Education Doctorate

Number of Pages


Year Approved


First Advisor

Krista Soria

Second Reader

Gerald Kayingo

Third Reader

Katrina Schrode


Physician assistants/associates (PAs) are regarded as valuable members of the healthcare team and work in a team-based collaborative model with physicians. In recent years, there has been a debate regarding the most appropriate entry-level and terminal degree for PAs and an urgency to explore optimal team practice. Due to the important collaboration between the collaborating physician (CP) and the PA, how this degree change may impact the quality of relationship is broadly unknown. The purpose of this study was to describe the demographic characteristics of physician assistants/associates (PAs) who have doctoral degrees, describe work-related characteristics of PAs who have doctoral degrees, and identify any association between holding a doctoral degree and PAs’ perception of the quality of collaborative relationships with their CP. In this quantitative, retrospective, exploratory study, descriptive statistics and chi-square test of independence was performed using data from the American Academy of Physician Assistants 2021 Salary Survey. Data analysis revealed that there was a significant difference (p < 0.05) between demographic and workplace characteristics of PAs with and without doctoral degrees. The PA perception of positive, neutral, or negative relationship with the CP based on whether the PA had a doctoral degree was also statistically significant (p < 0.05). Due to limitations, caution should be taken when applying the results of this study toward recommendations in the doctoral degree debate in the PA profession. This study expands the knowledge of clinically practicing PAs with doctoral degrees and how they rate their relationship with their CPs. The results of this study provide professional organizations, healthcare teams, and individual healthcare providers a better understanding of the importance of the cultivation of positive collaborative environments.

Degree Name

Education Doctorate

Document Type

Doctoral dissertation

Included in

Education Commons