Physician Assistant M.S.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Ekbom, Gregory


As the population in the United States ages, palliative care spending and needs have been increasing. Most quality outcome measures, however, have shown inadequate satisfaction among patients and caregivers. A number of studies have investigated the preparation and preparedness of physicians and other medical providers when dealing with end-of-life care, but few have looked in the preparedness of physician assistants (PAs). The aim of this study was to assess the preparedness of PAs when it comes to dealing with end-of-life care and to determine when and how comfort is achieved when dealing with patients at end-of-life. A novel electronic survey was sent to all member physician assistants of the Minnesota Academy of Physician Assistants (MAPA). Results of the survey were analyzed based on the twelve domains of provider skills deemed imperative for end-of-life care as identified by Curtis et al. (2001) and further broken down into novel constructs identified by the researchers. Researchers received 120 survey results from MAPA PAs. Of the PAs that answered, “do you wish you had more end-of-life training before starting practice, and if so, in what format”, 84% requested more training before starting practice, in the forms of general training during didactic year, (38.3%) and secondly in case presentations/ clinical training (29.79%). PAs who specialized in oncology were the most comfortable with end-of-life conversation, whereas PAs in family practice and emergency medicine were the least comfortable. Continuing education units (CEUs) and workplace training were found to be the most effective means of training, with current providers that have received didactic training showing no increased comfort levels in any construct.

Degree Name

Masters of Science in Physician Assistant

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis

Included in

Primary Care Commons