Program Mission, Competencies & Goals

Program Mission
The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (PA Studies) is an innovative program designed to create the next generation of highly competent and empathetic medical providers renowned for their diverse, equitable and inclusive patient-centered care in collaborative healthcare settings regionally and nationally.

Program Vision
Our vision for the PA Studies program is to be a nationally recognized program of choice. The program will be known for excellence in educating students in a diverse and student-centered environment, training skilled, service-minded healthcare professionals and leaders in the physician assistant field.

Program Competencies

  • Medical Knowledge

    Medical Knowledge (MK): Apply current and developing knowledge of biomedical and clinical sciences to patient cases. 

    1. Apply the principles of epidemiology, etiology, risk factors, pathophysiology, treatment strategies including available resources, and disease prevention/health promotion efforts to illnesses affecting groups and individuals.  
    2. Apply principles of clinical sciences to help diagnose disease and utilize therapeutic decision-making, clinical problem-solving, and other evidence-based practice skills in patient care. 
    3. Apply understanding of pharmacology to manage patient medications. 
    4. Demonstrate an understanding of medical research and evidence-based medicine as it applies to clinical practice. 
    5. Distinguish between acute, chronic, and emergent disease presentations among individual patients. 
    6. Understand published medical guidelines for disease processes and their application to patients of all ages and backgrounds. 
    7. Share the indications, contraindications, and complications associated with common procedures performed by physician assistants with patients and families. 
  • Interpersonal & Interprofessional Skills

    Interpersonal & Interprofessional Skills (IP): Facilitate communication and collaboration with patients and families, as well as other members of the healthcare team, while employing empathy and respect and adapting to the current context.

    1. Communicate the findings of a patient encounter to colleagues through written documentation (including electronic medical records) and oral presentation in a complete, accurate, effective, objective, and culturally sensitive manner.  
    2. Provide clear, empathetic, and respectful education and counseling to patients regarding their condition, treatment, expected outcomes, and preventative measures.  
    3. Adapt communication to the current context, acknowledging effects of bias and diversity. 
    4. Communicate and document in a timely manner, working to minimize errors and maximize clarity and organization. 
  • Clinical and Technical Skills

    Clinical and Technical Skills (TS): Perform required elements of a patient visit, including history, physical exam, medical procedures, prescriptions, orders, and documentation.

    1. Communicate effectively to obtain a complete, accurate, and relevant medical history in patients across the life span. 
    2. Perform a focused or complete accurate physical exam, recognizing normal and abnormal findings.
    3. Document clinical information in an accurate, complete, and succinct manner.
    4. Develop required computer skills and utilize technology to aid with patient diagnosis and treatment decisions. 
    5. Perform and/or assist common medical procedures in clinical practice and within the scope of physician assistants, with appropriate supervision if required.
    6. Write accurate and complete medication prescriptions and orders.
    7. Maintain standard precautions throughout all patient encounters and environments.
  • Clinical Reasoning & Problem Solving

    Clinical Reasoning & Problem Solving (CR): Formulate a thorough differential diagnosis, generate a final diagnosis, and formulate a patient-centered management plan through synthesis of patient information and medical guidelines and literature. 

    1. Differentiate the pertinent elements of a patient’s history, physical findings, and testing.  
    2. Assess for possible urgent, emergent, and life-threatening causes of the patient’s condition with special attention to red flags.  
    3. Organize the information from patient interview and physical examination to formulate a thorough differential diagnosis. 
    4. Order appropriate diagnostic studies and correctly interpret the results. 
    5. Generate a final diagnosis (or diagnoses) after careful consideration of the patient’s history, physical, testing, and differential diagnoses. 
    6. Compare potential treatment options for a patient’s condition and choose the most appropriate treatment based on a multitude of factors including risks and benefits to the patient, evidence-based medicine, financial burden, availability, and patient preference. 
    7. Incorporate evidence-based medicine into medical decision making utilizing best practices and self-evaluate performance for improvement. 
  • Professional Behaviors

    Professional Behaviors (PB): Conduct interactions in a respectful and professional manner, acting ethically and legally with empathy, integrity, and sensitivity, and demonstrating initiative and responsiveness to others. 

    1. Understand the legal and regulatory demands of licensed practicing physician assistants. 
    2. Demonstrate respectful professional relationships in interactions with others. 
    3. Act with empathy, integrity, and sensitivity with the ability to justify decisions utilizing ethical principles.  
    4. Understand limitations and appropriately respond to performance feedback. 
    5. Develop a balance between professional and personal commitments, recognizing personal biases and knowledge gaps. 
    6. Take initiative to participate in patient care and seek further growth. 
    7. Demonstrate punctuality and responsiveness to the needs of others, being an active member of the healthcare team.  
  • Healthcare Finance & Systems

    Healthcare Finance & Systems (HF): Support and advocate for positive patient experience through knowledge of healthcare finance and systems including patient cost, legal and regulatory requirements, billing and coding, and system biases and burden. 

    1. Formulate a treatment plan with awareness of patient cost, system burden, and availability without compromising quality or safety. 
    2. Explain the parties involved in healthcare delivery and the role of a physician assistant, including the collaborative physician relationship. 
    3. Understand the differences between private insurance and government insurance plans, as well as differences in healthcare systems in the US and internationally. 
    4. Proficiently complete medical billing and coding training.  
  • Society and Population Health

    Society and Population Health (SH): Demonstrate concepts of disease prevention and appraise factors that influence patient interactions and compliance as well as the public health system.  

    1. Assess the influences of psychosocial and cultural factors on health, disease, provider visits, and medical compliance by applying concepts of community health and social-behavioral health. 
    2. Identify the genetic, social, economic, environmental, and other factors affecting the health of individuals and their communities. 
    3. Participate in the improvement of the health of the local population by dedicating a portion of their time to helping the underprivileged.  
    4. Collaborate with other health care professionals to participate in public health awareness and interventions. 
    5. Understand the fundamental principles of epidemiology in patient care. 

Program Goals

The Lenoir-Rhyne University PA Studies program follows the same core values utilized by all members of the LR educational community in our personal development and interactions with others. These values form the foundation of the PA Studies program’s goals. 

  • Excellence 

    Goal 1: Matriculate highly qualified students from diverse backgrounds. 

    • Outcome 1.1: Continual data collection, monitoring and analysis of admissions processes with an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 
      • Benchmark Goal: Highly qualified is defined as continually meeting or exceeding program admission requirements. 
      • Benchmark Goal: Diverse background statistics should aim to exceed population statistics from our local county regarding diversity using 2021 census data.  
        • Goals for incoming students' percentage of cohort (white (non-Hispanic) <74%), Hispanic/Latino>10.5%, Black or African American >9.0%, Asian >4.8%, American Indian/Alaska Native >0.6%. (view census data)
        • Diversity Initiative: Ongoing monitoring of admission process for inclusive admission strategies.  
          • The program does not require the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) to increase the number of underrepresented minorities (URMs) applying.  
          • The program will use a virtual interview strategy, when possible, in addition to in-person interviews, allowing students traveling from a long distance to campus to interview and be potentially selected for admission.  

    Goal 2: Provide an innovative curriculum that empowers students to gain the knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary to provide patient-centered care as entry-level PAs. 

    • Outcome 2.1: PA Program PANCE (Physician Assistant National Certification Examination) pass-rates at or above the 90% first-time pass rate and above the national average program pass rate percentage.
      • Benchmark Goal: (90% or above first time PANCE pass rate, and above national average PANCE pass rate annually with each cohort) 
    • Outcome 2.2: Summative Evaluation (Summative Evaluation pass-rate of 100%) 
      • Benchmark Goal: Each cohort will successfully complete Didactic and Clinical Summative courses with a grade of B or higher cumulatively with a pass rate of 100%. 
    • Outcome 2.3: Student perception of the didactic phase allowing them to meet PA program competencies for graduation 
      • Benchmark Goal: Student perception of the didactic phase curriculum rated of at least 3.5 on a 5-point Likert scale.   
    • Outcome 2.4: Student perception of clinical phase allowing them to meet the PA program  competencies for graduation. 
      • Benchmark Goal: Student perception of the clinical phase curriculum rated of at least 3.5 on a 5-point Likert scale.  
    • Outcome 2.5: Preceptor perception of PA program curriculum and competencies in training students.  
      • Benchmark Goal: Preceptor perception of PA program curriculum and competencies in training students rated at least a 3.5 on a 5-point Likert scale. 

    Goal 3: Enable graduates to enter practice with a high degree of satisfaction in their education while feeling supported being a student. 

    • Outcome 3.1: PA program Exit Survey demonstrating a high degree of graduate satisfaction.  
      • Benchmark Goal: PA program Exit Survey will demonstrate that graduates will have a high degree of satisfaction in their PA education rated at least 3.5 on a 5-point Likert scale. 
    • Outcome 3.2: Improvements in PA student access and awareness of Graduate student support resources on campus. Initiatives such as the University creation of an Associate Dean and Director of Graduate Student Support and Success for graduate students at LRU (Lenoir Rhyne University) maximizing success and providing aid when needed. PA program creation of a student success program/initiative to promote students excelling and minimizing attrition with comprehensive orientation, PA pre-matriculation program, and university Graduate School resources and student success initiatives.   
      • Benchmark Goal: Student ratings of the university graduate school resources and PA program student success initiatives including orientation, pre-matriculation program, and PA program student success program rated helpful and having the knowledge of these available resources on campus rated 3.5 on a 5-point Likert scale. 
  • Integrity 

    Goal 4: Develop students that demonstrate ethical and professional behaviors.  

    • Outcome 4.1: Student will be rated highly on Summative OSCEs and simulations rubrics regarding ethical and professional behaviors scores. 
      • Benchmark Goal: Students will score 85% or greater on Summative OSCEs (objective structured clinical examinations) and simulations rubrics regarding ethical and professional behaviors scores on these rubrics. 
    • Outcome 4.2: Student will be rated highly on preceptor evaluations regarding ethical and professional behaviors scores. 
      • Benchmark Goal: Students will score 85% or greater on preceptor evaluations regarding ethical and professional behaviors scores on these evaluations.  
    • Outcome 4.3: Student will be rated highly on Professionalism Development Assessment Tool (PDAT) throughout the program. 
      • Benchmark Goal: Students will score 85% or greater on Professionalism Development Tool (PDAT) during the program and 90% or greater at the end of the PA program. 
  • Care 

    Goal 5: Support students in developing patient-centered care that is equitable and empathetic to all. 

    • Outcome 5.1: Student will be rated highly on Summative OSCEs and simulations regarding providing equitable and empathetic patient-centered care to all.  
      • Students will receive training on patient-centered care throughout the program with case studies and simulations. 
      • Benchmark Goal: Students will score 85% or greater on rubrics during Summative OSCEs and simulations regarding equitable and empathetic patient-centered care. 
    • Outcome 5.2: Student will be rated highly on Preceptor evaluations regarding providing equitable and empathetic patient-centered care. 
      • Benchmark Goal: Students will score 3.5 or greater on Likert scale regarding Preceptor evaluations regarding providing equitable and empathetic patient-centered care. 
    • Outcome 5.3: Self-Reflection Papers 
      • Self-Reflection Paper during Didactic year about student’s experiences at the Greater Hickory Area Cooperative Christian Ministry (CCM) clinic. 
      • Self-Reflection Paper during the clinical year explaining inequities witnessed and demonstrated acts of equitable and empathetic care given while participating in supervised clinical experiences. 
      • Benchmark Goal: Students will demonstrate evidence of understanding patient-centered care that is equitable and empathetic service to all patients in all aspects of care as demonstrated in Self-Reflection Paper scoring 80% or greater on these sections of the paper. 
    • Outcome 5.4: Students will demonstrate empathy based on empathy questionnaire. 
      • Benchmark Goal: Students will score at average or above average levels of empathy using empathy questionnaire.      
  • Curiosity 

    Goal 6: Engage students in regular inter-professional experiences and community-based educational activities. 

    • Outcome 6.1: Students will participate in IPE (Interprofessional Education) activities with nursing and potentially counseling and occupational therapy through the CHS (College of Health Sciences) IPE exercises, through LR Clinic at Cooperative Christian Ministries, and potentially through IPE events at CVCC (Catawba Valley Community College) Sim-Valley Hospital. Student hours participating in these events will be documented each semester.  
    • Outcome 6.1: Students will evaluate these experiences through surveys evaluating student perception of IPE competency and self-reflection papers.  
      • Benchmark Goal: Survey of student perceptions of their IPE competency and IPE events will be evaluated by survey scoring at least 3.5 on a 5-point Likert scale regarding the benefits of IPE activities. 
      • Benchmark Goal: Student self-reflection of IPE activities should demonstrate understanding of professional roles with 100% of class passing these assessments with a score of B’s or greater. 
    • Outcome 6.2: Preceptor Evaluations will reflect student knowledge of and ability to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals in a team approach. 
      • Benchmark Goal: Preceptor Evaluations will reflect student knowledge of and ability to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals in a team approach of at least a 4 on a 5-point Likert scale. 
    • Outcome 6.3: Students will self-assess themselves during PA Program Exit Survey regarding their comfort level while working collaboratively with other health professionals. 
      • Benchmark Goal: Students will rate their comfort level of working collaboratively with other health professionals of at least a 4 on a 5-point Likert scale.  

Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

ARC-PA Standard A1.11 
Lenoir-Rhyne University seeks to become a nationally recognized liberal arts institution of choice, known for building leaders for tomorrow. To reach this goal and to continue to foster the development of the whole person, we understand the value of diversity and inclusion within our campus community.  
As a growing university, we encourage members from all backgrounds, who bring with them a desire for excellence, integrity, care, and curiosity, to join our campus family.  
We encourage students, faculty, and staff to reach beyond what has always been comfortable and stretch to learn about the many cultures and people that surround them.  
We strive for a campus climate in which all members can freely express their culture and ethnicity.  
It is through meaningful interactions with those who do not look like us nor share similar backgrounds that we as a community are better equipped to understand who we are and who we can become. By valuing these differences and all that we share, you learn how to interact effectively with a wide variety of people, which builds community and prepares you for the working world.  
JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) in Focus of Lenoir-Rhyne University  
Lenoir-Rhyne is a wonderfully diverse campus—34% of our undergraduates come from underrepresented backgrounds—and our faculty, staff and students work every day to foster an inclusive and welcoming environment. 

The PA Studies program is dedicated to supporting the values of justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism and anti-discrimination in all aspects of the program, including recruitment, enrollment, education and leadership principles. Our program values everyone regardless of culture, religion, gender, race or socioeconomic status and we look for ways to promote equity, diversity, and an inclusive atmosphere in all that we do. Our program also adheres closely to the Lenoir-Rhyne University Notice of Non-Discrimination and Equal Employment. 
Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Goals  
The PA Studies program will continually assess and evaluate the effectiveness of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) initiatives within the program through surveys, focus groups, and assessment tools. Data and feedback will guide necessary adjustments and improvements. 
JEDI Goal 1: Provide a curriculum that reflects diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. The curriculum will include diverse perspectives, cultural competency training, and relevant case studies that address health disparities and the unique healthcare needs of diverse populations. 

  • The program will include ongoing cultural competency training for faculty, staff, and students to enhance knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to provide culturally sensitive and competent care to patients from various backgrounds. 
  • Incorporate implicit-bias training programs to raise awareness of implicit biases and provide strategies to mitigate their impact on patient care, decision-making, and interactions within the healthcare team. 

JEDI Goal 2: Enhance community partnerships with organizations that focus on healthcare disparities and social determinants of health. Engage in outreach programs and initiatives to address the needs of underserved populations. 
JEDI Goal 3: Enhance the number of military applicants accepted into the LR PA Studies program by giving preference to military veterans with VA benefit-eligible status.  
JEDI Goal 4: To create pipelines of PA Studies program matriculants from diverse backgrounds by giving preference in the admission process to Lenoir-Rhyne Partners in Higher Education.  
Student Success -The LR PA Studies program recognizes that students entering the program will arrive with various experiences, academic backgrounds, and a range of knowledge and skills. As such, the program created goals that focus on student success and professional socialization. 
Student Success Goal 1: Institute a pre-matriculation program and student success program for the LR PA Studies program to enhance student success and prevent program attrition.  

PA-CAT as a portion of the pre-matriculation for all students that have not completed and use the information to guide student success by setting baseline competency levels. 
Student Success Goal 2: Establish mentorship programs that connect students with faculty, alumni, and healthcare professionals who can offer guidance, support, and networking opportunities.