Mission, Values, Program Student Expectations, Goals & Achievements, Vision

The mission of the UK Physician Assistant program is to improve the health and well-being of the people in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Life-long Learning
Inclusion and Diversity
Ethical and Professional Behavior
Advancement of medical knowledge
Quality, Safe and Accessible Healthcare

Program Student Expectations

Medical Knowledge: Our graduates must demonstrate core knowledge about established and evolving biomedical and clinical sciences and the application of this knowledge to patient care.  The PA graduate should be able to develop an accurate assessment of the patient’s condition and appropriately and safely manage their care even if the diagnosis is not immediately obvious.  The PA graduate should be able to manage a wide variety of common medical, psychiatric, and social conditions affecting any body system.  This should include procedures, lab/imaging studies, medications, diet, prevention/ health maintenance strategies and appropriate referral of the patient.  Graduates of our training program are specifically expected to:

  • Correctly identify signs/symptoms of common medical conditions
  • Correctly select and interpret appropriate diagnostic labs and studies
  • Appropriately use judgment and discernment commensurate with entry-level practice
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the normal structure and function of the human body and each of its major organ systems.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of evidence based medicine including the ability to find evidence based guidelines for common medical problems.  Graduates should also understand the current limitations in evidence based medicine and how to make appropriate decisions in the absence of clear evidence.Understand the concepts of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention and how to apply those in the clinical setting.
  • Understand etiologies, risk factors, underlying pathologic processes, and epidemiology for medical conditions
  • Demonstrate the ability to manage general medical and surgical conditions including an understanding of the indications, contraindications, side effects, interactions, and adverse reactions of pharmacologic agents and other relevant treatment modalities
  • Identify the appropriate disposition for presenting conditions, including identifying emergent cases and those requiring referral or admission
  • Appropriately use the history, physical findings, and diagnostic studies to formulate a differential diagnosis

Interpersonal and communication skills: Our graduates must demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills that result in effective information exchange with patients, patients' families, physicians, professional associates, and the health care system. Graduates of our training program are specifically expected to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to build rapport, and use active listening techniques to communicate effectively both written and verbally
  • Appropriately adapt communication style and messages to the context of the individual patient interaction
  • Conduct an effective and structured medical interview with a patient
  • Use effective listening, nonverbal, explanatory, questioning, and writing skills to elicit and provide information
  • Present their findings accurately and concisely in written documentation as well as verbally to other health care professionals 
  • Use interpersonal and communication skills to work effectively with other health care professionals 
  • Work effectively with physicians and other health care professionals as a member or leader of a health care team or other professional group

Patient Care: Includes age-appropriate assessment, evaluation, and management. Our graduates must demonstrate care that is effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable for the treatment of health problems and the promotion of wellness. Graduates of our training program are specifically expected to be competent in the following:

  • Performing a problem-focused as well as comprehensive history and physical exam
  • Gathering essential and accurate information about patients
  • Applying scientific principles and evidence to the diagnosis, management and prevention of clinical issues
  • Providing effective counseling and education for patients and their families
  • Performing medical and surgical procedures considered necessary for general practice
  • Providing appropriate care to patients with chronic conditions
  • Providing health care services and education aimed at the prevention of health problems as well as the maintenance of optimal health
  • Determining the illness acuity level of a patient, including those with non-specific symptoms

Professionalism: Is the expression of positive values and ideals as care is delivered. Foremost, it involves prioritizing the interests of those being served above one's own. Our graduates must know their professional and personal limitations. Professionalism also requires that PAs practice without impairment from substance abuse, cognitive deficiency, or mental illness. Our graduates must demonstrate a high level of responsibility, ethical practice, sensitivity to a diverse patient population, and adherence to legal and regulatory requirements. Graduates of our training program are specifically expected to:

  • Have the ability to establish effective professional relationships with physician supervisors and other health care providers
  • Display respect, compassion, and integrity
  • Be responsive to the needs of patients and society
  • Be accountable to patients, society, and the profession
  • Demonstrate commitment to excellence and on-going professional development
  • Demonstrate commitment to ethical principles pertaining to provision or withholding of clinical care, confidentiality of patient information, informed consent, and business practices
  • Display sensitivity and responsiveness to patients' culture, age, gender, and abilities
  • Demonstrate the capacity for self-reflection, critical curiosity, and initiative.
  • Present themselves in a professional manner
  • Assist a patient through an ethical dilemma

Practice-based learning and improvement: Includes the processes through which clinicians engage in critical analysis of their own practice experience, medical literature, and other information resources for the purpose of self-improvement. Our graduates must be able to assess, evaluate, and improve their patient care practices. Graduates of our training program are specifically expected to:

  • Analyze practice experience and perform practice-based improvement activities using a systematic methodology in concert with other members of the health care delivery team
  • Demonstrate the ability to locate, appraise, and integrate evidence from scientific studies related to their patients' health problems
  • Make their practice responsive to reflect the needs of the patient population which they serve
  • Apply knowledge of study designs and statistical methods to the appraisal of clinical studies and other information on diagnostic and therapeutic effectiveness
  • Apply information technology to manage information, access online medical information, and support their own education
  • Work collaboratively in teams to facilitate the learning of students and/or other health care professionals relative to interprofessional practice/care
  • Demonstrate the ability to recognize and accept limitations in knowledge and skills through self-reflection, give and accept constructive criticism and demonstrate intellectual curiosity to address self-identified gaps

Systems-based practice: Encompasses the societal, organizational, and economic environments in which health care is delivered. Our graduates must demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger system of health care to provide patient care that is of optimal value. Our graduates should work to improve the larger health care system of which their practices are a part. Graduates of our training program are specifically expected to:

  • Have a general understanding of the health care system as a whole and the Physician Assistant’s role in the larger system of care.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the larger context in systems of health care and effectively call on system resources to provide optimal care. 
  • Effectively interact with different types of medical practice and delivery systems
  • Understand the funding sources and payment systems that provide coverage for patient care
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the legal and regulatory requirements of the US healthcare system
  • Practice cost-effective health care and resource allocation that does not compromise quality of care
  • Advocate for quality patient care and assist patients in dealing with system complexities
  • Partner with supervising physicians, health care managers, and other health care providers to assess, coordinate, and improve the delivery of health care and patient outcomes
  • Promote safe environments for patient care


Goals & Achievements

The UKPA Program Goals and Achievements are currently under review.  Updated goals and achievements will be posted by the end of 2017.

To achieve our mission, the UKPA program has the following goals:

Goal 1

  • Academic Program - Educate and train students to be healthcare professionals.
    • We provide didactic and clinical instruction to achieve PANCE rates above the national average (98% pass rate for year 2014). UKPA PANCE RATES The current program graduation rate is 96% and higher.
    • 100% of students in the class of 2014 successfully completed a standardized patient examination, scientific review critique and case study as part of the program's summative evaluation prior to graduation.
    • The overall GPA for the Class of 2014 was 3.619.
    • The graduation rate for the Class of 2014 was 97%.
    • In addition to didactic and clinical training in professionalism, the program requires the students to meet the 11 professional standards in the clinical phase.  100% of students met the professional standards rated by the preceptor.
    • The UKPA program has expanded clinical sites from 301 to 2013 to 344 in 2014.  These included international sites such as Swaziland, Great Britain and Ecuador.

Goal 2

  • Diversity - Create an educational environment that fosters cultural competence, respect, inclusion and sensitivity for individual differences in students, faculty and staff members.
    • Our holistic admission process supports the program's efforts to recruit and admit underrepresented minorities, first-generation college students, and rural applicants.
    • In a conscious effort to match the demography of Kentucky (8.2% African American, 3.3% Hispanic), 5.1% of the Class of 2014 were under represented minorities.  Nine percent (9%) of faculty and 33% of staff are underrepresented minorities.
    • According to preceptors, 100% of students demonstrated sensitivity to cultural, gender, socio-economic, educational and age differences among patients.

Goal 3

  • Rural/ Underserved - Prepare and encourage graduates to practice in rural and underserved communities.
    • The UKPA program  has a rural curriculum emphasis that prepares students to practice in rural areas.  The program requires all students to complete rural clinical rotations.
    • 28% of students enrolled in the UKPA program are enrolled at the rural campus.
    • 11 of the 15 (66.7%) Class of 2014 graduates from the Morehead campus chose to practice in a rural area.

Goal 4

  • Interprofessional Education - Inspire students to be team members in an ever-evolving health care system. 
    • The UKPA faculty members and students participate in the University of Kentucky Center for  Interprofessional Healthcare Education, Research & Practice educational experience, to familiarize participants with the concept of team-based medicine.
    • According to preceptors, 100% of students valued the interaction of other health care team members to improve healthcare and patient outcomes.
    • 7 students from the Class of 2014 were selected to participate in the Dean's Interprofessional Honors Colloquium, which promoted team efforts to disclose errors in patient care.
    • In order to address the changes in the healthcare system, our faculty and students worked with the Kentucky Medical Association and the state legislature to change the scope of practice laws for PAs.  During the last legislative session, 98% of the class of 2016 lobbied our state legislature to increase the number of PAs supervised by a physician.

Goal 5

  • Develop Faculty and Staff members - Cultivate faculty and staff members who are committed to excellence in teaching, scholarship, service, and professional development.
    • UKPA faculty members attend and participate in national and regional professional conferences annually, and staff members are required to participate in professional development opportunities.  Faculty and staff members development activities are sponsored by University, College, Department and Division programs. A mentoring program is established for all new UKPA faculty members. 
    • In 2014, all 11 PA faculty members presented at a national conference and 2 at the state level.  All 6 staff members completed 2 professional development opportunities sponsored by the College.

Goal 6

  • Curriculum Innovation - Continue to provide a distinctive, evolving curriculum that prepares physician assistants for the future healthcare needs of the population.
    • Distinctive aspects of the current curriculum include rural emphasis (all students), strong emphasis in gerontology, and a residency program in neonatal care (1 resident annually). The UKPA program is in the process of developing new curriculum areas of concentrations, residency programs, and joint-degree programs.
    • In 2013, the UKPA program developed a novel, interdisciplinary and real-time quality improvement project in collaboration with UK Healthcare and St. Claire Regional Medical Center.  As part of the PAS 645/646 course series, 100% of students participated in small groups to develop and implement quality improvement projects.  These projects are designed to identify and solve clinical problems through a systematic, evidence-based process.
    • As a result to this innovative approach, one student team was invited to present the quality improvement project at a national conference.  Over the last two years, all 108 PA students and 4 Doctor of Nursing Practice students have completed 29 quality improvement projects spanning 30 clinical sites.

The University of Kentucky Physician Assistant Program will create an academic climate that addresses the healthcare needs of the future.