Students must be able to relate effectively to patients while conveying compassion and empathy. They must be able to clearly communicate with patients in order to elicit information, accurately describe changes in mood, activity and posture of patients, and understand verbal as well as nonverbal communication.

Communication includes not only speech, but reading and writing. Physician assistant education presents exceptional challenges in the volume and breadth of reading required to master subject areas and impart the information to others.

Students must be able to communicate quickly, effectively, and efficiently in oral and written English in the classroom and with patients and all members of the health care team. Specific requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Rapidly and clearly communicating with the medical staff on rounds or elsewhere.
  • Eliciting an accurate history from patients.
  • Communicating complex findings in appropriate terms to patients and to various members of the health care team. Students must be able to learn to recognize and promptly respond to emotional cues, such as sadness and agitation; accurately and legibly record observations and plans in legal documents, such as the patient record.
  • Accurately entering patient data into an electronic medical record or other database.
  • Preparing and communicating concise, complete summaries of both limited patient encounters and complex, prolonged encounters, including hospitalizations. Students must be able to complete forms, in a timely fashion, and according to directions.