Core Competencies for New PA Graduates

The Core Competencies for New PA Graduates is focused on the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors all PA students should be able to demonstrate by the time they graduate.

Creating a Shared Skill Set

PAEA is committed to providing tools and resources to give all programs the greatest opportunity for success, and the Core Competencies for New PA Graduates are no exception. While each program is responsible for designing its own unique curricula and determining learning outcomes based on its mission and goals, there is the need to establish consistency in the foundational knowledge, skills, and attitudes required of all new graduates. The Core Competencies for New PA Graduates is PAEA’s first attempt at developing a set of competencies designed for use by PA programs. The competencies document is a dynamic one. Implementation and use of the competencies will inform a continuous evolution of evaluation and feedback to address changing patient and societal needs. As a leading competency-based educator, Carol Carraccio stated in her keynote address at the August 2018 Competency-Based Medical Education Summit in Basel, Switzerland, “It is not just about educational outcomes, ultimately it is about patient outcomes.”

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Why Did PAEA Decide to Take the Lead on Drafting a Set of Competencies for New PA Graduates?

Since the Competencies for the PA Profession were first developed in 2005, they have served as the sole guide for students, programs, practitioners, and key stakeholders to define the knowledge, skills, and attitudes for PAs. The thoughtful work that went into developing these competencies continues to serve the profession. Building off of that great work, PAEA set out to bring greater clarity to the competencies needed at a specific point in time—graduation from PA school. The Core Competencies for New PA Graduates is focused on the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors all PA students should be able to demonstrate by the time they graduate.

Establish Consistency

Establish a level of consistency in the Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes (KSAs) new graduates will be responsible for and assist the development of PA curricula.

Encourage Dialogue

Creating a space for dialogue between employers, practitioners, and educators to align on expectations.

Support Graduates

Inform programs of the competencies new graduates will need for success in today’s health care landscape.

Align Expectations

Develop a shared language between educators and employers on the expected KSAs of new graduates.

What do we Hope the New Graduate Competencies will Accomplish?

PAEA Learning hopes to serve as a resource for programs to help make decisions about learning goals and objectives, to develop curricula and assessments, and to use as a guide for curriculum mapping. To do this, we want to create a shared understanding between faculty and students of the expectations for demonstrating competence by graduation as well as assist programs in better understanding the healthcare landscape and employers’ expectations. And finally, we want to serve as a launch pad for research and scholarly innovation around curricular and assessment best practices.

A Rigorous & Evidence-Informed Process

We want all of our members to have confidence in the new graduate core competencies and that is why we employed a rigorous, evidence-informed approach to determine the list of 49 competencies in the New Graduate Core Competency framework. Done correctly, developing competencies cannot be an insular endeavor. While PAEA took the lead on developing these competencies, our primary role was that of convener. We brought together and interviewed hundreds of stakeholders from a wide diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and professions to inform our work. In March 2016, PAEA convened a group of 61 stakeholders for the specific purpose of learning first-hand what employers, educators, industry leaders, and professionals representing multiple disciplines believed to be the most important competencies for new graduates entering today’s complex healthcare environment.

We also conducted an extensive search of the literature on competency-based medical education, mastery-based learning, primary care, population health, health literacy, systems-science, and cultural humility. We developed a crosswalk to compare the current (2012) Competencies for the PA Profession with competency frameworks from medicine, nursing, family medicine, the Institutes of Medicine, oral health, population health, and cultural and linguistic competencies.

PAEA could not have - nor would we have - developed competencies without gathering as much information and input as possible. PAEA is not responsible for and did not set out to codify the profession in totality. Rather, PAEA, as the education association representing all current 239 PA programs and growing, in collaboration with the Cross-Org partners (AAPA, NCCPA, ARC-PA) and representatives from across the health professions, has attempted to provide its member programs with a set of nationally-informed foundational competencies that all graduates should be able to demonstrate regardless of the program they attended.

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