UT Physician Assistant program loses accreditation


The physician assistant accrediting body submitted a report critical of the University of Toledo’s physician assistant program and recommended withdrawing the program’s accreditation after being put on probation in March.


The Accreditation Review Commission for Physician Assistants sent a notice letter Oct. 6 to UT President Sharon Gaber informing the university of the withdrawal based on a site review conducted June 19.


According to the letter, the decision to withdraw the program’s accreditation included insufficient faculty and lack of oversight by the Institution and Interim Program Director, lack of required curriculum elements, the inability to conduct meaningful program self-assessments and the inability to meet appropriate security and personal safety measures.


The university has not updated the physician assistant studies’ accreditation status on the program’s website from accreditation-probation to withdrawn accreditation.


“The immediate effect is that the program is not able to admit new students,” said Linda Speer, department chair for the physician assistant program and chair of family medicine.


However, students who were enrolled prior to the decision can take their exams and graduate, she said.


Former Department Chair of the Physician Assistant Studies program Patricia Hogue was removed and replaced by Linda Speer Oct. 13, one week after the university received the letter, wrote Gaber in a statement to the UT community.


In response to the withdrawal, Former-Interim Program Director Linda Dill was also replaced by April Gardner, according to the physician assistant website.


The accrediting body wrote that “the lack of institutional oversight contributed to the inability of the Program to accurately and succinctly provide evidence of an ongoing self-assessment process.”


Senior institutional officials were also not familiar with Dill’s role as interim program director and were not able to say whether she provided appropriate leadership. There was also no clinical coordinator, according to the letter.


ARC-PA also found that the program did not provide students with an adequate education. Some clinical students said they gained “superficial knowledge.”


Another reason for the decision is the program’s certification exam pass-rate as100 percent of the program’s students passed on the first try in 2012, but this changed in 2013 to 95 percent, 85 percent in 2014, and 92 percent in 2015.


This year has been better for the physician assistant program however, with 98 percent of graduates passing the exam, Speer said.


The accrediting program also said the program lacked full-time employees.


“We differ in opinion on the ARC-PA account and we believe we did have the right number of people they required at the time,” Speer said. “Also as an institution that has education for many other professions, we also can and do tap resources from other programs that are not part of that department.”


The university is expected to submit an appeal to ARC-PA by Friday, Speer said.


“We believe that we are making a strong case that the program was in much better shape than based on what the document said,” she said. “The evidence to substantiate compliance with the accreditation standards was present in our materials, such as course syllabi and student manuals but was not presented to them in an organized way.”


According to the document, the physician assistant program was not capable of rapid corrective action. But, Speer said the program is going to demonstrate this is not the case by correcting these issues as fast as possible.

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