Content Blueprint Task Areas

The list of tasks below include knowledge and skill areas that were identified as important to physician assistant practice through an intensive practice analysis. Many of these knowledge areas and cognitive skills are covered on NCCPA's examinations.

Each question you encounter will address an organ system and a task area from the table below.

Tasks% of Exam
History Taking & Performing Physical Examinations16
Using Laboratory & Diagnostic Studies14
Formulating Most Likely Diagnosis18
Health Maintenance10
Clinical Intervention14
Pharmaceutical Therapeutics18
Applying Basic Science Concepts10
 Total: 100%

History Taking & Performing Physical Examinations

Knowledge of:

  • Pertinent historical information associated with selected medical conditions
  • Risk factors for development of selected medical conditions
  • Signs and symptoms of selected medical conditions
  • Physical examination techniques
  • Physical examination findings associated with selected medical conditions
  • Appropriate physical examination directed to selected medical conditions
  • Differential diagnosis associated with presenting symptoms or physical findings
Cognitive skills in:

  • Conducting comprehensive and focused interviews
  • Identifying pertinent historical information
  • Performing comprehensive and focused physical examinations
  • Associating current complaint with presented history
  • Identifying pertinent physical examination information

Using Laboratory & Diagnostic Studies

Knowledge of:

  • Indications for initial and subsequent diagnostic or laboratory studies
  • Cost effectiveness of diagnostic studies or procedures
  • Relevance of common screening tests for selected medical conditions
  • Normal and abnormal diagnostic ranges
  • Risks associated with diagnostic studies or procedures
  • Appropriate patient education related to laboratory or diagnostic studies
Cognitive skills in:

  • Using diagnostic equipment safely and appropriately
  • Selecting appropriate diagnostic or laboratory studies
  • Collecting diagnostic or laboratory specimens
  • Interpreting diagnostic or laboratory studies results

Formulating Most Likely Diagnosis

Knowledge of:

  • Significance of history as it relates to differential diagnosis
  • Significance of physical findings as they relate to diagnosis
  • Significance of diagnostic and laboratory studies as they relate to diagnosis
Cognitive skills in:

  • Correlating normal and abnormal diagnostic data
  • Formulating differential diagnosis
  • Selecting the most likely diagnosis in light of presented data

Health Maintenance

Knowledge of:

  • Epidemiology of selected medical conditions
  • Early detection and prevention of selected medical conditions
  • Relative value of common screening tests
  • Appropriate patient education regarding preventable conditions or lifestyle modifications
  • Healthy lifestyles
  • Prevention of communicable diseases
  • Immunization schedules and recommendations for infants, children, adults and foreign travelers
  • Risks and benefits of immunization
  • Human growth and development
  • Human sexuality
  • Occupational and environmental exposure
  • Impact of stress on health
  • Psychological manifestations of illness and injury
  • Effects of aging and changing family roles on health maintenance and disease prevention
  • Signs of abuse and neglect
  • Barriers to care
Cognitive skills in:

  • Using counseling and patient education techniques
  • Communicating effectively with patients to enhance health maintenance
  • Adapting health maintenance to the patient's context
  • Using informational databases

Clinical Intervention

Knowledge of:

  • Management and treatment of selected medical conditions
  • Indications, contraindications, complications, risks, benefits and techniques for selected procedures
  • Standard precautions and special isolation conditions
  • Sterile technique
  • Follow-up and monitoring of therapeutic regimens
  • Conditions that constitute medical emergencies
  • Indications for admission to or discharge from hospitals or other facilities
  • Discharge planning
  • Available community resources
  • Appropriate community resources
  • Appropriate patient education
  • Roles of other health professionals
  • End-of-life issues
  • Risks and benefits of alternative medicine
Cognitive skills in:

  • Formulating and implementing treatment plans
  • Recognizing and initiating treatment for life-threatening emergencies
  • Demonstrating technical expertise related to performing specific procedures
  • Communicating effectively
  • Using counseling techniques
  • Facilitating patient adherence and active participation in treatment
  • Interacting effectively in multidisciplinary teams

Pharmaceutical Therapeutics

Knowledge of:

  • Mechanism of action
  • Indications for use
  • Contraindications
  • Side effects
  • Adverse reactions
  • Follow-up and monitoring of pharmacologic regimens
  • Risks for drug interactions
  • Clinical presentation of drug interactions
  • Treatment of drug interactions
  • Drug toxicity
  • Methods to reduce medication errors
  • Cross reactivity of similar medications
  • Recognition and treatment of allergic reactions
Cognitive skills in:

  • Selecting appropriate pharmacologic therapy for selected medical conditions
  • Monitoring pharmacologic regimens and adjusting as appropriate
  • Evaluating and reporting adverse drug reactions

Applying Basic Science Concepts

Knowledge of:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Underlying pathophysiology
  • Microbiology and biochemistry
Cognitive skills in:

  • Recognizing normal and abnormal anatomy and physiology
  • Relating pathophysiologic principles to specific disease processes
  • Correlating abnormal physical examination findings to a given disease process
  • Correlating abnormal results of diagnostic tests to a given disease process