Program Competencies

The MSU Physician Assistant Studies Department has established the identified PA program competencies. These competencies are summative in nature and are expected of an MSU PA Program graduate. In addition, these competencies are consistent with program course learning outcomes and take into account national professional guidelines for the PA profession.


Graduating MSU PA students will:

  • Understand, evaluate, and apply an evidence-based approach to medicine to patient care.
  • Apply sound science concepts to patient care.
  • Evaluate medical conditions with the understanding of the etiology, risk factors, pathophysiology, and epidemiology of the disease process.
  • Recognize and interpret the signs and symptoms of medical and surgical conditions.
  • Select, perform and/or interpret the appropriate laboratory and diagnostic studies/procedures.
  • Formulate and monitor a management plan for general medical and surgical conditions to include pharmacotherapy, therapeutic procedures, and other treatment modalities.
  • Apply concepts of health maintenance and disease prevention utilizing appropriate resources, referrals, and follow-up services.
  • Utilize appropriate screening methods to detect medical and surgical conditions in asymptomatic patients.
  • Elicit a comprehensive, accurate patient history and perform a thorough physical examination to identify abnormalities associated with disease.
  • Organize and interpret information to formulate differential diagnoses for each patient presentation.


Through verbal, nonverbal, written, and electronic communications, graduating MSU PA students will:

  • Develop an ethically sound and appropriate relationship with patients.
  • Use effective communication skills to elicit and provide information.
  • Adapt communication and information according to the context of the interaction while considering the importance of health literacy.
  • Work effectively and professionally as a member of an interdisciplinary health care team.
  • Demonstrate emotional resilience and stability, adaptability, and flexibility.
  • Acknowledge and tolerate ambiguity in medicine.
  • Accurately documents medical information that is compliant with medical, legal, professional, and financial standards.


Patient care includes patient- and setting-specific assessment, evaluation, and management. Physician assistants must demonstrate care that is effective, safe, high quality, and equitable. Graduating MSU PA students will:

  • Work effectively and professionally as a member of an interdisciplinary health care team to provide patient-centered care.
  • Interact with patients and their families with respect, empathy, and compassion.
  • Obtain, organize, and document essential and accurate patient information, including appropriate use of the electronic medical record.
  • Utilize patient preferences, current scientific evidence, and informed clinical judgment to develop medical plans regarding diagnostics and therapeutic interventions.
  • Effectively counsel and educate patients and families regarding physical and mental health issues, including disease prevention, health maintenance and holistic care.
  • Competently perform and/or assist with essential medical and surgical procedures within the scope of PA practice.
  • Competently utilize information technology to educate patients and refer them to sound and valid electronic media.


Professionalism is critical to the physician assistant practice. Graduating MSU PA students will:

  • Understand the legal and regulatory requirements, as well as the appropriate role of the physician assistant.
  • Foster professional relationships with all health care providers.
  • Display respect, compassion, and integrity in all patient and professional encounters.
  • Be accountable to patients, society, the healthcare team, and the profession.
  • Commit to excellence and on-going professional development.
  • Adhere to the ethical principles that guide clinical care, confidentiality of patient information, informed consent, and business practices.
  • Be sensitive and responsive to differences in race, class, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, abilities, as well as cultural, political, religious, or other affiliations including veteran and socioeconomic status.
  • Maintain practices of self-reflection, critical curiosity, and initiative.
  • Commit to the education of self, students, and other health care professionals.
  • Maintain a healthy work-life balance and behaviors, avoiding substance abuse.
  • Acknowledge professional and personal limitations.


Graduating MSU PA students will:

  • Engage in critical analysis of their own practice experience, the medical literature, and other information resources for the purposes of self- and practice-improvement.
  • Assess, evaluate, and improve their patient care practices.
  • Analyze practice experience and perform practice-based improvement activities using a systematic methodology in concert with other members of the health care delivery team.
  • Locate, appraise, and integrate evidence from scientific studies related to their patients’ health.
  • Apply knowledge of study designs and statistical methods to the appraisal of clinical literature and other information on diagnostic and therapeutic effectiveness.
  • Utilize information technology to manage information, access medical information, and support their own education.
  • Recognize and appropriately address personal biases, gaps in medical knowledge, and physical limitations in themselves and others.
  • Be prepared to serve in areas of need, particularly in rural and inner-city health professional shortage areas.


Graduating MSU PA students will:

  • Demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger system of health care to provide patient care that balances quality and cost.
  • Effectively interact with different types of medical practice and delivery systems
  • Understand and effectively use the funding sources and payment systems that provide coverage for patient care.
  • Practice cost-effective health care and resource allocation that does not compromise quality of care.
  • Advocate for quality patient care and assist patients in dealing with system complexities.
  • Collaborate with the health care team and administration to assess, coordinate, and improve the delivery and effectiveness of health care and patient outcomes.
  • Promote a safe environment for patient care, recognize, and correct systems-based factors that negatively impact patient care.
  • Apply medical information and clinical data systems to provide effective, efficient patient care.
  • Recognize and appropriately address system biases that contribute to health care disparities.
  • Apply the concepts of population health to patient care.