Physician Assistant Studies

Technical Standards

After successfully completing the Masters of Health Science Physician Assistant Program at South College, and passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, the student will be prepared for employment as a Physician Assistant. In such a professional role, the Physician Assistant can provide medical services with the supervision of a Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathic Medicine in accordance with applicable laws of medical practice. The services must, for the safety and welfare of the patient, be of the same professional quality that would be rendered by the supervising Physician. The Physician Assistant must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care.

Candidates for the Physician Assistant profession must have somatic sensation and the functional use of the senses of vision and hearing. Candidate’s diagnostic skills will also be lessened without the functional use of the senses of equilibrium, smell, and taste. Additionally, they must have sufficient exteroceptive sense (touch, pain, and temperature) and motor function to permit them to carry out the activities described in the sections that follow. They must be able to integrate all information received by whatever sense(s) employed, consistently, quickly, and accurately, and they must have the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data. A candidate for the Physician Assistant profession must have abilities and skills of six varieties, which are observation, communication, motor, conceptual, integrative/quantitative, and behavioral/social. Technological compensation can be made for some handicaps in certain of these areas, but such a candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner.

General Abilities

The student is expected to possess functional use of the senses of vision, touch, hearing, taste, and smell. All data received by the senses must be integrated, analyzed, and synthesized in a consistent and accurate manner. In addition, the individual is expected to possess the ability to perceive pain, pressure, temperature, position, equilibrium, and movement.

Observational Ability

The student is expected to participate in and observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences including but not limited to physiologic and pharmacological demonstrations in animals, microbiological cultures, and microscopic study of organisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. The student is expected to observe the patient accurately at a distance and close at hand and accurately assess health/illness alteration. Inherent in this observation process is the use of the senses and sufficient motor capability to carry out the necessary assessment activities.

Communication Ability

The student is expected to be able to effectively communicate verbally and non-verbally and to observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity, and postures, and to perceive nonverbal communications. This requires the ability to read, write, and effectively utilize the English language. The student must be able to communicate effectively with patients and other professionals.

Motor Ability

The student is expected to be able to perform gross and fine motor movements required to perform a complete physical examination. The student is expected to have the psychomotor skills necessary to perform or assist with procedures, treatments, administration of medication, managing of equipment, and emergency intervention. The student is expected to be able to maintain consciousness, equilibrium, and stamina to perform satisfactorily in clinical experiences.

Other Motor Abilities

The student should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. The student must be able to do laboratory tests and work with scientific and other instruments and machinery utilized in practice as a Physician Assistant.

Critical Thinking Ability

The student is expected to have the ability to develop and refine problem-solving skills. This includes the ability to measure, calculate, analyze, and synthesize objective as well as subjective data and make decisions that reflect consistent and thoughtful deliberation and clinical judgment. In addition, the student should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures.

Interpersonal Abilities

The student is expected to have the emotional stability required to exercise sound judgment and complete assessment and intervention activities. The student is expected to establish rapport and maintain sensitive, interpersonal relationships with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds. The student is expected to have the flexibility to function effectively under stress. Concern for others, integrity, accountability, interest, and motivation are necessary personal qualities.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

A student must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. The student must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. The student must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of the uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that will be assessed during the admission and education process.


Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply to the program. However, it is the responsibility of the student to notify South College in writing with medical documentation from their provider, (Physician Assistant Program, South College 400 Goody’s Lane, Knoxville, TN 37922) and verbally if there is any reason why the abilities and/or expectations described cannot be met. Students will be presented with these technical standards when they are in the final stage of admission to the program. At that time they will review these standards with the program faculty and sign this form. Students who indicate verbally and in writing (with medical documentation) that they cannot meet one or more of these requirements will be reviewed by South College to determine what, if any reasonable accommodations might be possible to facilitate successful completion of the degree requirements if are admitted to the program. If you have any further questions or concerns regarding these technical standards please contact the Physician Assistant Program at 865-251-1800.

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