Mission and Goals

The Mission of the OHSU Physician Assistant Program is to serve as a model of excellence in physician assistant education by preparing graduates to provide patient-centered, evidence-based, and culturally appropriate health care to diverse populations, and to promote lifelong learning, leadership, and service.

The Goals of the Education Program are to:
  1. Recruit and support a student body of varied backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences to enhance and diversify the physician assistant workforce;
  2. Provide a comprehensive physician assistant curriculum to prepare the graduate with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to provide competent, patient-centered care;
  3. Develop the skills, knowledge and behaviors essential to the ethical practice of medicine;
  4. Develop an awareness of differing beliefs, values and expectations that can influence communication, decision-making and health outcomes;
  5. Foster the concepts of collaboration in an interprofessional team that will promote an environment for safe, effective and equitable patient-centered care;
  6. Foster the development of clinical practices, integrating the biologic, psychologic and social concepts of health promotion and disease prevention; and
  7. Provide the tools necessary for a reflective practice, promoting lifelong learning and the continual enhancement of knowledge and skills.
Indicators of Success at Achieving Program Goals:
  1. The program values variety in student demographics, backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Data collected through the admissions process allows the program to create cohorts with varied demographics include race and ethnicity, gender, Veteran status, and backgrounds, as well as volunteer, work and life experiences and perspectives. Bringing together diverse students with varied backgrounds and skills enriches the learning environment for all.
  2. The curriculum provides students with the skills and knowledge to be physician assistants. The curriculum incorporates the program competencies, ARC-PA standards, PAEA Core Competencies for New Physician Assistant Graduates, Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) blueprint, NWCCU Standards, and OHSU Core Competencies. Students demonstrate competency using a digital portfolio tracking their exam scores, Observed Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) scores, mentor and preceptor feedback, assignments, and reflections. The curriculum is reviewed and evaluated on an ongoing basis with course directors, PA faculty, and students, and the program’s Curriculum Committee. The program uses a variety of methods to measure the effectiveness of the curriculum in meeting our goals, including evaluations from clinical preceptors, graduate performance on the PANCE exam, and information obtained from graduate surveys that reflect graduates feel prepared and competent to begin clinical practice. The OHSU PA program has an exceptional pass rate on the PANCE that is above the national average. For the past 5 years, the first-time exam taker pass rate for the OHSU program is 99%, compared to a national average of 93%. In the 19-year history of the program, graduates have achieved a first time pass rate of 99.2% on the PANCE.
  3. The curriculum in ethics is woven into multiple courses throughout the program. Students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate their proficiency including reflections, case studies, and in clinical practice.  Additionally, students are trained in unconscious bias and Respect for All.  They are asked to report mistreatment they experience or witness, to respond to questions regarding safety, and to provide constructive feedback to faculty and preceptors regarding effective teaching, learning environments and clinical sites.
  4. Students work with patients from diverse backgrounds. Data from clinical sites demonstrate that students work collaboratively to provide medical care to patients from diverse ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds, as well as in rural and urban areas of the state including disadvantaged or underserved communities. Student competency in communication and patient centered care are measured through Observed Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) scores and preceptor evaluations.
  5. OHSU has shown a commitment to interprofessional education (IPE) by requiring all students enrolled in the Schools of Medicine (including PA students), Dentistry, Pharmacy, and a subset of students in the School of Nursing, to work collaboratively in teams in an IPE course called “Patient Safety and Interprofessional Practice”. In addition, students gain experience working as part of an interdisciplinary team in all of their supervised clinical experiences in the first and second years of the program. Courses in Medical Errors and Patient Safety are taught during the first and second years of the program. Clinical preceptor evaluations and site visits demonstrate that students are prepared to work collaboratively with other members of the health care team, and that they have an awareness and regard for the importance of fostering a safe and patient-centered environment.
  6. Success in achieving this goal is measured by students’ abilities to develop and answer thoughtful clinical questions and utilize appropriate resources to guide medical decision-making. A formal course in basic epidemiology and evidence-based medicine lays the foundation for students. As students progress in their studies, they are required to use these skills and tools to guide their clinical thinking in a variety of settings and formats. In the clinical year, each student is required to develop and formally present a professional grand rounds presentation to faculty and peers based on a patient seen on a clinical rotation. Students are required to research the topic using appropriate resources and deliver a presentation that is informative, accurate, and relevant to clinical practice. These presentations set a standard for professional excellence and reinforce the importance of lifelong learning.
  7. Students use a digital portfolio to collate their feedback in the program. The have assignments that require them to reflect on their strengths and areas of improvement to teach them to self-assess and identify gaps in knowledge. Students present their reflections with curated evidence from their portfolio to their advisors to get feedback and promote the skills for self-directed lifelong learning and the continual enhancement of their knowledge and skills.