Mission and Goals

PA student helping out with cervical cancer screening.
The Mission of the OHSU Physician Assistant Program is to:
  • Prepare physician assistants for the practice of medicine and the delivery of team-based primary care services to diverse populations, including the medically underserved;
  • Contribute to meeting the health workforce needs of Oregon;
  • Provide a model of excellence in physician assistant education and;
  • Advance the physician assistant profession in the state.
The Goals of the Education Program are to:
  1. Provide a coordinated and comprehensive physician assistant curriculum to ensure the graduate will possess the knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to provide competent and compassionate patient care in collaboration with a licensed physician;
  2. Facilitate and foster the development of the necessary professional, moral, intellectual and ethical attitudes, behaviors and beliefs essential to the role of a physician assistant;
  3. Prepare students to provide medical care to patients from diverse backgrounds;
  4. Foster the concepts of collaboration and working as part of an interprofessional team, ensuring an environment for safe, efficient, effective and equitable patient-centered care;
  5. Foster the integration of the biologic, psychologic and social concepts of health promotion and disease prevention into the clinical practice of graduates, in accordance with the national objectives as elucidated in Healthy People 2020;
  6. Provide students with the tools and technological skills to support the necessary lifelong commitment to learning, intellectual pursuit and acquisition of knowledge.
Indicators of Success at Achieving Program Goals:
  1. Consistent with the program’s mission, the curriculum has been designed with an emphasis on primary care. To achieve this goal, the program uses the Competencies for the PA Profession, the content blueprint for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) developed by the NCCPA, as well as the accreditation standards for PA education, as outlined by the ARC-PA, as a guide for the curriculum content. The curriculum is reviewed and evaluated on an ongoing basis with course directors, PA faculty, and students, and the program’s Curriculum Committee. The program uses a variety of methods to measure the effectiveness of the curriculum in meeting our goals, including evaluations from clinical preceptors, graduate performance on the PANCE exam, and information obtained from graduate surveys that reflect graduates feel prepared and competent to begin clinical practice. The OHSU PA program has an exceptional pass rate on the PANCE that is above the national average. For the past 5 years, the first-time exam taker pass rate for the OHSU program is 99%, compared to a national average of 93%. In the 19-year history of the program, graduates have achieved a first time pass rate of 99.2% on the PANCE.
  2. The curriculum in professionalism and ethics is woven into multiple courses throughout the program. Students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their proficiency in these areas. Professionalism is an important component of a student’s grade in all coursework and program activities. In addition to direct observation by program faculty and staff, feedback from clinical preceptors and standardized patients, as well as from student peer-reviews, confirm that this goal is being accomplished.
  3. Clinical rotation schedules are created with the intention of providing opportunities for students to gain clinical experiences with patients from diverse backgrounds. Data from patient tracking logs and clinical site visits demonstrate that students work collaboratively to provide medical care to patients from diverse ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds, as well as in rural and urban areas of the state including disadvantaged or underserved communities.
  4. OHSU has shown a commitment to interprofessional education (IPE) by requiring all students enrolled in the Schools of Medicine (including PA students), Dentistry, Pharmacy, and a subset of students in the School of Nursing, to work collaboratively in teams in an IPE course called “Patient Safety and Interprofessional Practice”. In addition, students gain experience working as part of an interdisciplinary team in all of their supervised clinical experiences in the first and second years of the program. Courses in Medical Errors and Patient Safety are taught during the first and second years of the program. Clinical preceptor evaluations and site visits demonstrate that students are prepared to work collaboratively with other members of the health care team, and that they have an awareness and regard for the importance of fostering a safe and patient-centered environment.
  5. The concepts of health promotion and disease prevention (HPDP) are woven into several courses in the didactic year and form the basis of the capstone project in the clinical year. Students not only study these concepts but apply these principles with an experiential project in the first term. In addition, students gain experience educating patients and their caregivers in simulated experiences and in real clinical settings in both the didactic and clinical phases of the program. During the clinical year, students choose an HPDP topic of interest (based on Healthy People 2020), and design, research, develop and implement an educational presentation to a specifically targeted community group. Students have been extremely well received. Many groups ask for more students to provide this valuable community service.
  6. Success in achieving this goal is measured by students’ abilities to develop and answer thoughtful clinical questions and utilize appropriate resources to guide medical decision making. A formal course in basic epidemiology and evidence based medicine lays the foundation for students. As students progress in their studies they are required to use these skills and tools to guide their clinical thinking in a variety of settings and formats. In the clinical year each student is required to develop and formally present a professional grand rounds presentation to faculty and peers based on a patient seen on a clinical rotation. Students are required to research the topic using appropriate resources and deliver a presentation that is informative, accurate, and relevant to clinical practice. These presentations set a standard for professional excellence and reinforce the importance of lifelong learning.

Physician Assistant Student Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of the Physician Assistant program, the graduate will be able to demonstrate competence in the following key areas of medical practice:

    • Medical knowledge
      Medical knowledge includes an understanding of the pathophysiology, etiology, risk factors, epidemiology, signs and symptoms, differential diagnosis, diagnostic work-up, patient management, surgical principles, health promotion, and disease prevention for a variety of acute and chronic medical conditions.
    • Interpersonal & communication skills
      Interpersonal and communication skills encompass verbal, nonverbal, and written exchange of information. Physician assistants must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, their patients' families, physicians, professional associates, and the health care system.
    • Patient care
      Patient care includes age appropriate assessment, evaluation, and management. Physician assistants must demonstrate caring and respectful behaviors when interacting with patients and their families and provide care that is effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of wellness. Physician assistants must also be able to counsel and educate patients and their families and competently perform medical and surgical procedures considered essential in the area of medical practice.
    • Professionalism
      Professionalism is the expression of positive values and ideals as care is delivered. Foremost, it involves prioritizing the interests of those being served above one's own. Physician assistants must know their professional and personal limitations. Professionalism also requires that PAs practice without impairment from substance abuse, cognitive deficiency, or mental illness. Physician assistants must demonstrate a high level of responsibility, ethical practice, sensitivity to a diverse patient population, and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements.
    • Practice-based learning and improvement
      Practice-based learning and improvement includes the processes through which clinicians engage in critical analysis of their own practice experience, medical literature, and other information resources for the purpose of self-improvement. Physician assistants must be able to assess, evaluate, and improve their patient care practices. Examples of this include locating, appraising, and integrating evidence from scientific studies related to their patients' health problems; recognizing and appropriately addressing gender, cultural, cognitive, emotional, and other biases; and recognizing gaps in medical knowledge.
    • Systems-based practice
      Systems-based practice encompasses the societal, organizational, and economic environments in which health care is delivered. Physician assistants must demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger system of health care to provide patient care that is of optimal value. Examples include effectively interacting with different types of medical practices and delivery systems, understanding the funding sources and payment systems that provide coverage for patient care, and practicing cost-effective health care and allocating resources that do not compromise the quality of care.