Technical Standards

In addition to academic achievements, exam results, and recommendations, physician assistant students must possess the physical, emotional and behavioral capabilities requisite for the practice of medicine as a PA.

Physician Assistants must have the knowledge and skill to practice in a variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of care based on the patient’s needs. In order to successfully complete the PA clinical training program students must demonstrate proficiency in their academic and clinical education with regard to the competencies described below.


PA students must have sufficient sensory capacity to observe in the lecture hall, the laboratory, the outpatient setting, and at the patient’s bedside. Sensory skills adequate to perform a physical examination are required. This includes functional vision, hearing, smell, and tactile sensation.


Students must be able to:

  • communicate with patients and others in both academic and healthcare settings
  • display effective writing, reading and verbal skills
  • perceive and describe changes in mood, activity, and posture
  • interpret non-verbal communication signals


Students should have sufficient motor function to:

  • diagnose patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers
  • execute movements with reasonable dexterity in order to provide general care and emergency care to patients, including but not limited to:
    • cardiopulmonary resuscitation
    • administration of intravenous medication
    • application of pressure to stop hemorrhage
    • opening of obstructed airways
    • suturing of simple wounds
    • performance of simple obstetrical maneuvers
    • negotiate patient care environments and must be able to move between settings, such as clinic, classroom building, and hospital
    • maintain sufficient physical stamina to complete the rigorous course of didactic and clinical study. Long periods of sitting, standing, or moving are required in classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities

Students must be able to:

  • measure, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize problem-solving skills
  • interpret three dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of anatomy structures
  • critically read and interpret medical literature

In order to complete the Physician Assistant Program, candidates must be able to demonstrate mastery of these skills and the ability to use them together in a timely fashion in medical problem-solving and patient care.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Student must:

  • possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and the completion of all academic and patient care responsibilities
  • develop mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients, faculty and other members of the health care team
  • function in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical practice and adapt to changing environments

A student must demonstrate the above competencies with or without reasonable accommodation.  Whether or not a requested accommodation is reasonable will be determined on an individual basis.  Boston University will determine and provide reasonable accommodations to qualified students with a disability to enable them to meet these technical standards.  For more information regarding BU policies for accommodations, please visit the Office of Disability Services.