Multiple federal mandates require educational and work organizations to not only avoid exclusions of individuals with identified disabilities, but to make reasonable accommodations to help enable success. These laws include Section 504 of the rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Section 794), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C Subsection 12101, ADA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-325, ADAAA). Albany Medical College on principle opposes discrimination. No qualified person with disabilities shall be excluded from participation, admission, matriculation, or denied benefits or subjected to discrimination solely by reason of his or her disability. Pursuant to federal regulation for post-secondary educational institutions, a person with disabilities 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 individuals with disabilities but will expect applicants and students to meet minimum academic and 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 disabilities in certain of these areas but a candidate must be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Center for Physician Assistant Studies will attempt to develop creative ways of working with competitive, qualified individuals with disabilities. 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 disabilities. Exclusion of such an individual, however, does not constitute unlawful discrimination. The legal statutes mentioned above prohibit discrimination against an "otherwise qualified" person with a disability. An applicant or student who is unable to meet the minimum academic and technical standards with reasonable accommodations is highly unlikely to be qualified for the physical, motor, and cognitive practice of the profession.