Competencies for the PA Profession

The Competencies for the PA Profession are designed to define the “specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes that physician assistants (PA) in all clinical specialties and settings in the United States should be able to demonstrate throughout their careers.”

The document was developed by the Cross-Org Competencies Review Task Force, with representation from each of the four national PA organizations — the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, the American Academy of PAs, and the Physician Assistant Education Association.

The task force was charged with reviewing the professional competencies as part of a periodic review process, as well as to “ensure alignment with the Core Competencies for New PA Graduates, developed by PAEA in 2018 to provide a framework for accredited PA programs to standardize practice readiness for new graduates. Each approved the document according to its own governance practices. PAEA adopted the document by a vote of the membership at its 2020 Business Meeting.


The PA professional competencies were first developed in 2005, through a collaborative effort by the four national PA organizations, in response to a growing demand for accountability in clinical practice and similar efforts conducted by other health care professions. The document was updated and approved by the four national organizations in 2012. It will continue to evolve over time to keep current with the changing health care environment.

This latest version of the PA professional competencies reflects recent changes in healthcare — including a renewed focus on surveillance, patient education, prevention, and population health — as well as the growing autonomy of PA decision-making within a team-based framework and the need for additional skills in leadership and advocacy.

PAs can use this document to identify knowledge and skills that they need to develop and then work to acquire those skills over a lifetime of learning.