Technical Standards

Medical education requires that the accumulation of scientific knowledge be accompanied by the simultaneous acquisition of skills and professional attitudes and behavior. PA school faculties have a responsibility to society to matriculate and graduate the best possible Physician Assistants. Thus, admission to PA school is offered to those who present the highest qualifications for the study and practice of medicine. Technical standards presented in this document are a prerequisite for admission to and graduation from the Meharry Medical College Physician Assistant Sciences Program. All courses in the curriculum are required in order to develop the essential skills required to become a competent physician assistant.


Graduates of PA Programs must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and assist the healthcare team in rendering a wide spectrum of patient care. The Meharry Medical College Physician Assistant Sciences Program acknowledges Section 504 of the 1973 Vocational Rehabilitation Act and PL 11-336, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1993, but ascertains that certain minimum technical standards must be present in prospective candidates.


A candidate for the Masters in Physician Assistant Sciences (MPAS) degree must have the aptitude, abilities, and skills in six areas: observation, communication, motor, conceptual, integrative and quantitative, and behavioral and social. Technological compensation can be made for some handicaps in these areas, but a candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner, without assistance. The use of a trained intermediary means that a candidate’s judgment must be mediated by someone else’s power of selection and observation. Therefore, third parties cannot be used to assist students in accomplishing curricular requirements in the six skill areas specified.



The candidate must be able to observe demonstrations and participate in experiments in the basic sciences including, but not limited to anatomic, physiologic and pharmacologic demonstrations in cadavers, animals, microbiologic cultures and microscopic studies of micro-organisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states. A candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand. Observation requires not only the use of the sense of vision but other sensory modalities as well. It is enhanced, for example by the sense of smell.



A candidate should be able to speak, to hear and observe patients in order to elicit information; describe changes in mood, activity, and posture; and perceive nonverbal communications. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and with sensitivity toward patients and other students. Communication includes not only speech but also reading and writing. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team.


Motor Coordination or Function:

Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should be able to perform basic laboratory tests (urinalysis, CBC, etc.), carry out diagnostic procedures and read EKGs and X-rays. A candidate should be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients. Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required of physicians are cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the administration of intravenous medication, application of pressure to stop bleeding, opening of obstructed airways, suturing of simple wounds and performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.


Intellectual/Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities:

These abilities include measurement, calculation, problem solving, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem-solving and the critical thinking skills demanded of physicians require all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, the candidate should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relations of structures.


Behavioral and Social Attributes:

Candidates must possess the emotional health required for full use of their 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. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively when stressed. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Empathy, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation are all personal qualities that should be assessed during the admission and education processes.


Candidates for the MPAS degree 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 or taste. Additionally, they must have sufficient exteroceptive sense (touch, pain, and temperature), sufficient proprioceptive sense (position, pressure, movement, stereognosis and vibratory) and sufficient motor function to permit them to carry out the activities described in the section above. They must be able to consistently, quickly and accurately integrate all information received by whatever sense(s) employed and they must have the intellectual ability to learn, integrate, analyze and synthesize data.


The Meharry Medical College Physician Assistant Sciences Program will consider for admission any applicant who demonstrates the ability to perform or to learn to perform the skills listed in this document. Students will be judged not only on their scholastic accomplishments but also on their physical and emotional capacities to meet the full requirements of the school’s curriculum in order to graduate as skilled and effective practitioners of medicine.


The following technical requirements apply:

1. The candidate is able to observe demonstrations and participate in experiments in the basic sciences.
2. The candidate is able to analyze, synthesize, extrapolate, solve problems and reach diagnostic and therapeutic judgments.
3. The candidate has sufficient use of the senses of vision and hearing and the somatic sensation necessary to perform a physical examination and perform palpation, auscultation, and percussion.
4. The candidate can reasonably relate to patients and establish sensitive, professional relationships with them.
5. The candidate can communicate the results of an examination to the patient and to colleagues with accuracy, clarity, and efficiency.
6. The candidate can learn and perform routine laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures.
7. The candidate can perform with precise, quick and appropriate actions in emergency situations.
8. The candidate displays good judgment in the assessment and treatment of patients.
9. The candidate possesses the perseverance, diligence, and consistency to complete the medical school curriculum and to enter the independent practice of medicine.
10. The candidate is able to accept criticism and respond with the appropriate modification of behavior.