University of Lynchburg’s new Master of Physician Assistant Medicine (MPAM) program has been awarded Accreditation-Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA).
On June 1, 25 students will begin the first class of the intensive 27-month program, which emphasizes critical thinking through a combination of classroom instruction, advanced simulation, and clinical experience.
“We’re pleased that the ARC-PA recognized the strength of University of Lynchburg’s PA Medicine program,” said Dr. Jeremy Welsh, founding chair and director of the program. “We are proud of our curriculum, which will prepare students to provide excellent health care and to be leaders in the PA profession.”
PAs are healthcare providers who are nationally certified and state licensed to practice medicine and prescribe medication in every medical and surgical specialty and setting. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of PAs is expected to increase 38 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average growth rate for most occupations. LC developed its MPAM program after conducting a review of the demand for PA education programs nationwide.
Interest in LC’s new program has been strong and has resulted in a strong cohort admitted to the program. “The response we received has been tremendous, with over 900 applications submitted,” said Dr. Edward Polloway, LC dean of the School of Graduate Studies.
The program has received the support of several community organizations. In August 2014, Centra provided LC with $250,000 toward the development of the MPAM program and pledged another $250,000 contingent upon the provisional accreditation that the ARC-PA granted this month. The Greater Lynchburg Community Trust awarded $12,850 for startup equipment, and the Bedford Community Health Foundation has provided $5,000.
Healthcare providers throughout the Central Virginia region also have partnered with the program to allow PA students the opportunity for hands-on clinical experience. “We are thankful for the phenomenal support of Centra and our many community partners,” Dr. Welsh said.
“This is an exciting time for University of Lynchburg, and we are proud of their accomplishment,” said E.W. Tibbs Jr., president and CEO of Centra. “We look forward to hosting these students in our facilities during their training. Our regional healthcare community will benefit immensely from the highly skilled practitioners graduating from this program.”
MPAM students will complete coursework in basic sciences, pharmacology, clinical medicine, history taking, physical examination techniques, and surgical and technical clinical skills.
The College also plans to give MPAM students an option to continue their education and earn a doctoral degree at LC. The doctoral program will provide students with fellowship training in a specialty area of medicine and education structured around leadership and advocacy. The doctoral program offering is contingent upon the approval of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Accreditation-Provisional is the first step in the accreditation process and the highest form of accreditation available to new programs, the approval from ARC-PA symbolizes the organization’s confidence in the education LC’s program will provide for medical professionals. Accreditation-Provisional is a status granted when the plans and resource allocation appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards, if fully implemented. Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.