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Perceptions of U.S. Physicians Regarding the Entry-level Doctoral Degree in Physician Assistant Education

A Comparative Study with Physician Assistants and PA Faculty

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Minimal research has been done to determine the appropriateness of entry-level doctoral physician assistant (PA) education. Previously, only PAs, PA faculty, and a small number of PA program medical directors had been surveyed about their perceptions of the Doctorate of Physician Assistant (DPA), and none of these groups supported the DPA as the entry-level degree. The purpose of this study was to compare the perceptions of physicians with those of PAs and PA faculty regarding an entry-level DPA degree.

METHODS: This 2009 cross-sectional study surveyed representative samples of physicians, PAs, and PA faculty in the U.S. regarding their perceptions of the DPA.

RESULTS: The response rate was 15% (n = 832, with 351 PAs, 302 PA faculty, and 179 physicians). Chi-squared analyses showed that physician responses were less congruent with PA and PA faculty responses (p < 0.001). For example, 79.1% of PAs and 95.1% of PA faculty but 56.2% physicians agreed that the master's degree was sufficient for PA practice. A larger percentage of PAs and PA faculty disagreed that the DPA should be the entry-level degree (PA 82.8%, PA faculty 89.8%, physicians 55.9%) and that the DPA was necessary to deliver the highest standard of care (PA 83.1%, PA faculty 95.1%, physicians 56.5%).

CONCLUSION: PAs and PA faculty were not supportive of the DPA. However, the results raise questions about the perceptions of physicians. If the move to the DPA is considered in the future, information and data from this study may be beneficial.
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Document Type: Commentary

Publication date: 01 March 2011

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  • The Journal of Allied Health is the official publication of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP). The Journal is the only interdisciplinary allied health periodical, publishing scholarly works related to research and development, feature articles, research abstracts and book reviews. Readers of the Journal comprise allied health leaders, educators, faculty and students.
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