Yale PA Online Student Competencies

Yale Physician Assistant Online Program Competencies

The Yale PA Online Program utilizes the competencies of the PA profession as a starting point in the development of program specific functions and tasks for the program graduate.  The following are the graduate tasks and functions expected of all graduates and monitored throughout their education.

Medical Knowledge

Medical knowledge includes an understanding of pathophysiology, patient presentation, differential diagnosis, patient management, surgical principles, health promotion and disease prevention. The graduate must demonstrate core knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care. In addition, physician assistants are expected to demonstrate an investigatory and analytic thinking approach to clinical situations.

Program graduates are expected to:

  • Elicit a detailed and accurate patient history, taking into consideration the influence of culture, ethnicity, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Perform the appropriate physical examination on patients of all ages.
  • Order and interpret appropriate diagnostic tests as indicated by history and physical examination results.
  • Formulate an accurate differential diagnosis based on patient history, physical examination, and results of diagnostic testing.
  • Understand etiologies, risk factors, underlying pathologic process, and epidemiology for medical conditions.
  • Identify signs and symptoms of medical conditions.
  • Utilize clinical reasoning and diagnostic thinking in gathering clinical information and applying to the development of a differential diagnosis.
  • Select and interpret the results of common laboratory, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
  • Know the indications, contraindication, side effects, and interactions for common pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of patients.
  • Identify appropriate interventions for prevention of conditions.
  • Identify the appropriate screening methods to detect conditions in an asymptomatic individual.
  • Treat minor emergencies and perform evaluation and treatment procedures necessary to provide an appropriate response to life-threatening emergencies.

Interpersonal & Communication Skills

Interpersonal and communication skills encompass verbal, nonverbal and written exchange of information.  The graduate must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, patients’ families, physicians, professional associates, and others in the health care system. 

Program graduates are expected to:

  • Use effective listening, nonverbal, explanatory, questioning, and writing skills to elicit and provide information.
  • Appropriately adapt communication style and messages to the context of the individual patient interaction.
  • Work cooperatively with other professionals as a member of a team; utilize the expertise of other professionals and experts as appropriate in the care of patients.
  • Demonstrate personal integrity, honesty, and self-discipline; and behave in a responsible, reliable, and dependable manner.
  • Record accurate, concise admission, transfer, and progress notes.

Patient Care: Clinical and Technical Skills

Patient care includes age-appropriate assessment, evaluation, and management. The graduate must demonstrate care that is effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of wellness.

Program graduates are expected to:

  • Provide health care services and education aimed at preventing health problems or maintaining health.
  • Treat the patient as a person; recognize that legal, ethical, religious, and conflict of values may affect the patient’s care and management.
  • Appropriately refer to and/or consult with appropriate health and social agencies when indicated.
  • Provide instruction of patients regarding the importance of compliance and health maintenance, as well as adverse effects of medication and other prescribed regimens.
  • Counsel patients on family planning, general emotional issues, normal growth and development, sexual function, psychosocial response to disease and other aspects of normal daily living.
  • Provide support to patients and their families in decisions related to advanced directives, living wills, health advocates, and DNR orders.
  • Develop and implement appropriate patient-centered management plans.
  • Write patient orders or prescriptions as allowed by law and/or protocol.
  • Correctly perform routine therapeutic procedures such as universal precautions, injections, venipuncture, peripheral cannulations, suturing and wound care, urinary catheterization, foreign body removal ear and nose, airway management, pelvic examination, breast examination, and rectal examination.
  • Understand the indications and contraindications and correctly interpret the results of a variety of therapeutic and diagnostic interventions.
  • Accurately present in oral and written forms,pertinent patient data to supervising or referral physicians and other health care providers.


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.  The graduate must know their professional and personal limitations.  The graduate 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. The graduate must be able to assess, evaluate and improve their patient care practices.

Program graduates are expected to:

  • Analyze practice experience and perform practice-based improvement activities using a systematic methodology in concert with other members of the health care delivery team.
  • Recognize and appropriately address gender, cultural, cognitive, emotional, and other biases; gaps in medical knowledge; and physical limitations in themselves and others.
  • Interpret the medical literature and utilize it to guide evidence-based clinical practice.

Systems-Based Practice

Systems-based practice encompasses the societal, organizational, and economic environments in which health care is delivered. The graduate must demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger system of health care to provide patient care that is of optimal value. 

Program graduates are expected to:

  • Use information technology to support patient care decisions and patient education.
  • Effectively interact with different types of medical practice and delivery systems.
  • Understand the funding sources and payment systems that provide coverage for patient care.
  • Accept responsibility for promoting a safe environment for patient care and recognizing systems-based factors that negatively impact patient care.
  • Apply medical information and clinical data systems to provide more effective, efficient patient care.
  • Provide assistance in the delivery of services to patients requiring continuing care in such facilities as home and extended care facilities.