news-category: Academics

Gardner-Webb’s Department of Physician Assistant Studies Receives Accreditation Notification

group of nursing students

Review Commission Grants Status for the Maximum Number of 10 Years

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant Inc. (ARC-PA) recently granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Physician Assistant (PA) Studies Program at Gardner-Webb University. Ami R. Steele, PA Studies chair, program director and associate professor, said the accomplishment recognizes the exceptional teamwork of PA faculty and staff, and valuable contributions from the GWU administration.

“By far, this is one of the most rewarding moments of my career, second only to earning my degree to practice medicine 21 years ago,” she asserted. “I have never felt more proud to be a part of a team of outstanding individuals who work hard to provide an outstanding education for our PA students. This investment only benefits our community in the future when they are the next generation of healthcare providers.”

group of nursing studentsAccreditation-Continued status is granted when a currently-accredited program is in compliance with ARC-PA Standards. The Commission granted the new status for the maximum number of 10 years and found the Gardner-Webb PA program to be compliant in every way. “We have been told it is rare for a program on probation to receive the maximum number of years with Accreditation-Continued and to have zero areas of noncompliance identified in our self-study and site visit,” Steele observed.

The PA faculty and staff pushed forward to complete the recommended adjustments while sustaining daily operations and instructional responsibilities of the lockstep, year-round program. Leading the work on accreditation along with Director Steele was the Associate Program Director, Ashley Kernicky. Her interest and expertise in accreditation were pivotal to the process. Supporting the PA program’s efforts toward accreditation were Lucas Stern, director of Institutional Assessment; Dr. Sydney Brown, dean of the School of Graduate Studies; Dr. Nicole Waters, associate provost for the College of Health Sciences, and Dr. Ben Leslie, provost and executive vice president.

“We have always had high confidence in our curriculum and the quality of education our students receive,” Steele related. “We are a dynamic team of student-centered educators celebrating this fantastic accreditation news and a new relationship with CaroMont Healthcare as our anchor facility for student clinical experiences.”

Since its beginning in 2014, more than 100 students have graduated from the PA program. All of them are certified by the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam (PANCE) and are practicing medicine throughout the United States. The Class of 2020, the fifth cohort to graduate from the program, finishes in May, while the seventh cohort of students joined the program this past January.

“We have a focus on the underserved population and healthcare delivery in our community and surrounding areas,” Steele noted. “Each month our didactic students offer screening clinics in conjunction with the Friday ‘Feed the Hungry’ program at First Baptist Church in Shelby (N.C.), sponsored by the Greater Cleveland County Baptist Association. As well, each student who matriculates in the program is required to complete a clinical rotation experience in a medically underserved clinic. We continue to focus on embodying the GWU mission and giving God the glory for our success.”

Learn more about the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at Gardner-Webb.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university. Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at

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