St. Bonaventure University

PA Studies Technical Standards

White coat handshakeThe abilities and skills one must possess in order to complete the education and training associated with physician assistant education are referred to as "technical standards." These abilities and skills are essential for clinical practice as a physician assistant.

The technical standards listed below reflect five categorical areas:
  • Observation
  • Communication
  • Critical Reasoning (intellectual)
  • Motor and Sensory
  • Behavioral/Social
Each technical standard represents minimum competence levels. Students must attest that they meet these standards prior to, or at the time of, matriculation to St. Bonaventure's Physician Assistant Studies program. Students found to be in violation of technical standards are at risk of dismissal from the program.

Each standard is defined below and is followed by examples of indicators of minimum competence in that area. Reasonable accommodation for students with documented disabilities will be considered on an individual basis, but a candidate must be able to perform in an independent manner.


Candidates must have sufficient capacity to observe in the lecture hall, the laboratory, the outpatient setting and at a patient's bedside. Sensory skills to perform a physical examination are required. Functional vision, hearing and tactile sensation are required to properly observe a patient's condition and to perform procedures regularly required during a physical examination such as inspection, auscultation and palpation.


Candidates must be able to communicate effectively in both academic and health care settings. Candidates must show evidence of effective written and verbal communication skills. Candidates must be able to communicate with patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications.

Candidates must be capable of completing, in a thorough and timely manner, appropriate medical records, and documents and plans, according to protocol.

Motor and sensory

The ability to participate in basic diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers and procedures (e.g., palpation, auscultation) is required. Candidates must have sufficient motor function to execute movements reasonably required to properly care for all patients.

Candidates must be able to move freely about patient care environments and must be able to move between settings such as clinics, classroom buildings, and hospitals. In addition, physical stamina sufficient to complete the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study is required. Long periods of sitting, standing, or moving are required in classroom, laboratory and clinical experiences.


Candidates must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize. Problem solving, one of the critical skills demanded of physician assistants, requires all of these intellectual abilities. Candidates must be able to read and understand medical literature.

In order to complete the Physician Assistant Studies program, candidates must be able to demonstrate mastery of these skills and the ability to use them together in a timely fashion in medical problem solving and patient care.

Behavioral and social

Candidates must possess the emotional health and stability required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment and the prompt completion of all academic and patient care responsibilities.

The development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients and other members of the health-care team is essential. The ability to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical practice, flexibility, compassion, integrity, motivation, interpersonal skills and concern for others, are all required.

Candidates must be able to function effectively under stress and have the ability to accept constructive criticism and handle difficult interpersonal relationships during training.