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Release: May 21, 1999

UI's Physician Assistant Program receives maximum re-accreditation

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Physician Assistant (PA) Program has received a seven-year re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Seven years is the maximum length of accreditation the commission grants. To date, only 7 percent of the nation's 110 physician assistant programs have received the seven-year honor.

"The fact that a group of peer educators has given us the maximum length of accreditation speaks highly to the quality of the education our students receive," said David Asprey, director of the UI's PA Program.

The accreditation process began with a self-study. Program faculty and staff evaluated the program in terms of sponsorship, curriculum, resources, operational and student policies, and program outcomes. The self-study was followed by an on-site, two-day evaluation by a team of three peers who are part of the PA accreditation review committee. Based on information in the self-study and on-site report, the committee voted on April 22 to grant the UI program the seven-year accreditation.

Asprey credits the success of the PA Program to its affiliation and high level of integration with the UI College of Medicine. The program is within the college; and in many cases, UI PA students take the same classes as the second-year medical students.

"We're fortunate to be housed in the College of Medicine," Asprey said. "It affords us the opportunity to provide a rigorous and high quality education that prepares students well for the demands of the physician assistant field."

Earlier this year the UI received word that 100 percent of its 1998 PA graduates passed the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination on their first attempt. From 1974 to 1998, the UI first-time pass rate has averaged 99 percent. The national average during the same period was approximately 84.5 percent.

PAs are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Within the physician/PA relationship, the PAs are responsible for making medical decisions and providing a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services.

The UI established its 25-month PA program in 1972. Since that time, the UI has graduated approximately 500 PAs.