Noncognitive Attributes in Physician Assistant Education.
Physician assistant (PA) admissions processes have typically given more weight to cognitive attributes than to noncognitive ones, both because a high level of cognitive ability is needed for a career in medicine and because cognitive factors are easier to measure. However, there is a growing consensus across the health professions that noncognitive attributes such as emotional intelligence, empathy, and professionalism are important for success in clinical practice and optimal care of patients. There is also some evidence that a move toward more holistic admissions practices, including evaluation of noncognitive attributes, can have a positive effect on diversity. The need for these noncognitive attributes in clinicians is being reinforced by changes in the US health care system, including shifting patient demographics and a growing emphasis on team-based care and patient satisfaction, and the need for clinicians to help patients interpret complex medical information. The 2016 Physician Assistant Education Association Stakeholder Summit revealed certain behavioral and affective qualities that employers of PAs value and sometimes find lacking in new graduates. Although there are still gaps in the evidence base, some tools and technologies currently exist to more accurately measure noncognitive variables. We propose some possible strategies and tools that PA programs can use to formalize the way they select for noncognitive attributes. Since PA programs have, on average, only 27 months to educate students, programs may need to focus more resources on selecting for these attributes than teaching them.
Brenneman, AE; Goldgar, C; Hills, KJ; Snyder, JH; VanderMeulen, SP; Lane, S
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