Physicians often underestimate PA education

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Misconceptions about PAs highlight the need to educate physicians about PAs' roles in primary-care practice.

Physicians underestimate PA education requirements
Physicians underestimate PA education requirements

BOSTON – A majority of Kansas primary-care physicians misjudge the experience and educational intensity required of PAs, according to researchers at the American Academy of Physician Assistant IMPACT 2014 meeting.

"Physicians have several incorrect perceptions regarding PA education," Gina Brown, MPAS, PA-C, of Wichita State University, and colleagues said at a poster presentation. "These misunderstandings could impede PA employment and acceptance in the medical community."

They conducted a cross-sectional survey of 1,551 primary-care physicians in Kansas to assess PA requirements and qualification perceptions. Results of the survey were compared with the credit hours and educational structure of Wichita State University's PA program, the sole masters-level PA program in Kansas.

Of the 143 physicians who completed the survey, 19% of respondents knew PAs were required to complete more than 2,000 direct patient-care hours prior to acceptance, and 30% of surveyed physicians knew the correct number of credit hours needed to complete the university's PA program.

More than half of respondents were unaware of the new legal requirements regarding cosignatories, according to researchers. Physicians that had supervised a PA in the past year had a higher mean knowledge score than respondents who had not supervised a PA (P=0.001).

"Physician education in this area is imperative to the growth of the PA profession," concluded the researchers. "[It] could influence the Kansas medical climate and increase patients' access to healthcare."


  1. Brown G et al. Poster #214. "A Survey of Physicians' Perception of Physician Assistant Education and Qualifications." Presented at: IMPACT 2014 meeting. Boston; May 24-28, 2014.
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