Department of Physician Assistant Studies and Services Technical Standards for Admission and Retention

The Department of Physician Assistant Studies and Services (DPASS), which is part of the Carver College of Medicine, seeks candidates who best will serve society’s needs and strives to graduate skilled and effective healthcare providers. To achieve this goal, the following principles and technical standards will be applied to candidates for admission and continuing students.


  1. Technical standards refer to criteria that go beyond academic requirements for admission and are essential to meeting the academic requirements of the program.
  2. Students, with or without disabilities, applying to and continuing in the College will be expected to meet the same requirements.
  3. Matriculation and continuation in the College assume a certain level of cognitive and technical skill. Students with disabilities will be held to the same fundamental standards as their non-disabled peers. Although not all students should be expected to gain the same level of proficiency with all technical skills, some skills are so essential that mastery must be achieved, with the assistance of reasonable accommodations where necessary.
  4. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to assist in learning, performing and satisfying the technical standards.
  5. Every reasonable attempt will be made to facilitate the progress of students where it does not compromise collegiate standards or interfere with the rights of other students and patients.

Applicants for admission to the Department of Physician Assistant Studies and Services and continuing students must possess the capability to complete the entire medical curriculum and achieve the degree. To this end, all courses in the curriculum must be completed successfully. In order to acquire the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care, candidates for the MPAS degree must have abilities and skills in six areas including Observation; Communication; Motor; Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities; and Behavioral and Social Attributes.

Technological compensation can be made for some disabilities in certain areas, but a candidate must meet the essential technical standards in such a way that he or she will be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. The use of a trained intermediary is not acceptable in many clinical situations as it implies that a candidate’s judgment must be mediated by someone else’s power of selection and observation.

Continuing students in the DPASS and the College are held to the same technical standards.

  1. Observation: Students must have the functional ability to observe demonstrations and experiments in the basic sciences and must have sufficient use of the senses necessary to perform a physical examination.
  2. Communication: Students must be able to relate reasonably to patients and establish sensitive, professional relationships with patients, colleagues and staff. They are expected to communicate the results of the history and examination to the patient and to their colleagues with accuracy, clarity and efficiency.
  3. Motor: Students are expected to participate in basic diagnostic and therapeutic maneuvers and procedures. Those who cannot perform these activities independently should be able to understand and direct the methodology involved in such activities.
  4. ​Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative Abilities: Students must be able to learn to analyze, synthesize, solve problems, and reach reasonable diagnostic and therapeutic judgments. Students are expected to be able to display good judgment in the assessment and treatment of patients. They must be able to learn to respond with prompt and appropriate action in emergency situations.
  5. Behavioral and Social Attributes: Students are expected to be able to accept criticism and respond with appropriate modification of their behavior. Students also are expected to possess the perseverance, diligence, and consistency necessary to complete the medical school curriculum and enter the independent practice of medicine within a reasonable timeframe. They must demonstrate professional and ethical demeanor and behavior in all dealings with peers, faculty, staff and patients.
  6. Cultural Competency: Students must be able to communicate with and care for persons whose culture, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs are different from their own. They must be able to perform a complete history and physical exam on any patient regardless of the student’s and patient’s race, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, age, or sexual preference. Similarly, students must be able to interact professionally with colleagues and other healthcare professionals without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, age, or sexual preference.

Applicants who may not meet these standards are encouraged to e-mail the Director of Administrative and Student Services at

Notice: Individuals admitted to the University of Iowa Physician Assistant Program will be required to sign a statement that verifies that they have read, fully understand and meet each of the above technical standards. Admitted applicants will also be subject to criminal background checks that we will run on them at their own expense.