Physician Assistant Program Achieves Full Accreditation

April 7, 2020

Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences in Fishersville (Photo Copyright Kate Joyce Studios)

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted full accreditation to the physician assistant (PA) graduate program at MBU, allowing MBU to reach more students and bringing all the founding graduate programs of study (occupational therapy, physical therapy, and now PA) in its college of health sciences to full accreditation. 

ARC-PA commissioners reached a consensus on accreditation-continued status for Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences at their March meeting. The PA program will be reviewed again in 10 years, which is the maximum time an institution can go before a review. Faculty and staff began the process of applying for continuing accreditation about a year ago and hosted ARC-PA representatives for a site visit last November. 

“The important thing to realize is that this is the cumulation of a long process that came from teamwork,” said Harold Felton, PA program director. “Without my team and also student support, this would not have happened. That’s the biggest take-away for me.”

Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences in Fishersville (Photo Copyright Kate Joyce Studios)

ARC-PA accreditation helps prospective students identify PA programs that meet nationally accepted standards, and also helps ensure that those programs prepare them well for professional licensure and future practice. MBU’s PA program has as its hallmark the team-based interprofessional education that is the foundation of the Murphy Deming approach.  

“The strength of the PA program here at Murphy Deming lies with the cohesiveness of the team and the talents of the program’s leadership,” said Deborah Greubel, vice president and dean of Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences. “All of them, faculty, staff, and students, are exemplary examples of what it means to be truly interdisciplinary. They all work together toward a common goal — excellent patient care. That is the basis for accreditation, to ensure this program meets that standard.”

MBU’s PA program will now be able to accept 10 additional students every year, and it will also be able to offer admission to military veterans, who are not permitted to attend programs with provisional accreditation due to GI Bill requirements. The PA discipline has its origins in the armed services, dating back to the mid-1960s when four Navy Hospital Corpsmen became the first-ever physician assistant students at Duke University Medical Center. The fast-track training of doctors developed during World War II was also the basis of their curriculum.

After welcoming its first students to campus in January 2016, MBU’s PA program operated with provisional accreditation for the first three years. Students have been eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam — the final step before becoming a certified PA — since the program’s inception.

With the addition of PA, all of Murphy Deming’s founding graduate programs in health sciences are now fully accredited. The occupational therapy program achieved that milestone in April 2016 and physical therapy in May 2017. Murphy Deming is celebrating its fifth anniversary during the 2019-20 academic year.