Perceptions of US physician assistants regarding the entry-level doctoral degree in PA education

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Ohlemeier, Lindsay S.
Muma, Richard D.

Ohlemeier, Lindsay S. and Richard D. Muma (2008). Perceptions of US Physician Assistants regarding the entry-level doctoral degree in PA Education. The Journal of Physician Assistant Education, v.19 no.2:10-17


Introduction: Although many health care professions have implemented an entry-level clinical doctorate, the physician assistant (PA) profession has not done so to date. Furthermore, no research has been done on the PA profession to determine the appropriateness of entrylevel doctoral education. Methods: This cross-sectional study was designed to determine the perceptions of practicing PAs regarding an entry-level doctor of physician assistant (DPA) degree. A randomized sample of 1,500 US PAs was surveyed and the results were analyzed using descriptive and chi-square statistics. Results: The response rate for this survey was 23% (n=352). The majority of the respondents (82.8%) did not perceive the DPA degree to be necessary for entry into the PA profession. Likewise, 55.8% were not interested in returning to school to obtain the DPA. Additionally, the majority of respondents believed that the master’s degree was sufficient for PA practice, did not believe the DPA was necessary to deliver high standards of care, would not leave the field of PA if the DPA were required, and believed the DPA would not be needed to compete with nurse practitioners. Conclusions: The study results describe a group of PAs in the United States who do not favor the profession moving toward offering a DPA degree. These results are similar to those for other professions that have already moved toward doctoral education.

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This article was adapted from a research project that was competed and submitted by Lindsay Ohlemeierin 2008 to the Department of Physician Assistant and the faculty of the Graduate School of Wichita State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Physician Assistant. Dr.Barbara Smith, associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, provided significant support for the statistical analysis.