Competencies and Learning Outcomes

Physician Assistants provide expansive clinical diagnostic, therapeutic, and counseling services in primary and specialty care. Working in a number of health care facilities ranging from private practices to tertiary care hospitals, physician assistants enjoy a tremendous demand for their skills. Case Western Reserve University's PA Program educates qualified individuals to be highly skilled licensed health care providers who practice team-based medicine in collaboration with physicians. The general entry-level competencies of a graduate of the CWRU PA Program include:

Medical Knowledge and Patient Care

Competencies
  • Elicit and interpret a comprehensive, detailed and accurate history from a patient.
  • Perform the appropriate comprehensive or problem-oriented physical examination of a patient.
  • Perform diagnostic and/or therapeutic procedures associated with the management of medical and minor surgical conditions.
  • Assess the severity of common emergency problems and respond in a decisive and appropriate fashion.
  • Provide life support and perform emergency evaluation/care and initiate therapeutic procedures in life-threatening events jointly with or in the absence of a physician or other health professionals.
  • Apply medical knowledge to patient encounters with evaluation, diagnosis and management of disease.
  • Formulate a differential diagnosis and prepare a problem list based on the assessment of the patient.
  • Analyze pertinent medical information and laboratory data for the formation of diagnostic and/or management plans.
  • Implement and monitor patient treatment plans and recommend or prescribe medications or other therapy for the treatment of patients.

Interpersonal and Communication Skills and Teamwork

  • Record and present pertinent patient data, including interpretive recommendations, in a manner meaningful to the physician and members of the healthcare team.
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills to be able to provide complete, concise and well-organized case presentations to physicians and other members of the healthcare team.
  • Function as a member of the interprofessional healthcare team.
  • Utilize well-developed interpersonal skills, communicate appropriately and interact professionally with the healthcare team, patients, family, peers, staff and the general public.
  • Promote health and wellness; instruct and counsel patients regarding physical and mental health, including proper diet, disease prevention, normal growth and development, family planning, lifestyle risks, situational adjustment reactions and other health care matters.

Professionalism

  • Adhere to the highest standards of professionalism and demonstrating responsibility, ethical practice and sensitivity to a diverse patient population.
  • Respect and understand the concepts of privilege, confidentiality and informed patient consent.
  • Engage with the community to heighten awareness of the intriguing challenges and unique opportunities in urban communities.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to continuing medical education and ongoing professional development.
  • Participate in the scholarly activity of the profession through research, publishing and/or education.

Practice-based Learning & Improvement

  • Demonstrate critical and creative thinking skills, informed value judgments and possess an educational foundation for continued growth and life-long learning.

Systems-based Care

  • Practice cost-effective health care and resource allocation that does not compromise patient quality of care.
  • Deliver or assist in the delivery of services to patients requiring continuing care in homes, nursing homes and extended care facilities.
  • Facilitate referral to community resources, health facilities and agencies and arrange appropriate patient follow-up to respond to patient needs that go beyond their medical conditions and include social, emotional, spiritual, economic and environmental factors.
  • Critically evaluate the medical literature, policies and systems on an ongoing basis, to improve patient care, enhance leadership qualities in the community as well as professional endeavors.

CWRU PA Program Learning Outcomes and Core Competencies Needed to Graduate:

The Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) PA Program educates qualified individuals to be highly skilled licensed health care providers who practice team-based medicine in collaboration with physicians.  To be able to graduate from the program, a CWRU PA student must meet the minimum requirements of all of the PA Program Learning Outcomes and Core Competencies.  The following are the CWRU Learning Outcomes and Program Core Competencies 

1. Elicit and interpret a comprehensive, detailed and accurate history from patients of any age and gender in a variety of settings.  This includes the ability to obtain an appropriate chief complaint, history of present illness, past medical history, family history, social history and review of systems as well as the interpretation of patient risk factors.  Review the patient’s medical record and screen patients to determine their need for medical attention. (MK, ICS, PC, PROF)

2.  Perform the appropriate comprehensive or problem-oriented physical examination of a patient of any age and gender in a variety of clinical settings. (MK, ICS, PC, PROF)

3.  Record and present pertinent patient data, including interpretive recommendations, in a manner meaningful to the physician and members of the healthcare team.  This includes complete, clear and concise documentation of patient information in the form of admission notes, discharge summaries, progress notes, initial comprehensive evaluations, problem-oriented notes, consult notes, surgical notes, orders and problem lists. (ICS, PROF, PBLI)

4.  Demonstrate effective communication skills to be able to provide complete, concise and well-organized case presentations to physicians and other members of the healthcare team as appropriate. (ICS, PC, PROF)

5. Based on the patient history and physical, identify, order, perform and/or interpret routine diagnostic studies such as common radiologic studies, routine laboratory tests and electrocardiographic studies to determine or confirm a patient’s diagnosis. (MK, PC, PBLI, SBP)

6.  Formulate a differential diagnosis based on the assessment of the patient. (MK)

7.  Prepare a problem list. (ICS, PC)

8.  Analyze pertinent medical information and laboratory data for the formation of diagnostic and/or management plans. (MK, PC, PBLI, SBP)

9.  Implement and monitor patient treatment plans and recommend or prescribe medications or other therapy for the treatment of medical/surgical patients.  This includes monitoring patients for compliance and response to therapy as well as modifying treatment plans as needed and questioning patients about adverse reactions to medications. Practice cost-effective health care and resource allocation that does not compromise patient quality of care.  (MK, ICS, PC, PROF, PBLI, SBP)

10. Perform diagnostic and/or therapeutic procedures associated with the management of medical and minor surgical conditions to include but not limited to the administration of medication, venipuncture, debridement, injections, suturing, wound management, incision and drainage of superficial infections, cast and splint application and simple fracture follow-up. (MK, ICS, PC, PROF, PBLI, SBP)

11. Instruct and counsel patients regarding physical and mental health, including proper diet, disease prevention, normal growth and development, family planning, lifestyle risks, situational adjustment reactions and other health care matters. (MK, ICS, PC, PROF, PBLI, SBP)

12. Deliver or assist in the delivery of services to patients requiring continuing care in homes, nursing homes and extended care facilities, including reviewing and monitoring treatment and therapy plans. (MK, ICS, PC, PROF, PBLI, SBP)

13. Assess the severity of common emergency problems and respond in a decisive and appropriate fashion.  Provide life support and perform emergency evaluation/care and initiate therapeutic procedures in life-threatening events jointly with or in the absence of a physician or other health professionals. (MK, ICS, PC, PROF, PBLI5)

14. Facilitate referral to community resources, health facilities and agencies and arrange appropriate patient follow-up to respond to patient needs that go beyond their medical conditions and include social, emotional, spiritual, economic and environmental factors. (ICS, PC, PROF, PBLI, SBP)
 
15.  Function as a member of the interprofessional healthcare team; communicate appropriately and interact professionally with the healthcare team, patients, family, peers, staff and the general public. (ICS, PC, PROF, PBLI, SBP)

16. Critically evaluate the medical literature, policies and systems on an ongoing basis, to improve patient care, enhance leadership qualities in the community as well as professional endeavors.  Use evidence based medicine protocols whenever possible. (MK, PROF, PBLI)

17.  Demonstrate professionalism, responsibility, ethical practice and sensitivity to a diverse patient population.  Respect and understand the concepts of privilege, confidentiality and informed patient consent. (ICS, PROF)

18.  Demonstrate a commitment to continuing medical education and ongoing professional development. (PROF, PBLI)

19.  Participate in the scholarly activity of the profession through research, publishing and/or education. (PROF, PBLI)

20. Demonstrate critical and creative thinking skills, informed value judgments and possess an educational foundation for continued growth and life-long learning. (MK, PC, PROF, PBLI)


Definition of Abbreviations for the Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession1
  • Medical Knowledge (MK)
  • Interpersonal & Communication Skills (ICS)
  • Patient Care (PC)
  • Professionalism (Prof)
  • Practice-based Learning & Improvement (PBLI)
  • Systems-based Practice (SBP)