In order for graduates of any physician assistant (PA) education program to qualify to take the entry-level Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), the program from which they graduate must be accredited through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) at the time the student matriculates. The purpose of accreditation is to ensure programs meet established standards for program performance in order to protect public interests. The University of Saint Mary (USM) has entered the process to receive accreditation through the ARC-PA for its developing PA program. The commission is scheduled to review the USM PA program application for provisional accreditation at their September 2015 meeting.  If granted ‘Accreditation – Provisional’ status, USM will matriculate our inaugural physician assistant class in January 2016.
‘Accreditation – Provisional’ is the status granted to a proposed program which has not yet enrolled students but which demonstrates the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards if the program design and resource allocations are implemented as planned. Students who graduate from a new program which received ‘Accreditation – Provisional’ status before the students matriculate, are eligible to take the PANCE.
In the event USM is not awarded ‘Accreditation – Provisional’ status following the September 2015 commission meeting, the inaugural class will not be matriculated in January 2016 as planned. Any student who accepts a position in the inaugural class prior to the date an accreditation decision is rendered must do so with an understanding that the program will only begin if it receives provisional accreditation from ARC-PA prior to January 2016.
For further information about the accreditation process, visit the ARC-PA web site at  

For further information about the PANCE, visit the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) web site at