The following article is part of conference coverage from the 2019 American Academy of Physician Assistants Annual Meeting (AAPA 2019) in Denver, Colorado. Clinical Advisor’s staff will be reporting breaking news associated with research conducted by leading physician assistants. Check back for the latest news from AAPA 2019.


In recognition of the vital role that physician assistants (PAs) play in healthcare systems, all PA programs will be required to confer a graduate degree upon all students by the year 2020. Another significant evolution in this provider role is the trend toward an expectation of doctoral degrees for PA faculty. Therefore, more doctoral programs should be initiated to meet this growing demand, according to research presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) annual meeting, held May 18 to 22, 2019, in Denver, Colorado.

Researchers investigated the commonly required and preferred academic credentials in PA faculty job postings by analyzing data from leading academic job search engines. A total of 154 postings were examined: 108 for principal faculty, 34 for chair and/or program director, 8 for adjunct faculty, and 4 for directors of research.

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Approximately 36% (56) of the job postings stated a preference for a candidate with a doctorate degree. Of the chair or program director positions, 64.7% (34) preferred a doctorate degree. A total of 20.7% (32) of all postings indicated that the position was available for tenure, with 19 of these positions (59.4%) indicating a preference for a doctorate degree.

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In light of the importance assigned to advanced degrees for faculty positions, and the expected increase in clinicians pursuing such opportunities, a need for programs to meet these demands can be anticipated. In addition, “further studies are needed to address which type of doctoral education is most relevant for PAs and to evaluate the impact of doctoral credentials on PA education and practuce,” the authors concluded.

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Kayingo G, Kibe L. Assessing the demand of doctoral prepared faculty using job advertisements. Presentation at: The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) Annual Meeting; May 18-22, 2019; Denver, CO. Poster 193.