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Physician Assistant Program Receives Accreditation

Faculty looks forward to welcoming first class

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted accreditation-provisional status* to Sacred Heart University’s new master of physician assistant studies (MPAS) program.

The commissioners, whose members include PA program directors, MDs and PA educators, found no areas in need of improvement during their evaluation.This can be considered analogous to a perfect score on our accreditation,” said Teresa Thetford, director of the PA program. The PA Program team is extremely proud of this accomplishment and is looking forward to welcoming the first class.”

Patricia Walker, dean of the College of Health Professions, expressed pride in the outcome. “I am very pleased and proud of Dr. Thetford and the MPAS faculty for their achievement of accreditation-provisional status,” she said. “It’s obvious from the results of the review that ARC-PA is impressed with their performance as well. We are off to a great start as we welcome our inaugural class.”

After 700 applications and 150 interviews, 28 students began their studies Aug. 29 in SHU’s new, 27-month, PA program. The University is working with Stamford Hospital, and students are attending classes on the second floor of its Tandet Building, next to the main hospital on West Broad Street. The 13,000-square-foot space has been completely renovated and includes a state-of-the-art lab, classrooms and a patient-assessment suite.

“I’ve been on several walk-throughs; it’s just beautiful,” Thetford said. “The entire process—from interviewing applicants to seeing the progress on the Tandet Building—has been exciting.” She said she is pleased a great group of students will begin their studies in the new facility with some very experienced PA educators.

Students will participate in a 12-month classroom phase, followed by a 15-month clinical phase, providing 2,000 hours of experience in several medical specialties. All students will complete clinical rotations primarily at Stamford Hospital, as well as other SHU-affiliated hospitals and health-care sites.

Faculty and staff in the department moved into the Tandet Building in July. In October, a month that coincides with National PA Week, the department will host a ribbon-cutting and open house. Guest speakers and other special events will be scheduled, Thetford said.

Sacred Heart is accepting applications for the 2017 PA cohort, which will comprise 34 students. The University already has received more than 700 applications; deadline for submission is Oct. 1.

*Accreditation-provisional is a status granted when the plans and resource allocation of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA standards, if fully implemented as planned, or when a program holding such status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.