December 18, 2015 | 3 p.m.
By Michelle Westlund, communications specialist
The inaugural graduating class for Bethel’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant (PA) program recently reported a 100% passing rate for the national PA certification exam. All 31 students in the graduating class passed the highly involved, medically oriented exam that covers all areas of medicine. “The fact that 100% of our inaugural class passed the exam the first time they took it speaks highly of the caliber of students we are able to attract,” says Wallace Boeve, program director.
According to national reports, new PA programs report a first-time pass rate in the upper 70%, with the overall national average for all PA programs in the low 90% for first-time exam takers. Students who do not pass the challenging exam on their first attempt may retake the exam up to five times. The exam is a requirement for new PA graduates to obtain state licensure and to practice, and PA programs must report exam results as part of their accreditation requirements. Any program receiving less than an 82% pass rate must report a corrective action plan to the accrediting agency.
In addition to their perfect pass rate, all members of Bethel’s inaugural class “are getting quality job offers,” says Boeve, “both in Minnesota and nationally.” Of the 31 graduates, 35-40% will work in primary care, and the rest are choosing to work in a subspecialty.
The future appears to be bright for Bethel’s upcoming PA graduates as well. “Next year’s graduating class is receiving strong praise from clinical preceptors (physicians and PAs) during their field training,” says Boeve, “as their clinical supervisors consistently remark on the quality of their preparation and professionalism.” He notes that many members of this second class are already receiving job offers.
Bethel’s Master of Science in Physician Assistant program prepares students to become physician assistants who serve with compassion, competence, and confidence by providing meaningful medical care. “The transformative, integrative curriculum in Bethel’s program serves the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of patient care,” says Boeve. In fall 2015, more than 450 applicants applied for the 32 spots in the program’s fourth cohort, set to begin in June 2016. The next open application cycle begins in April 2016 for a June 2017 program start.