Four key elements noted in the program's vision statement break out as specific goals of the program. Every method, task, and decision made on behalf of the program must serve to meet at least one of these four goals:
1. Professionalism: Graduates will act in a professional manner, and, by integrating interprofessional education and collaboration, will acknowledge the physician assistant as one member of the health care team. (Union College PA Program, Goal 1)
Union College believes that professionalism is an essential aspect of PA practice and is therefore, an essential component of PA education. Each member of the PA Program holds this as a high goal and seeks to be a living example of professionalism. Students are expected to continually reflect on professionalism and how it looks in various aspects of PA education and in life. To further this development, students are provided classroom instruction that explores various components of professionalism and are routinely evaluated on their demonstration of professionalism.
Of paramount importance to the physician assistant concept is the team approach to health care. The student is educated with the understanding that the patient is best served by the convergence of expertise from various sources within the health care system. Because of technological and intellectual advancements, one individual cannot provide adequate care in today's complex and comprehensive medical practice. The PA lends his or her expertise, joined by others as indicated, to provide the best standard of care.
2. Clinical Relevance: Graduates will proficiently perform the more routine duties of personal health care management typically provided by primary care physicians. (Union College PA Program, Goal 2)
The curriculum of the Union College PA Program is designed to meet defined technical standards and competency skills, providing the student with sufficient education and experience to master the routine and common health care services at the equivalent proficiency of a family practice physician.
3. Academic Excellence: Graduates will possess competence in a balanced core of knowledge drawn from the fields of medical and behavioral sciences, which enables lifelong learning, critical thinking and effective communication. (Union College PA Program, Goal 3)
It is understood that students will not be able to learn all facets of medicine by the time of graduation. With this in mind, the Union College PA Program fosters the concept of lifelong learning, while providing a solid foundation of both medical and behavioral sciences. Students gain refined decision-making skills, problem-solving techniques, and medical research concepts, leading to the accrual of further knowledge. Perhaps most importantly, Union College PA Program students also learn the appropriate communication of medical knowledge so that the intellect can be applied usefully to the clinical domain.
4. Responsible Servanthood: Graduates will render service in the spirit of compassion and self-refraining love demonstrated by Christ in His ministry on earth, recognizing the privilege of serving others regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, marital status, disabilities, or socioeconomic status. (Union College PA Program, Goal 4)
Union College believes that an attitude of altruistic service is instrumental to a genuinely rewarding career. The PA profession is a natural example of this altruism, as the hallmark of service is evidenced by the PA's role both to the physician employer and to the community at large. Students are apprentices to a number of role models who demonstrate generous humility in providing clinical care. The best illustration of this character is Jesus Christ, and His pattern of responsible servanthood is nurtured.
The second purpose of this goal is to identify the population served by the PA graduate from Union College. Because of the cultural diversity of Union College and of Nebraska's capital city, the Union College PA Program is able to provide the student with a broad exposure to people of various social status and ethnic, religous, and economic backgrounds. This emphasis goes beyond the PA's duty to provide care to all walks of life and emphasizes the rewarding privilege of providing care for such a rich diversity of people.
These four goals: professionalism, clinical relevance, academic excellence and responsible servanthood are the practical standards used by the Union College PA Program to secure the success of the program and its graduates.