Skip to main content

Physician Assistant Competencies

In early 2020 the Northwestern PA Program Curriculum Committee developed competencies for our program graduates. These competencies were developed in response to, and modeled after, the PAEA “Core Competencies for New Physician Assistant Graduates.” which incorporate the ARC-PA Competency domains: medical knowledge (MK), interpersonal skills (IS), clinical/technical skills (CTS), professional behaviors (P), and clinical reasoning/problem-solving (CR/PS). The NUPA competencies represent the continuum of knowledge, skills and behaviors expected of all graduates of the Northwestern PA Program. Moreover, the concepts of cultural humility, and self-assessment and professional development are found throughout all domains.

 1. Patient-Centered Practice Knowledge

1.1 Recognize normal and abnormal health states (MK)

1.2 Discern among acute, subacute and chronic diseases (MK, CR/PS)

1.3 Elicit and understand the stories of individual patients and apply to the context of their lives (including environmental influences, cultural norms, socioeconomic factors, and beliefs) (MK, CTS, IS, CR/PS, P)

1.4 Develop therapeutic relationships with patients (IS, P)

1.5 Determine differential diagnoses, order and interpret laboratory tests and imaging, perform necessary core duty procedures, diagnose, treat and manage illness (MK, CTS, CR/PS)

 2. Society and Population Health

2.1 Recognize the cultural norms, needs, influences, socioeconomic, environmental, and other population-level determinants and disparities affecting the health of the individual and community being served (MK, CR/PS)

2.2 Recognize the potential impacts of the community, biology, and genetics on patients and incorporate these factors into decisions of care (MK, CR/PS)

2.3 Demonstrate accountability and responsibility for removing barriers to health (P)

2.4 Engage members of the health care team in community surveillance to determine the adequacy of resources available to individuals as well as the community (MK, IS, CR/PS)

2.5 Understand and apply the fundamental principles of epidemiology (MK)

2.6 Recognize the value of monitoring and reporting for quality improvement (MK, CR/PS)

 3. Health Literacy and Communication

3.1 Establish effective therapeutic relationships to deliver culturally competent care (IS)

3.2 Demonstrate insight and understanding about emotions and human responses to emotions in order to facilitate effective interpersonal interactions (MK, IS, P)

3.3 Communicate effectively with patients, families, and the public (IS, P)

3.4 Provide effective, equitable, understandable, and respectful quality care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy, and other communication needs (MK, CTS, IS, CR/PS, P)


 4. Interprofessional Collaborative Practice and Leadership

4.1 Articulate one’s role and responsibilities to patients, families, communities, and other professionals (MK, IS, P)

4.2 Advocate for the focus of the health care team being on the needs of the patient (IS, P)

4.3 Develop relationships and effectively communicate with physicians, other health professionals, and health care teams (IS, P)

4.4 Understand and be able to engage the full scope of knowledge, skills, and abilities of available health professionals to provide care that is safe, timely, efficient, effective, and equitable (MK)

4.5 Describe how professionals in health care and other fields can collaborate and integrate clinical care and public health interventions to optimize population health (MK, IS, CR/PS)

 5. Professional and Legal Aspects of Health Care

5.1 Articulate the standard of care practice; including, quality, quality improvement and safety, risk management, and prevention of medical errors (MK, CR/PS)

5.2 Demonstrate respect for the dignity and privacy of patients while maintaining confidentiality in the delivery of team-based care (MK, P)

5.3 Demonstrate responsiveness to patients, the PA program, and the profession (IS, P)

5.4 Exhibit an understanding of the legal and regulatory environments affecting clinical practice (MK)

 6. Health Care Finance and Systems

6.1 Recognize the financial implications to the provision of health care (MK)

6.2 Understand the collaborative nature of the PA/physician relationship (MK)

6.3 Understand different types of health systems, funding streams, and insurance, including the role of Medicare and Medicare as payers (MK, CR/PS)

Follow PA Program on Instagram