The physician assistant profession began in the mid-1960s during a time of health care provider shortages in the US. Dr. Eugene Stead recognized a pool of highly qualified candidates in  Hospital Corpsmen to fill this need. In 1965, he established a two-year training program at Duke University in South Carolina, based on a World War II fast-track medical model used to train doctors. The first trainees were four US Navy Hospital Corpsmen, three who completed the program and graduated in 1967. The first PA programs were geared to military Corpsmen and medics. The program eventually opened up to civilians. Today there are more than 140,000 physician assistants and over 300 training programs throughout the US.

For additional information about physician assistants or about becoming a PA, visit the AAPA website.

Core Competencies

Graduates of the California Baptist University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) program should be able to:

Core Competency (CC)-1: Medical Knowledge

1A. Demonstrate core knowledge and skills about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge and skills to patient evaluation and management.

1B. Incorporate an investigative and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations by the use and application of: evidence-based medicine; scientific principles related to patient care; etiologies, risk factors, underlying pathologic process, and epidemiology for medical conditions.

1C. Appraise appropriate diagnostic studies in the management of general medical and surgical conditions and include pharmacologic and other treatment modalities; interventions for prevention of disease and health promotion/maintenance.

Core Competency (CC)-2: Interpersonal and Communication Skills

2A. Incorporate interpersonal and communication (verbal, non-verbal, written and electronic) skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, patients’ families, physicians, professional associates, and other individuals within the health care system.

2B. Work effectively with physicians and other health care professionals as a member or leader of a health care team or other professional group.

2C. Document accurately and appropriately, information regarding care for medical, legal, quality, and financial purposes.

Core Competency (CC)-3: Professionalism

3A. Facilitate relationships with physician supervisors and other health care providers with respect, compassion, and integrity.

3B. Demonstrate accountability to patients, society, and the profession, acknowledge their professional and personal limitations and practice their profession with responsibility and ethical behaviors.

3C. Demonstrate sensitivity and responsiveness to diverse patients’ culture, age, gender, and abilities.

Core Competency (CC)-4: Practice-based Learning and Improvement

4A. Locate, appraise, and integrate evidence from scientific reference resources in the management of patients.

4B. Identify and appropriately address personal biases, gaps in medical knowledge, and physical limitations in themselves and others.

Core Competency (CC)-5: Systems-based Practice

5A. Practice cost-effective health care and resource allocation that does not compromise quality of care advocate for quality patient care, and assist patients in dealing with system complexities.

5B. Partner with supervising physicians, health care managers, and other health care providers to assess, coordinate, and improve the delivery and effectiveness of health care and patient outcomes.

5C. Promote a safe environment for patient care and recognizing and correcting systems-based factors that negatively impact patient care.

5D. Identify and appropriately address system biases that contribute to health care disparities.

Core Competency (CC)-6: Patient Care

6A. Provide patient-centered care while demonstrating compassionate and respectful behaviors when interacting with patients and their families.

6B. Obtain essential and accurate information about patients and make decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions based on patient information and preferences, current scientific evidence, and informed clinical judgment.

6C. Provide health care services and education aimed at disease prevention and health maintenance.

6D. Use information technology to support patient care decisions and patient education.

Adapted from AAPA, ARC-PA, PAEA & NCCPA (2012). Competencies for the Physician Assistant.

In meeting program defined graduate core competencies, graduates of California Baptist University Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program will demonstrate proficiency in performing the following functions and tasks when working with patients of all genders, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Graduates are expected to perform these tasks and functions as applicable, in a variety of medical settings, including office-based practices, inpatient facilities, and long-term care facilities located in urban, suburban and rural communities.

FT-1. Demonstrate good interpersonal communication skills and the ability to develop an appropriate and professional rapport with patients, families and other healthcare workers.

FT-2. Elicit a comprehensive or focused patient history an obtain information pertinent to the development of a diagnosis/differential diagnoses, based on the following elements:

  • Chief complaint
  • History of present illness
  • Past medical history
  • Family history
  • Social history
  • Review of systems

FT-3. Conduct comprehensive, or problem-focused appropriate physical examinations.

FT-4. Differentiate between normal and abnormal physical exam findings.

FT-5. Order and interpret appropriate laboratory and diagnostic studies.

FT-6. Critically analyze history, physical examination and diagnostic study findings to formulate accurate assessments, and demonstrate medical decision making skills in the development and implementation of treatment plans (labs, medications, procedures, referrals).

FT-7. Organize and document all patient data in written form to ensure the establishment of an accurate record compliant with all medical/legal standards.

FT-8. Appraise the risks, benefits, costs and economic implications associated with various diagnostic studies, treatment referrals and medication choices.

FT-9. Incorporate the use of evidence based medicine in medical decision making.

FT-10. Determine when additional intervention is needed and facilitate medical referrals and/or access to allied health providers (i.e. physician specialist, physical therapy, social work, hospice care, psychotherapy, etc.).

FT-11. Educate and instruct patients regarding symptoms, physical examination findings, assessment and treatment plan recommendations, including verification that patients clearly understands all discharge instructions.

FT-12. Counsel patients regarding normal development and aging patterns as well as health. maintenance, disease prevention, screening techniques, immunizations, and the risks/benefits of various lifestyle choices.

FT-13. Demonstrate knowledge of guidelines regarding the recognition and prevention of child abuse and the physician assistant's role as a mandated reporter.

FT-14. Demonstrate professional integrity, honesty, dependability, respect for self and others, compassion, and an ability to protect patient confidentiality and trust at all times.

FT-15. Demonstrate commitment to the ideals of life-long learning, professional excellence, teamwork, tolerance for diversity and community service.

FT-16. Provide/contribute to continuity of patient care.

FT-17. Use ethical considerations and professional conduct in the performance of duties.

FT-18. Follow all federal, state, and institutional policies, and regulations in the practice as a physician assistant.

FT-19. Perform clinical skills and procedures required to practice as a physician assistant.

The Physician Assistant Professional Oath

I pledge to perform the following duties with honesty and dedication:

  • I will hold as my primary responsibility the health, safety, welfare and dignity of all human beings.
  • I will uphold the tenets of patient autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence and justice.
  • I will recognize and promote the value of diversity.
  • I will treat equally all persons who seek my care.
  • I will hold in confidence the information shared in the course of practicing medicine.
  • I will assess my personal capabilities and limitations, striving always to improve my medical practice.
  • I will actively seek to expand my knowledge and skills, keeping abreast of advances in medicine.
  • I will work with other members of the health care team to provide compassionate and effective care of patients.
  • I will use my knowledge and experience to contribute to an improved community.
  • I will respect my professional relationship with the physician.
  • I will share and expand knowledge within the profession.

These duties are pledged with sincerity and upon my honor.

Useful Links

Physician Assistant Board – State of California

Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)

National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA)

American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA)

California Academy of Physician Assistants (CAPA)

Physician Assistant Education Association

Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA)