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 April 6, 2017

FSU School of Physician Assistant Practice cleared to begin classes in August

With its first class of 40 students awaiting the news, the Florida State University School of Physician Assistant Practice has been granted provisional accreditation status.

The announcement by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) opens the door for FSU’s PA program to begin teaching students in August.

“We anticipated getting good news, but it doesn’t temper the excitement in moving on to the next step – preparing to welcome our first class,” said Jim Zedaker, the program’s founding director. “The ARC-PA noted that we had zero areas of noncompliance with the accreditation standards, which is a testament to everyone at the College of Medicine.”

"Accreditation-provisional" is a status granted when a program that has not yet enrolled students demonstrates an ability to meet ARC-PA standards. Or, when a program with accreditation-provisional status shows sustained progress in complying with standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class.

“We first began talking about adding a new PA program not quite four years ago, convincing the university there is a need before getting approval from the FSU Board of Trustees and the Florida Board of Governors,” said FSU College of Medicine Dean John P. Fogarty. “The accreditation process is lengthy and rigorous. Jim Zedaker and his new faculty and staff deserve a tremendous amount of credit for getting this done as quickly as they have.

“The PA program is the logical next step for us as we continue to meet primary care needs in Florida, especially in underserved communities and where access to care is a challenge.”

The program also was approved to grow to 50 students in August 2018 and 60 each of the following years. The initial class committed to FSU’s PA program months before the program received accreditation.

“The students who applied and those accepted as the inaugural class demonstrated confidence in FSU as an institution and the College of Medicine as providing the highest-quality medical education,” said Ben Smith, faculty and academic coordinator for the program.

"There existed a palpable feeling of excitement during the student interviews. Many students were impressed with the preparations that had occurred in the FSU PA program creation.”

PAs, who work as part of a health-care team under a physician’s supervision, provide another layer of primary-care providers capable of further strengthening the College of Medicine’s commitment to improving access to care in Florida and beyond.

Students enrolled in the program will spend 15 months at the College of Medicine’s central campus in Tallahassee, followed by a year of education in the clinical setting based at one of the medical school’s regional campuses. They will learn under the same network of faculty physicians who teach FSU medical students.

The first FSU PAs will graduate in December 2019 with a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Practice.

“Learning to work in the same settings as our medical students will provide early experience in team-based care, a critical model to address the primary-care shortages in our state,” Fogarty said.