CONTACT: C. LINDON LARSON
283 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-9569; fax (319) 335-8034
Exam scores place UI physician assistant grads among best in nation
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa College of Medicine continues to
be a leader in training physician assistants (PAs), as shown by results of
the 1996 national PA certification examination. Since 1974, graduates of the
UI Physician Assistant Program have consistently scored well above the national
Developed by the National Board of Medical Examiners, the eight-hour test
includes a written general core (GEN), a primary care section (P.Care) that
measures knowledge in specific areas, and a clinical skills component (CSP)
using simulated patients to assess physical examination. Collectively, the
24 UI graduates who took the 1996 exam scored in the 98th percentile for both
GEN and P.Care and in the 91st percentile for CSP.
Dr. Denis Oliver, professor and director of the UI program, says its graduates
outperformed peers from nearly all of the nation's 81 other PA training programs.
"Behind these scores are a group of individuals who will make a real
contribution, not just to medicine, but also to their communities," he
PAs provide much-needed support in all types of health care settings, taking
an active part in both medical treatment and preventive care. In rural and
semi-rural areas, they often provide care in satellite clinics supervised
remotely by physicians from a large neighboring community.
The UI program's graduates have attained an impressive 99 percent pass rate
for the certification exam since 1974. Oliver attributes this success to outstanding
students and a strong curriculum that emphasizes primary care, particularly
family medicine. He also credits ongoing support from the UI College of Medicine
and its faculty, who in some cases teach prospective PAs alongside students
training to become physicians.
Oliver notes that many students enter the program with experience in community
service and often choose to practice in areas where they are most needed.
"Of last year's graduates, 85 percent chose to practice primary care
and 29 percent practice in medically-underserved areas," he says. "As
part of their training, all students complete a family medicine rotation in
an underserved area."
Further efforts to strengthen the program's focus on primary care and meeting
the needs of rural communities are under way. A mentorship program has been
established to recruit and support students from rural areas, and a rural
medicine curriculum is being developed.