Why is Duquesne's PA program on probation?
The decision to place the program on probation was based on an administrative issue that resulted in an over-enrollment in the accredited phase (years 3, 4 and 5) of the program. More students than the number of approved seats were admitted, and more of those admitted students were of high quality, resulting in greater retention rates than expected in the accredited phase of the program. Probation is a temporary status of accreditation. At its September 2018 meeting, the ARC-PA extended the program's probationary status through 2020 because of the over-enrollment of students already enrolled in the program.
What does this mean?
Once placed on probation, a program must demonstrate that it has resolved the issues that resulted in the probationary status and has continued to provide a high quality education for its students in compliance with the national standards. Programs that fail to comply with accreditation requirements in a timely manner, as specified by the ARC-PA, may be scheduled for a focused visit and/or risk having its accreditation withdrawn. During this time, the program must develop and implement its plan to control the program's enrollment and ensure that it does not exceed the number of approved seats in each of its classes in the accredited phase of the program.
How did this happen?
As the first five-year, entry-level master's degree program in the nation, Duquesne University's Physician Assistant Studies Program admits students directly into the freshman year of the program. All students who successfully meet all retention requirements are permitted to continue on in the program. This system allows the best and the brightest students to ensure their admission into a PA education program. Each year, the program gets approximately 800 applications because of its high academic quality and successful program outcomes. Historically, we could anticipate the percentage of accepted applicants who would enroll in the program, as well as how many students who typically move from the pre-professional to the accredited phase of the program. The past several classes have exceeded those percentages, resulting in larger than expected classes. We also had three other affiliation agreements with other university which now have been dissolved. Collectively, these circumstances have contributed to an enrollment in the accredited phase that exceeds our approved class size.
What does this mean for me as a student? Can I still take the national certifying exam?
The program is still accredited. Students who graduate from an accredited program are eligible to sit for the national certifying exam. For the past two years all Duquesne PA graduates have passed the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) on their first attempt. More information about Board Exam results can be found here.
What does this mean for me as an applicant?
The program is still accredited. The accrediting body will reconsider the accreditation status in 2020. The admissions requirements remain unchanged.
What is the program doing to address the items cited in the probation notification?
The PA program is taking every action necessary to prevent this situation from ever occurring again. The PA program faculty and administration continue to provide a high quality educational experience for its PA students that resulted in its students' past successes and the academic excellence for which we're known.