ARC-PA Probation Status Frequently Asked Questions

To which program does the probation status apply?

Probation status applies only to the Manchester/Worcester MPAS program and does not affect the Boston MPAS program or the DScPAS program in any way.

How does probation affect the Manchester/Worcester MPAS program?

The Manchester/Worcester Physician Assistant program remains accredited during the temporary status of probation. Our students are still able to fulfill the curriculum requirements for program completion and graduation, including placement at clinical rotation sites, sit for the board PANCE exam, and become licensed and credentialed, and our graduates are able to seek employment as physician assistants. The University and Program will ensure that every effort is made to support the full compliance with the accreditation standards set forth by the ARC-PA. We are committed to empowering students to go on to successful careers as physician assistants through innovative programs, our interprofessional healthcare environment, and interdisciplinary educational opportunities.

Why would a Physician Assistant Program be placed on probation?

Accreditation-Probation is a temporary status of accreditation, limited to two years, granted when the accrediting body determines that a program does not meet, or only partially meets, all or some of the required standards. In the case of the MCPHS MPAS Manchester/Worcester program, the ARC-PA concerns fall into five broad categories:

1. Professional development and workload

ARC-PA states that the program does not provide adequate professional development opportunities for the PA faculty and Program Director, particularly faculty who hold a 0.8 FTE appointment. The University has already revised its policy on 0.8 FTE faculty to include more time for scholarly activities, and the program is in the process of providing better documentation on faculty activities in this important area.

2. Documentation: preceptor record-keeping, website postings, and clinical site visits

The concerns in this group are basically technical in nature and most have already been addressed. The University has collected license and board-certification data for 85% of the its clinical preceptors and will be 100% compliant prior to the January 2018 reporting date. Similarly, the University is in the process of posting all required program data, including pass rates, articulation agreements, and instructional outcomes. While much of this information is contained in the University Catalog, which has always been available on the website, we will ensure that the relevant data appear on the program’s webpage, as well. Finally, the program is reviewing its policy on visiting clinical sites in order to improve quality of documentation and ease of tracking site performance.

3. Parity/facilities: Manchester and Worcester campuses

ARC-PA expressed concern that the physical assessment laboratory on the Manchester campus was operated differently from the physical assessment laboratory on the Worcester campus. The program has already made the necessary adjustments in lab hours and equipment to ensure that both facilities will operate identically when the new cohort enters in January 2018. In Manchester, the new cohort of students was reduced to a total of 55 and the Worcester cohort was adjusted to a total of 70 students, which meets the enrollment cap set by the ARC-PA. With these adjustments in the distribution of the students on the Manchester and Worcester campuses, the program will ensure that there is equivalent clinical and instructional space for all PA students.

4. Curriculum, learning outcomes, and course content

The concerns on the PA curriculum fall into two primary categories:

A) Regional differences on the practice of Family Medicine, as it is practiced in the northeast

B) Pedagogical differences on where certain content area – including rehabilitation care, pediatrics, geriatrics, women’s health, behavioral and mental health – can (or should) be found in the PA curriculum. The University has authorized the program to hire an outside consultant to assist addressing these issues, and in better communicating to ARC-PA the content of the curriculum.

5. Assessment

While the program gathers a variety of useful data on its educational practices and policies, we recognize the need to improve the ways in which those data are analyzed, disseminated, and used for quality improvement. On an institutional level, the University recognizes the need to provide additional support and training in good assessment practices to administrators and faculty in its various schools and programs. To this end, the Provost has tasked two Associate Provosts with developing and implementing an institution-wide assessment plan that includes specific goals and milestones for each academic unit as well as the University as a whole. We are confident that these enhanced assessment activities will be in place and generating results well in advance of April 15, 2019, which is the reporting date relevant to this concern.

What is the deadline to resolve all of these citations and achieve full accreditation?

The program has until September 2019 to address all of the issues and return to full accreditation.