WRITER: Amy Couteé
CONTACT: DAVE PEDERSEN
283 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 335-8034
UI physician assistant graduates excel on national certification
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The 1997 graduates of the University of Iowa Physician
Assistant (PA) Program received a perfect pass-rate on the Physician Assistant
National Certification Examination. All 22 graduates earned their certification
while scoring well above the national average.
Performance reports released in January by the National Commission on
Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), which administers the test,
showed the UI's performance between the 96th and 100th percentile compared
to all other PA programs across the nation.
"There's no way to specifically determine what our rank would be
among all programs but it certainly puts us in the top three to five programs,"
says Dr. David Asprey, interim director of the UI program.
The NCCPA does not officially rank PA programs but rather posts percentile
rankings. No program ranks at the 100th percentile.
Based on the number of UI students taking the test for the first time,
the UI program was ranked between the 91st and 97th percentile. "That's
probably the more meaningful figure," Asprey says.
Since 1974, the UI has maintained a first-time pass rate of 99 percent
by all graduates, well above the national average of 84 percent. The 1997
graduates scored above the average in all 12 clinical content areas of
Three keys to the excellent results, Asprey says, are the high-quality
candidates admitted to the program, the program's emphasis on primary care
and family medicine, and the demands made of PA students. Typically PA
students are not integrated with medical students in the curriculum. PAs
at the UI, however, complete several of the sophomore-year medical courses.
At the UI, PAs are held to the same standards as the medical students,
resulting in the uniformity of scores, all above the mean average, Asprey
According to Asprey, the scores are proof not only of exceptional PA
students but an exceptional program. "The graduates are not just shining
brightly in a couple of areas that pull up their scores. They are doing
well uniformly in each of the 12 content areas. That, coupled with the
high pass rate, speaks to the fact that they have received a well-rounded
education that prepares them very well to enter the profession and provide
competent patient care. That is obviously the ultimate concern. We have
a responsibility to the public," Asprey says.
Of the 1997 graduates, 95 percent entered primary care with 47 percent
practicing in state or federally designated underserved areas. The high
percentage of graduates employed in underserved areas is important to the
program which sets this as one of its primary goals.