The University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia Physician Assistant program is celebrating the class of 2023 securing a 100% first-time pass rate on the national board certification exam (PANCE). This year marks the second time in the last three years (2021) that the program’s graduating class has posted a perfect mark. The exam is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) and is the only certifying organization for PAs in the United States.
The USC PA program, which launched in 2017 and graduated its inaugural class of 19 students in 2019, is a 27-month master’s program, which features 15 months of didactic, or in the classroom learning, followed by 12 months of clinical rotations. Entry into the ever-growing program has quickly become extremely competitive. This past academic year (2022-23) the school received over 1,000 applications while aiming to fill just 30 spots.
Program director Rita Dixon is in her second year leading the PA program and while she is extremely proud of the 2023 class, she is equally proud to work alongside outstanding faculty who provide the highest quality training to students at USC.
Twenty-six students graduated from the program in 2023, with the majority of the class securing a position or receiving an offer for employment in South Carolina to date. Many graduates are entering into specialty care, such as cardiology, neurology, dermatology, and critical care, and also surgical subspecialties including cardiothoracic surgery.
Hard work and dedication in the classroom and clinical setting provided students with immediate opportunities following graduation this spring, helping to fill critical health care needs in the state of South Carolina and beyond.
“The job outlook for the PA profession is excellent and continues to grow year-after-year,” Dixon says. “A number of students from our 2023 class were extended job offers prior to graduation, which speaks not only to the increased demand for health care workers, but also to the students’ exceptional performance during their clinical year.”