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Physician’s assistant program gets probationary accreditation

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The physician’s assistant program – part of the University of La Verne’s College of Health and Community Well-being set for official launch in fall 2022 – has had an update in its process of becoming an accredited program: It has gone from provisional accreditation to probationary accreditation, officials announced this week.

“Essentially what the accrediting body is saying is that there are areas that we as an institution need to work on, and they want us to address those issues ahead of the next visit,” said Brian Clocksin, interim vice provost for strategic health initiatives. “We will have a report due in December, and then we will have an accreditation site visit in April to see how much progress we’re doing in those areas that they have concerns with.”

Clocksin said that students will not see any changes in current curriculum or programs while the University seeks to address the concerns raised by the accrediting body. 

“From a student standpoint, nothing changes,” Clocksin said. “We are an accredited program that allows our students to complete the program and enter the board exam and … become a physician’s assistant,” said Clocksin. 

Clocksin added that no new class was admitted in fall 2021 because of the program’s accreditation status.

“I think we’re addressing all of the concerns,” Clocksin said. “Many of them stem from us being in COVID… all of society was disrupted, including healthcare.”

Among the challenges faced by the physician assistant program during COVID lockdowns and remote learning, was that many hospitals and clinics were either not open or not accepting students. An important part of a physician’s assistant’s training is face-to-face clinical experiences as they prepare for a career of working with patients, Clocksin said. 

Clocksin added that now that COVID cases have declined, much has reopened, and work and school are closer to normal times, many of the issues with the ULV physician’s assistant program are resolving.

The accrediting body had standards that the University was expected to meet, added University President Devorah Lieberman. 

“Some of the standards had very slight infractions, like some of the data that we were supposed to put in one place on the website was in another place on the website, so some were very small,” Lieberman said. “Some were larger.”

Lieberman added that she is delighted that the physician’s program is continuing. Under its new director Anne Schall, she said she has confidence in its sustainability. 

It will be the “cornerstone” of the College of Health and Community Well-Being, she said. 

“The national accreditors in reviewing us these last several months they reviewed us very very carefully, and they decided that the University of La Verne program deserves to continue and deserves to continue well so that we are recruiting, retaining and graduating students for the next 100 years in the physician assistant program,” Lieberman said. “I’m delighted that the accreditors see that we are and can be successful.”

—Liliana Castañeda

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