Physician assistant program awarded accreditation

September 21, 2010

Indiana State University's new master's degree program in physician assistant studies has earned provisional accreditation.

The action by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant serves notice to students, the public and the health care industry that the program meets established standards for education and evaluation. Provisional accreditation is required before a program can enroll students. A follow-up visit to determine continued accreditation will take place in 2012 or 2013.

The seven-semester Master of Science program addresses changing needs in health care and workforce shortages throughout the state and nation. It is part of the newly created department of applied medicine and rehabilitation in the College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services.

"When the first class of 30 students begins classes in January, they can be assured this exciting new program has been thoroughly reviewed by health care professionals and educators from around the country. I commend the faculty and staff for creating this program and securing accreditation in such a short period," said Richard "Biff" Williams, dean of the college.

The ISU Board of Trustees approved the program in December 2009, followed by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education in February.

"The Wabash Valley medical community is partnering with the physician assistant studies faculty to provide excellent clinical education," said Heather Mata, associate professor and director of the program. "Our mission is to create an environment that engages students to become compassionate, competent physician assistants, who have the skills to contribute to the unique health care needs of rural and underserved populations."

Indiana State and its College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services are partners in the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative, a partnership of education, health care, economic development and government organizations that seeks to improve and expand education of health care professionals. The collaborative also works to promote the revitalization of Terre Haute by strengthening the community's standing as a leader in the development of innovative health care for rural areas.

Accreditation is a peer review process that includes documentation and site visits by evaluation teams. The process is designed to encourage sound educational practices and innovation and to stimulate continuous self-study and improvement,

The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Surgeons, the American Medical Association and the Physician Assistant Education Association all cooperate with the Accreditation Review Commission to establish, maintain, and promote standards for education of physician assistants. Commission accreditation is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Contact: Heather Mata, associate professor and director, physician assistant studies program, College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services, Indiana State University, heather.mata@indstate.edu

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or dave.taylor@indstate.edu