The following article is part of The Clinical Advisor’s coverage from the 2018 American Academy of Physician Assistants’ annual meeting in New Orleans. Our staff will be reporting live on original research, case studies, and professional outreach and advocacy news from leading PAs in many specialty areas. Check back for ongoing updates from AAPA 2018. 

NEW ORLEANS—In a pair of newly developed physician assistant (PA) programs, PA growth was high but did not surpass advance practice nurses (APNs) in the second program, suggesting that nursing programs may influence PA growth, according to research presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) 2018 conference.

Elana A Min, PhD, PA-C, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program in Chicago, and associates conducted a retrospective data analysis from 2011 to 2016 to assess employment patterns at 2 institutions and the potential impact that PA programs might have on the host schools.

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The 2 programs in the study, labeled program A and B, both enrolled their first group of students in 2010 with initial graduations in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The outcomes studies were new hires (PA vs APN), alumni employment, and application of home institutions for clinical rotations.

In 2011, the ratio of PAs to ANPs was 35:65 in program A and 32:68 in program B, which, by 2016, changed to 40:60 and 33:67, respectively.

In 2011, the total number of PA hires was 80 and increased to 200 by 2016; a spike in employment was recorded from 2014 to 2015 for program A (31%) and from 2011-2012 for program B (34%). The application of home institutions for clinical rotations was 75% in program A and 50% in program B.

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“PA growth was high at both institutions but did not exceed growth of APNs in program B, which indicates that presence of a nursing program may influence PA growth,” the authors wrote. “Although, these data support that implementing a PA program may have an impact on the host institution’s hiring practices, a causal relationship could not be established. Further studies analyzing quantitative and qualitative reasons behind hiring practices would be beneficial.”

AAPA 2018 continues through Wednesday, May 23. Visit for more information.


Min EA, MacLean MJ, Williams L, Orozco J. Assessing the impact of PA programs in establishing medical institutions. Presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants 2018 conference; May 19-23, 2018; New Orleans. Poster 166.