Three students learning how to use an ultrasound machine

We consider it essential for all physician assistant graduates to have the necessary knowledge and skills to function in a variety of clinical situations and to provide a wide spectrum of patient care. Therefore, every student must master a common body of basic and clinical science knowledge and master the principles, knowledge, and procedures of the major required clinical specialty clerkships, including:

  • internal medicine
  • surgery
  • emergency medicine
  • pediatrics
  • obstetrics and gynecology
  • psychiatry, and
  • primary (ambulatory) care medicine

Program Competencies

Entry-level physician assistants must demonstrate competency in performing a variety of functions and tasks. According to the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA), competencies are defined as "the knowledge; interpersonal, clinical, and technical skills; professional behaviors; and clinical reasoning and problem-solving abilities required for physician assistant practice." These competencies are essential to preparing graduates to provide preventive, emergent, acute, and chronic care across various health care settings. UponĀ completionĀ of the George Washington University Physician Assistant Program, graduates are expected to:

Medical Knowledge

  • Describe the pertinent anatomy, pathophysiology, etiology, epidemiology, risk factors, clinical presentation, differential diagnoses, diagnostic workup, treatment plan, and prognosis of medical and surgical conditions. (MK1)
  • Integrate core knowledge from the biomedical and clinical sciences with patient data to provide appropriate patient care. (MK2)
  • Apply an evidence-based and analytical approach to clinical situations. (MK3)

Interpersonal and Communication Skills

  • Demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, their families, physicians, professional associates, and other members of the health care team. (ICS1)

Patient Care

  • Elicit appropriate patient histories and competently perform physical examination as well as other clinical and technical skills considered essential in the area of practice. (PC1)
  • Demonstrate the ability to work effectively with physicians and other members of the health care team to provide patient-centered care. (PC2)
  • Plan and administer care that is effective, age-appropriate, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of wellness. (PC3)


  • Recognize professional and personal limitations and exhibit a commitment to ongoing professional development. (PR1)
  • Employ responsible and ethical practices, sensitivity to a diverse patient population, and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements in the delivery of patient care. (PR2)

Practice-Based Learning and Improvement

  • Critically analyze the medical literature and individual practice experiences in order to improve patient care. (PBL1)

Systems-Based Practice

  • Demonstrate an understanding of, and responsiveness to societal, organizational, and economic factors that impact the provision of optimal patient care within the larger health care system. (SBP1)