The University of La Verne’s application for provisional accreditation for a new physician assistant program was denied by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, or ARC-PA, the accrediting body, president Devorah Lieberman and Provost Jonathan Reed announced Wednesday.
“I received a letter by email from the ARC-PA (April 6),” Lieberman said Thursday. “My initial reaction was surprise and deep, deep disappointment.”
Lieberman said that the PA program was in development for about two years before the application for accreditation was submitted.
“The accreditation body has very specific standards by which they measure your application and for us, they identified a few areas where we did not meet their standard in identifying student learning outcomes or competencies during the second year,” Lieberman said. “This next time around we will make sure that every standard that they identify is met, and exceed every standard.”
“The accreditation body has about 115 standards and we met all of the standards except for eight,” Reed said. “They had to do with the student assessment in the second year, which is the clinical year.”
The email states that there are conversations on how to plan the next steps for the program.
“The provost and the dean are leading that very carefully,” Lieberman said. “They’re very involved. We want to make sure that we meet every one of the standards.”
The program was set to begin classes in September 2017, and students had been admitted and faculty had been hired, but now the start date is postponed until September 2019 at the soonest.
Reed said that he and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Lawrence Potter are assessing exactly what steps they need to take for success when they apply again in September 2018.
Lieberman said that in addition to meeting all standards set forth by ARC-PA, it is important to develop a program that reflects the core values and mission statement of the University.
Lieberman said the program wants to stress community engagement and commitment to the region as well as diversity in student body.
“For us, all that quality is very important, but additionally we want to graduate physician assistants who want to practice in our region if they come from our region and that they are committed to making our region better,” Lieberman said. “That reflects our values and mission.”
Reed said the University plans to resubmit an application to ARC-PA in September 2018.
“Our intent was to resubmit our application earlier, but the accreditation body would not allow us,” Reed said. “Currently their queue is booked all the way to 2022, so instead of putting us at the very end of the queue in 2022, they’ve moved us up to 2018 but they were unable to move us up any earlier.”
Applicants to the program were notified over the weekend of the status of the program, Reed said.
“Faculty in the PA program have been in touch with the students to help them identify options,” Lieberman said.
“We are with the students. We’re very devastated that they are unable to begin their studies,” Reed said. “They were notified as part of the application process that we were not yet accredited. Of course, we and them, thought that we would be accredited but at this point we do hope that they are able to find another PA school to attend because the earliest we would be able to enroll them would be in two years from now.”
The email emphasizes the University’s commitment to the 2020 Strategic Vision, despite the setback with the program.
“There is still a commitment to the health initiatives and the physician assistant program, it’s just going to be delayed,” Reed said.
Christina Garcia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.