Technical Standards

For students in the Physician Assistant Program - Case Western Reserve University

Updated 1/31/23

​Technical Standards:

The Physician Assistant Master of Science degree signifies that the holder is prepared for entry

into the practice of medicine. It follows that the graduate must have the knowledge, skills and

abilities to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of

patient care. It is essential for good patient care to require minimum standards for the education

of the physician assistant. Students in the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Physician Assistant Program are selected on the basis of their academic, personal and

extracurricular dimensions. In addition, students must have the intellectual, physical and

emotional capacities to meet the requirements of the School’s curriculum and of a successful

medical career.

Case Western Reserve University admits students of any race, religion, age, sex, color, disability,

sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and national or ethnic origin to all the rights and

privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the

University. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, age, sex, color, disability, sexual

orientation, gender identity or expression, or national or ethnic origin in administering its

educational policies, admission policies, employment, promotion and compensation policies,

scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other University-administered programs.

The Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program will

consider for admission any applicant who meets its academic and nonacademic criteria and who

demonstrates the ability to perform the skills listed in this document, with or without reasonable

accommodations, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

Candidates and current students who have questions regarding the Technical Standards, or who

believe they may need to request reasonable accommodation(s) in order to meet the Standards are

encouraged to contact Disability Resources.

Disability Resources

Location: Sears Building, Room 402

Phone: 216-368-5230


For more information:

Physician assistant students are reviewed individually and on a case-by-case basis, using the

factors listed below. In accordance with University policy and as delineated by Federal and Ohio

law, the University does not discriminate in admissions, educational programs or employment

against any individual on the basis of that individual’s disability and will make good faith efforts

at providing reasonable accommodation as required.

Case Western Reserve University Physician Assistant students must possess the intellectual

ability to learn, integrate, analyze and synthesize data. They must have functional use of the

senses of vision, hearing, equilibrium and taste. Their exteroceptor (touch, pain and temperature)

and proprioceptor (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis and vibratory) senses must be

sufficiently intact to enable them to carry out all the activities required to complete the activities

described below. PA students must have sufficient motor function capabilities to meet the

demands of the PA program and the demands of the total patient care.


Students in the Case Western Reserve University Physician Assistant Program must possess

ability, aptitude and skills in the following areas: observation, communication, motor function,

intellectual-conceptual-integrative, behavioral, social and physical

[]. The PA student must be able to prove adequate

and appropriate immunization and titer status. The PA student must be able to meet the

requirements and worker attributes of a Physician Assistant as defined by the U.S. Dictionary of

Occupational Titles (DOT) []– Physician

Assistant and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and

Training Administration’s Occupational Information Network (O*NET) Handbook – Physician

Assistant (updated 12.13.22) [].


The PA student must be able to observe and actively participate in demonstrations and

experiments in the basic sciences, visual presentations in lectures and laboratories, laboratory

diagnostic procedures and microbiologic cultures, microscopic studies of microorganisms and

tissues/fluids in normal and pathologic states in the same manner as required in clinical practice.

The PA student must be able to observe a patient accurately and completely at a distance and at a

close range (within a few feet of the observer). Observation necessitates the functional use of

somatic sensations and is enhanced by the senses of vision, sound and smell.


The PA student must be able to communicate (includes not only speech but also reading and

writing) effectively, sensitively, and efficiently with patients, their families, health care

professionals, colleagues, faculty and staff. They must be able to listen to and understand

information and ideas as well as express and exchange ideas. The PA student must be able to

acquire the patient’s medical history in a timely manner, interpret non-verbal information, and

establish a therapeutic rapport with patients. They are also required to record information

accurately and clearly; and communicate effectively and efficiently in English with other health

care professionals.

As defined by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), the PA student must be able to meet

the following general standards. Reading: Read literature, books, scientific and technical

journals, abstracts, financial reports, and legal documents. Writing: write editorials, journals,

speeches, manuals and critiques. Speaking: conversant in the theory, principles and methods of

effective and persuasive speaking, voice and diction, phonetics and discussion and debate (DOT

Language Development Level 05).

Motor Function:

The PA student must have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by

palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. The PA student must possess

sufficient motor function to be able to document and record information elicited from patients.

The PA student must be able to carry out basic laboratory tests (urinalysis, wet mount, gram stain,

occult blood card test, rapid culture tests, etc.) carry out diagnostic and therapeutic procedures

(venipuncture, arterial blood gas sampling, injections, placement of catheters, splinting, casting,

IVs and nasogastric tube placement), and read electrocardiograms and diagnostic images (i.e., xrays,

ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI scans etc.). The PA student must have motor function

including arm-hand steadiness sufficient to execute motor movements reasonably required to

provide general care and emergency treatment for patients. Examples of emergency treatment

reasonably required of a physician assistant are cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administration

of intravenous medications, the application of pressure to arrest bleeding, the opening of

obstructed airways, suturing of wounds, the application of casts and splints and the performance

of obstetrical maneuvers. Such skills require coordination of both gross and fine muscular

movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.


Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities:

These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem

identification and problem solving, the critical skills demanded of PA’s require all these abilities.

The PA student must possess sufficient intellectual capacity to gather and identify essential

information. They must demonstrate the ability to combine evaluation and reasoning with

information and data to make decisions and solve problems. They must also be able to tell when

something is wrong or likely to go wrong.

The PA student must also demonstrate inductive reasoning in which multiple information inputs

are utilized to arrive at a specific conclusion. The PA student must possess sufficient intellectual

capacity and maturity to fulfill the curricular requirements of the various basic medical science

and clinical courses. They must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to

understand the spatial relationships of structures. This includes the ability to read and interpret

charts and graphs and the ability to use a microscope. They must demonstrate the ability to

collect, synthesize and analyze complex medical, laboratory data, and verbal information to reach

logical conclusions. The PA student must demonstrate the ability to read and comprehend

technical materials, medical and/or laboratory reports and medical text and journals to define

complex problems and prepare solutions. The PA student must be able to use scientific methods

to solve problems and apply knowledge of biomedical principles to the process of information

gathering. They must possess critical thinking skills that allow them to use logic and analysis to

identify the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches. They must be able to identify and

integrate findings pertinent to the process of problem identification in order to formulate and

implement adequate and appropriate diagnostic and/or therapeutic plans.

Behavioral and Social Attributes:

The PA student must possess the emotional and mental health required for full utilization of

his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all

responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature,

sensitive and effective relationships with patients. The PA student must be able to tolerate

physically and mentally taxing workloads, effectively carry out responsibilities, and function

effectively under stress. They must possess sufficient emotional stability to withstand stress,

uncertainties and changing circumstances that characterize the dependent practice of medicine.

They must possess social perceptiveness and be aware of other’s reactions and understand why

they react the way they do. The PA student must be able to adapt to changing environments, to

display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainty inherent in the clinical

problems of many patients. The PA student must possess the physical and mental capacity to

meet all of the program’s academic standards (classroom and clinical). The PA student must be

able to work with and cooperate with faculty, students, staff, preceptors, healthcare professionals,

the public, and employees at all levels. The PA student must be capable of developing

constructive and cooperative working relationship with others. They must be capable of working

directly with the public. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest

and motivation are all personal qualities that are assessed during the PA education process.

Ability to Practice Medicine:

The U.S. Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) for Physician Assistants defines the general

educational development (GED) and strength required of the physician assistant for satisfactory

job performance. The PA student must demonstrate the ability to practice medicine. The ability

to practice medicine is to be construed to include all of the following:

• The cognitive capacity to make appropriate clinical diagnoses and exercise reasonable

medical judgments and to learn and keep abreast of medical developments;

• The ability to apply principles of logical or scientific thinking, to define problems, collect

data, establish facts and draw valid conclusions. Interpret an extensive variety of


technical instructions in mathematical or diagrammatic form. Deal with several abstract

and concrete variables. (DOT Reasoning Development Level 05);

• The ability to communicate those judgments and medical information to patients and

other healthcare providers with or without the use of aids or devices, such as a voice

amplifier and;

• The physical ability to learn and implement the various technical skills required by the


• The physical and mental capability to fully perform medical tasks such as physical

examinations, surgical procedures, laboratory procedures and other technical skills

without limitations, with or without the use of simple aids or devices, such as corrective

lenses or hearing aids.

Ability to Meet the School of Medicine’s Technical Standards

All candidates for the School of Medicine will be required to complete a Technical Standards

Attestation form on a yearly basis. If at any point an enrolled candidate ceases to meet the

technical standards of the School of Medicine, they must notify Disability Resources, who will

determine what accommodations are reasonable.


1. U.S. Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT)

Physician Assistant (Revised May 26, 2003)

Physician’s Assistants August 20, 2015)

2. U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration’s Occupational

Information Network (O*NET) Handbook –Physician Assistant (updated Dec 13, 2022)

Reviewed and Approved 04/17/17 by the Office of Disability Resources-Educational Services for Students

Updated 01/15/19 by Cindy Lord, PA Program Director

Updated 01/15/20 by Cindy Lord, PA Program Director

Updated 05/01/21 by Cindy Lord, PA Program Director

Updated 02/14/21 by Cindy Lord, PA Program Director

Updated 1/18/23 by Jensen Lewis, PA Program Director & Anastasia Rowland-Seymour, MD Medical

Reaffirmed 2/5/24


CODE: 079.364-018


Provides health care services to patients under direction and responsibility of physician:

Examines patient, performs comprehensive physical examination, and compiles patient

medical data, including health history and results of physical examination. Administers or

orders diagnostic tests, such as x ray, electrocardiogram, and laboratory tests, and

interprets test results for deviations from normal. Performs therapeutic procedures, such

as injections, immunizations, suturing and wound care, and managing infection. Develops

and implements patient management plans, records progress notes, and assists in

provision of continuity of care. Instructs and counsels patients regarding compliance with

prescribed therapeutic regimens, normal growth and development, family planning,

emotional problems of daily living, and health maintenance. May have training in

particular medical specialty and be designated Anesthesiologist Assistant (medical ser.)

or Surgeon Assistant (medical ser.).

GOE: 10.02.01 STRENGTH: L GED: R5 M4 L5 SVP: 7 DLU: 89

Dictionary of Occupational Titles

Appendix C: Components of the Definition Trailer (April 11, 2020)


II. SPECIFIC VOCATIONAL PREPARATION (SVP)-scale of 1 to 9 with 1 being short

and 9 being over 10 years

III. GENERAL EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (GED)-scale of 1 to 6 with 1 being

minimal and 6 being maximum

• Reasoning Development (R)

• Mathematical Development (M)

• Language Development (L)

IV. Physical Demands/Strength Rating

• Strength- Sedentary work (S)

• Light work (L)

• Medium work (M)

• Heavy work (H)

• Very heavy work (V)


aptitudes, entry-level preparation and other traits required for successful performance in

various occupations.