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Physician Assistant studies program granted continued accreditation

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued to the University of South Dakota Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the University of South Dakota. 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remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be March 2020. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Standards and ARC-PA policy.

“We are extremely proud of the students, faculty, and staff of the Physician Assistant Studies Program for their commitment to excellence in health care for the people of South Dakota,” said Michael Lawler, Ph.D., M.S.W., dean of USD’s School of Health Sciences.

ARC-PA, the organization that defines standards for PA education and evaluates PA educational programs within the territorial United States, noted the program’s “commitment and dedication to quality PA education” in its accreditation notification letter.

This news arrives on the heels of a strong year for USD’s Physician Assistant program, which was approved for a class size expansion (from 20 students to 25) by the South Dakota Board of Regents in 2012.

“The outlook for PA’s in South Dakota is positive,” said Wade Nilson, M.S., B.S., director of USD’s Physician Assistant Program. “As a nation and state we are faced with a primary care shortage. PA-physician teams are ideally suited to provide comprehensive, patient-centered, coordinated, accessible and ongoing care.”

For more information about the program, please visit


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News