CLINTON, S.C. (courtesy presby.edu) — This fall, the Presbyterian College Physician Assistant program reached a significant milestone by earning continuing accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).
ARC-PA is the accrediting agency responsible for establishing standards for PA education and evaluates PA education programs to ensure those standards are met.
For graduates, coming from a fully accredited program is critical to their careers. For prospective students, accreditation means the school they are considering has – and meets – high standards. For those who work to educate the next generation of physician assistants, accreditation is the well-earned prize at the end of a long and arduous academic journey.
PC president Dr. Anita Gustafson expressed the college’s gratitude for the program’s landmark achievement.
“Earning continuing accreditation for the next decade puts the PC Physician Assistant program at the forefront of academia for this vital and important medical profession,” Gustafson said. “I am grateful for all of the faculty, staff, administrators, and students who worked so hard to achieve this high status and I am supremely confident that they will continue to hold themselves to the highest standards moving forward.”
Director Amanda Stevenson-Cali said PC’s PA program went through multiple stages, beginning with the provisional accreditation necessary for the program to launch several years ago.
“The ARC-PA has assessed the program several times since its inception,” Stevenson-Cali said. “We’ve had classes graduate and graduates pass the certification exam, so we’ve proven that we have a good program from start to finish. Many of our students have job offers before graduating – especially after impressing their preceptors on clinical rotations. Our graduates are working in many different specialties all over the county.
Accreditation for every program is ongoing, of course, but PC’s PA program earned the maximum number of years of continuing accreditation status for meeting and exceeding every standard. Stevenson-Cali said it is a testament to her colleagues’ hard work and diligence that made it all possible.
“Our next accreditation visit is in 2033,” she said. “This proves that our faculty and staff are incredibly dedicated to ensuring our students succeed. Countless hours were spent developing and implementing a comprehensive curriculum and self-study process. We are constantly striving to improve the program. We have a strong network of clinical partners teaching our students exactly what they need to know. Our committed preceptors are the backbone of the clinical year.”
The long list of standards set forth by ARC-PA include institutional responsibilities, needed resources, program faculty and leadership qualifications, detailed and comprehensive student learning in the curriculum, supervised clinical practice experiences, program assessment and evaluation, and continuous self-improvement.
Former college provost Dr. Don Raber and founding program director Dr. Joe Weber were instrumental in securing the program’s provisional accreditation several years ago. Raber said he fully understands the importance and challenge of the program to achieve continuing accreditation.
“Programs that achieve continued accreditation, in my view, are meeting some of the most rigorous standards in all of academia, and they are working diligently to ensure students have the skills and abilities to be exceptional future physician assistants,” Raber said. “To that end, PC’s continued accreditation for its PA program through September 2033 is a tremendous achievement. It is the culmination of nearly a decade’s worth of effort by numerous people, both on and off campus, who have worked countless hours to build at PC a PA program the right way.”
The college’s PA graduates are also proving themselves worthy of the program’s accreditation status. At commencement this fall, Stevenson-Cali announced that nearly half of the Class of 2023 scored in the advanced medical knowledge category on the end-of-curriculum exams – more than twice the national average. Many graduates score above the national mean on the certifying exam.
College provost Dr. Kerry Pannell said the program’s hard-earned accreditation status will continue to pay dividends in the future for prospective students, graduates, and future patients.
“At PC, we live by our motto ‘while we live, we serve,” Pannell said. “Our PA program exemplifies service to humanity, with students and alumni improving the lives of thousands of people through outstanding medical care. This continuing accreditation achievement for PC’s PA program means hundreds more students will have this excellent educational opportunity over the next decade, and many thousands of future patients will be served. The fact that ARC-PA recognized this high-quality program with the longest accreditation timeline enhances PC’s reputation as a premier provider of graduate health professions education in the Upstate.”
Inspired by the motto, “While We Live, We Serve,” Presbyterian College celebrates an enduring culture of academic rigor, honor, and service worthy of being “America’s Innovative Service College.”
PC provides students of all faiths, identities, and backgrounds with a transformative education that equips them for impactful careers and empowers them to serve as powerful forces for positive community and world change. PC’s distinctive approach uses innovative service as a tool of self-discovery, an amplifier of problem-solving skills, and a catalyst of curiosity. A PC education offers students a real-life proving ground to practice the grace-driven art and science of changing lives.
PC was founded in 1880 by the Rev. William Plumer Jacobs in the historic city of Clinton in the foothills of South Carolina. The college offers a wide variety of undergraduate majors and has established three graduate programs in occupational therapy, physician assistant, and pharmacy. PC student-athletes — the Blue Hose — participate in 19 sports at the Division I level.
For more information about Presbyterian College, go to presby.edu.