School of Medicine

Physician Assistant Studies - Program

Program Goals

ARC-PA Standard A3.14(b)


To increase access to health care, with a focus on medically underserved communities, by educating highly qualified physician assistants in the primary care model


The University of Utah Physician Assistant Program will be a leader in PA education by providing an innovative and equitable academic and clinical environment to inspire graduates to fulfill our mission while also contributing to the growth of the profession.
To achieve our vision, the University of Utah Physician Assistant Program will:
  • Sustain and foster inclusion and diversity
  • Promote primary care as a means to relieve health disparities
  • Create lifelong learners
  • Encourage collaboration and leadership in local, national, and global communities


To graduate physician assistants that work in primary care and underserved areas with rates above the national average.

From 881 graduates, 653 were surveyed with an email Alumni survey, 222 graduates responded, for a total of 34% response rate. Of those respondents, 43.4% reported practicing in a primary care specialty (Family Medicine, Pediatrics (General), Internal Medicine (General), Geriatrics, OB/GYN). Nationally, PAs practice in primary care at 32% (source: 2013 AAPA Annual Survey, 17% response rate).

Over the last five years, UPAP graduates are practicing in underserved settings (Community Health Centers, Rural Health Clinic, VA, and the Public Health Service) at 20% while the National Average is 7%. (UPAP source, New Graduate Survey, last five years graduates (2011-2016) National source: 2016 NCCPA Recently Certified PAs Report)

An analysis of the Utah PA workforce in 2015 indicated that 43% worked in primary care, 37% were trained in Utah and only 13% worked in rural areas within the state. (Valentin and Coombs Where are the PAs in the Beehive State? Oct 2016) An analysis of UPAP graduates in 2016 indicates that 55% of UPAP graduates work in primary care, over 25% work in a health provider shortage area (HPSA) or a medically underserved area (MUA) and over 30% are diverse.

To foster a culture of professional leadership with a local, national and global impact.

Please see our website with links to YouTube videos, articles and awards given to UPAP faculty. U.S. News and World Reports have long recognized the University of Utah PA program as one of the top educational programs in the country, ranking #5 in 2015.

To maintain an accredited program with a curriculum designed to ensure the requisite knowledge and skills for entry into PA practice.

UPAP has maintained a PANCE pass rate of 93% compared to the national average of 94% from 2011 to 2016. Our curriculum is comprehensive, rigorous, and is currently accredited through 2026 on the Salt Lake City Campus with accreditation pending for the St. George Campus.

Additional Goals for the St. George Campus

Success of the St. George campus is a key part of fulfilling the mission of the University of Utah PA Program. For the St. George campus, success will be measured by encompassing our mission with the ability to develop skilled PAs who increase diversity of the healthcare workforce, practice in primary care, and practice in medically underserved and rural areas of Southern Utah.

Based on Utah PA workforce statistics (discussed above), benchmarks for both campuses are defined as PA graduates with:

  • 30% diversity as defined by our admissions criteria
  • 40% practice in primary care
  • 25% practice in HPSA and/or MUA
  • 30% practice in Southern Utah or rural areas