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 Competencies for the Physician Assistant Profession, which have been adopted by the PA program along with the instructional objectives and learning outcomes, will guide curriculum design and faculty development.  

1. Medical Knowledge  

Graduates of the Howard University Physician Assistant Program will demonstrate knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care.  

  • Apply principles of epidemiology to identify health problems, risk factors, treatment strategies, resources, and disease prevention/health promotion efforts for individuals and populations.  

  • Apply principles of clinical sciences to diagnose disease and utilize therapeutic decision-making, clinical problem-solving, and other evidence-based practice skills.  

  • Adhere to standards of care, and to relevant laws, policies, and regulations that govern the delivery of care in the United States.  

  • Consider cost-effectiveness when allocating resources for individual patients or population-based care. Work effectively and efficiently in various health care delivery settings and systems relevant to the PA’s clinical specialty.  

  •  Identify and address social determinants that affect access to care and deliver high quality care in a value-based system.  

2. Interpersonal and Communication Skills  

Graduates of the Howard University Physician Assistant Program will demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in the effective exchange of information and collaboration with patients, their families, and health professionals.  

  • Provide effective, equitable, understandable, respectful, quality, and culturally competent care that is responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy, and other communication needs for patients and families.  

  • Accurately and adequately document medical information for clinical, legal, quality, and financial purposes.  

  • Demonstrate sensitivity, honesty, and compassion in all conversations, including challenging discussions about death, end of life, adverse events, bad news, disclosure of errors, and other sensitive topics.  

  • Understand emotions, behaviors, and responses of others, which allows for effective interpersonal interactions.  

  • Recognize communication barriers and provide solutions. 

3. Person-centered Care  

Graduates of the Howard University Physician Assistant Program will provide person-centered care that includes patient- and setting-specific assessment, evaluation, and management and health care that is evidence-based, supports patient safety, and advances health equity.  

  • Gather accurate and essential information about patients through history-taking, physical examination, and diagnostic testing.  

  • Interpret data based on patient information and preferences, current scientific evidence, and clinical judgment to make informed decisions about diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.  

  • Counsel, educate, and empower patients and their families to participate in their care and enable shared decision-making.  

  • Refer patients appropriately, ensure continuity of care throughout transitions between providers or settings, and follow up on patient progress and outcomes.  

  • Provide health care services to patients, families, and communities to prevent health problems and to maintain health.

4. Interprofessional Collaboration 

Graduates of the Howard University Physician Assistant Program will demonstrate the ability to engage with a variety of other health care professionals in a manner that optimizes safe, effective, patient- and population-centered care.  

  • Work effectively with other health professionals to provide collaborative, patient-centered care while maintaining a climate of mutual respect, dignity, diversity, ethical integrity, and trust.  

  • Communicate effectively with colleagues and other professionals to establish and enhance interprofessional teams.  

  •  Engage the abilities of available health professionals and associated resources to complement the PA’s professional expertise and develop optimal strategies to enhance patient care.  

  • Collaborate with other professionals to integrate clinical care and public health interventions.  

  • Recognize when to refer patients to other disciplines to ensure that patients receive optimal care at the right time and appropriate level.  

5. Professionalism and Ethics  

Graduates of the Howard University Physician Assistant Program will 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.  

  • Adhere to standards of care in the role of the PA in the health care team.  

  • Show accountability to patients, society, and the PA profession.  

  • Demonstrate cultural humility and responsiveness to a diverse patient population, including diversity in sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, culture, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, religion, and abilities.  

  • Show commitment to ethical principles pertaining to provision or withholding of care, confidentiality, patient autonomy, informed consent, business practices, and compliance with relevant laws, policies, and regulations.  

  • Demonstrate commitment to lifelong learning and education of students and other health care professionals.  

  • Demonstrate commitment to personal wellness and self-care that supports the provision of quality patient care.  

  • Implement leadership practices and principles.  

  • Demonstrate effective advocacy for the PA profession in the workplace and in policymaking processes.  

6. Practice-based Learning and Quality Improvement  

Graduates of the Howard University Physician Assistant Program will demonstrate 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.  

  • Exhibit self-awareness to identify strengths, address deficiencies, and recognize limits in knowledge and expertise.  

  • Identify, analyze, and adopt new knowledge, guidelines, standards, technologies, products, or services that have been demonstrated to improve outcomes.  

  • Identify improvement goals and perform learning activities that address gaps in knowledge, skills, and attitudes.  

  • Use practice performance data and metrics to identify areas for improvement.  

  • Analyze the use and allocation of resources to ensure the practice of cost-effective health care while maintaining quality of care.  

  • Understand how practice decisions impact the finances of their organizations, while keeping the patient’s needs foremost.  

  • Advocate for administrative systems that capture the productivity and value of PA practice.  

7. Society and Population Health  

Graduates of the Howard University Physician Assistant Program will recognize and understand 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.  

  • Apply principles of social-behavioral sciences by assessing the impact of psychosocial and cultural influences on health, disease, care seeking, and compliance.  

  • Recognize the influence of genetic, socioeconomic, environmental, and other determinants on the health of the individual and community.  

  • Improve the health of patient populations. 

  • Demonstrate accountability, responsibility, and leadership for removing barriers to health.