Physician Assistant Technical Standards | Springfield College

Physician Assistant Technical Standards


The Springfield College Physician Assistant Program seeks to educate students in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in clinical, community, and academic service to humanity by building upon its foundations of humanics and academic excellence. To achieve this goal, the following principles and technical standards will be applied to candidates for admission and continuing students.

  1. Technical Standards are the Program expectations for certain knowledge, skills, abilities, professional attitudes, and behaviors.
  2. These standards are prerequisites for entrance, continuation, and graduation from the Springfield College Physician Assistant Program. Students must verify they meet the Technical Standards before matriculation and maintain them throughout their PA education. Students are obligated to alert the Program immediately of any change to their status.
  3. Students are expected to develop a robust medical knowledge base and the requisite clinical skills to apply their knowledge and skills appropriately, effectively interpret information, and contribute to patient-centered decisions across a broad spectrum of medical situations and settings.
  4. Students, with or without disabilities, applying to and continuing in the program are expected to meet the same requirements.
  5. Matriculation and continuation in the program assume a certain level of cognitive, motor, and technical skills. Students with disabilities will be held to the same standards as their non-disabled peers. Although not all students should be expected to gain the same level of proficiency with all technical skills, some skills are essential, and mastery must be achieved with the assistance of reasonable accommodations where necessary.
  6. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to assist in learning, performing, and satisfying the technical standards. Every reasonable attempt will be made to facilitate students' progress where it does not compromise collegiate standards or interfere with the rights of other students and patients.

Students must possess aptitude, ability, and skills in five areas:

  • Observation
  • Communication
  • Sensory and motor coordination and function
  • Conceptualization, integration, and quantitation
  • Behavioral and social attributes

The functions described below are critically important to the student and must be autonomously performed by the student. Technological compensation can be made for some disabilities in certain areas. Still, a candidate must meet the essential technical standards in such a way that they can perform them in a reasonably independent manner. It should be understood that these are standards for minimum competence in the program.


Students must have sufficient sensory capacity, with or without reasonable accommodation, to observe information presented through demonstration in a lecture hall, the laboratory, and in various patient settings. In addition, students must evaluate patients accurately and assess their relevant health, behavioral and medical information promptly. Students must obtain and interpret information through a comprehensive assessment of patients, correctly interpret diagnostic representations of patients’ physiologic data and accurately evaluate patients’ conditions and responses. Students must competently use diagnostic instruments such as otoscopes, ophthalmoscopes, and stethoscopes.


Communication includes not only speech but reading and writing. Physician assistant education presents exceptional challenges in the volume and breadth of required reading to master the subject area and to impart information to others. Students must exhibit interpersonal skills to enable effective caregiving of patients, including communicating effectively with all members of a multidisciplinary healthcare team, patients, and those supporting patients, in person and writing. Students must clearly and accurately record information and interpret verbal and nonverbal communication. Students must read and efficiently, accurately, and legibly record observations and plans in legal documents such as the patient record. Students must prepare and communicate concise but complete summaries of individual encounters and complex, prolonged encounters, including hospitalizations. Students must complete forms according to directions in a complete and timely fashion in various formats, including electronic platforms.

Sensory and Motor Coordination or Function

Students must possess sufficient sensory and motor function to perform physical examinations using palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers, with or without reasonable accommodation.

Students must be able to execute motor movements to provide or direct general care and emergency treatments to patients promptly. The student, therefore, must be able to respond promptly to urgencies within the hospital or practice setting and must not hinder the ability of their co-workers to provide prompt care. Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required of a physician assistant include arriving quickly when called and assisting in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), administering intravenous medications, applying pressure to arrest bleeding, maintaining an airway, suturing uncomplicated wounds, and assisting with obstetrical maneuvers.

Students must be able, with or without reasonable accommodation, to negotiate patient care environments and must be able to move between settings, such as clinics, classroom buildings, and hospitals. Students must meet applicable safety standards for the environment and follow universal precaution procedures. Physical stamina sufficient to complete the rigorous course of the didactic and clinical study is required. Long periods of sitting, standing, or moving are required in classrooms, laboratories, and clinical experiences.

Students must also use computers and other electronic devices as most medical documentation uses electronic platforms and the national certifying examination and classroom examinations are computer-based tests.

Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities

Problem-solving, a critical skill demanded of physician assistants, requires intellectual abilities which must be performed quickly, especially in emergencies. These intellectual abilities include, but are not limited to, the ability to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures, numerical recognition, measurement, calculations, reasoning, analysis, judgment, and synthesis. Students must effectively participate in individual, small-group, lecture, and other learning modalities in the classroom, clinical, and community settings. Students must learn, participate, collaborate, and contribute as part of a team.

Students must identify significant findings from the patient’s history, physical examination, and laboratory data, make causal connections, and make facts-based conclusions based on the available data and information. Students must formulate a hypothesis and investigate potential answers and outcomes and reach appropriate and accurate conclusions. When appropriate, students must be able to identify and communicate the limits of their knowledge to others.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Students must possess the emotional health required for the full use of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities associated with the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. Empathy, integrity, honesty, concern for others, good interpersonal skills, interest in people, and motivation are personal qualities that are required. Students must be able to monitor and react appropriately to one’s own emotional needs and responses. For example, students must maintain an emotional demeanor and organization in the face of long hours, fatigued colleagues, and dissatisfied patients.

Students are expected to exhibit professionalism, personal accountability, compassion, integrity, concern for others, and interpersonal skills, including the ability to accept and apply feedback and to respect boundaries and care for all individuals respectfully and effectively regardless of gender identity, age, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or any other protected status. Students should understand and function within the legal and ethical aspects of the practice of medicine and maintain and display ethical and moral behaviors commensurate within the role of a PA in all interactions with patients, faculty, staff, students, and the public.

Students must possess the endurance to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. All students are at times required to work for extended periods of time, occasionally with rotating schedules. Students must adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the practice of medicine. Students are expected to accept suggestions and criticisms and, if necessary, to respond by modifying their behavior.

Disability Statement

The Physician Assistant Program is committed to creating a respectful, accessible, and inclusive learning environment. It recognizes that students with varied types of disabilities can become successful medical professionals. Students with a disability who need accommodations should initiate discussions with the Academic Success Center as soon as the offer of admission is received and accepted. It is the responsibility of the student to provide the Academic Success Center (413-748-3389 or email with adequate information documenting the general nature and extent of the disability as well as the functional limitation in need of accommodation. Evaluation and implementation of an accommodation request is a collaborative effort between the student, the Academic Success Center, and the Physician Assistant Program.

Should a student have or develop a condition that might place patients, the student, or others at risk or affect their need for accommodation, an evaluation with the Academic Success Center may be necessary. Accommodation is not reasonable if providing the accommodation:

  • poses a direct threat to the health or safety of the student and/or others,
  • if providing the accommodation requires a substantial modification of an essential element of the curriculum as determined by the Physician Assistant Program,
  • if providing the accommodation lowers academic standards, or
  • if providing the accommodation poses an undue financial burden on the College