PA students maintain 100 percent pass rate on national exam
By Alex Branch
For the fourth straight year, every graduate of the Physician Assistant Studies Program at UNT Health Science Center passed the national certification exam on the first attempt – the second- longest streak among the eight programs in the state of Texas.
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Since 2013, only one of about 450 total PA graduates from UNTHSC did not pass the exam on the first try.
The Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) administrated by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants assesses basic medical and surgical knowledge.
“It all starts with exceptional students,” said Kirk Barron, PhD, PA-C, Chairman of the UNTHSC PA program. “We recruit intelligent, talented and determined students into our program, and that is reflected in our exam scores.”
The field of physician assistants has grown increasingly competitive in the last decade. The flexibility to move between specialties, potential for a strong work-life balance and quality starting salary places it on many national best jobs lists.
The UNTHSC program receives more than 1,900 applications for just 75 spots each year. Starting next year, the UNTHSC PA program will revamp and condense its curriculum from 34 months to 30 months to improve efficiency and keep the program on the cutting edge of innovation.
“Our goal is not to teach students to pass the exam,” Dr. Barron said. “Our goal is preparing students thoroughly and diligently to become the health care leaders of tomorrow. They pass the exam because they are prepared to enter the workforce and thrive.”
During the four years UNTHSC PA students have held their 100 percent pass rate, the national average on the certification exam has ranged from 93 percent to 97 percent.
Maintaining a 100 percent pass rate for four consecutive years requires extraordinary teamwork, said Nicoleta Bugnariu, PT, PhD, Interim Dean of the School of Health Professions.
“The exceptional results of graduates are a reflection of the high quality of education delivered by the PA program,” Dr. Bugnariu said. “This is a win for PA faculty, staff and students, collaboratively and diligently pursuing excellence, and a win for the HSC creating a learning environment where extraordinary becomes remarkable.”