McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

PA program given full accreditation

By Thana Dharmarajah
Published: June 5, 2012
John Cunnington
Dr. John Cunnington, director of the Physician Assistant Educational Program and assistant dean, Education Services

Full accreditation has been awarded to McMaster University’s Physician Assistant Education Program by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). The program is the first Canadian civilian undergraduate training program for the health profession.

The Physician Assistant Educational Program, part of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, was founded by its assistant dean Dr. John Cunnington in 2008. The first class of 21 physician assistants graduated in 2010 after a 24 consecutive month program.

Cunnington said full accreditation means the CMA recognizes the quality of education provided at McMaster meets national standards.

"When you are hiring people to do sensitive work, you want to make sure you’ve met a standard of training to ensure that everybody is getting the best possible care," he said. "It’s clear to me that the graduates are serving a need and are being successful."

The two-year physician assistant program has now graduated 45 students, who are working in emergency departments, clinics and family health teams.

"This new profession is successfully being integrated into the Ontario health care workforce, which is quite a feat," Cunnington said. "Health care is extremely complex and very resistant to change, so to bring in a whole new type of worker, which we’ve never had before and get students graduated and working is remarkable."

The program had initially received provisional accreditation as a new program. The program is now accredited until August 2016.

The University of Toronto, with the Michener Institute and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, has now also opened a training program for physician assistants.

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