PA Programs Closing – What does that Mean?

PA School • November 24, 2023

In the dynamic landscape of medical education, the recent closure of a Physician Assistant (PA) program in California has raised concerns about the significance of program accreditation. Aspiring PAs and current students might find themselves grappling with questions about PA programs closing and the implications of such closures. Michele Neskey talks about the intricacies of PA program accreditation, the types of accreditation, and what it means for students, both current and prospective.

Understanding PA Program Accreditation

The process of evaluating and accrediting PA programs is overseen by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). This body ensures that programs meet stringent standards to provide a high-quality education and produce successful graduates. Programs can undergo different accreditation statuses, each carrying its own implications.

1. Continued Accreditation

Continued accreditation is a positive sign for a program. It indicates that the program has met all necessary standards during a review by ARC-PA, signifying its stability and adherence to educational requirements.

2. Provisional Accreditation

Provisional accreditation is granted to new programs in their first two years. It signifies that the program is deemed fit to open, enroll students, and begin its educational journey. Students admitted to a provisionally accredited program are assured that the program is on track to meet accreditation standards.

3. Probationary Status

Programs placed on probation face challenges related to meeting accreditation standards. This status could result from issues ranging from statistical reporting discrepancies to more significant structural and faculty concerns. While students enrolled in a program on probation can still graduate and become PAs, it does raise questions about the program’s overall stability.

The Importance of Researching Accreditation History

For aspiring PA students, understanding a program’s accreditation history is crucial. The ARC-PA website provides a valuable resource to check the accreditation status and history of a program. This information is particularly pertinent if you are considering applying to a program on probation.

1. Red Flags and Developing Programs

One red flag to watch out for is if a program is labeled as a “developing program” with no current accreditation from ARC-PA. Applying to such programs poses a significant risk. It’s imperative to look for a clear accreditation statement on the program’s website, specifying when the program is scheduled for its accreditation review. Without this information, prospective students might be entering a program with uncertain accreditation status, leading to potential disappointment and stress.

2. Understanding the Impact of Accreditation Loss

If a program loses its accreditation while a student is enrolled, various scenarios may unfold. Some programs may absorb affected students, allowing them to continue their education seamlessly. However, the specifics depend on the program’s policies and the timing of the closure in relation to a student’s progress in the curriculum.

The Job Application Perspective

One common concern for students of a closed program is the impact on their future job applications. Fortunately, from an employer’s perspective, having a degree from an accredited PA program is the primary criterion. Most employers may not be aware of program closures, allowing graduates to enter the job market with confidence.

The closure of PA programs is a rare but impactful event in the medical education sphere. As an aspiring PA, thorough research into a program’s accreditation status and history is paramount. Utilizing resources like the ARC-PA website can provide insights that may influence your decision-making process.

The key takeaway is to be vigilant and proactive in ensuring that the PA program you choose aligns with your career goals. Stay informed about accreditation statuses, scrutinize program websites for transparency about their accreditation status, and make well-informed decisions that set the foundation for a successful PA career.

Remember, the journey to becoming a PA is a significant investment in your future, and being armed with knowledge about program accreditation is a crucial step towards achieving your professional aspirations.

Also read: How to Unlock the Secret to PA School Acceptance

About me:

I’m Michele Neskey, aka The Posh PA. Welcome to my YouTube channel! My mission is to provide personalized guidance, education, and motivation to build confidence and promote wellness for aspiring physician assistants and beyond.   

Having been a PA for 17+ years and helped hundreds of students gain acceptance into PA school,  I understand the admissions process. I know what they are looking for, and I can help you tailor every component to make you shine, giving you the BEST chance of getting accepted to a program.  But it doesn’t end there. I create personalized plans for PA students and practicing PAs including test-taking strategy for the PANCE, contract negotiations, and tools to overcome and prevent provider burnout. 

My goal is to get you into a physician assistant (PA) school & survive the rigorous program, help you prevent burnout as a practicing PA, and help you take care of yourself so you can be the best version of YOU for your patients, family, and most importantly YOU!