Students looking to become physician associates/assistants (PAs) will now have a more flexible, cutting-edge option when it comes to earning their degree and preparing for certification. The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the University of Pittsburgh Physician Assistant Studies Hybrid Program sponsored by University of Pittsburgh.* This accreditation means students who choose Pitt’s PA Studies Hybrid Program will be eligible to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam®. Pitt’s program joins less than a dozen other schools nationwide that offer an online or hybrid option.
“We are thrilled to offer one of our most sought-after programs in a hybrid format. One of the leading drivers in our school’s online effort is to expand our ability to bring excellent educational programs to the potential student in their home environment, thus reducing some of the financial and family barriers to obtaining a college degree,” says Dean Anthony Delitto from Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS).
“This program expands access to entry-level PA education to people across the country who are not in situations where they can or should leave their families, neighbors or home communities and move elsewhere to attend full-time, in-person training,” explains David Beck, program director, and chair, Department of Physician Assistant Studies (PAS). “This is an incredible opportunity for students to receive state-of-the-art didactic education, hands-on immersive experiences on campus and high-quality clinical education experiences in their hometowns or surrounding areas.”
The PAS Hybrid Program planning was initiated pre-pandemic and involved the development of leading-edge course structures designed for an interactive online learning environment. Integrated in the curriculum are a high frequency of faculty touch points, a unique level of support from student success coaching, and a sophisticated advising program offering mentorship and professional development for all hybrid students. The program is two full years with three on-campus immersions and eight clinical rotations.
“I am most excited that our elite, award-winning, all-star team of faculty and our school’s instructional experts are putting so much creative energy behind the learning experience and the support that this program provides its students. Our staff and faculty are eager to start developing our next great colleagues,” states Beck.
Aside from accessibility and affordability, another strength of the program is that the curriculum goes beyond teaching the minimum standards required for the certification exam. Students will be well-prepared to treat a wide variety of patients to better serve all communities. The hybrid program offers students the opportunity to complete clinical internships in their own community, wherever they are in the country, allowing them to provide additional health care support which is a much-needed resource in underserved and rural areas. The hope is that students remain in these areas, living and participating in their everyday activities while also gaining employment in regions with increasing health care shortages.
“The core of our department’s mission is to improve health services and our goal—like that of our entry-level residential program and our online Doctor of PA Studies and Advanced Practice Provider leadership certificate programs—is for Pitt PAS graduates to provide greater access to health care in their communities while also continuously improving its quality.”
The PA Studies Hybrid Program is one of several online and hybrid health care training options offered by the school in recent years, including Pitt’s top-ranked entry-level physical therapy program. “The support we have to ensure we can deliver the same quality education in the hybrid model has been an integral part of getting us to where we are,” states Christine Rodgers, associate director and director of Clinical Education for the PAS Hybrid Program. “The hybrid team is so honored to bring PA education to students who will benefit from this model for a variety of reasons. This is certainly the future, or one could even argue ‘the now,’ of PA education.”
The program’s first cohort will begin classes this January. Students can apply for the next Pitt PAS Hybrid class through the Centralized Application Service for PAs (CASPA) in April to begin the program in January 2024.
*Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.
Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.
The program’s accreditation history can be viewed on the ARC-PA website at https://www.arc-pa.org/accreditation-history-university-of-pittsburgh-hybrid/
Published October 19, 2022