Technical standards are defined as the skills considered necessary for students to enter and progress in the physician assistant program (the “Program”), meet graduation requirements, and subsequently enter clinical practice. They are consistent with prerequisites for licensure by state professional boards and credentialing by medical institutions. Prior to matriculation, students must verify that they are able to perform the outlined skills and functions autonomously with or without reasonable accommodations. 

Arcadia University is committed to the full and equitable inclusion of qualified learners with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to individuals with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Students who have a disability and need reasonable accommodations should initiate a discussion with the Office of Disability Support Services (DSS) in accordance with the University’s Disability Support Services Policy for Students. A determination will be made based on factors including the ability to preserve patient safety and avoid fundamental alteration in the curriculum, in addition to the student’s ability to meet technical standards with reasonable accommodation.

DSS, with input from the Program, will make this determination through an interactive process with the student. Whenever possible, reasonable accommodations will be provided for those individuals with disabilities to enable them to meet these standards and ensure that students are not denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination.

Competency in technical standards will be assessed regularly throughout the Program. Students are obligated to alert the Program in a timely fashion of any change in their ability to fulfill the technical standards. Students are subject to dismissal and may not be able to graduate if they do not, with or without reasonable accommodation, participate fully in all aspects of PA training; are not deployable as competent PAs; or otherwise do not meet the technical standards. 

Students must possess ability and skills in the following six (6) areas:

  1. Observation
  2. Communication
  3. Motor and Sensory Function
  4. Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities
  5. Behavioral and Social Attributes
  6. Ethical and Legal Standards

Each student must develop a strong base of medical knowledge and clinical skills, interpret information, and use effective application and critical thinking to engage in medical decision-making across a wide range of medical situations and settings. The following critical skills must be attained, with or without reasonable accommodation, in order to achieve this goal and meet all Program competencies:


Students must be able to effectively and accurately acquire information from demonstrations in the classroom, laboratory, and clinical setting and apply relevant information. Students must be able to effectively and accurately acquire information from patients, observe a patient’s condition, and accurately describe these findings. Students must be able to perform a complete history and physical examination and develop an appropriate assessment, order diagnostic studies, and formulate a treatment plan. These skills require the use of visual, auditory, olfactory, and tactile senses or the functional equivalent. 


Students must be able to  communicate effectively, professionally, and empathetically with other students, faculty, patients, their family members, and other professionals in any health care setting. Students must be able to listen attentively and speak clearly to individuals from different social and cultural backgrounds. Students must be able to demonstrate proficiency in oral and written communication in the English language in order to elicit information, convey information, clarify information, and create rapport. Students must be able to recognize and respond to non-verbal communication, accurately and legibly record observations and plans in the patient record using various formats, and complete legal documents and forms in a timely manner.

Motor Function

Students must, after reasonable training,  be able to elicit information from patients by performing a patient history and physical examination using palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers. Students must be able to provide timely routine and emergent medical care to patients, which includes, but is not limited to, recording information; performing basic laboratory tests, and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures; interpreting diagnostic images; assisting in surgical care; performing medical procedures; and performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation. 

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

Students must be able to assimilate a large amount of complex information presented in the Program curriculum. Students must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, synthesize, and apply critical thinking to solve problems. In addition, students must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships, and understand spatial relationships of structures. Students must be able to  adapt to different learning environments and modalities including, but not limited to, classroom instruction; small group, team, and collaborative activities; individual study preparation and presentation of information; and simulations and use of computer technology. Students must be able to critically appraise medical literature in order to provide evidence-based care by formulating accurate diagnoses and management plans. Students must demonstrate sound clinical judgment and identify/predict issues that require intervention and intervene in a timely manner.

Behavioral and Social Skills

Students will, in a clinical setting, be exposed to an environment that may change rapidly, without warning, and/or in unpredictable ways. The student must accept responsibility for learning, exercising good judgment, and promptly completing all responsibilities during their training, as well as the responsibility attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients. They must understand the legal and ethical standards of the medical profession. The student must be able to work effectively, respectfully, and professionally as part of the educational and healthcare team, and to interact with instructors and peers, patients, patient families, and health care personnel in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner. They must demonstrate best practices related to cultural competency and providing services to individuals with diverse backgrounds. They  must be able to contribute to collaborative, constructive learning environments; accept constructive feedback from others; and take personal responsibility for making appropriate positive changes. Students must be punctual for all program requirements and be able to participate in all scheduled training hours, which may not be limited to the standard workweek.

Ethical and Legal Standards

Students must be able to understand the basis and content of both general and medical ethics and demonstrate high ethical and moral behavior. Students must demonstrate maturity, emotional stability, compassion, empathy, altruism, integrity, responsibility, and tolerance. Students must be able to recognize limitations in their knowledge, skills and abilities and to seek appropriate assistance with their identified limitations.

Students who no longer can meet the technical standards for admission, continuation, and graduation must promptly notify the Program. Due to the nature of the Program, students will be expected to submit to drug testing and comprehensive background checks, and must promptly report through the identified channels if they are physically impaired by drugs or alcohol while performing tasks as part of the Program; or if they are charged or convicted of any misdemeanor or felony offense while in the Program. Failure to disclose prior or new offenses can lead to disciplinary action that may include dismissal.