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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 22, 2007

Physician Assistant Program Graduates Excel On National Certification Exam

The University of Iowa Physician Assistant (PA) Program recently distinguished itself as one of the nation's best when its 2006 graduates scored among the highest out of all PA programs in the country on their national certification examinations.

The Iowa program, based in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the examination for its 23 graduates from the class of 2006, compared to a national average pass rate of 92 percent.

This achievement makes 11 consecutive years without a single graduate from the UI program failing this examination. This year's perfect pass rate placed the UI above the 98th percentile -- the highest percentile reported this year -- of 130 PA programs with more than five graduates taking the exam for the first time. The program's mean score was 616, compared to the national average of 504.

From 1974 through 2006, the UI program has a first-time pass rate of more than 99 percent, compared to a national average of 86 percent for the same period.

David Asprey, Ph.D., director of the PA Program at the UI, said the PA curriculum is heavily integrated into the curriculum of the Carver College of Medicine. More than 60 percent of the didactic coursework completed by PA students is taken with second-year UI medical students, making the PA program unique among other institutions with physician assistant programs, Asprey noted.

"The strength of our curriculum certainly has been a key to our students' success on the certification exam," Asprey said. "We are proud of the tradition of excellence that our program has attained and equally pleased to know that our graduates are well prepared to enter the profession and provide high quality medical care to the citizens of Iowa and our nation."

In addition to the excellent percentile rank and overall pass rate, the Iowa PA graduates also performed above the mean on each of the 13-organ system and the seven-task content areas as outlined in the 2006 Cumulative Program Performance Report released by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

The NCCPA provides information on all graduates who completed the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination last year. Each PA program in the country receives a comprehensive report outlining the performance of its graduates, as well as data that allows programs to compare the performance of their graduates to other PA programs in the country. Passing the examination is a requirement for licensure in all states.

The PA Program at the UI is a 25-month program, with students graduating each June. The NCCPA releases its performance report after the calendar year is completed and an analysis has been conducted.

PAs are health professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. PAs must graduate from an accredited PA educational program and/or receive certification from the NCCPA. As part of the physician/PA relationship, PAs exercise autonomy in medical decision-making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. They take medical histories, perform physical exams and order tests. PAs often may serve as health care providers in smaller or rural communities that do not have physicians.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032, Writer: Krystal Loewe.