Mission & Competencies

Our Mission

Developing caring physician assistants who practice competent, patient-centered primary care in diverse environments


In harmony with the overall mission of Harding University, the Physician Assistant program seeks to provide a comprehensive educational program designed to impart to students the knowledge and skills needed to become competent professionals. The Program strives to motivate its future graduates to develop attitudes which stimulate continuing pursuit of professional excellence, Christ-centered service to others, and lifelong learning. 


The Physician Assistant Program is an integral part of Harding University, and embraces the goals outlined in the University’s statement of mission and goals. The goals of the Physician Assistant Program are:

  1. Instruct physician assistants who will provide primary care reflective of their Christian faith and service to their community and to the world.
  2. Develop practice-oriented critical thinking which recognizes dependence on God, is committed to lifelong intellectual excellence, and is built upon a foundation of general cultural knowledge.
  3. Promote supportive personal and professional relationships.
  4. Nurture lifelong personal habits that lead to a healthier quality of life physically, spiritually, psychologically and socially.
  5. Emphasize a servant-leadership lifestyle which prepares graduates to have a respect for other cultures and an understanding of world missions.

Core Values

We believe physician assistants should:

  1. Practice competently, ethically and with a Christ-centered attitude.
  2. Serve where needed, particularly in rural areas, inner-cities and on mission fields where there are health professional shortages.
  3. Demonstrate sensitivity to cultural and individual differences in their patients and colleagues.
  4. Understand the principles of scientific inquiry and research design, and apply these principles lifelong to read critically and interpret the literature and enhance the delivery of health care.
  5. Integrate the basic principles of education and cultural awareness into programs that benefit the patient, the patient’s family and the community through the promotion of wellness and personal responsibility for maintaining health.
  6. Enrich the lives of their patients and communities through service and a Christ-centered approach to the practice of their profession.
  7. Advocate a team approach to high-quality, cost-effective health care delivery as a primary care physician assistant in a dynamic health care delivery system.
  8. Promote and uphold the physician assistant profession and its ideals.
  9. Contribute to the profession through leadership, teaching and active scholarship.


Competencies for Entering Harding University Physician Assistant Students

(adapted from the AAMC Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students)

The following characteristics, combined with foundational knowledge, position applicants to be adequately prepared for the rigor of PA training.  Together, these characteristics demonstrate the professionalism required of health care students and providers.

  • Science Knowledge
    • Biological Sciences: Has foundational knowledge in the natural sciences related to molecular and macro systems including biomolecules, cells, organs, and body systems.
    • Psychological Sciences: Has foundational knowledge of human behavior, self, others, and social systems related to the psychological, socio-cultural, and biological factors that influence health and well-being.
  • Critical Thinking and Reasoning
    • Critical Thinking: Uses knowledge and reasoning to solve problems including analyzing various approaches to the problem and alternative solutions. Should be able to apply critical thinking skills in multiple situations such as scientific inquiry, interpersonal relationships, and patient care.
    • Quantitative Reasoning: Has basic mathematic skills and understanding of quantitative reasoning
    • Scientific Inquiry: Has knowledge of the scientific process and the ability to integrate and synthesize information, solve problems and formulate research questions and hypotheses; is able to understand and use the language of the sciences.
  • Interpersonal Skills
    • Service orientation: Demonstrates empathy and a desire to help others and a sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings; demonstrates a desire to alleviate others’ distress.
    • Social skills: Demonstrates awareness of others’ needs, goals, feelings, and the ways that social and behavioral cues affect peoples’ interactions and behaviors; adjust behaviors appropriately in response to these cues.
    • Cultural competence: Demonstrates knowledge of socio-cultural factors that affect interactions and behaviors; shows an appreciation and respect for multiple dimensions of diversity; recognizes and acts on the obligation to inform one’s own judgment and address personal biases
    • Cultural humility: Respectfully engages diverse and competing perspectives with mindful listening and interacts effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.
    • Teamwork: Works collaboratively with others to achieve shared goals; shares information and knowledge with others and provides feedback; demonstrates humility in interactions with the team; is team-oriented.
    • Communication skills: Professionally, appropriately, honestly, and effectively conveys information to others using spoken and written communication, adapting content and delivery for the situation; recognizes potential communication barriers and adjusts approach or clarifies information as needed; demonstrates respect for others in words and in actions.
  • Intrapersonal Skills
    • Capacity for improvement: Shows self-awareness and ability to self-critique to set goals for continuous improvement; solicits and accepts constructive feedback and responds appropriately; engages in reflective practice for ongoing improvement; recognizes when help is required and when to ask for guidance, recognizes and admits mistakes and accepts the consequences; remains flexible and open to change.
    • Life-long learner: Demonstrates a motivation to learn; recognizes and acts on personal responsibility to seek understanding; willing to learns new concepts and skills, continually works to refine knowledge.
    • Ethical responsibility: cultivates personal and academic integrity; follows rules and procedures; behaves honestly and ethically in all situations and interactions; resists unethical behavior and encourages others to behave in honest and ethical ways; demonstrates the capacity for ethical and moral reasoning; demonstrates an awareness of strengths and limitations; respects self and protects and advocates for personal needs when appropriate.
    • Reliability and dependability: Consistently fulfills obligations in a timely, efficient, and satisfactory manner; takes responsibility for personal actions and performance.
      Resilience and adaptability: Demonstrates emotional maturity and tolerance of stressful or changing environments or situations and adapts effectively to them; is persistent, even under difficult situations; recovers from setbacks.
  • Clinical Experience: Demonstrates a basic understanding of healthcare systems, clinical environments, and patient care, including the role of the Physician Assistant; demonstrates respect for the roles of other professionals in healthcare.

Competencies for Harding University Physician Assistant Clinical Students Entering the Clinical Phase (B1.01b)

Students progressing from the didactic phase to the clinical phase should be able to:

  • Understand the basics of the clinical sciences to include anatomy and physiology, epidemiology, genetics, and pathophysiology.
  • Form clinical questions, retrieve evidence and organize information in a manner to facilitate problem-solving that advances patient care. (B2.05)
  • Demonstrate knowledge of evidence-based guidelines and utilize them appropriately.
  • Gather appropriate and sufficient clinical history and physical exam components to address patient and provider concerns. (B2.07)
  • Interpret history and physical exam findings, relating information to pathophysiology, clinical presentation, further evaluation, diagnosis, and management of the patient.
  • Prioritize a differential diagnosis, re-evaluating and altering based on evidence from history, physical exam, testing, and further evaluation, and determine a most likely diagnosis. (B2.07)
  • Recommend and interpret common screening and diagnostic tests. (B2.07)
  • Develop an appropriate treatment plan including entering and discussing orders, interventions, referrals, consults, and prescriptions (B2.07); be able to adapt these recommendations and the discussion based on patient-specific factors (B2.06) and the clinical setting.
  • Recognize a patient requiring urgent or emergent care and initiate evaluation, management, and treatment, re-evaluating and adapting care as necessary. (B2.08)
    Document a clinical encounter in the patient record and provide an oral presentation. (B2.09, B2.14)
  • Collaborate as a member of an interprofessional team, demonstrating respect for other healthcare professionals, patients, and their families; communicate in a manner that promotes high-quality patient care and prevention of medical errors; promote a culture of safety and improvement. (B2.04, B2.10, B2.16)
  • Perform general procedures of a physician assistant, obtain informed consent, and recognize indications, contraindications, and potential complications. (B2.09)
  • Promote preventive care and provide health maintenance recommendations based on patient-specific factors. (B2.08)
  • Demonstrate maturing of interpersonal skills to include professionalism, humility, empathy, service and ethical responsibility to others, respect for others, appropriate social skills, cultural competence and humility, teamwork, and communication skills. (B2.18)
  • Demonstrates maturing of intrapersonal skills to include continuous self-improvement, ownership, life-long learning, ethical responsibility to self, reliability, dependability, resilience, adaptability, and flexibility. (B2.18)

Competencies for Graduating Harding University Physician Assistant Students 

Students graduating from the HU PA Program will possess or will be able to demonstrate:

  • Core clinical knowledge for patient-centered medical practice with the ability to evaluate and integrate new knowledge to provide evidence-based care.
  • Competent patient care by gathering pertinent information in the history and exam along with relevant labratory and imaging studies.
  • Clinical reasoning in the ability to synthesize comprehensive patient information in order to formulate and implement an appropriate immediate and long-term evaluation and management plan with the goal of managing acute and chronic health concerns with consideration for preventive care and health maintenance.
  • Professionalism in understanding personal responsibility in patient care while participating as a leader of multi-disciplinary teams, showing an understanding of the role of other healthcare professionals and how the team functions to provide complete and safe patient care, utilizing resources provided by the healthcare system, including EHR, PMP, and other available resources. Understanding the limitations of using these resources, and respecting appropriate laws and regulations. 
  • Effective and respectful interpersonal and communication skills with all members of the healthcare team, including patients and their families; communication will be truthful and compassionate, understanding the personal responsibility to communicate clearly and completely.  
  • Respect for patients, understanding that world views shape cultural differences and belief systems and may create differences in understanding of healthcare, and striving to provide competent, evidence-based healthcare taking into account patient’s beliefs; work to identify and eliminate biases that stand in the way of patient care without compromising your own values and beliefs. 
  • Life-long learning, staying up to date on current medical literature, continuing to grow in knowledge and skill, and facilitating the learning of students and other healthcare professionals.


Contact Us

Physician Assistant Program is part of the College of Allied Health


Fax: 501-279-4811

Mailing address:
Harding University
Physician Assistant Program
HU 12231
Searcy, AR 72149-5615