Program Competencies

Howard University Physician Assistant Program Competencies


The Howard University Physician Assistant Program curriculum is designed to prepare physician assistant students with the essential knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to provide competent and compassionate health care within a rapidly evolving health care environment. The program based its competencies on the Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession (2021), developed by the 4 national PA organizations: National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), Accreditation Review Commission Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA), American Academy of Pas (AAPA), and Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA, formerly the Association of Physician Assistant Programs).

Upon completion of the Howard University Physician Assistant Program graduates will be able to demonstrate with entry level competence the following:


  • Knowledge of Practice (KP)

This domain pertains to knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care.

  1. Access and interpret current and credible sources of medical information
  2. Apply principles of epidemiology to identify health problems, risk factors, treatment strategies, resources, and disease prevention/health promotion efforts for individuals and populations.

  3. Utilize cognitive and critical thinking skills to derive a presumptive diagnosis from a broad differential utilizing all aspects of patient evaluation findings.


  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills (ICS)

This domain pertains to the development of interpersonal and communication skills that result in the effective exchange of information and collaboration with patients, their families, and health professionals.

  1. Communicate effectively to elicit and provide information.

  2. Values emotions, behaviors, and responses of others, which allows for effective interpersonal interactions.


  • Person-Centered Care (PCC)

This domain pertains to person-centered care which includes patient- and setting-specific assessment, evaluation, and management and health care that is evidence-based, supports patient safety, and advances health equity.

  1. Accurately gather and document essential information about patients through history-taking, physical examination, and diagnostic testing that will result in effective communication between patients, patient caregivers and members of the healthcare team to develop appropriate treatment plans and pharmacologic therapies.
  2. Effectively communicate to patients the rationale used in the selection of medical and surgical procedures so the patient can make informed decisions regarding their healthcare. 
  3. Refer patients appropriately, ensure continuity of care throughout  transitions between providers or setting, and follow up on patient progress and outcomes.


  • Interprofessional Collaboration (IPC)

This domain pertains to the ability to engage with a variety of other health care professionals in a manner that optimizes safe, effective, patient- and population-centered care.

  1. Communicate effectively with colleagues and other professionals to establish and enhance interprofessional teams.
  2. Collaborate with other professionals to integrate clinical care and public health interventions.


  • Professionalism and Ethics (PE)

This domain pertains to the ability to demonstrate a commitment to practicing medicine in ethically and legally appropriate ways and emphasizing professional maturity and accountability for delivering safe and quality care to patients and populations.

  1. Adhere to standards of care in the role of the PA in the health care team.
  2. Demonstrate compassion, integrity, and respect for others
  3. Demonstrate flexibility and professional civility when adapting to change.


  • Practice-Based Learning and Quality Improvement (PBQI)

This domain pertains to the ability to learn and implement quality improvement practices by engaging in critical analysis of one’s own practice experience, the medical literature, and other information resources for the purposes of self-evaluation, lifelong learning, and practice improvement.

  1. Exhibit self-awareness to identify strengths, address deficiencies, and recognize limits in knowledge and expertise.
  2. Critically appraise medical literature, apply current practice guidelines, and apply principles of evidence-based medicine to patient care.


  • Society and Population Health (SPH)

This domain pertains to the ability to recognize the influences of the ecosystem of person, family, population, environment, and policy on the health of patients and integrate knowledge of these determinants of health into patient care decisions.

  1. Apply principles of social-behavioral sciences by assessing the impact of psychosocial and cultural influences on health, disease, care seeking, and compliance
  2. Correlate the influence of genetic, socioeconomic, environmental, and other determinants on the health of the individual and community.