Physician Assistant Program
Baylor College of Medicine is committed to being a national leader in advancing human health through the integration of patient care, research, education, and community service. In this context, the mission of the 30-month Master of Science Physician Assistant (PA) Program is to educate PAs who will provide excellent health care to individuals and communities in a broad range of settings. The core values embraced by the program's faculty include honesty, integrity, self-motivation, flexibility, lifelong learning, reflective practice, teamwork, and primary concern for the patient's welfare.
Mission, Core Values, and Goals
Three initiatives within the College Strategic Plan helped shape the goals that were adopted by the PA Program in 2002 and reaffirmed in 2010. These initiatives are:  Transform education to provide the skills required for the future advancement of medicine;  Compete successfully for highly qualified trainees; and  Create curricula for the 21st Century. The six program goals adopted in relationship to the strategic plan are:
- Goal 1: Recruit highly qualified applicants for enrollment as students in the Master of Science Physician Assistant Program;
- Goal 2: Offer a didactic curriculum comprised of basic science, behavioral, and pre-clinical sciences of medicine along with clinical and critical thinking/problem solving skills that provides the foundation required for entry to the clinical year of the program;
- Goal 3: Offer a clinical experience that facilitates the development of judgment, critical reflection, professional responsibility, and clinical competence using a biopsychosocial approach to patients, families and communities;
- Goal 4: Prepare graduates with the analytical skills required to locate, appraise, and apply evidence from scientific studies to improve patient care practices;
- Goal 5: Prepare graduates that exhibit respect and compassion for others, responsiveness to diverse populations, and a commitment to the ethical, legal and regulatory standards guiding clinical practice; and
- Goal 6: Maintain an accredited program with a curriculum that prepares entry-level graduates for the contemporary practice of medicine.
The manner in which the program achieves these goals is continuously reviewed. First, institutional accreditation granted by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to Baylor College of Medicine requires that all areas of the institution participate in a process of comprehensive planning and evaluation. Outcomes for each of the above goals are contained within the annual SACS Planning and Evaluation Report submitted to the Institutional Effectiveness Committee. Second, ARC-PA Standards require that the program define, publish and make readily available to enrolled and prospective students general program information to include success of the program in achieving its goals. Data documenting goal attainment are contained in the Program's Annual Report Card.
Instructional Goals and Objectives
The PA Program is intended for students who seek careers aimed at improving the health and well-being of children, adolescents, young adults, men, women of child bearing age, mothers, and older adults. In this regard, the specific instructional goals of the faculty teaching in the PA Program are to:
- Develop within each student a strong foundation in the basic and clinical sciences of medicine appropriate to the delivery of quality illness prevention and disease management services in a wide variety of practice settings.
- Engender advocacy for the needs of underserved populations among future nonphysician providers of medical care through early clinical exposures to patients and community partnerships designed to facilitate service learning.
- Foster within future nonphysician providers of medical care the humanistic and interpersonal qualities essential to understanding lifestyle and social forces as major determinants of morbidity and mortality.
- Facilitate active learning and independent judgment about disease prognosis, diagnostic testing, and disease management using skills of critical appraisal.
- Prepare the next generation of faculty with the knowledge and research skills requisite to moving PA education well into the future.
- Provide leadership in the arena of student performance and competency documentation through an active program of health services research and information management.
In addition to the above, a range of didactic, clinical and practical experiences is used to ensure that each student:
- Knows the scientific, clinical and public health foundations underlying illness prevention and disease management;
- Understands the historical, social, family and community content of illness prevention and disease management;
- Has the critical analysis and quantitative skills necessary to assess illness prevention and disease management problems;
- Understands the interdisciplinary nature of solutions to illness and injury prevention and chronic disease management problems involving at-risk populations;
- Has the interpersonal communication skill requisite to the effective planning and implementation of illness prevention and disease management practices and policies;
- Has the analytical and behavioral counseling skill required to select, implement and maintain effective solutions for illness prevention and disease management problems involving at-risk populations; and
- Understands the role of information technology in the provision, tracking and evaluation of services provided in the clinical setting.
Faculty members teaching in the PA Program are also committed to producing a PA who demonstrates essential attributes of cultural competence, intelligence, sound clinical judgment, honesty, the ability to relate to people, and the capacity to react to emergency situations in an appropriately calm and reasoned manner.
Students enrolled in the PA Program are expected to be intellectually mature and socially conscious individuals. Those qualities felt to reflect the highest ideals of health care practice and ethical behavior within PA students include:
- Academic integrity - students will personally complete all assignments, laboratory exercises, reports, and patient assessments identified as a requirement for any academic course or clinical experience.
- Altruism - students will consistently put the needs of the patient before their own.
- Confidentiality - information related to any scheduled examination or patient evaluation shall remain confidential unless otherwise authorized for discussion by an individual faculty member or clinical preceptor.
- Commitment to Learning - students will demonstrate intellectual curiosity, seek ways to learn about issues and patient problems, and improve their fund of knowledge in an effort to help others.
- Interpersonal Communication - students will demonstrate the ability to socialize with peers, develop rapport with faculty and professional staff, interact effectively with clinical preceptors and patients, and show courtesy and respect in all interpersonal interactions.
- Personal Integrity- students will perform in a way that is truthful and honest, accepting responsibility for their actions and working diligently to correct identified deficiencies.
- Personal Demeanor and Appearance - students will be neat and clean with attire in the classroom being a matter of individual judgment. When in the clinical setting students are expected to be well groomed and appropriately dressed for working with patients and other health professionals.
- Professional Responsibility - students are expected to actively participate in classroom, laboratory, and small group activities, and be present as scheduled during assigned periods for clinical rotations unless excused by a faculty member or clinical preceptor-in-charge.
- Environmental Respect - students are expected to demonstrate respect for the educational activities offered by the College, the physical facilities of the College and affiliated clinical training sites, the faculty and staff, and their peers.
The purpose of the faculty the College is to provide an environment conducive to the intellectual and professional development of these attributes essential to the practice of medicine under the supervision of a licensed physician.
Expected Graduate Competencies
The clinical practice role of the PA mandates that the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine prepare this nonphysician practitioner with the knowledge and skills requisite to accomplishing the following by the time of graduation:
- Recognize personal prejudices and biases that impact on one's ability to incorporate cultural beliefs and alternative therapy practices of patient groups into the care planning process.
- Develop rapport and an atmosphere of trust using interpersonal skills to facilitate patient sharing of personal information including cultural beliefs, at-risk behaviors and alternative therapy practices.
- Elicit a preventive screening and problem-based health history and physical examination to delineate at-risk behaviors, disease risk, acute and chronic illness, and life threatening injuries.
- Select and properly order a range of diagnostic studies to further delineate and monitor health risks, illnesses or injuries under consideration.
- Screen and identify abnormal findings within reports of a range of diagnostic studies used to evaluate and monitor health risks, illnesses and injuries.
- Synthesize collected patient data pertinent to the identification of age-related physiologic changes, health risk factors, medical illness, behavioral disorders, socioeconomic problems, cultural beliefs about health/illness, and alternative therapy practices.
- Define problems of a biological, functional, psychological, environmental and cultural nature and their differential possibilities to the maximum extent possible with accuracy.
- Report, record and retrieve findings obtained through interview, examination and diagnostic testing to the physician and other health care providers in an articulate, efficient and accurate manner.
- Generate accurate care plans relevant to the management of a range of at-risk behaviors, illnesses and injuries that incorporate the cultural beliefs and alternative therapy practices of individuals.
- Implement problem management and treatment decisions for individuals seen initially or in follow-up for a previously diagnosed problem that acknowledges cultural beliefs and alternative therapy practices.
- Provide continuous care of persons in the home, nursing home, extended care facility and hospital considered part of the supervising physician's practice.
- Perform evaluation and therapeutic procedures in an independent manner when responding to life threatening illnesses and injuries.
- Communicate with and counsel individuals and families about growth and development, family planning, disease prevention through risk factor identification, diet and nutrition, immunizations, illness and injury evaluation, and therapeutic management plans encompassing advance care directives.
- Work and communicate with physicians, other members of the health care team and one's peers about the evaluation and management of patients based upon illness severity and personal level of confidence.
- Use critical analysis skills to evaluate whether information in the literature will help to better evaluate, manage and advise patients about diagnosis, prognosis, diagnostic testing and treatment benefit.
- Identify community providers of mind body practices, bodywork, ceremony and prayer used by patients and families seeking assistance through the use of alternative therapy practices.
The learning experiences within the pre-clinical, clinical and research phases of the curriculum are designed to develop each student's ability to demonstrate these competencies.