The first cohort of the physician assistant (PA) program at University of the Cumberlands’ Northern Kentucky (NKY) campus has a reason to get excited this spring – every single one of them passed their national certification exam (PANCE).
When program director Blair Whitaker, PA-C, received the report from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) that the cohort had a 100 percent pass rate, she was thrilled. “The graduates, faculty, and staff worked very hard for this achievement,” she said. “We developed a strong PA program in Florence and I am confident our students will continue to be successful.”
Sam Coryell, a recent graduate from Cohort I, said he felt good going into the exam. “I knew I couldn’t possibly be any more prepared than I was,” he said. “I wasn’t shocked when I heard that our cohort had a 100 percent pass rate. I think the word ‘pioneers’ doesn’t give our class enough credit. I like to think of us as heavy-weight champion boxers; we just kept taking punch after punch. Whether it was the pandemic, rotation shortages, housing issues, or some other obstacle, the drive of our class coupled with the work ethic and support of our ‘coaches’ (faculty and preceptors) was enough to propel us to the top. I know not every program had the luxury of continuing, and I’m very appreciative that ours was one of the few that did.”
Cohort I completed the program in January of this year. They began their didactic phase of the program (the “book learning” phase) in October 2019 and began the clinical phase in March 2021, having navigated (and were continuing to navigate) the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to academics and healthcare.
Approximately one-fifth of the graduates were from Kentucky while the remainder of the class hailed from 19 other states. Ohio was the highest-represented state following Kentucky. Many graduates plan to stay in Kentucky or Ohio, while others are returning to their home states or are waiting to decide after they have secured employment.
The PA program in NKY will be accepting applications between October 1 – March 1. The university offers competitive academics at an affordable price. Visit www.ucumberlands.edu/academics to learn more.