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University of Iowa News Release

Release: April 4, 2003

PA Program Graduates Excel On National Certification Exam

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) recently released its 2002 Cumulative Program Performance Report, which provides information on all graduates who completed the Physician Assistant (PA) National Certification Examination in 2002.

Each PA program in the country receives a comprehensive report outlining the performance of its graduates. In addition, the report provides data that allows programs to compare the performance of their graduates to all the other PA programs in the country.

Maintaining the high level of excellence established by their predecessors, the 23 graduates for the class of 2002 University of Iowa Physician Assistant Program passed and scored among the best in the country on the national certification examination. Passing the test is necessary for PAs to obtain their licenses in all states.

The average score for the 2002 UI graduates was 597, compared to the national average of 492. This score places the UI program between the 98th and 99th percentile of the 118 PA programs with five or more first-time examination takers. From 1974 to 2002, the UI first-time pass rate is greater than 99 percent. The national average during the same period was 85 percent. In addition, the 2002 graduates score above the average in each of the 20 content areas assessed by the examination.

"This level of outstanding performance by our graduates reflects the quality of education that PA students receive from the Carver College of Medicine," said David Asprey, Ph.D., director of the UI PA Program. "We are very proud of the tradition of excellence that our graduates have established. They are well prepared to enter the profession and provide high quality health care to Iowans and the rest of the nation."

Asprey attributed the success to the program's curriculum, which is highly integrated into the curriculum at the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, and the caliber of its students. The curriculum for PA students at the UI is more heavily integrated with that of medical students than any other PA program in the country, he noted. More than 60 percent of the didactic curriculum completed by the PA students is taken with second-year medical students. In addition, because of the program's solid reputation, the program attracts exceptional students who are well prepared to excel, Asprey said.

The UI program is one of 134 accredited PA programs in the country and one of the 118 programs with more than five exam-takers last year. The UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine established the 25-month program in 1972. Since that time, the UI has graduated 580 PAs.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

CONTACT(S): David Pedersen, (319) 335-8032,