Technical Standards

A student admitted into the East Carolina Physician Assistant Program must meet basic and essential requirements that are necessary for securing employment and effectively serving as a physician assistant. The technical standards each student must master include cognitive, physical, and behavioral characteristics. Accommodations for persons with documented disabilities will be considered on an individual basis, but a candidate must be able to perform in an independent manner. All students must possess the intellectual, ethical, physical, and emotional capabilities required to undertake the full curriculum and achieve the levels of competence required by the faculty. The following skills are required, with or without accommodation:

Critical Thinking. The ability to solve problems, a skill that is critical to the practice of medicine. This skill requires the intellectual abilities of measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, and synthesis.

Communication Skills. A candidate should be able to speak, hear, and observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity, and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written forms.

Visual Ability. Candidates must be able to observe a patient accurately, both at a distance and close at hand. This ability requires the functional use of vision.

Hearing and Tactile Abilities. Candidates should have sufficient motor and auditory function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and performance of other diagnostic techniques.

Mobility and Fine Motor Skills. A candidate should be able to execute movements reasonably required to move from area to area, maneuver in confined spaces, calibrate and use large and small equipment, position and move patients, and provide patients with general care and emergency treatment.

Interpersonal Abilities. A candidate for the PA program must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities; the exercise of good judgment; the prompt completion of all responsibilities required for the diagnosis and care of patients; and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients, families, and colleagues.

Resilience.  PA program candidates should be able to cope despite setbacks, barriers, or limited resources. Candidates should also be able to use self-reflection, observation, and feedback to adapt to changing academic and clinical situations.

Demands and Performance Requirements

Outlined below are examples of the demands and performance requirements expected of the ECU PA student, with or without accommodation.

Mental Demands

The ECU PA student must possess the ability to:

  1. Process, retain, comprehend, integrate, analyze, synthesize, and apply a large volume of data related to the art and science of medicine, including legal, ethical, and moral concepts.
  2. Be present during long hours in the following settings: classrooms, laboratories, clinical, and self-directed study situations and environments.
  3. Respond appropriately and in a timely manner (if applicable) to feedback and provide feedback for others.
  4. Effectively communicate through written and verbal communication.
  5. Participate in educational activities that include examinations, demonstrations, simulations, presentations, written communication skills development, and frequent and exacting evaluations.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to gather patient data, perform a physical examination, conduct patient assessment and evaluation, formulate a treatment plan, and perform patient education.
  7. Demonstrate resiliency, adaptability, and flexibility.

Physical Demands

The ECU PA student must possess:

  1. Full range and control of body motion, including assisting patient movement, manual and finger dexterity, and hand-eye coordination.
  2. Adequate visual and hearing sensory ability to function as a student while in school and provide medical care to patients as a graduate.
  3. Physical capacity to stand and walk for extended hospital and clinic visits and during frequent and prolonged patient and professional interactions.
  4. Physical capacity to sit for long periods during classroom and laboratory experiences.
  5. Capability to work in physically and mentally stressful situations with long and irregular hours and with exposure to communicable diseases and body fluids.
  6. The ability to be present for long hours in the following settings: classrooms, laboratories, clinical, and self-directed study situations and environments.

Working Conditions

The ECU PA student must be able to:

  1. Work in clinical and classroom environments with possible exposure to communicable diseases, toxic substances, ionizing radiation, medicinal preparations, hostile individuals, and other conditions common to medical and surgical environments.
  2. Interact with a diverse patient population of all ages with a range of acute and chronic medical and surgical conditions.

Program Requirements Once Accepted


Immunizations Submissions: ECU Student Health First, then ECU PA
Once enrolled, new students will receive many emails regarding requirements for East Carolina University, including those from ECU Student Health Services requesting submission of your immunization records. We encourage students to submit their immunizations information to Student Health first. Then the inclusive immunizations report generated in myPIRATEchart (see below) may be submitted to CastleBranch. However, since the required immunizations for PA students exceed those for the general student population, additional submissions to CastleBranch will be necessary, including your Hep B titer lab report showing immunity.

Medical History
At the ECU Student Health website, select “myPIRATEchart.”  Create an account, then complete the Student History information. If you have health insurance through a provider other than ECU Student Blue, please upload your insurance card information to myPIRATEchart.

ECU immunization requirements can be found at Student Health Enrollment Requirements.

  • Tetanus Tdap: 1 dose of adult Tdap. If last Tdap is more than 10 years old, provide date of last Td and Tdap Vaccine (Adacel, Boostrix, etc)
  • Completion of polio series (3 doses)
  • MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella): 2 doses of MMR vaccine OR 2 doses of Measles, 2 doses of Mumps, and 1 dose of Rubella; OR serologic proof of immunity for Measles, Mumps and Rubella.
  • Varicella (2 doses vaccine or positive titer)
  • Hepatitis B Vaccination — 3 doses of Engerix-B, Recombivax, or Twinrix or 2 doses of Heplisav-B AND a QUANTITATIVE Hepatitis B Surface Antibody (titer), preferably drawn 4-8 weeks after the last dose. If titer results are negative (<10 IU/ml), complete a second Hepatitis B series followed by a repeat titer. If Hepatitis B Surface Antibody titer is negative after a secondary series, additional testing, including Hepatitis B Surface Antigen, should be performed.

In addition to the ECU-required vaccines above, all students enrolled in the PA program must also have the following per CDC guidelines for healthcare workers.

  • Tuberculosis Screening (Tuberculosis skin test): 2 step PPD completed within 6 months prior to the start of the 1st day of class. PPD must be completed on an annual basis. QuantiFeron Gold TB/IGRA blood test will also be accepted.
  • Influenza – Incoming and current students will be offered free on-campus influenza vaccines each fall. This is a mandatory yearly vaccine.

*  contact program director for more information

COVID Guidelines

The ECU PA Program strongly encourages all students to be fully vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19, in accordance with CDC guidelines, prior to entering. The large majority of clinical sites require students vaccinated and some do allow for exemptions. Students who elect to not be fully vaccinated and boosted may request a medical and/or religious exemption from the clinical rotation if the clinical site has an exemption process. Requesting exemptions does not guarantee that exemptions will be granted. Medical Exemptions must be submitted to East Carolina University Office of Student Health Services. Religious Exemptions must be submitted to the Office of Equity and Diversity. An exemption received from ECU may not be accepted by the clinical rotation site. Therefore, the ECU PA Program cannot guarantee clinical placements for students who are not fully vaccinated.

The immunization requirements for clinical students are set by our clinical rotation sites. All students must comply with the program and clinical rotation site immunization policies at which they are assigned to successfully complete the program.

PADP must have documentation of completion of all immunizations and titers if applicable no later than August 1st, prior to the fall semester of matriculation. Failure to meet this deadline may result in the applicant’s removal from the Program and an alternate to be selected.  Physician assistant students must maintain current TB screening and remain in full compliance with the immunization policy reviewed above. A copy of immunization records for students will be stored in the CastleBranch ( database. It is the responsibility of the student to keep their immunization record up to date; failure to do so may result in delayed graduation.

For students completing a supervised clinical practicum experience in a country other than the United States, all immunizations as recommended for that specific country by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must be obtained prior to leaving for the practicum. A list of immunizations recommended by the CDC can be found on the CDC travel website. Documentation must be provided to the clinical coordinator prior to leaving for the practicum. A failure to provide required documentation will result in a cancellation of the practicum.

Health Insurance

Students are required to maintain personal health insurance throughout the Physician Assistant Program. Documentation of insurance coverage must be submitted to the program at the beginning of the professional phase of the program. Documentation must be current; therefore, any changes in insurance coverage must be submitted to the Program immediately. Personal health insurance may be obtained through the university at Student Health.

For students completing a second-year practicum in a country other than the United States, additional international health insurance and evacuation insurance must be obtained prior to leaving for the clerkship. This insurance can be obtained through the ECU Office of Global Affairs (International Insurance). This is a requirement of East Carolina University and failure to comply will result in a cancellation of the clerkship and possible dismissal from the university.

Basic Life Support

All accepted applicants into the Physician Assistant Studies program are required to complete American Heart Association Basic Life Support for health care providers. Please refer to the American Heart Association website for information on available local training courses.

Students should maintain a personal file of current immunizations and certifications (i.e. BLS, ACLS, PALS) that may be easily accessed if requested while participating in clinical sites and rotations. Students are advised that the information above may be released to third parties to facilitate clinical placements.

Criminal Background Checks and Drug Screens

ECU and the PA program are not responsible for reviewing background checks or paying for them. Clinical rotation sites may require background checks. The NC Medical board also requires a criminal background check prior to licensing. If a student is unable to complete a clinical portion of the PA program due to negative items contained in a criminal background check or failure to pass a drug screening, the student will not graduate. Neither ECU nor the PA program will be held liable for the student’s failure to obtain state licensing. Students are subject to institutional and ECU policies regarding alcohol and drug use.