Technical Standards

Technical standards establish the physical, cognitive, and behavioral skills necessary for satisfactory completion of all aspects physician assistant training. A candidate for the Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) must meet these standards, which relate to skills in (1) observation, (2) communication, (3) motor, (4) intellect, and (5) behavioral and social.

  • Observation: The candidate must be able to:
    • Observe demonstrations, visual presentations in lectures and laboratories, laboratory evidence and microbiologic cultures, microscopic studies of microorganisms and tissues in normal and pathologic states
    • Observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand
    • Use the sense of vision, somatic sensation, and smell as part of the observation process.


  • Communication: A candidate should be able to:
    • Communicate effectively and sensitively with patients and families
    • Communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written forms with all members of the healthcare team
    • Be able to speak, hear, and observe patients in order to elicit information, perceive nonverbal communications, and describe changes in mood, activity, and posture
    • Utilize speech, reading, writing, and computers as part of the communication process. In addition, candidates must possess the skills necessary to communicate effectively in small and large group discussions. 


  • Motor: Candidates must have sufficient motor skills and coordination to:
    • Execute the movement required to provide patient care such as palpitation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic maneuvers
    • Execute movements required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients.  These skills require coordination of gross and fine muscular movement, equilibrium, and sensation.
    • Manipulate equipment and instruments necessary to perform basic laboratory tests and procedures required to attain curricular goals (e.g. needles, stethoscope, ophthalmoscope, tongue blades, intravenous equipment, gynecologic speculum, and scalpel)
    • Transport themselves from one location to another in a timely fashion in order to facilitate patient care responsibilities and receive educational training.


  • Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: Candidates must be able to:
    • Comprehend three-dimensional relationships and the spatial relationship of structures
    • Collect, organize, prioritize, analyze, and assimilate large amounts of technically detailed and complex information within a limited time frame.  This information will be presented in a variety of educational settings, including lectures, small group discussions, and individual clinical settings.
    • Analyze, integrate, and apply information appropriately for problem solving and decision-making.


  • Behavioral and Social Attributes: Candidates must have:
    • Emotional health, maturity, sensitivity, intellectual ability, and good judgment needed to complete all responsibilities associated with the diagnosis and care of patients
    • The ability to tolerate physical, mental, and emotional stress associated with training and the profession
    • Qualities of adaptability, flexibility and be able to function in the face of uncertainty
    • A high level of compassion for others, motivation to serve, integrity, and a consciousness of social values
    • Sufficient interpersonal skills to interact positively with people from all levels of society, all ethnic backgrounds, and all belief systems
    • The ability to accept criticism and respond by appropriate modification of behavior.

In the event an applicant is unable to fulfill these technical standards prior to or any time after admission, with or without reasonable accommodation (see official ADA Statement), the student will not be allowed to enter or progress within the program.


During the first 16 months (didactic phase) of the Gardner-Webb Physician Assistant Program, all PA students are required to attend all classes, master physical examination skills, attend assigned patient interactions, and complete BLS and ACLS.

During the last 12 months (clinical phase) of the Physician Assistant program, students must successfully complete all assigned rotations, which often include extended hours of instruction, evenings, nights and weekends. Students must be able to transport themselves to all training sites.

All candidates selected for matriculation in the Gardner-Webb University Physician Assistant Program are required to attest that they meet these standards. During enrollment, the program faculty will monitor students for continuing compliance with technical standards. The Gardner-Webb University Physician Assistant Program is responsible to present candidates for the Physician Assistant certificate who have the knowledge and skills needed to function in a wide variety of clinical situations.

ADA Statement

It is the policy of the Gardner-Webb University School of Physician Assistant Studies to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with documented disabilities. This University will adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws, regulations and guidelines with respect to providing reasonable accommodations as regards to affording equal educational opportunity. It is the student's responsibility to contact the GWU Noel Program for the Disabled at 704-406-4270 and provide current documentation from appropriate credentialed persons. This is in accordance with Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Gardner-Webb University and the Faculty of the School of Physician Assistant Studies endorse the Report of the AAMC Special Advisory Panel on Technical Standards for Medical School Admissions (January 25, 1979).