ALBEMARLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Pfeiffer University has announced their physician assistant program has been placed on ‘accreditation probation’ and will not be able to start planned classes in Jan. 2023.

The move, announced this week, only affects new students. Current students in the physician assistant program will be able to complete their education, which includes work in both a classroom and clinical setting.

Queen City News confirmed the information after receiving a tip from the parent of someone who had been accepted into the program.

Pfeiffer said it had graduated one class in their relatively new physician assistant, or PA, program and said the issues were due to issues they say are being addressed. According to the university, the accreditation agency for PA programs had done a walk-through earlier this year.

Scott Fisher, who took over as program director in May, spoke about the situation in detail Thursday.

“My own disappointment is not being able to provide that opportunity to the students we had interviewed, assessed, and selected,” he said.

Physician assistants diagnose, prescribe, and are considered health care providers. According to U.S. News and World Report, the median income is over $100,000 and is regarded as one of the ‘Top 5’ best jobs in the country.

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Pfeiffer University officials said they had started the program, in part, to address rural health disparities.

Dozens of students are affected by the pause.

The parent who tipped Queen City News off to the notification said their child had already leased an apartment in Albemarle before starting Jan.

The programs are also highly competitive.

David Weil, over the PA program at Wingate University, did not speak to Pfeiffer’s situation but noted that jobs are likely to be available and emphasized the importance of fully-accredited programs being available.

“An example would be that we have 60 seats here at Wingate for a (registered) PA program, and we’re currently at 600 applications for those 60 seats,” said Weil.

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Fisher noted Pfeiffer is helping the students affected by trying to find any open spots in nearby programs, along with offering help with tuition and rent for those who wish to stay in the program once the accreditation issue has been addressed.

We are doing our best to make sure we are doing right by these students,” he said.