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Physician Assistant Program at St. Kate's receives accreditation

Heather Bidinger, MMS, PA-C is the founding program director of the St. Kate's MPAS program.
Heather Bidinger, MMS, PA-C is the founding program director of the St. Kate's MPAS program.
Photo from University files.

In March, the new Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) program at St. Catherine University was granted Provisional Accreditation by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). Provisional Accreditation is the first step for all new PA programs to full accreditation status and allows St. Kate's to admit its first class this September. 

It is only the second accredited PA program in Minnesota, according to ARC-PA.

"The addition of the PA program to our Henrietta Schmoll School of Health strengthens St. Catherine University's dedication to meet the challenge of providing adequate primary care for citizens in the region," said Pennelope Moyers, dean of HSSOH. "We have excellent nurse practitioner programs; and we look forward to the physician assistant students working and learning together with them and students across disciplines to create a unique interprofessional model for healthcare delivery."

Physician assistants (PAs) are licensed health professionals who perform medical services traditionally performed by physicians, ranging from taking medical histories and performing physical exams, to diagnosing illnesses and assisting in surgery. Working under the supervision of licensed physicians, PAs provide a wide range of preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic and other health services.

"After two and a half years of planning and preparation, we are pleased to announce this accreditation status and to continue working with our health care community colleagues and partners in an ‘official’ status,” said Heather Bidinger, program director. “We are excited to be to welcoming our first class of students this fall." 

Through the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program at St. Catherine University, individuals can enroll in an entry-level program that will prepare them for medical practice in the changing healthcare environment.

"This rounds out the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health as a premier, comprehensive leader in healthcare education," said Senior Vice President Colleen Hegranes, the chief academic officer at St. Kate's. "This is a jewel in the crown of our healthcare programs, especially when you consider the incredible shortage of physician assistants in the state and the few programs available."

About accreditation

According to the ARC-PA, Accreditation - Provisional is an accreditation status. The status indicates that the plans and resource allocation for the proposed program appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards, if fully implemented as planned. Accreditation - Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status and is limited to no more than three years for any program.

More about the HSSOH

St. Catherine University's Henrietta Schmoll School of Health offers more than 32 health profession programs ranging from the associate to the clinical doctoral level. The Master of Physician Assistant Studies joins outstanding graduate programs in nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and holistic health.

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March 28, 2012 by Melissa Kaelin

See also: Faculty, Healthcare