The perceptions of US physician assistants regarding physician assistant-to-physician bridge programs

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Muma, Richard D.
Phipps, Brandon
Vredenburg, Shawn

Muma, R. D., Phipps, B., & Vredenburg, S. (2012). The perceptions of US physician assistants regarding physician assistant-to-physician bridge programs. Journal of Physician Assistant Education, 23(3), 7-11. doi:10.1097/01367895-201223030-00002


Purpose: Since Dr. Stead first envisioned the physician assistant (PA) profession, there has been discussion of an accelerated PA-to-physician "bridge" program. Despite some conversations in the 1960s and the creation of other professional programs, such as the paramedic-registered nurse bridge, no formal long-term PA-to-physician programs were created in the United States, and the discourse faded over the years. With recent consideration of creating a clinical doctorate PA program of study, discussion has been revived about the need, efficacy, and propriety of a bridge program. The purpose of this study was to determine the perceptions of PAs on the creation of a PAto- physician bridge program; whether they would support a bridge program, its feasibility, and generally whether or not bridge programs should be initiated. Methods: An online survey was sent to a cross-sectional, random sampling of PAs in the United States. The survey used a 5-point Likert scale to assess the perceptions of a PA-to-physician bridge program. A chi-squared analysis was performed to determine significant relationships. Results: PA respondents were strongly supportive of the bridge program concept; however, knowledge level about such a program was low. The chi-square analysis revealed that gender was the only variable with a significant relationship, with females being most in agreement about the concept. Conclusions: The results of the study may help the PA and medical communities evaluate the applicability, feasibility, and practicality of a PA-to-physician bridge program. There is an overall tendency for PAs to support such a program.

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