The National Physician Assistant (PA) Research Agenda, which encompasses the 4 pillars of what it means to be a PA, has been updated to reflect the changing profession and to improve the future of PAs. Since 2011, the PA profession has seen tremendous growth and change, including the addition of new educational programs and the number of newly certified PAs as well as emerging discussions on the potential ramifications of a title change and entry-level doctoral degrees.

Between 2017 and 2018, more than 200 stakeholders provided meaningful feedback on the existing National PA Research Agenda to update the 4 pillars: PA Value and Impact, PA Workforce, PA Role and Practice, and PA Education. Under the PA Value and Impact pillar, the quality and cost effectiveness of the care that PAs provide within the health care system is evaluated. Research examining the demographics of who PAs are as well as the specialty areas in which they work falls under the PA Workforce pillar. Under the PA Role and Practice Pillar, research explores the dynamics of PA practice. Finally, research under the PA Education pillar evaluates the changes needed to prepare graduates for their professional careers and to explore subjects such as revised competencies, the cost of education, and the value of the PA doctorate.

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Sample questions have been created to serve as exemplars for building one’s own research agenda. For example, under the PA Role and Practice Pillar, questions include, “Are PAs satisfied with their jobs and with their roles in delivering care?” and “What kinds of care are PAs delivering?” For the PA Education pillar, questions such as, “Is there a need for doctorally prepared PA professionals to work in education, research, leadership, and advanced practice?” are asked to evaluate the effectiveness of the PA education system.

For a full look at the updated National PA Research Agenda, visit the AAPA website.


AAPA Commission on Research and Strategic Initiatives. Conduct Research to Show Impact of PA Profession. American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) website. Published July 8, 2019. Accessed July 23, 2019.