CMSV 304 Technical Standards

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Section 794) prohibits a recipient of federal assistance from denying benefits to an “otherwise qualified” handicapped person solely because of his/her handicap. The College of Mount Saint Vincent is a recipient of federal assistance and opposes all forms of discrimination on principle. The College’s Master of Science Physician Assistant Program, in acceptance of its mission to educate and train exemplary students stresses that no qualified handicapped person shall be excluded from participation, admission, matriculation, or denied benefits or subjected to discrimination solely by reason of his/her handicap.

Pursuant to federal regulation for post-secondary educational institutions, a handicapped person can be required to meet the institution’s “academic and technical standards.” Mount Saint Vincent’s Master of Science Physician Assistant Program Admission Committee will not discriminate against qualified handicapped individuals, but will expect applicants and students to meet minimum academic and technical standards. The physician assistant degree is a broad undifferentiated degree attesting to general knowledge in medicine and the basic skills required for the practice of medicine.

The College of Mount Saint Vincent intends for its graduates to become competent and compassionate physician assistants who are capable of entering the medical field and meeting all requirements for medical licensure and Physician Assistant Board-Certification. The College is committed to educating and training future leaders in medicine, many of whom will pursue careers in academia.

The ability to meet the technical standards and educational objectives established by the program is essential for the fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree. The academic and technical standards established by the faculty require that all students accepted by the College’s Master of Science Physician Assistant Program possess the physical, cognitive, and behavioral abilities to ensure that they will be able to complete all aspects of the curriculum, as well as further possess the intellectual, emotional, and physical abilities to acquire the knowledge, behaviors, and clinical skills needed to successfully complete the entire curriculum and practice medicine as a physician assistant.

Although the standards stated below will serve to delineate the necessary physical and mental abilities of all candidates, they are not intended to deter any candidate for whom reasonable accommodation will allow the fulfillment of the physician assistant curriculum. Admission to the program is conditional on the candidate’s having the ability to satisfy these technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodation.

The College’s Master of Science Physician Assistant Program has an ethical responsibility for the safety of patients with whom students and graduates will come in contact. Although students learn and work under the supervision of the faculty, students interact with patients throughout their clinical phase of medical education. Individuals whose performance is impaired by abuse of alcohol or other substances are not suitable candidates for admission, promotion, or graduation.

Technical (Non-Academic) Standards

Candidates must be able to observe demonstrations and participate in experiments of science, including but not limited to such things as dissection of cadaver and examination of specimens. Candidates must be able to accurately observe patients and assess findings. They must be able to obtain a medical history and perform a complete physical examination in order to integrate findings based on these observations and to develop an appropriate diagnostic and treatment plan. These skills require the functional use of vision, hearing, smell, and somatic sensation.

Candidates must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with patients, their families, and members of the healthcare team. Candidates must be able to speak, hear, and observe patients in a clinical setting and elicit information, perceive nonverbal communications, and detect changes in mood. They must be able to obtain a medical history in a timely fashion, interpret nonverbal aspects of communication, and establish therapeutic relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to record information accurately and clearly, and communicate and be proficient in English with other healthcare professionals in a variety of patient settings.

Motor Function
Candidates must have sufficient motor function to directly perform palpation, percussion, auscultation, and other diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers. Be able to execute movements reasonably required to provide general and emergency medical care to patients. These skills require coordination of fine and gross motor skills, equilibrium, and functional sensation. Candidates must possess the capability to manipulate equipment and instruments for the performance of basic laboratory tests and procedures as well as have the ability to move oneself from one setting to another and negotiate the patient care environment in a timely fashion. They must be able to respond to emergency situations in a timely manner and provide general and emergency care.

Candidates must possess sufficient physical stamina to perform the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study. This includes long periods of sitting, standing, and moving which are required for classroom, laboratory, and clinical experiences. Candidates must possess the capacity to perform physical examinations and diagnostic maneuvers. They must be able to respond to emergency situations in a timely manner and provide general and emergency care. They must adhere to universal precaution measures and meet safety standards applicable to inpatient and outpatient settings and other clinical activities.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities
Candidates must have sufficient cognitive (mental) abilities and effective learning techniques to assimilate the detailed and complex information presented in the physician assistant student curriculum. They must be able to learn through a variety of modalities including, but not limited to, classroom instruction; small group, team, and collaborative activities; individual study; preparation and presentation of reports; and use of computer technology. Candidates must be able to memorize, measure, calculate, reason, analyze, synthesize, and transmit information across modalities. They must also be able to comprehend spatial relationships and three-dimensional models. They must be able to formulate and test hypotheses that enable effective and timely problem solving in diagnosis and treatment of patients in a variety of clinical modalities.

Behavioral and Social Attributes
Candidates must demonstrate the maturity and emotional stability required for full use of their intellectual abilities. They must accept responsibility for learning, exercising good judgment, and promptly completing all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients. They must understand the legal and ethical aspects of the practice of medicine and function within both the law and ethical standards of the medical profession. Candidates must be able to work effectively, respectfully, and professionally as part of the healthcare team, and to interact with patients, their families, and healthcare personnel in a courteous, professional, and respectful manner. They must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and long work hours, to function effectively under stress, and to display flexibility and adaptability to changing environments. They must be capable of regular, reliable, and punctual attendance at classes and in regard to their clinical responsibilities. Candidates must be able to contribute to collaborative, constructive learning environments; accept constructive feedback from others; and take personal responsibility for making appropriate positive changes. It is expected that minimum accommodation will be requested with regard to this set of standards.

In the event a student is unable to fulfill these technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodation, the student will not be admitted into the program or will be subject to dismissal.

In conclusion, the College of Mount Saint Vincent Master of Science Physician Assistant Program will attempt to develop creative ways of working with candidates and students with handicaps. The College will, at all times, strive to maintain the integrity of the curriculum and to preserve those vital and essential elements of physician assistant education. At no time will the College of Mount Saint Vincent compromise the health and safety of patients. As is the case in most instances, it is inevitable that adherence to these stated technical standards will disqualify some applicants and students, including some persons with handicaps. Exclusion of such an individuals, however, does not constitute unlawful discrimination. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against an “otherwise qualified” person with a handicap. An applicant or student who is unable to meet the minimum academic and technical standards is not qualified for the practice of the profession.