory studies and interpret their results, draw arterial and venous blood and carry out diagnostic procedures (e.g., proctoscopy and paracentesis).

    Candidates must be able to make measurements, calculate and reason; to analyze, integrate and synthesize data; and to problem-solve. Candidates must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures. Candidates must be able to integrate rapidly, consistently and accurately all data received by whatever sense(s) employed. 

    Candidates will be responsible for their own transportation to and from classes and clinical rotation sites and must have reliable transportation and a valid driver’s license. 
    In evaluating candidates for admission and candidates for the PA degree, it is essential that the integrity of the curriculum be maintained, that those elements deemed necessary for the education of a physician assistant be preserved and that the health and safety of patients be maintained. While compensation, modification and accommodation can be made for some disabilities on the part of candidates, candidates must be able to perform the duties of a student and of a physician assistant in a reasonably independent manner. The use of a trained intermediary would compromise a candidate's judgment by another person's powers of selection and observation. Therefore, the use of trained intermediaries to assist students in meeting the technical standards for admission, retention, or graduation is not permitted.

Consideration for Admission

The Physician Assistant Program will consider for admission any candidate who has the ability to perform or to learn to perform the skills and abilities specified in these technical standards. Candidates for the PA degree will be assessed at regular intervals not only on the basis of their academic abilities, but also on the basis of their non-academic (physical, interpersonal, communication, psychological and emotional) abilities to meet the requirements of the curriculum and to graduate as skilled and effective medical practitioners.

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