Concordia University Wisconsin’s Physician Assistant program has once again achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the PANCE, the national certification exam required for PAs to become practitioners.

CUW saw its first PA cohort graduate in 2015, and since that time, all Concordia PA graduates have successfully passed the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). Three of those years’ classes even achieved a 100 percent first-time pass rate on the rigorous exam.

The 2020 national average pass rate for first-time test-takers has not yet been released, but for 2019, the national average was 93 percent. Nearly 10,000 people took the test last year. Additionally, the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) approved a recommendation in early 2019 that upped the rigor of the test. As a result, NCCPA announced that programs should expect a decrease in PANCE pass rates.

Out of the 30 CUW PAs who took the test in 2020, 27 passed on their first attempt. The other three successfully passed on their second attempt.

“Our students’ success on the PANCE continues to be a hallmark of our program,” said Dr. Pollyanna Kabara, director of the program. “Especially considering the extreme adjustments that were required this year, it’s truly an achievement worth celebrating.”

Other highlights of CUW’s PA program include:

  • Its emphasis on Christian instruction and faith-inspired care
  • Small class sizes with personalized instruction
  • Multiple interprofessional experiences built into the curriculum
  • Opportunities for service learning and community service
  • A new state-of-the-art skills lab

Learn more about CUW’s PA program here. 

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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