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Accreditation: What is means for students

October 31, 2017

A student in the University of Toledo’s physician's assistant program can pay almost $50,000 in in-state tuition or $80,000 in out-of-state tuition for the program. One would think that for such an exuberant price tag, you would receive an education that is at least up to federal standards. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. After being placed on accreditation probation in March 2017, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant has removed UTPSA’s accreditation status.
The commission published a 33-page letter to the university, highlighting the shortcomings and failures of the program to adequately teach the 128 students in the physician's assistant program. The letter accentuated the program’s insufficient faculty, lack of administrative oversight and poor curriculum as reasons for removing the program's accreditation status. The review also concluded that it didn’t seem as if any corrective action was going to take place at all.
What does this mean for the current students? Luckily, they will still be eligible to take their certification exam when they graduate because they enrolled in the school while the program still had its accreditation.
Being able to take the exam is only the first step for students; passing is a whole other challenge to overcome. The program's shortcomings are evident not only in reports from federal agencies but also from how well students perform in these certification exams.
The amount of University of Toledo students that passed the Physician's Assistant National Certifying Exam on their first try hit a new low of 74 percent in 2016, a far cry from the national average of 96 percent. The severity of these contrasting scores show just how dismal the program seems to be in preparing students for the exam.
The information regarding accreditation status is of the utmost importance to students in the UTPA program and is even more important for the students applying to the program. For current students, they now must worry about whether or not they will be able to take their exams when they graduate and whether or not having Toledo on their resume will be a detriment to finding a job. For students that are going through the hectic process of deciding where to apply and what applications to fill out, knowing a school's accreditation status is critical. If these new students were to check the official page for the UTPA program, they would think the program is still on probation.
In fact, even though the letter from the accreditation agency published the letter recommending a withdrawal of accreditation Oct. 6, it took the university almost two weeks to release a statement about the loss.
This lack of urgency from the department puts the shortcomings of the program on full display and gives merit to the claims made by the accreditation agency.

This is not a small misstep by the university: it is a massive embarrassment to a school that prides itself on the quality of its medical programs. There is no reason for this program to falter so severely, and there is no reason these issues couldn't have been identified before a total loss of accreditation to the program occurred. It’s our hope that this program will be restored to a level that makes prospective students want to send their applications to Toledo, instead of remaining in a state where their applications cannot even be accepted.
 

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