FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University’s master of physician assistant studies (MPAS) program recently earned a 10-year accreditation-continued status from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc (ARC-PA). The organization grants accreditation-continued status when a physician assistant (PA) program with provisional status completes the review process and is found to be in compliance with the required standards.
“Being granted a 10-year accreditation-continued status is achieving the pinnacle of success for a new PA program and solidifies the incredible program we have here at Sacred Heart University,” said Adam Olsen, department chair and program director of SHU’s MPAS program.
Accredited programs must uphold the commission’s standards for administration, curriculum and instruction, evaluation, provisional accreditation, and program and institution responsibilities. To maintain accreditation, programs must remain in compliance with every standard.
Sacred Heart’s PA program was first granted accreditation-provisional in March 2016 with zero observations. Accreditation-provisional is full accreditation and is awarded to burgeoning programs. “This is the status granted to a new program prior to the matriculation of its first student cohort, when the plans and resource allocation of a proposed program successfully demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the review commissions standards. Provisional status is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class,” Olsen said.
As part of the accreditation-provisional process, Sacred Heart’s PA program was required to submit a monitoring application in August 2018 and complete a two-day site visit in October 2018. The purpose of this monitoring process was to ensure the program was maintaining compliance with the standards and appropriately collecting and analyzing data as part of its self-study process. The program then submitted a third comprehensive accreditation application in August 2020, which involved a self-study report showcasing an analysis of program data and documentation of outcomes. This also included another site visit. SHU became one of the first PA programs to complete a virtual site visit in October 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“The process of completing these two accreditation applications over the past five years involved an incredible amount of work, time and effort by program faculty and staff to ensure we complied with the standards,” said Olsen. “Completing the final provisional accreditation application and preparing for the virtual site visit was a tremendous challenge in itself, as we were also dealing with the challenges of converting classes online due to the suspension of in-person learning and the cancellation of supervised clinical practice experiences as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also were developing strategies to advance our students under these conditions.”
The University’s MPAS program educates students to provide compassionate, respectful, high-quality health care and to be proficient in all related competencies. It recently ranked as one of the best in the United States according to Intelligent, an online resource that described SHU’s program as having the “best student-centered learning environment.”
About Sacred Heart University
As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 386 Colleges–2021 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best Business Schools–2021 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theatre. www.sacredheart.edu