Introduction: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Section 794) prohibits a recipient of federal assistance from denying benefits to an “otherwise qualified” handicapped person solely because of his/her handicap. Marist College is a recipient of federal assistance and also, on principle opposes discrimination. No qualified handicapped person shall be excluded from participation, admission, matriculation, or denied benefits or subjected to discrimination solely by reason of his/her handicap. Pursuant to federal regulation for post-secondary educational institutions, a handicapped person can be required to meet the institution’s “academic and technical standards.” The Admission Committee will not discriminate against qualified handicapped individuals but will expect applicants and students to meet minimum academic and technical standards.
Marist College’s Master of Science Physician Assistant Studies is a rigorous and intense program that places specific requirements and demands on the enrolled students. Part of the program’s objectives are to prepare students for passing the PANCE and to obtain state licensure to practice medicine.
The technical standards set forth by the PA program establish the essential qualities considered necessary for students to achieve the knowledge, skills, and competencies to function in a variety of clinical settings and to provide a wide spectrum of patient care as required by the curriculum as well as meet the expectations of the program’s accrediting agency (Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant). Therefore, every PA student must master a common body of basic science knowledge and master the principles, knowledge, and procedures of the major required clinical specialty clerkships.
Completion of this program requires that each student independently demonstrates these capabilities continuously throughout enrollment. Students may not have undue dependence on technology or trained intermediaries. Students are required to acknowledge that they meet the following abilities and expectations prior to entry into the program and prior to beginning the clinical phase.
Communication - the ability to speak, hear, read, and write sufficiently to achieve adequate exchange of information with other healthcare professionals, patients, and their support network. The student must:
- Have the ability to receive and process auditory information, and speak and write clearly for all communications with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals.
- Be able to communicate sensitively with patients and their families.
- Be able to read sufficiently to comprehend complex medical literature and convey this information in easy to understand terms.
- Be able to perceive forms of non-verbal interpersonal communications including facial expressions, body language, and affect.
Observation - the ability to perceive, using senses and mental abilities, information presented in both educational and clinical settings. Educational information will be presented through lectures, small groups, and one-on-one interactions, as well as written and audio/visual materials. The student must:
- Possess sufficient sensory (visual, auditory, tactile, and olfactory) and mental abilities to accurately perceive information provided in the educational settings. This includes written and audio/visual materials, laboratories, diagnostic images, microscopic and physical examination.
- Be able to accurately observe (using visual, auditory, tactile, and/or olfactory senses) a patient’s medical condition, including patient affect, up close and at a distance, with electrocardiograms, sonograms, monitors, and other graphic images.
Motor/Tactile Function - The student must:
- Have sufficient motor function to directly perform palpation, percussion, auscultation, and other diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers.
- Be able to execute movements reasonably required to provide general and emergency medical care to patients. These skills require coordination of fine and gross motor skills, equilibrium, and functional sensation.
- Have the capability to manipulate equipment and instruments for the performance of basic laboratory tests and procedures.
- Have the ability to move oneself from one setting to another and negotiate the patient care environment in a timely fashion.
- Have sufficient physical stamina to perform the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study. This includes long periods of sitting, standing, and moving which are required for classroom, laboratory, and clinical experiences.
Cognitive/Intellectual/Integrative and Quantitative Function - The student must be able to demonstrate cognitive and problem solving skills in an efficient and timely manner in order to meet the program’s competencies. Problem solving is one of the critical skills demanded of physician assistants. It requires all of these intellectual abilities:
- Comprehension of visual-spatial relationships,
- Reading and understanding the medical literature and the patient’s chart, and
- Learning, measuring, calculating, retrieving, prioritizing, analyzing, organizing, assimilating, integrating, and synthesizing technically detailed and complex information and applying this information appropriately.
Behavioral and Social Attributes - The student must:
- Possess emotional stability for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to both didactic studies and patient care.
- Be able to develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients and their family members, staff, and colleagues.
- Be able to work collaboratively and effectively as a small group member as well as a health team member.
- Possess sufficient interpersonal skills to relate positively with people across society, including all ethnic backgrounds, economic levels, sexual orientation, and belief systems.
- Possess compassion and concern for others, interest in and motivation for service, as well as integrity.
- Be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under mentally and emotionally stressful situations.
- Be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients.
- Behave in an ethical and moral manner that is consistent with professional values.
- Be able to accept constructive criticism and appropriately respond through modification of his/her behavior.
- Are expected to be able to communicate the results of an examination to the patient and to their colleagues with accuracy, clarity, and efficiency.
- Must be able to observe and participate in all demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences, including computer assisted instruction.
- Are expected to possess the ability to work collaboratively with all members of the health care team.
- Must be able to learn to analyze, synthesize, solve problems, and reach diagnostic and therapeutic judgments.
- Are expected to be able to learn and perform routine laboratory tests, and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.
- Must have sufficient use of the senses of vision and hearing necessary to directly perform a physical examination as well as perform inspection, palpation, auscultation and percussion.
- Are expected to be able to display good judgment in the assessment and treatment of patients, in addition to learning and demonstrating the ability to recognize limitations in their knowledge, skills, and abilities and to seek appropriate assistance with their identified limitations.
- Must be able to relate reasonably to patients and establish a sensitive, professional and effective relationship with patients.
- Are expected to be able to accept criticism and adopt appropriate modification in their behavior.
- Must be able to learn to respond with precise, quick, and appropriate action in emergency situations.
- Are expected to possess the perseverance, diligence, and consistency to complete the PA curriculum and enter into the practice of medicine as a certified and licensed PA.
In the event a student is unable to fulfill these technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodation, the student will not be admitted into the program or will be subject to dismissal.
In conclusion, the Marist College Physician Assistant program will attempt to develop creative ways of working with competitive, qualified individuals with handicaps. In doing so, however, the school must maintain the integrity of the curriculum and preserve those elements deemed essential to the education of a PA. Marist College cannot compromise the health and safety of patients. It is inevitable that adherence to minimum requirements will disqualify some applicants and students, including some persons with handicaps. Exclusion of such an individual, however, does not constitute unlawful discrimination. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against an “otherwise qualified” person with a handicap. An applicant or student who is unable to meet the minimum academic and technical standards is not qualified for the practice of the profession.