Program Description

The University of Dubuque Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program is preparing clinicians who are educated in all aspects of health care with special emphasis placed on primary care in rural and under-served areas.  PAs are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient's principal healthcare provider.  PAs play a vital role in increasing patient access to high-quality care and are able to do this because of their general medical training based on the medical model. 

The PA Program is located on the beautiful University of Dubuque campus situated inside Linda Chlapaty Hall which was constructed specifically to house the PA program, including classrooms, labs, exam rooms, and offices, and was dedicated in September 2016.  It adjoins the University Science Center and provides students with state of the art equipment and facilities including  a cadaver lab, skills lab, and exam room suite.

Students accepted into the MSPAS  program hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree and, on average, have 2000 hours of direct patient contact experience.  Students spend 15 months in the pre-clinical phase with classroom instruction in anatomy, physiology, physical examination, pharmacology, skills and procedures, clinical medicine, and evidence-based medicine. The following 11 months are spent in the clinical phase comprised of supervised clinical rotations where students gain hands-on experience in the core areas of family medicine, general surgery, emergency medicine, pediatrics, women's health, psychiatry, and internal medicine, plus two electives. The 27th month is spent back on campus to complete the clinical phase capstone project and a review course.

 We are proud to report the class of 2018's achievement of a 100% first-time pass rate on the PA national certification exam and hope you join us to leave your impact on the future of health care!  

 UDPA starts with you.

Accreditation

At its 2019 March meeting, the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) placed the University of Dubuque Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the University of Dubuque on Accreditation-Probation status until its next review in 2021 March.

Probation is a temporary status of accreditation conferred when a program does not meet the Standards and when the capability of the program to provide an acceptable educational experience for its students is threatened.

Once placed on probation, programs that still fail to comply with accreditation requirements in a timely manner, as specified by the ARC-PA, may be scheduled for a focused site visit and/or risk having their accreditation withdrawn.

Specific questions regarding the Program and its plans should be directed to the Program Director and/or the appropriate institutional official(s).

Program Director’s Response

The University of Dubuque Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program recently completed a thorough self-study followed by a routine site visit from the accrediting body, ARC-PA, as part of its requirement to maintain accreditation. During this process, we learned full compliance with some of the Standards for accreditation, as dictated by ARC-PA, had not been met. As a result, our accreditation status changed from “Accreditation-Provisional”  to “Accreditation-Probation”.  The program has already begun to address the findings and believes the focus on these standards has strengthened the curriculum and assessment process.

While Accreditation-Probation status is temporary, the earliest we will be eligible for re-evaluation is March 2021. Given that it will be two years before we are eligible to regain Accreditation-Provisional status, I want to address the following items with our current students and those considering an application to our program:

  1. Students entering or completing a program with Accreditation-Probation status will graduate from an accredited program, be eligible to take the PANCE and apply for certification and licensure. PANCE eligibility requirements can be found here: http://www.nccpa.net/pance-eligibility.  ARC-PA provides additional student information regarding Accreditation-Probation status here: http://www.arc-pa.org/frequently-asked-questions/student-questions/.   
  1. The University of Dubuque administration and PA Program faculty/staff are dedicated to successfully address ARC-PA’s concerns and demonstrate compliance in all standards. It is our goal to be exceptional in all standards and I am confident in our abilities to do this as we are already demonstrating this in over 90% of the standards.

I am proud to lead this team who is committed to developing successful PAs. While there is work to be done, we still have much to celebrate including a beautiful facility, dedicated faculty and staff, talented ambitious students, and a 100% first-time pass rate on the PANCE. That said, I leave you with Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”


The Higher Learning Commission approved the University of Dubuque's request to offer the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies in December 2015.