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Competencies of the Physician Assistant Profession

The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA)_and the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) created a document which outlines the Competencies of the Physician Assistant Profession. Educated in the medical model, a PA is defined by the AAPA as "Medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient's principal health care provider." The collaborative nature of practice between PAs and physicians as well as other healthcare providers, creates an interprofessional health care team dedicated equally to:

  1. increasing accessibility to high quality health care,
  2. providing comprehensive health care services,
  3. maintaining an atmosphere of caring and trust between the patient, the family, and the health care team, and
  4. improving the continuity of patient care within the health care system.

The PA is distinguished from other health care professionals by education as a generalist; breadth of clinical knowledge; the extent to which PAs are given decision-making authority regarding patient care, diagnosis, and treatment; and by the depth of clinical experience.