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All 2021 Penn State College of Medicine Physician Assistant graduates pass certifying exam

All 176 graduates of Penn State College of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Program during the last six years have passed their national certifying exams on their first attempts.

2021’s class was no exception. The 33 physician assistant (PA) graduates passed the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination the first time they took the test earlier this year. All are working as PAs.

Christine Bruce, director of the College of Medicine Physician Assistant Program, said the two-year graduate program is rigorous. Many students are accepted to other PA schools but choose the College of Medicine’s program based on its ability to prepare students for clinical practice as PAs, she added.

Students in the program are dedicated, Bruce said. One gave birth to twins in May and still managed to finish all of her course work in time to graduate.

Bruce said she is proud of the program and how well students do on the certification exam.

“This is a huge accomplishment for our 33 students this year and a real testament to the education and training we are providing to each year’s class,” she said. “It starts with our admissions process and choosing candidates who will be successful here.”

The PA program receives the largest number of applications in the country. This year the program received more than 5,000 applications for 30 spots. The program looks for students who come from diverse and disadvantaged communities which have health professional shortages. Seventy percent of graduates work in primary care and/or in medically underserved areas.

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