What Makes Physician Assistant (PA) Training Programs Successful at Training Rural PAs?


A survey of active physician assistant (PA) training programs was conducted (89.2% response rate), and the majority of responding programs reported that training PAs for rural practice was "very important" to the program's goals. About two thirds of those "rurally oriented" programs actively recruited rural students; only about half of those programs required any rural clinical training for their students, and even fewer specifically required clinical training in rural family medicine or rural specialty medicine. When data from the survey were assessed against information on the proportion of program graduates in rural medicine, rural student recruitment and clinical training in rural family medicine were found to be strongly associated with higher levels of rural production. While a majority of PA training programs report that training PAs for careers in rural practice is an important program goal, a much smaller fraction of those programs appear to take action in the areas of student recruitment and rural clinical training that contribute strongly to realization of those goals.

WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
Eric Larson, Cynthia Coulthard, C. Holly Andrilla