Path to a profession: How a physician assistant becomes a physician assistant

Steven A. Skaggs, Madison Ashley, John Bojanski, Elise Path, Christina Russell, Courtney Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This pilot study, through the application of phenomenological methodology, considered the physician assistant (PA) profession as a “lived experience” in an attempt to understand how these medical practitioners end up on the PA path and what keeps them there. Additionally, the researchers focused on understanding why specific individuals gravitate towards the PA education option. Major themes that developed during the interviews with eight PAs included personal unfamiliarity with the PA profession during the first two decades of life, the decision to pursue PA training while in undergraduate studies, assuming roles often considered MD/DO specific and the subsequent patient confusion with the difference between a PA and an MD/DO, and significant work satisfaction resulting in the lack of desire to change profession. These themes, especially personal unfamiliarity with the PA profession and patient confusion with the difference between a PA and an MD/DO, promotes an environment that perpetuates a lack of understanding about PAs, particularly in younger (e.g., pre-collegiate) individuals. Considering the consequences of this knowledge gap along with the equivocal validity of a pilot study and the potentially subjective nature of phenomenology, the researchers recommend further investigations, both quantitative and qualitative, to either confirm or repudiate these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-129
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Allied Health
Volume50
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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