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Childers William A. Jr EdD PA-C; May, Ryan K. PhD; Ball, Natalie PA-C
The Journal of Physician Assistant Education: 2012


The purpose of this study was to assess the amount of psychological stress experienced by didactic phase, physician assistant (PA) students.


The Symptom Checklist-90-R (SCL-90-R) survey was administered to 81 students in 2011 during the first two didactic phase semesters at two PA programs. Using ANOVA and t-tests, several variables were analyzed for significance.


The SCL-90-R results portray that a significant proportion of the students from both programs reported elevated levels of stress during the first and second semester of the didactic year. Although several significant levels were noted throughout this study, it is not known how these scores from PA students would compare to other medical and/or nonmedical graduate students. Additional studies of stress from both medical and nonmedical graduate students would be beneficial for comparison to PA students.

The Abstracts and Brief Reports section publishes short, focused communications on research endeavors relevant to PA education or behavior. Submissions should be limited to approximately 1,500 words and one or two exhibits (tables or illustrations). The intent of this feature is to promulgate new information and provide a platform for additional research. Submissions should be sent to journal staff at

Editor's Note:

This article describes a study that sought to identify the levels and types of stress experienced by PA students during the didactic phase. The results demonstrated a significant amount of stress among study participants. For students to be successful, faculty will need to provide appropriate types of support and services.

William Childers can be reached at

Copyright © 2012 Physician Assistant Education Association

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