Marietta’s PA Program earns continuing national accreditation

The Physician Assistant Program at Marietta College has been awarded continuing national accreditation until 2010 from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant.

Under the direction of Dr. Gloria Stewart, MC’s master’s level program started three years ago with provisional accreditation through the ARC-PA. The accrediting agency protects the interests of the public and PA profession by defining the standards for PA education and evaluating PA educational programs within the territorial United States to ensure their compliance with those standards.

“Programs first must have provisional accreditation,” Stewart said. “Then they have their site visit and submit their report for continued accreditation.”

The MC program presented a self-study report and concluded their site visit in October with only technical observations from the visiting team.

Earning accreditation from the national reviewing group is an extremely important factor in the program’s success, Stewart said. Graduation from an accredited program is an eligibility requirement for the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination administered by the NCCPA and for state licensure. “Only graduates of accredited programs can sit for the national certification exam — so that they can be licensed to provide health care,” Stewart said.

Students in MC’s charter class of physician assistants were eligible to test after graduating in August 2004, and they have done well. “Our first class had 13 out of 15 pass the boards on the first time,” Stewart said.
In June, a new class of physician assistant candidates embarks on a 27-month journey of study in the MC program. Twenty-two students were accepted out of a pool of 170 applicants. “The offering of a master’s degree is definitely a benefit for the college,” Stewart said. “Applicants are looking for master’s degree programs.”

Dr. Sue DeWine, provost at Marietta, sees a great future for the program.

“To have achieved accreditation so early in its history is a credit to the faculty and students involved in that program,” DeWine said. “From the beginning the college made clear that we wanted to establish a small elite quality program and we have accomplished that. The faculty in that program, and the director, Gloria Stewart, have made significant progress in increasing health care to the region. This accreditation affirms what we already know about the program: it is one of the best in the country.