Four National PA Orgs Approve Updated Competencies for the PA Profession
In the 50-plus years that the PA profession has been in existence, it has experienced profound change. Created to expand and enhance patient care, the profession filled essential gaps in the healthcare system. These last few years have ushered in an entirely new level of transformation for our profession as we consider key identity issues, from the possibility of a title change to discussions about the entry-level and terminal degree.
This year, we established the crucial first step in clarifying the professional identity of PAs. In a culmination of years of collaborative work, the four national PA organizations (PAEA, AAPA, ARC-PA, and NCCPA) agreed to adopt revised Competencies for the PA Profession. PAEA is proud to have led the way in this initiative, ensuring that the revised competencies align with and build upon our Core Competencies for New PA Graduates.
The Competencies for the PA Profession define the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that PAs should be able to demonstrate as they progress throughout their career, while the Core Competencies for New PA Graduates ensure that new PA graduates are prepared to enter the health care work force and deliver safe and quality care from “day one.”
How were the Competencies for the PA Profession developed?
The new version of the Competencies for the PA Profession was developed by the Cross-Org Competencies Review Task Force, led by PAEA and established in August 2018. The Task Force, which included two representatives from each of the four national PA organizations, began by developing the following set of guiding principles that underpinned this work:
- PAs should pursue self- and professional development throughout their careers.
- The competencies must be relevant to all PAs, regardless of specialty or patient care setting.
- Professional competencies are ultimately about patient care.
- The body of knowledge produced in the past should be respected, while recognizing the changing healthcare environment.
- The good of the profession must always take precedence over self-interest.
The task force reviewed competency frameworks from several health professions. The result is a single document that builds on the Core Competencies for New PA Graduates and extends through the lifespan of a PA’s career.
What do the revised Competencies contain?
The revised Competencies expand the number of domains from six to seven: Knowledge for Practice, Interpersonal and Communication Skills, Person-centered Care, Interprofessional Collaboration, Professional Ethics, Practice-based Learning and Quality Improvement, and the newly added domain Society and Population Health.
Recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion within our profession, the task force also updated several terms to represent the profession’s dedication to ensuring health care is equitable for all.
- “Knowledge for practice” rather than “medical knowledge”
- “Person-centered” rather than “patient-centered” care
- Cultural “humility” rather than “competency”
Additionally, the new version contains a renewed emphasis on interprofessional collaboration, leadership, and advocacy skills, all of which are essential to advancing our profession.
How can your team utilize the revised competencies?
We encourage member programs to use the New Graduate competencies as a roadmap for curriculum development and assessment decisions and to create learning experiences that mimic the realities of today’s health care environment. Meanwhile, the Competencies of the PA Profession will be a helpful tool to shape our understanding of the essential lifelong knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are at the core of being a PA.
We are immensely proud to have joined with our Cross-Org partners to review the Competencies for the PA Profession. Working together, we will continue to promote and advance the profession and empower PAs to enhance patient health.
Competencies for the PA Profession: About the Contributors
The revised version of the Competencies for the PA Profession was developed by the CrossOrg Competencies Review Task Force, which included two representatives from each of the four national PA organizations:
- Kara Caruthers, MSPAS, PA-C; PAEA
- William Kohlhepp, DHSc, PA-C; PAEA
- Sara Fletcher, PhD; PAEA (staff)
- Karen Hills, MS, PA-C; PAEA (staff)
- Steven Lane, MA, MPP; PAEA (staff)
- L. Gail Curtis, MPAS, PA-C; AAPA
- Daniel Pace, BS, CHCP; AAPA
- Melissa Coffman, EdD, PA-C; ARC-PA
- Jeanie McHugo, PhD, PA-C; ARC-PA
- Jennifer Parker (Burner), MHA, PA-C; NCCPA
- Mary Warner, DBH, PA-C; NCCPA