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Physician Assistant Studies

Technical Standards


Minimum Technical Standards

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 or her handicap. Albany Medical 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 or 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 and Promotions and Graduations Committee will not discriminate against qualified handicapped individuals but will expect applicants and students to meet minimum academic and technical standards.

Technical Standards
The holder of a Physician Assistant Degree must have the knowledge and the skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. In order to carry out the activities described below, candidates for the Physician Assistant degree must be able to consistently, quickly and accurately learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data.

A candidate for the Physician Assistant degree must have abilities, attributes and skills in five major areas: observation; communication; motor; intellectual, including conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities; and behavioral and social. Technological compensation and reasonable accommodations can be made for some handicaps in certain of these areas but a candidate must be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner.

Observation: Candidates and students must have sufficient vision to be able to observe demonstrations, experiments, and laboratory exercises in the basic sciences. They must be able to observe a patient accurately at close range and at a distance. 

Communication: Candidates and students should be able to speak, hear, and observe patients in order to elicit information, examine patients, describe changes in moods and posture and perceive nonverbal communications. They must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. Communication includes not only speech but also reading and writing in English. They must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team.
 
Motor: Candidates and students should have sufficient motor function to execute movements reasonably required to perform a physical examination and to provide general care or emergency treatment to patients. Examples of emergency treatment reasonably required of Physician Assistants include cardiopulmonary resuscitation, application of pressure to stop bleeding, and suturing of simple wounds.
 
Intellectual: conceptual, integrative, and quantitative abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem-solving, the critical skill demanded of Physician Assistants, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, candidates and students should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.
 
Behavioral and Social Attributes: Candidates and students must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients. Candidates and students must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads, adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. 

Candidates should possess compassion, integrity, effective interpersonal skills, interest and motivation.

Conclusion
The Center for Physician Assistant Studies will attempt to develop creative ways of working with competitive, qualified individuals with handicaps. In doing so, however, the Center and Albany Medical College must maintain the integrity of the curriculum and preserve those elements deemed essential to the education of a Physician Assistant. The Center 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.

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