Frostburg’s New Physician Assistant Program Receives Accreditation-Provisional Status

May 1, 2019 2:30 PM

Frostburg State University has received accreditation-provisional status for its new Physician Assistant (PA) Master’s degree program, which is being offered at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown.

The program, a Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies, will be enrolling its first class of 25 starting in May. PAs are medical professionals who practice in every medical setting and diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications and increasingly serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider.

“The healthcare industry is the largest employer in Maryland’s three westernmost counties, and FSU is a committed educational partner to assure we are responding to our regional needs,” said FSU President Ronald Nowaczyk. “We also recognize FSU’s role in helping to improve health in rural Maryland by educating healthcare providers to care for the citizens of the state.”

The program is offered at USMH in downtown Hagerstown, thanks to the partnership of Meritus Health System, which has provided the facility for the program; the Appalachian Regional Commission; and local philanthropists who provided funding to assist with the renovation and equipment purchase and create scholarships for local students. The program is being taught at the USMH Agnita Stine Schreiber Health Science Center, 24 Walnut St., third floor.

“The support of our community partners has truly set this program in motion for success because it is built on a foundation of partnership and a mission to develop PAs who want to serve rural and medically underserved communities, like those found in Western Maryland and surrounding areas,” said Dr. Beth Smolko, director of FSU’s PA program.

“We are excited to see this program come to fruition and commend the Frostburg faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly to achieve this milestone. We are grateful for the generous donations from individuals, businesses and foundations who recognized the critical need for this program. Their gifts will have a profound impact on our community,” said Mark Halsey, USMH executive director.

Local donors have contributed more than $1.4 million through the “Building a Legacy of Care” campaign to fund renovations, equipment and scholarships.

Smolko added that PA programs are known to be among some of the most difficult programs to develop to full implementation due to the rigorous accreditation standards and need for resources.

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Frostburg State University Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program sponsored by Frostburg State University.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

You can find more information about Frostburg’s new Physician Assistant program online.

Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit the Frostburg State web site or the FSU Facebook page. Follow FSU on Twitter @frostburgstate.

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