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Core Competencies for New Physician Assistant Graduates

PA Competencies

After just a few days of PA school, the message is clear that our goal as students should be to become competent PAs. It is easy to get caught up in the idea of just passing the courses, but that isn’t enough for competency in the profession. In the article, “Core Competencies for New Physician Assistant Graduates,” six domains were highlighted as building blocks to achieve competency as providers. A consistent theme being that the patient should be the priority over anything else. For example, the article describes the PA profession as one that “emphasizes that patients are partners in decision-making and care.” A provider has to do their best to use their knowledge to fulfill the patient’s needs using a teamwork approach instead of the provider having superiority over the patient’s health. The article “Competencies for the PA Profession” also shares this theme by stating, ” …responsiveness to patient needs that supersedes self-interest.” In our first “Interviewing and Counseling” session, we witnessed how our program is incorporating these domains into our coursework. The patient-centered approach is the focal point of the class.

In these readings it was mentioned that it’s now impossible for new graduates to know everything given the vast amount of medical information available. In a way it’s a reassuring thought because I find the idea of caring for patients after a little more than two years of PA education intimidating. However, the PA curriculum focuses on making sure new graduates possess the core knowledge to care for patients. After completion of the program it’s the new graduates’ responsibility to deepen their knowledge through “lifelong learning” and “gain on the job experience.” The “Blueprint for the PANCE” contains the medical content categories, a breakdown of all topics tested on the certification exam making sure graduates are proficient in core medical knowledge. PA students will need to learn to be proactive because being a competent PA requires dedication to life-long learning. Not only for staying on top of the latest medical information but also for being self-aware of personal limitations and taking the proactive approach to overcome limiting beliefs. One example is learning to demonstrate cultural humility; otherwise if not addressed could potentially become a barrier to delivering competent healthcare.