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Elon University PA program earned accreditation, eligible to seat charter class

September 24, 2012

Elon University’s Physical Assistant Studies program received accreditation-provisional Sept. 14. Courtesy of University Relations

As published in The Pendulum:

Achieving accreditation permits Elon University to seat its first class of Physician Assistant Studies graduate students, of which the 38 individuals were already enrolled.

Elon University’s Physician Assistant Studies graduate program was granted Accreditation-provisional by ARC-PA. The program’s faculty and staff learned of the decision Sept. 14.

Earning accreditation-provisional qualifies the university to seat the charter PA class in January. The PA profession forbids institutions from beginning class prior to receiving accreditation.

“They do it as a protection mechanism, mainly for students, so students know they are entering a program that is going to be in existence and they can sit for their national certifying exam,” said Mark Archambault, department chair and program director of physician assistant studies.

While approval has given the faculty and staff cause to celebrate, future members of the Elon community share in the excitement as well.

Prior to receiving accreditation-provisional, Elon received 200 applications. Faculty interviews a little more than 100 applicants and offered acceptance to 45 individuals.

“This is great news for those who have been accepted into the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree program,” said Elizabeth Rogers, dean of the School of Health Sciences.

According to Archambault, the profile of the first class mirrors the national average in terms of GRE scores, number of hours in health care experience, overall GPA and science GPA.

The applicants’ decision to attend Elon prior to confirming the program’s accreditation-provisional status speaks to the students’ trust in the institution, Archambault said.

“I think that says a lot about Elon’s reputation, the communication efforts of University Relations, and the quality of interactions Graduate Admissions maintains with applicants through their whole experience considering Elon,” Archambault said.

He said he predicts the program to receive between 600 and 1,000 applicants for the next academic year, and increase of at least 300 percent. He attributes the expected growth to Elon’s eligibility for Central Application Service for Physician Assistants, a program that allows applicants to apply to a number of participating PA schools using a single application. Elon’s PA studies program joined CASPA today.

While participating in CASPA is a large factor in the university’s potential growth, Archambault said the continued interest in the program ultimately relies on the students’ experiences.

“Our future success will be based on the experiences of our students, both in the classroom and their educational experience out in the community,” he said.

Furthermore, students’ evaluations and performance also impacts achievement of full accreditation. Developing programs are only eligible for accreditation-provisional, and the Association of Clinical Research Professionals will return to review the program’s operation and improvement plan.

“Provisional accreditation is really a phase in the program development process, and accreditation allows the program and faculty and students access to the same resources and opportunities that exciting accredited programs have,” Archambault said.

The first PA studies class will begin the 27-month-long program in January 2013 and will graduate March 2015.

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