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Technical Standards

The University of South Carolina School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program has adopted the following technical standards which were adapted from the School of Medicine:  All candidates for admission should possess sufficient intellectual capacity, physical ability, emotional and psychological stability, interpersonal sensitivity, and communication skills to acquire the scientific knowledge, interpersonal and technical competencies, professional attitudes, and clinical abilities required to pursue any pathway of graduate medical education and to enter the practice of medicine. All candidates should be aware that the academic and clinical responsibilities of physician assistant students will, at times, require their presence during day, evening and overnight hours, seven days per week. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress.

While the University Of South Carolina School Of Medicine Physician Assistant Program fully endorses the spirit and intent of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992, it also acknowledges that certain minimum technical standards must be present in candidates for admission, retention and graduation. Those individuals who would constitute a direct threat to the health or safety of themselves or others are not considered suitable candidates for admission or retention in physician assistant school. Therefore, the Physician Assistant Program has established the following technical standards for admission to, retention in, and graduation from, the program:
1.     All candidates for admission must fulfill the minimum academic requirements for admission.
2.     All candidates for the PA degree must complete all required courses and supervised clinical practicum experiences as indicated in the Graduate School Bulletin.
3.     All candidates for admission and all candidates for the PA degree must possess sufficient physical, intellectual, interpersonal, social, emotional, psychological, and communication abilities to:

(a) establish appropriate relationships with a wide range of faculty members, professional colleagues, and patients. Candidates should possess the personal qualities of integrity, empathy, concern for the welfare of others, commitment to life-long learning, and motivation. They must possess the emotional and psychological 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, patients' families, and professional colleagues. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to be flexible, and to function in the face of ambiguities inherent in any clinical situation. Candidates must be able to speak, to hear, to read, to write, and to observe patients in order to elicit information, to describe changes in mood, activity, posture, and behavior, and to perceive nonverbal communications. Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in the English language in oral and written form with all members of the health care team. Candidates must be mobile and able to function independently within the clinical environment.

(b) obtain a medical history and perform physical and mental examinations with a wide variety of patients. Candidates must be able to observe patients accurately both close at hand and at a distance. Observation requires the functional use of the sense of vision and other sensory modalities and is enhanced by the functional use of the sense of smell. Candidates must have sufficient exteroceptive sense (touch, pain, and temperature), proprioceptive sense (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis, and vibratory), and motor function to carry out the requirements of the physical examination. Candidates must have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic operations. They must be able to use effectively and in a coordinated manner those standard instruments necessary for a physical examination (e.g., stethoscope, otoscope, sphygmomanometer, ophthalmoscope, and reflex hammer). Candidates must be able to execute motor movements required to provide general and emergency treatment to patients, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, administration of intravenous medication, application of pressure to stop bleeding, intubation, suturing of simple wounds, and performance of obstetrical maneuvers; all such actions require coordination of both fine and gross muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.

(c) conduct tests and perform laboratory work. Candidates must be able to observe demonstrations, collect data, and participate in experiments and dissections in the basic sciences, including, but not limited to, demonstrations in animals, microbiologic cultures, and microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. They must be able to understand basic laboratory studies and interpret their results, draw arterial and venous blood, and carry out diagnostic procedures (e.g., proctoscopy, and paracentesis).

(d) ultimately make logical diagnostic and therapeutic judgments. Candidates must be able to make measurements, calculate, and reason; to analyze, integrate, and synthesize data; and to problem-solve. Candidates must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures. Candidates must be able to integrate rapidly, consistently, and accurately all data received by whatever sense(s) employed.
(e)  operate a motor vehicle.  Candidates will be responsible for their own transportation to and from classes and clinical rotation sites and must have reliable transportation and a valid driver’s license.
In evaluating candidates for admission and candidates for the PA degree, it is essential that the integrity of the curriculum be maintained, that those elements deemed necessary for the education of a physician assistant be preserved, and that the health and safety of patients be maintained. While compensation, modification, and accommodation can be made for some disabilities on the part of candidates, candidates must be able to perform the duties of a student and of a physician assistant in a reasonably independent manner. The use of a trained intermediary would compromise a candidate's judgment by another person's powers of selection and observation. Therefore, the use of trained intermediaries to assist students in meeting the technical standards for admission, retention, or graduation is not permitted.

The Physician Assistant Program will consider for admission any candidate who has the
ability to perform or to learn to perform the skills and abilities specified in these technical standards. Candidates for the PA degree will be assessed at regular intervals not only on the basis of their academic abilities, but also on the basis of their non-academic (physical, interpersonal, communication, psychological, and emotional) abilities to meet the requirements of the curriculum and to graduate as skilled and effective medical practitioners