GW SMHS Physician Assistant Program Earns Full ARC-PA National Accreditation

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PA students during White Coat ceremony

The Department of Physician Assistant (PA) Studies at the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) recently completed its reaccreditation process with the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) earning “continuing accreditation,” the highest level granted by the ARC-PA, for a period of 10 years.

Named as one of the nation’s leading PA programs, according to U.S. News and World Report, the program is recognized for its pioneering curriculum and unique focus on community outreach, patient advocacy and leadership. Program alumni consistently score above the national average on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination.

“The program faculty works tirelessly to make this program a success,” said Mary L. Warner, DBH, PA-C, chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. “This important acknowledgement by the ARC-PA speaks to the strength of the program personnel, faculty and staff and their commitment to educating students, but also GW’s and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ commitment to the program.”

Accreditation is based on the ARC-PA’s evaluation of information contained in the accreditation application, site visit evaluations, any additional requested reports or documents, and program accreditation history. The process includes a comprehensive review of the program relative to the ARC-PA program standards. Those standards include the administrative structure, including program leadership, instructional faculty, and institutional resources; curriculum, both didactic instruction and supervised clinical practice experience; and a robust and systematic process of ongoing self-assessment to review the quality and effectiveness of their educational practices, policies, and outcomes.

“We’re definitely carrying on a rich tradition at GW by receiving continued accreditation. This is an accomplishment that speaks to the excellence and integrity of the program,” said Marianne Vail, DHSc, PA-C, interim program director, and assistant professor of PA studies at SMHS. “This accreditation was a complete team effort. Everyone within the program — faculty, staff, and certainly our students — was so involved in the process.”

GW’s PA program has enjoyed continuous accreditation for more than 50 years, since the program was first accredited by the Joint Review Committee for Educational Programs for the Assistant to Primary Care Physician, the original program review body, in 1972. As one of the first programs to be established in an academic medical center, GW’s PA program graduates and faculty have held multiple leadership roles in the four major PA organizations and provided high quality medical, surgical, and behavioral health care as members of interprofessional teams in numerous health systems, clinics, federally qualified health centers, and private health facilities.

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