Campus wide, College of Health Sciences

CSU PA program gains accreditation-continued status

By Jan Joslin | November 10, 2022

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Charleston Southern University Physician Assistant Program.

Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards. Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the standards. 

“In 2016, I was given an incredible opportunity to come to Charleston Southern University as the founding program director for the Physician Assistant Program,” said Dr. Gabrielle Poole, interim dean of the College of Health Sciences. “I was charged with leading the program through the accreditation process in addition to matriculating and graduating the first several cohorts of the program.” 

Dr. Jerica Derr, interim program director and director of clinical education, said the CSU PA program has graduated a total of 84 PAs, and 67 students are currently enrolled (33 first year, 34 second year).

Poole said, “Having the opportunity to educate and train future clinicians in a Christian environment has been so rewarding. I love being able to mentor and support students during this extremely challenging educational journey in hopes that they will go out into our community as the hands and feet of Jesus, showing compassion to all of their patients while using the medical knowledge and skills they have learned at CSU. I am incredibly thankful to the faculty and staff of the program for coming alongside me to ensure the program earned accreditation continuation and to the administration, especially Dr. Jackie Fish, vice president for academic affairs, for giving us the opportunity to build this program.”

Derr believes the CSU PA program is distinctive because of small class sizes with a small student-to-faculty ratio and the opportunity to deliver a PA education through a Christian worldview.

“We really get to know our students not just as our students, but as people and future colleagues,” said Derr. “Our robust mentoring program creates space and intentionality for conversations to take place about student’s academic performance and offer emotional support as they progress through the rigorous program. Delivering a PA education through a Christian worldview enables us to not only invest in the next generation of medical providers but also the next generation of Kingdom builders and world changers. The faculty feels so blessed every day for the privilege to be a part of our students’ journey to becoming clinicians,” said Derr.

The accreditation process for a new program is conducted through a series of three applications and subsequent site visits as outlined below by the ARC-PA:

  1. An initial provisional site visit is conducted to a new developing program that is within six to 12 months of matriculation of students. This visit verifies an institution’s ability to begin a program in compliance with the Standards, and the program’s readiness to matriculate students.
  2. A provisional monitoring visit is conducted within six months of graduation of the first cohort of students. This visit verifies the sponsoring institution’s and provisionally accredited program’s progress in delivering the program in compliance with the Standards and their ability to continue to do so.
  3. A final provisional visit is conducted 18-24 months following the second provisional review by the commission. This visit verifies the institution’s and program’s demonstration of compliance with the Standards including their ability to incorporate and report the findings of a robust self-assessment process as required by the ARC-PA.

The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be March 2032. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy. 


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