Skip to content

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.

Program response to ARC-PA concern: Two additional faculty lines have been approved and added, one for each campus to offset the faculty workload and to provide time for professional development for example, to practice clinically, to pursue scholarly interests, to attend PA education or Medical conferences or to obtain an advanced degree.

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.

Program response to ARC-PA concern: To date, the University/Program is 100% compliant with the collected license and board-certification credentials on those preceptors who will precept an MCPHS M/W PA student during the 2018 academic year for the clinical phase of training. The program’s site visit policy has been changed to improve the tracking of site performance by instituting more frequent site visitation to clinical rotation sites and preceptors. The program has updated its website to include the programs success of achieving its goals based on data driven outcomes. The program has been approved to hire of multiple adjunct positions to assist the program with clinical site visitations as a Clinical Field Site Evaluator. The program has been approved to hire a Data coordinator who will organize and maintain programmatic data for assessment purposes.

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.

In January 2018, year 1 enrollments on the two campuses were adjusted to 55 students on the Manchester campus, and 70 students on the Worcester campus. Two new full time faculty lines added, one for each campus, with positions to be filled in July 2018.

Concerning laboratory space on the Manchester campus, the number of patient beds and associated space has increased from 12 to 14. With 55 students, 14 beds, the student to patient assessment bed ratio will have been reduced to 2:1. Scrub sinks will be installed in the Manchester laboratory similar to those in the Worcester laboratory. In January 2018, the Worcester laboratory gained one additional patient assessment bed and additional mannequins, models, and supplies to fully support the learning experience for 70 students. With 70 students, 17 beds brings the student to patient assessment bed ratio in Worcester also to 2:1.

In January 2018, both campus laboratories will have identical “open” scheduled access to the laboratory outside of class sessions.

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.

A consultant was hired early spring of 2018 to work closely with the program and the ARC-PA’s concerns of the curriculum. This individual has served as a consultant for the ARC-PA, the PAEA and as an independent consultant for more than 25 years. He specializes in the self-study component of the accreditation process and has assisted more that 2 dozen programs who were in various stages of non-compliance with ARC-PA standards with a 100% success rate.

Our program mission includes promoting the integration of the whole person in the development of clinical, interpersonal, and professional skills required in the collaborative practice of medicine as a PA. We encourage faculty to incorporate in their lecture delivery the clinical approach of providing integrative medicine to patients. With an integrated systems-based approach, information regarding rehabilitative care is not delivered in separate modules, but rather is incorporated throughout many lectures where rehabilitative care education is deemed appropriate to the lecture topic. Our faculty incorporate the care that is given in clinical practice by other members of the healthcare team to include, but not be limited to, indications for occupational and physical therapy, speech therapy, and psychological counseling.

We acknowledge the fact that we do not have stand-alone lectures with specific instructional objectives for rehabilitative care across the life span.Therefore, starting in 2018, we will add a lecture within our MPA-528 Healthcare Issues course during the summer semester specifically on rehabilitative care. This lecture will be presented by a certified Physical therapist, Occupational therapist and Speech therapist delivering comprehensive explications of the different populations and conditions they treat and the modalities they use, as well as the challenges they face as therapists within the current healthcare system.

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.

In 2018, 75% of the program faculty attended assessment training by sitting in on the University “Assessment Essentials” workshop.

In 2018, 25% of the program faculty attended an annual conference on assessment for higher education

In 2018, the Program Director and Assistant Program Director will attend the ARC-PA accreditation conference.

The program has developed 3 assessment subcommittees in addition to the assessment committee to evaluate the ARC-PA’s concerns on the self-study report and create a modified report.

The consultant’s area of specialty is in the area of assessment who has and will continue to guide the program on best practices for Data collection, data-analysis, application of results and conclusions and development of action plans.

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.