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The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) has granted Accreditation-Continued status to the Interservice Physician Assistant Program sponsored by the U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School, U.S. Army Health Readiness Center of Excellence. Accreditation-Continued is an accreditation status granted when a currently accredited program is in compliance with the ARC-PA Standards.

Accreditation remains in effect until the program closes or withdraws from the accreditation process or until accreditation is withdrawn for failure to comply with the Standards. The approximate date for the next validation review of the program by the ARC-PA will be September 2025. The review date is contingent upon continued compliance with the Accreditation Standards and ARC-PA policy.

Mission Statement

To provide the uniformed services with highly competent, compassionate physician assistants who model integrity, strive for leadership excellence, and are committed to lifelong learning

Vision Statement

To be recognized as the world-class leader in physician assistant education

Core Values

    • Integrity
    • Persistence
    • Attitude
  • Professionalism

Guiding Principles

  • To provide leadership and education of the highest quality and greatest value to our students, thereby instilling a lifelong desire for growth and learning
  • To immerse faculty and students in an environment that fosters a sense of academic and professional excellence
  • To educate the future leaders of military medicine to become the most dynamic and highest quality physician assistants possible
  • To demonstrate personal integrity and ethical conduct

Program expectations

Expectations are attributes, characteristics or behaviors that are not explicitly part of the profession`s core of knowledge and technical skills but are nevertheless required for success in this program and in the PA profession. All of the following are very important, but you are especially reminded to read and fully understand #7 – Professionalism.

  • COMMITMENT TO LEARNING: The ability to self-correct, and self-direct: to identify needs and sources of learning; and to continually seek new knowledge and understanding.
  • INTERPERSONAL SKILLS: The ability to interact effectively with patients, families, colleagues, other health care professionals, and the community and to deal effectively with cultural and ethnic diversity issues. The ability to show respect to classmates, faculty, patients, and colleagues.
  • COMMUNICATION SKILLS: The ability to communicate effectively (i.e., speaking, body language, reading, writing, listening) for varied audiences and purposes.
  • EFFECTIVE USE OF TIME & RESOURCES: The ability to obtain the maximum benefit from a minimum investment of time and resources.
  • USE OF CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK: The ability to identify sources of and seek out feedback and to effectively use and provide feedback for improving personal interaction.
  • PROBLEM SOLVING: The ability to recognize and define problems. Analyze data, develop and implement solutions, and evaluate outcomes.
  • PROFESSIONALISM: The ability to exhibit appropriate professional conduct and to represent the profession effectively. Treat people as they should be treated.
  • RESPONSIBILITY: The ability to fulfill commitments and to be accountable for actions and outcomes. Do what is right, legally and morally.
  • CRITICAL THINKING: The ability to question logically; to identify, generate, and evaluate elements of logical argument; to recognize and differentiate facts, illusions, assumptions, and hidden assumptions; and to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant.
  • STRESS MANAGEMENT: The ability to identify sources of stress and to develop effective coping behaviors.

All students must understand the significance of the above and how academic success is predicated on mastery of understanding and application throughout this program and career as a PA.

History of the Physician Assistant

The profession of "Physician Assistants" has only been recognized since 1966. The lack of medical doctors in both the military and civilian health care systems led to the development of the Physician Assistant. In a 1961 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hudson first broached the subject of the "extern." This "extern" would be responsible for most of the technical procedures and some of the medical responsibilities of the medical doctor under whom they would work.

Dr. Eugene Stead, chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina in 1965, developed the first Physician Assistant program. Using four ex-Navy corpsmen, the two-year Physician Assistant program began. The curriculum was based on the fast-tracking of a doctor`s program developed during World War II. In this program the first nine months were spent on sciences and clinical skills. The next 13 months were spent doing clerkships in a variety of hospital clinics. The final two months were spent with their preceptor learning their professional skills. The Public Health Service at Staten Island Hospital developed one early program. The merchant marines began a nine-month training program for purser mates (the people in the merchant marines responsible for overseeing ships` documentation and customs declarations, as well as medical care) in 1966. At the University of Washington, Dr. Richard Smith designed a program called MEDEX (Medicine Extension) to train former military medics to service areas of Washington State that were lacking in medical personnel. This program required three months of concentrated study and 12 months of preceptorship with University medical doctors.

Today, most programs are 27 months in length with the first 12-16 months spent in the classroom. The subjects studied include anatomy and physiology, pathology, diagnosis, treatment, disease processes, communication and patient assessment.

History of the Military Physician Assistant

The military Physician Assistant program was first developed by the United States Air Force in 1971 under the direction of the Air Force Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Alonzo Towner at Sheppard Air Force Base School of Heath Care Sciences in Texas and was modeled after the program developed by Dr. Eugene Stead at Duke University. The first enrollees in the program were senior enlisted medics. There was one year of didactic training followed by one year of on-the-job training; a four-year payback period was incurred. By 1978, the Air Force had 275 commissioned officers who were Physician Assistants. The United States Army began its Physician Assistant Program in 1971. The school that Army PA students attended was the Medical Field Services School PA program at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The Navy began their Physician Assistant program in 1971 as a trial program and by 1973 the Navy and George Washington University developed a partnership to train Physician Assistants. In 1972 the Navy and the Air Force began training Physician Assistants at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. The United States Coast Guard did not institute their own PA program, but began sending enlisted corpsmen to complete the Duke University PA Program in 1971.

History of the Interservice Physician Assistant Program

In 1996, the military services combined their various Physician Assistant programs to form the Interservice Physician Assistant Program (IPAP), located at the Army Medical Department Center and school (AMEDDC&S), Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

The IPAP mission is to provide the uniformed services with highly competent, compassionate Physician Assistants who model integrity, strive for leadership excellence, and are committed to lifelong learning. Our graduates are commissioned into the officer corps of their respective service and take their place beside other military health care professionals in providing medical services to active duty military personnel, their dependents, and retirees.

In 1996, the IPAP at the AMEDDC&S reached an agreement with UNMC that the latter would provide faculty and administrative support for the IPAP. The IPAP graduate earns a Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) degree from the affiliated university.

On behalf of the Commander and staff of the AMEDD C&S, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, we welcome you to the IPAP. As you will learn, we are responsible for the education of outstanding Physician Assistants for the uniformed services of the United States Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. Our main campus is located on Historic Fort Sam Houston, Texas, in the heart of beautiful San Antonio, Texas. Here all IPAP students complete their 16-month didactic phase of training. Phase 1 consists of basic medical science courses intended to develop a student`s knowledge of critical medical concepts (see Phase 1 curriculum). After completing this portion of the curriculum, students continue with their medical clerkships at one of 22 medical Phase 2 sites across the country. These Phase 2 sites are located at military installations with medical facilities adequate to support the base rotations required to be a successful Physician Assistant (see Phase 2 curriculum). Our Phase 2 Site Clinical Coordinators are responsible for the administrative support and ensuring that clinical preceptors provide appropriate clinical training. This training allows IPAP students to obtain the skills necessary for becoming a physician assistant in the uniformed services. If you have further questions or concerns after viewing this portal, you may contact us at: 210-221-8004

IPAP Strengths & Success

  • Leverage strengths and talents from all military services across the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
  • Outstanding faculty and staff representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard who are dedicated and committed to providing a top quality PA educational experience to all students.
  • Tremendous institutional support from Graduate School, Academy of Health Sciences, AMEDDC&S and at 22 dedicated Tri-Service MTF clinical training sites.
  • Get paid to learn, and pay absolutely no tuition or student fees, while enjoying no-cost laptop and book use during your pre-clinical phase.
  • Your place of duty will be IPAP. You will continue to receive all military benefits (such as healthcare, dental, legal, and credit for military retirement) during the entire 29-month program.
  • Graduates, PA Consultants, the AHS Dean, Medical Commanders, and the Interservice Training Advisory Board all agree –the IPAP is an outstanding program which supplies the military with top-notch Officer-Clinicians who provide superior healthcare 24/7 around the world.
  • IPAP graduates have excellent opportunities for career growth and continuing education.