|UND Physician Assistant Program earns national reaccreditation|
The UND Physician Assistant program meets every established standard for function, structure and performance that are needed to be accredited for the next seven years, according to the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). The PA program has had continuous accreditation since its inception in 1970 at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
“Accreditation wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and the quality of the faculty and staff supporting the PA program,” said Mary Ann Laxen, associate professor of family medicine and director of the program.
Physician assistants work collegially with and under the supervision of physicians, especially in primary care in rural areas of North Dakota and other rural and underserved areas within the United States. The UND Physician Assistant Program is one of 140 PA programs in the United States and is the only PA program in North Dakota.
The program admits health professionals who have years of experience working as nurses, clinical laboratory scientists, paramedics, respiratory therapists, dietitians, military health care providers and related professions. Seventy students are accepted into the program every two years. The next class begins in May 2010.
“Mary Ann, the faculty and all the staff of the Physician Assistant Program have done an excellent job training individuals to become PAs. It is appropriate the ARC-PA recognize their accomplishments and the quality of education delivered with the longest accreditation available,” said Robert Beattie, chair of the Department of Family Medicine.
Graduates of the Physician Assistant Program must pass the national certification exam before beginning practice. The first-time pass rate for UND graduates in 2008 surpassed the national pass rate. With the present class, the PA program admitted its most diverse class ever, according to Laxen. Students originally came from Nigeria, Brazil, British Guyana, Vietnam, Laos and the Middle East. Various ethnic groups, such as American Indian, are also represented.
The UND PA program has over 1,500 graduates who are employed throughout the United States, Canada and overseas. Over 65 percent of the graduates are employed in primary care practices.
In a letter to UND President Robert Kelley, ARC-PA Executive Director John McCarty said, “The ARC-PA appreciates the commitment and dedication to quality PA education as demonstrated by your participation in the accreditation process.”
-- Denis F. MacLeod, Communications Coordinator, Center for Rural Health, firstname.lastname@example.org, 777-3300