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Criteria of Membership


    The postgraduate physician assistant program shall be sponsored by or affiliated with a combination of a medical care facility and a university or post-secondary teaching institution. The sponsoring institution and affiliates must be accredited by recognized agencies. The sponsoring institution must accept responsibility for the quality of the educational program.


    1. Administrative Personnel

      The program must have adequate leadership and management. Program officials shall possess the necessary qualifications to perform the functions identified in documented job descriptions. The program shall have a designated program director, medical director, and an adequate administrative staff. The program director may also be the medical director. In accordance with institutional policies and practices, the officials shall possess the qualifications and assume the responsibilities described below:

      1. Program Director

        1. Responsibilities

          The director of the educational program shall be responsible for the organization, administration, continuous review, planning, development and general effectiveness of the program.

        2. Qualifications

          The program director shall meet all the requirements specified by the sponsoring institution and shall have the requisite knowledge of the PA profession and skills to administer the operation of the overall program.

      2. Medical Director

        1. Responsibilities

          The medical director shall provide continuous competent medical guidance for the clinically-related program components, so that both didactic and clinical instruction meet current acceptable standards. The medical director shall elicit actively the understanding and support of practicing physicians and physician assistants.

        2. Qualifications

          The medical director shall be a licensed physician experienced in the delivery of the type of health care services for which the PA resident is being educated.

      3. Faculty and Instructional Staff

        1. Responsibilities

          The faculty and teaching staff are responsible for establishing an atmosphere that is conducive to learning and presenting their material in an organized and thoughtful manner. The faculty must be qualified through academic preparation and experience to teach assigned subjects. Faculty for the clinical portion of the education program must include physicians, and may include physician assistants and other health professionals, all of whom are experienced in the provision of patient care services. The program shall not rely solely on resident physicians. Faculty are responsible for evaluating PA resident performance promptly, identifying and counseling PA residents who are not achieving the defined course objectives, providing remedial instruction and for informing the program administration about the nature of PA resident performance that is less than satisfactory. In each location where a PA resident is assigned for didactic or clinical instruction, there must be a qualified individual designated, to provide supervision and assessments of the PA resident’s progress in achieving acceptable program requirements. Clinical supervision shall be such that a progressive increase in PA resident responsibility and skill is attained.

        2. Qualifications

          The instructors must be knowledgeable in course content and effective in teaching their assigned subjects.

        3. Number

          There shall be a sufficient faculty to provide PA residents with adequate attention, instruction and supervised practice to acquire knowledge and competence.

      4. Clerical and Support Staff

        Adequate and competent clerical and other support staff shall be available.

      5. Professional Development

        Programs shall encourage program staff and faculty to pursue continuing professional growth, to assure that program faculty and officials can fulfill their responsibilities.

    2. Financial Resources

      Financial resources to operate an educational program shall be ensured to fulfill obligations to matriculating and enrolled PA residents

    3. Physical Resources

      1. Facilities

        Adequate classrooms, laboratories, administrative offices, and other facilities, including clinical practice sites shall be provided for PA residents, program staff, and faculty. Adequate sleeping rooms, lounge facilities and food facilities shall be available to PA residents while on assigned call duty. Clinical resources shall be such that each student is afforded a variety of experiences, while at the same time providing for consistent learning opportunities among PA residents. Adequate clinical support services, including pharmacy, labs, and x-ray must be available at all times to PA residents on clinical service to assure quality of patient care and to prevent the PA resident from serving as clinical support staff.

      2. Equipment and Supplies

        Appropriate and sufficient equipment, supplies and storage space shall be provided for PA resident use and for teaching the didactic and clinical components of the curriculum. Instructional aids, such as laboratory specimens, documents or related materials, reference materials, equipment, or demonstrated aids, must be provided when required by the types of learning experiences delineated for either the didactic or clinical components of the curriculum.

      3. Program Director

        1. Library

          PA residents shall have ready access in time and location to an adequate supply of current books, journals and periodicals, as well as other reference materials related to the curriculum.

        2. Instructional Aids

          Clinical subjects, specimens, records and related reference materials, computer hardware and software, and audio visual resources shall be available in sufficient number and quality to enhance PA resident’s learning.


    The term PA resident shall be understood to mean all graduate PAS enrolled in any type of post graduate PA program, whether certificate or degree granting, one year in length or longer.

    1. Admission Policies and Procedures

      Admission of PA residents, including advanced placement, shall be made in accordance with clearly defined and published practices of the institution. Any specific academic and technical standards required for admission to the program shall also be clearly defined, published, and readily accessible to prospective PA residents and the public. Policies regarding advanced placement, transfer of credit, and credit for experiential learning shall be readily accessible to prospective PA residents where applicable. Requirements for previous education or work experience should be provided and readily accessible also. Applicants shall be NCCPA certified or a graduate of a ARC-PA accredited PA program.

    2. Evaluations of PA Residents

      Criteria for successful progression to and completion of each segment of the curriculum and for graduation shall be given to each PA resident upon enrollment. Evaluation methods shall be equitable and include content related to the objectives and competencies described in the curriculum for both didactic and clinical components. They shall be employed frequently enough to provide PA residents and program officials with timely indications of the PA resident’s progress and to serve as a reliable indicator of the effectiveness of course design and instruction.

    3. Health

      The program officials shall establish a procedure for determining that the applicants’ or PA residents’ health will permit them to meet the defined standards of the program. PA residents must be informed of and have access to health care services. Residents must not have any condition that endangers the health and well-being of other residents or patients.

    4. Guidance

      Guidance shall be available to assist PA residents in understanding course content and in observing program policies and practices and to provide counseling or referral for problems that may interfere with the PA residents’ progress through the program.

    5. PA Resident Identification

      PA residents must be clearly identified as such to distinguish them from physicians, staff PAs, medical students, PA students, and other health professionals.

    6. Physician Assistant Resident Responsibilities

      1. Assume responsibility for their education by participating fully in the educational activities of their program and by establishing an additional self-guided program of study and professional growth.
      2. To provide safe and effective patient care under the supervision of assigned physicians, with adhering to the concepts of confidentiality and compassion when communicating with patients.

    1. Fair Practices

      1. Announcements and advertising must accurately reflect the program.
      2. PA resident and faculty recruitment and PA resident admission and faculty employment practices shall be non-discriminatory with respect to race, color, creed, sex, age, disabling conditions and national origin.
      3. Academic credit or certificate awarded, as well as costs, stipends, or salaries to the PA residents shall be accurately stated, published and made known to all applicants.
      4. The program sponsoring institution shall have a defined and published policy and procedure for processing PA resident and faculty grievances. The institution shall also have a defined and published disciplinary process.
      5. Policies and processes for PA resident withdrawal and for refunds of tuition and fees shall be published and made known to all applicants.
      6. Policies and processes by which PA residents may perform service work while enrolled in the program must be published and made known to all concerned. The educational quality of the program may not be compromised by excessive service obligations. PA residents may not replace qualified staff.
      7. The health and safety of patients, PA residents, and faculty associated with the educational activities of the PA residents must be adequately safeguarded.
    2. Records

      1. PA Resident Records

        Records documenting PA resident admission, educational participation and evaluations shall be permanently maintained. Grades and credits for courses shall be recorded and retained permanently by the sponsoring institution in a safe and accessible location.

      2. Faculty Records

        A copy of the qualifications of each principal faculty member shall be maintained, with emphasis on their qualifications for teaching that segment of the curriculum.


    The program must have a continuing system for periodically and systematically reviewing the effectiveness of the education it provides and must prepare timely reports to aid the staff, its institution, the accreditation agencies, and the Association of Postgraduate Physician Assistant Program (APPAP).


    1. Description of the Program

      Faculty and students shall be provided with clear description of the program and its content, including learning goals, course objectives, and competencies required for graduation.

    2. Instruction must follow a plan which documents

      1. Learning experiences should include appropriate instructional materials, classroom presentations, discussions, demonstrations and clinical practice.
      2. Defined learning objectives and goals to be achieved for both didactic and clinical education components.
      3. Frequent documented evaluation of residents to assess their knowledge and professional growth.
    3. Outcomes

      The program shall routinely obtain sufficient information regarding the program graduates so as to demonstrate an ongoing evaluation of outcomes consistent with learning objectives and competencies specified by the educational program.

    4. Evaluation

      The results of ongoing evaluation of program graduates must be appropriately reflected in the curriculum and other areas of the program.