Document Type




There is a critical need for a diverse pool of academic leaders to increase the number and diversity of the medical workforce. Physician Assistant/Associate (PA) is a growing medical profession. Although the master’s degree is the terminal degree for PAs, a growing number of PAs obtain a variety of doctoral degrees. However, there is no standardized training for academic PA leaders. The purpose of this study was to identify factors associated with PA academic leadership. Specifically, this study explored the following factors: doctoral degree credentials, gender and underrepresented minority status.


Using the 2019 Physician Assistant Education Association Faculty and Directors survey, we assessed the relationship between academic leadership groups [Program Director (PD), Academic Director (AD), and Clinical Director (CD)] doctoral degree, gender, and underrepresented minority in medicine (URIM) status. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to determine the predictors of being in a leadership role. Results with p < 0.05 were considered statistically significant.


Of the 956 participants, 71% were female, 4% Hispanic, 86% White, 4% Black, 2% Asian, and 1% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander/American Indian/Alaska Native. Overall, 9% were URIM. Mean age was 45.6 (SD = 10.2) years. Average time in PA education was 2.9 years (SD = 1.4). Approximately 50% (n = 472) had a leadership role (PD-24%, AD-10%, CD-16%). Of all leaders, 68% were female, 9% were URIM, and 19% had a doctoral degree. Having a doctoral degree increased the odds of being a PD [AOR 2.38, CI [1.57–3.59], p = < 0.0001, AD and CD = non-significant]. More time in PA education increased the odds of being a PD [AOR 1.10, CI [1.07–1.12, p = < 0.0001] and AD [AOR 1.06, CI [1.03–1.09], p = < 0.0001], but not a CD. Gender and URIM status were not significantly associated with leadership roles. URIMs had doctorate degrees at higher rates than non-URIMs.


PA academic leaders differ by doctoral degree attainment but not by gender and URIM status. URIM faculty are grossly underrepresented in the PA professorate, but disproportionately have doctoral degrees. Academic training opportunities for all PA academic leaders and strategies to increase URIM faculty are needed.


Physician Assistant (M.S.)

Publication Title

BMC Medical Education



Publication Date







Originally published in Kibe, L.W., Kayingo, G., Schrode, K.M. & Klein, A. Academic leadership in physician assistant/associate medical education: a cross-sectional analysis of the association with doctoral degree, gender, and minority status. BMC Med Educ 22, 808 (2022).

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