Requesting Expansion to a Distant Campus

scott's thoughts Aug 22, 2023

Today we cover an exciting topic: expanding your PA program. There may come a time when your successful PA program needs room for more students, faculty, outreach, and opportunities. Naturally, you must comply with ARC-PA standards. The ARC-PA Accreditation Manual (2023) defines a Distant Campus as “a campus geographically separate from the main program at which didactic, preclinical, or clinical instruction occurs for all or some of the students matriculated to that campus.” 

You must obtain ARC-PA approval at least six months prior to the matriculation of students at new locations and facilities. For an expansion to take place, your program must do the following:

  • maintain five consecutive years of accreditation-continued, without an adverse action at the time of submission.
  • have outcomes from the first cohort of students at any distant campus before applying to expand to another (note that programs cannot expand to more than one location at a time).
  • contact ARC-PA by email to begin the expansion process and secure placement on ARC-PA agenda for a site visit to the distant campus (and also to the main program, if deemed necessary). 
  • Submit the completed application and required fee to ARC-PA twelve weeks prior to the site visit.

Completing the Application

There are several points to consider regarding the application. For each, provide documentation supporting your answers.

  • Determine which type of increase you are requesting. Is your request a one-time increase, or an incremental increase?  Either way, you must provide evidence of sufficient clinical sites to support the maximum class size.
    1. Establish student attrition. To successfully increase enrollment, student attrition must be determined for the three most recent graduating classes and the current classes. You must provide a brief analysis of your attrition.
    2. Provide a narrative of the rationale for your request to increase class size. Be sure to reference ARC-PA standards.
    3. Develop a comprehensive regional analysis and impact report, triangulated with your PA program’s mission and goals. This may sound burdensome, so let’s break down what it means. The key elements of a regional analysis include:
      1. The competitive landscape: a summary of state PA programs, including their: 
        1. Number of graduates per year 
        2. Accreditation status
        3. Location (distance from your program)
        4. Tuition (in-state versus out-of-state)
        5. Length of programs
        6. Number of students
      2. PA job outlook
        1. A projected growth PA employment over the next five years
        2. Number of state and local job postings
      3. PA supply and demand
        1. Annual mean wages
        2. Other healthcare occupations
        3. Vital statistics and health status indicators
        4. Facility data
        5. Socio-Economic data
  • Discuss the adequacy of resources. The program must develop a narrative regarding the adequacy of resources available to support your proposed change, and those that will be added,  including a timeline for each of the proposed changes. Remember to reference ARC-PA standards when considering the resources. Renovations and changes in classrooms, labs, or faculty are discussed in this section
  • Explain budget changes. ARC-PA provides a template to describe budget changes. Be specific! Demonstrate how the budget will change in alignment with increasing class size. Provide the necessary details explaining where and how increased funds will be utilized.
  • Describe personnel. Establish the number of faculty and staff, and how it will change with increased class size. Discuss the roles of each new faculty/staff needed to support the increase. This may include a job description and chart appendices describing program FTE designations.
  • Explain new classroom and laboratory spaces. Describe each one, including their current capacities and whether new areas are needed. Demonstrate you can provide space for the maximum number of students requested. Put evidence of classroom space, with pictures, in the appendices.
  • Describe technological resources, including the current capacity at computer labs. Will the current capacity accommodate the class size increase? Reference ARC-PA standards and discuss other technological resources, like wireless access, SMART technology, and technical support.
  • Explain the process of clinical site development. This report will specifically detail your starting number of clinical sites, and how many sites were increased due to recruitment efforts. Use the SCPE table from the ARC-PA portal to amend your clinical sites.
  • If the increase requested is incremental, your PA program must have sites sufficient to support the final maximum class size.
  • ARC-PA will verify the number of SCPE sites three months prior to the start of each class, which must have agreements in place.
  • Describe how clinical sites are evaluated with your initial and ongoing clinical site evaluation form, preceptor remediation, renewed preceptor evaluation, and the clinical site visit policy.

Following the ARC-PA visit, an Observation Report is provided to the Program Director. The Program Director may provide an optional response. The ARC-PA Commission then reviews:

  • All application materials
  • Site visit report
  • Optional response from the program
  • Program accreditation history.

Finally, ARC-PA renders a decision. Your program will either be approved for expansion or have the chance to make the necessary changes and apply again.

I hope I have provided you with a clear picture of how to begin your campus expansion, and what you will need to have ready for ARC-PA to make the process flow as smoothly as possible. I wish you the best of luck on your near and distant future expansions! Please join me for my next newsletter and a new topic for PA education.


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