Professional Competencies: Why Should They Matter To Me?
This week the four major organizations (AAPA, ARC-PA, NCCPA, PAE) for the PA profession released the latest version of the Competencies for the Physician Assistant (PA) Profession(1) The original version was created in 2005 and was revised in 2012 and again in 2020. This document coupled with the PAEA Core Competencies for New PA Graduates(2) are two key documents created by and for the profession with the intent of providing a set of competencies that both new graduates and practicing PAs can utilize as a resource for guidance in their professional journey respectively. They are likely utilized in the PA program you attend or plan to attend as a component of their curricular blueprint and can provide a focus on where you should be in your path to practicing as a PA. Additionally, credentialing organizations that provide authorization for PAs to practice in their hospitals and health systems often design their credentialing questionnaires around these competencies. There are now seven specific domains on which to focus.
Knowledge for Practice
Interpersonal and Communication Skills
Practice-based Learning and Quality Improvement
Society and Population Health
Program directors are asked to attest that students have achieved new graduate competencies in each of these specific domains, thus ensuring that new graduates are ready to enter the workforce with the appropriate set of knowledge and skills necessary to enter practice as a PA. The most recent addition to the list is ‘Society and Population Health’ which will ensure that PAs should be able to apply, recognize, improve, and demonstrate a variety of knowledge and skills to support population health and communities. So why should these matter to applicants, students, and practicing PAs?
These documents set the bar for the knowledge and skills that new PA graduates should possess by the time they leave their academic programs and start their careers. Programs that fail to utilize these documents in their curricular planning and delivery may not be providing the required foundation to PA education and applicants should consider this when assessing the schools to which they apply. In addition, students in PA programs can utilize these documents as an educational roadmap to their eventual practice competencies. Having the roadmap allows each student to ensure they are taking the steps necessary to meet the competencies expected by the profession. The competencies also supply practicing PAs with a blueprint for continuous self-improvement and professional development activities to stay abreast of the profession’s blueprint for all PAs.
- Physician Assistant Education Association. Core competencies for the Physician Assistant (PA) profession. Accessed on August 17, 2021 at: https://paeaonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/competencies-for-the-pa-profession-2020605.pdf
- Physician Assistant Education Association. Core competencies for the Physician Assistant (PA) profession. Accessed on August 17, 2021 at: https://paeaonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/core_competencies-new-pa-graduates-092018.pdf