News & Notables

Physician Assistant Program Receives Reaccreditation

by Janelle Hill | Aug 22, 2017

DeSales University’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program has received reaccreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

The program will maintain Accreditation-Continued status for the next 10 years, with the next validation review scheduled for June 2027.

“The success of the accreditation is due to the hard work of the faculty, and we also appreciate the support specifically of Father Leonard [dean of graduate education] and of Karen Walton [provost and vice president for academic affairs],” says Wayne Stuart, director of the physician assistant program and head of the Division of Healthcare.

In order to practice, physician assistants must graduate from an accredited program and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. “So if we’re not accredited, none of our students would ever be able to practice as PAs,” says Stuart.

Reaccreditation is a two-year process. Faculty members collected a slew of data — everything from pass rates to how students view the faculty and vice versa.

Stuart; Kathy Ehrhardt, assistant program director; and Bobbie Morici, director of clinical education, then analyzed that data and put it into a self-study.   

Stuart submitted the self-study for review in 2015. Three people from the ARC-PA came to campus for a site visit this past April, after the study had been reviewed and updates were made. “Essentially what they do is verify and validate that what you send in is what you actually are doing,” Stuart says. 

The PA program started in 1997 with just 25 students. Today, it accepts 80 students per year. Looking forward, Stuart has two main goals: to ensure graduates pass the national certifying exam and find jobs, and to enhance the program’s national reputation.

For now, the program is gearing up to welcome its newest students and adapt to the latest changes. “What we need to do is now sit, work with those changes, see how things go, and evaluate that,” says Stuart.

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant defines the standards for PA education and evaluating PA educational programs within the territorial United States to ensure their compliance with those standards. The ARC-PA encourages excellence in PA education through its accreditation process by establishing and maintaining standards of quality for educational programs. 

Learn more about the PA program at DeSales »


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