PA Entry-Level: Mission, Goals and Competencies

PA class of 2023

 Background and Rationale

The PA profession was developed to provide creative solutions to existing and future healthcare needs. By addressing the shortage and maldistribution of health care professionals, societal demands for more accessible and cost-effective medical care, and the need to increase services available in primary care the profession’s growth and development has flourished.  The excellent potential for additional benefit in an era of health care reform and experimentation with new health care delivery and payment systems is also well recognized. 

This potential justifies the continued preparation of physician assistants who possess:

  • a strong background in the basic, behavioral, and clinical sciences, especially as such education relates to the provision of accessible, quality, cost-effective care in all health care settings; 
  • an awareness of the expertise and contributions of other health professionals including the benefits of an interdisciplinary team approach to patient care; 
  • a sense of humanism and concern for the welfare of the patient, including the realization that the patient must be viewed holistically, not as a singular medical problem or disease state.


Program Mission

Our mission is to provide high-quality graduate-level medical education in an inter-professional environment that fosters critical thinking and life-long learning.  We seek to develop in our students the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to be outstanding, compassionate health care providers.  We promote professionalism, leadership, service, and an appreciation of ethical values and diversity. Physician assistant education at Stony Brook emphasizes comprehensive patient-centered medical care across the lifespan and our curriculum focuses on the principles of evidence-based practice and the importance of scholarly activity.


Program Goals and Measures of Success 

These are the core goals of the Stony Brook Physician Assistant Program and measures that reflect our success in achieving those goals:

Select well-qualified applicants and appropriately support them through the rigors of PA education

  • Our Admissions criteria reflect preparation across multiple areas important to becoming an excellent PA.
  • The Stony Brook PA Program overall attrition rate is lower than the national average. Our most recent attrition data can be found here.
  • Each student is assigned a faculty advisor and a student mentor to provide support and guidance throughout the two years of the program.
  • 90% of recent graduates surveyed felt program faculty advisors were helpful and supportive. 

Offer a curriculum that equips students with the evidence-based knowledge and skills necessary for entry into clinical practice

  • The curriculum ensures that students have mastered the foundation knowledge necessary to provide care to their future patients.
  • Students complete Problem Based Learning and Research Design and Evidence-Based Medicine coursework which prepares them to critically evaluate and analyze scientific and medical journals and along with their Master’s Project learn to apply this research in clinical practice. 
  • At Stony Brook, 100% of all takers have passed the PANCE exam. The most recent five-year first-time taker pass rate can be found here.
  • 90% of recent graduates surveyed highly rate their overall preparation to enter clinical practice.
  • 97% of recent graduates surveyed highly rate their overall Stony Brook PA education as preparation for the PANCE.

Encourage collaboration and develop communication skills necessary to work effectively in health care teams

  • 99% of recent graduates surveyed say the Stony Brook PA program enhanced their ability to work in interdisciplinary teams.
  • 98% of recently surveyed clinical preceptors highly rated our students’ ability to communicate effectively with healthcare team members.
  • Students have the opportunity to enhance their communication and collaboration skills throughout the curriculum with inter-professional activities and problem-based learning, including simulated patient encounters and patient case studies.
  • Being a member of the School of Health Professions, the PA students learn and study in a multidisciplinary environment.

Empower students to participate in the delivery of medical care to diverse and underserved populations

  • Most students complete required clinical experiences in facilities designated as health professional shortage areas.  These facilities serve some of the most diverse patient populations in the U.S.
  • PA students are offered the opportunity to participate in international medical missions to underserved areas. 
  • 97% of recent graduates surveyed say the Stony Brook PA program enhanced their knowledge and understanding of diversity as it relates to patient care and the health care system.

Create opportunities that encourage professional involvement by students and faculty

  • All current students are members of the AAPA and NYSSPA. Each year the program enters a team in the NYSSPA and AAPA Medical Challenge Bowl competitions. 
  • 99% of recent graduates surveyed say the Stony Brook PA program was effective at enhancing their commitment to professional involvement.
  • PA faculty and students routinely attend and participate in the annual AAPA, PAEA and NYSSPA conferences and lobbying activities.
  • Program faculty serve on local, state, and national professional committees.  

Provide opportunities for student involvement in community service, especially with underserved populations

  • 100% of students participate in community-based service-learning activities, most in underserved communities. 
  • Our PA Student Society is a chapter of the Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (SAAAPA) and works in conjunction with SAAAPA to coordinate events and advocate for student and professional issues on a community, state, national, and international level. 
  • Student Society activities include community service, fundraising, public education and promotion of the PA profession. An emphasis is placed on expanding care and services to medically underserved communities on Long Island. 


Program Defined Student Competencies

1. Patient-Centered Practice Knowledge

1.1 Apply basic and clinical science, including anatomy, physiology, genetics, and pathophysiology, to recognize abnormal and normal health states.

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge of the healthy human body and its development and integrate clinical findings to diagnose and manage acute, chronic, and emerging disease states.

1.3 Conduct patient-centered history-taking and physical examination for patients across the lifespan.

1.4 Select and interpret diagnostic studies and perform core duty procedures to diagnose, treat and manage illness.

1.5 Promote healthy behaviors as a foundation of wellness and health promotion.

1.6 Incorporate appropriate literature to make evidence-based patient care decisions.

2. Society and Population Health

2.1 Recognize the cultural, socioeconomic, environmental, and other population-level determinants affecting the health of patients and communities.

2.2 Identify individual and community resources to best meet patient and societal needs.

2.3 Recognize the etiology, risk factors, and epidemiology of various medical conditions.

3. Health Literacy and Communication

3.1 Establish rapport and create therapeutic relationships with patients, families and caregivers that promotes shared decision making.

3.2 Communicate information effectively to the health care team, patients, families, caregivers, and the community.

3.3 Provide effective, equitable, and respectful care and services that are responsive to diverse health beliefs and practices, languages, and levels of health literacy.

3.4 Convey relevant aspects of patient encounters through accurate and timely written and verbal communication.

4. Interprofessional Collaborative Practice and Leadership

4.1 Advocate for the role and responsibilities of the PA within the health care team to patients, communities, and other professionals.

4.2 Contribute to the dissemination, application, and translation of new health care knowledge and practices.

4.3 Use unique and complementary abilities of all members of the team to collaborate on optimizing health and patient care.

5. Professional and Legal Aspects of Health Care

5.1 Recognize professional limits and adhere to the standard of care practice.

5.2 Demonstrate accountability, including mistakes and errors, to patients, society, and the profession.

5.3 Recognize and navigate difficult situations regarding medical, legal, and ethical issues.

5.4 Exhibit an understanding of the regulatory environment.

6. Healthcare Finance and Systems

6.1 Understand the financial implications for quality and accessible healthcare.

6.2 Understand different types of health systems, funding streams, and private and public insurers.

6.3 Understand the role and importance of quality improvement measures in effective health care delivery and patient outcomes.