While students remain vocally opposed to Yale’s plan to move forward in creating a separate online Physician Assistant program, national physician assistant organizations have hesitated to voice opinions on the topic.
Both the Physician Assistant Education Association — the only national organization that represents physician assistant programs — and the American Academy of Physician Assistants — the national professional society for physician assistants — have stated that they neither support nor oppose Yale’s proposal.
“A diversity of program missions, curricula and instructional methods creates a more innovative educational system,” said Sean Stickle, chief communications director for the PAEA, in an email. “We support all programs in developing innovative educational models and techniques that help them respond to the evolving needs of their students, their communities and the welfare of patients. Yale’s blended program, like every accredited PA program, must meet the uncompromising standards developed by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) — standards which guarantee a consistent and high-quality foundation for PA programs nationwide.”
Still, Yale’s proposed online program has yet to be accredited by the ARC-PA. In fact, its last application for accreditation was rejected this spring. Current PA students have also expressed concerns that students educated online will not receive the same quality of training as their on-campus peers.
Close to 100 Facebook users commented on the AAPA’s post. The AAPA told Facebook users that it did not endorse Yale’s proposed online program, and told the News in a statement it has not taken a stance on the program.
Chandra Goff MED ’14, an alumna of Yale’s PA program, said that although she would prefer that Yale did not go ahead with the online program at all, she is glad that it is now being proposed as a separate program to the residential program.
Goff said that it is important to train a broad workforce. But, she said she questions whether or not it is possible to do this through an online education.
“Training people to practice medicine is not something that can be easily done online,” Goff said. “I question whether it can be adequately done at all.”
Program director James Van Rhee said he is still waiting on a response from the ARC-PA about Yale’s request to move forward with program development. At a meeting last month, Van Rhee said a potential early online program would not start before 2017.
The AAPA was established in 1968.
Correction, Sept. 27: A previous version of this article incorrectly suggested that the PAEA and the AAPA are “split” on the Yale proposal. In fact, neither organization has yet to take a stance supporting or opposing the proposed PA program at Yale.