Education Doctorate

Year Approved


First Advisor

Dahl, Diane


Representation of African Americans, Latinos, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Alaskan Natives in the Physician Assistant (PA) profession is not growing at the same rate as in the general population, leaving these groups underrepresented in the PA profession. To increase the diversity of the PA profession, the diversity of matriculating PA students must first increase. The purpose of this study was to investigate the choice process of underrepresented minority (URM) and non-URM applicants and matriculants to PA school, to identify trends in the choice processes of URM individuals considering the PA profession. In this quantitative, retrospective study, chi-square analysis was performed using data from the 2016-2017 Centralized Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA) and the 2017 Matriculant Student Survey (MSS). Chi-square analysis was used to identify dependent relationships between URM status and responses on CASPA and MSS items regarding choice process when considering the PA profession. Data analysis revealed that URM participants were significantly less likely to report learning about the PA profession from a friend or relative (p<0.001), parent (p<0.001), or personal healthcare provider (p=0.004). When matriculants were asked when they decided to become a PA, URM matriculants were significantly more likely to report that they decided after receiving an associate’s degree (p<0.001) or after receiving a bachelor’s degree (p=0.005) and significantly less likely to report that they decided during high school/before college (p<0.001). Finally, several significant differences were identified between URM and non-URM ratings of potential influences in their choice processes as either absent, positive, negative, or neutral.

Degree Name

Education Doctorate

Document Type

Doctoral dissertation