Physician Assistant Program Accreditation
The purpose of accreditation is to establish and maintain standards of quality. The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) is the only agency authorized to accredit PA Educational Programs. ARC-PA defines Accreditation – Provisional as:
Accreditation - Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.
The provisional accreditation process begins with a thorough review of the planning, organization, and proposed content of a program that is in the advanced planning stages, but not yet operational. The provisional accreditation pathway is the only entry way for proposed new programs into the accreditation process.
Only graduates of programs accredited by the ARC-PA or its predecessors are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE). Certification is required to be eligible for licensure to practice as a Physician Assistant. At this time, Gardner-Webb’s PA Program is not accredited. The University has, however, applied for provisional accreditation from ARC-PA and anticipates matriculating its first class in January 2014, pending provisional accreditation in September 2013.
Implications for GWU PA Program Applicants
Gardner-Webb University will begin accepting applications for its inaugural PA class in February 2013. For selected candidates, interviews will begin in May 2013 and seats will be offered using a rolling admission process. Since ARC-PA accreditation status will not be known until September 2013, many candidates will need to accept or decline a seat prior to ARC-PA’s decision.
In the event that GWU’s PA Program is not awarded accreditation, the inaugural class will not be matriculated in January 2014. Therefore, candidates who accept an inaugural class seat – prior to the ARC-PA accreditation decision – are doing so with the understanding that the program will begin contingent on GWU successfully being awarded ARC-PA accreditation.
To learn more about PA Program accreditation, visit the official ARC-PA website. To learn more about the PANCE, visit the official National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) website.