The Primary Care Physician Assistant Program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC ranked No. 1 in California and No. 10 nationally in physician assistant programs in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report “Best Graduate Schools” rankings.

Of medical schools at a research university, the Keck School was ranked No. 30 in the nation, a reflection of the school’s continued prominence among the nation’s best educators for future physicians.

The Keck School ranking for physician assistant programs, conducted every five years, leaped to No. 10 from No. 20 nationally, a reflection of the school’s commitment to the program, which includes a strengthened and refocused curriculum, including an emphasis on team-based medicine in underserved communities and proficiency in medical Spanish.

“Since its inception, the Keck School’s Primary Care Physician Assistant Program has placed a strong emphasis on recruiting, educating and graduating a diverse group of exceptional students,” said Laura Mosqueda, MD, dean of the Keck School. “With this national recognition reflecting our highest ranking to date, we are uniquely poised to continue our mission of scholarship, service and leadership as one of the top physician assistant programs in the country.”

“With the shortage of primary care physicians and an expanding patient population, physician assistants are poised to become prominent leaders in health care,” said Kevin Lohenry, PhD, PA-C, director, Primary Care Physician Assistant Program at the Keck School. “This ranking reflects the high level of support that our program receives from the Keck School, providing the opportunity for our team to explore new ideas that positively impact our students and our communities.”

The program is one of the few throughout the United States that places an emphasis on medical Spanish, with most students reporting a doubling of their confidence in communicating with patients in Spanish by the time they graduate. Additionally, the program focuses on building leaders in the profession with students attending annual advocacy training in Washington, D.C.

The program is also at the forefront of innovative classrooms, with students leveraging digital tools and innovative classroom space to encourage high-tech, high-touch learning.

The 2020 rankings are based on the results of peer assessment surveys sent to deans, others administrators and/or faculty at accredited physician assistant degree programs or schools.  Each school’s score reflects its average rating on a scale from 1 to 5.

The Keck School moved up two spots in the ranking this year to No. 30 from No. 32. For the 2020 rankings, 118 fully accredited medical schools provided data to U.S. News & World Report. Medical schools were ranked based on the following: student selectivity admission statistics (MCAT, GPA and acceptance rate); total dollar amounts of National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grants; faculty resources and faculty-to-student ratio; total enrollment numbers; and overall quality assessments by peers.

The graduate school’s acceptance-to-admission ratio of 2:1 places it in the same stratum as the most elite medical schools. The Keck School students’ median MCAT score and GPA also are comparable to the top 20 medical schools.