To describe educational practices of physician assistant (PA) programs regarding spirituality and religion discussions during patient encounters. Patients want their health care provider to be aware of their spiritual and religious beliefs. This topic is addressed in physician and nursing education but may not be included in PA programs.
Data regarding curriculum were collected via electronic survey emailed to 143 PA programs across the United States.
Thirty-eight programs responded for a response rate of 27%. Most (68.4%) program respondents reported students' desire to be trained to discuss spirituality and religion, yet 36.8% do not offer this training. Just over half (69.2%) would consider adding curriculum to teach students to discuss spirituality, but the majority (92.3%) would not add curriculum to discuss religion during patient encounters.
PA programs offer training to discuss spirituality in patient encounters but not to discuss religiosity. Programs may want to consider adding some curriculum to increase PAs awareness of spirituality and religion needs of patients.
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 [email protected]
Feature Editor's Note:
Medical and nursing students are already receiving training to discuss spirituality and religion during patient encounters and these practices are documented in the literature. In comparison, there is a paucity of literature on the practices of physician assistant (PA) programs providing training in this area. Filling a gap in the PA literature, this article discusses the findings from a survey of PA programs in the United States about their curricula and practices in this area. About one-third of responding programs do not offer training to discuss either spirituality or religion and 90% stated they would not consider teaching students to discuss religion, leaving room for further exploration of this topic.
- Michael Huckabee, PhD, MPAS, PA-C
Gina Berg can be reached at [email protected]
© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.