Physician Assistant competencies

Competencies: The medical knowledge; interpersonal, clinical and technical skills; professional behaviors; clinical reasoning and problem-solving abilities required for PA practice. 

It is expected that an entry-level WSU PAS graduate will be able to:

Provider practice knowledge

  • Apply evidence-based medicine & scientific principles to discern normal and abnormal (acute, chronic, and emerging) health states.    
  • Apply and evaluate etiologies, risk factors, pathology and epidemiology of disease states.                  
  • Elicit and perform complete and focused history and physical exam.        
  • Identify and interpret signs and symptoms of medical and surgical conditions.      
  • Order and interpret appropriate diagnostic testing.      
  • Perform PA-appropriate procedures.                 
  • Devise a patient-tailored disease management plan incorporating the patient's, biology, genetics, cultural norms, environmental influences, socioeconomic factors and belief systems.                
  • Counsel, educate and empower patients and their support systems for prevention of disease and promotion of health including standard of care screening recommendations, anticipatory guidance and patient education. 

Interpersonal and communication skills

  • Utilize effective communication skills to elicit and provide information; demonstrate insight by adapting patient-centered communication style to achieve shared decision-making. 
  • Effectively communicate and collaborate with physicians, other health care professionals and health care teams to promote optimal patient outcomes.                  
  • Recognize when to refer patients to other disciplines.                   
  • Demonstrate emotional intelligence, resilience, stability, adaptability, and tolerance for ambiguity.
  • Adequately document information regarding care for medical, legal, quality, and financial purposes. 
  • Recognize and navigate barriers to health promotion (i.e. health literacy, access to care, system complexities).            


  • Navigate legal and regulatory requirements of a PA.  
  • Maintain professional relationships with patients, support systems, other health care personnel and the public. 
  • Demonstrate accountability to patients, society and the profession.        
  • Commit to ongoing professional development and self-improvement.   
  • Search, evaluate and apply the medical literature.        
  • Apply ethical practices to patient care.             
  • Utilize information technology to provide effective, efficient patient care and support one's own education. 
  • Demonstrate commitment to personal wellness and self-care that supports the provision of quality patient care. 
  •  Commit to the education of students and other health care professionals. 

Systems-based practice

  • Effectively interact with diverse types of medical practices and delivery systems.
  • Understand the funding sources and payment systems that provide coverage for patient care.
  • Practice patient-centered cost-effective health care and resource allocation.        
  • Recognize and address systems-based factors and social determinants of health that affect patient care. 
  • Understand the concepts of public health to patient care.