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Attitudes Toward Academic Dishonesty in Physician Assistant Students

Vail, Marianne E. DHSc, PA-C; Coleman, Suzanne DHSc, RN; Johannsson, Mark B. DHSc, MPH; Wright, Karen A. PhD, PA-C

The Journal of Physician Assistant Education: December 2015 - Volume 26 - Issue 4 - p 170–175
doi: 10.1097/JPA.0000000000000040
Research Article

Purpose The purpose of this study was to assess physician assistant (PA) students' attitudes and experiences toward academic dishonesty during training and to determine whether PA students self-report cheating during PA school.

Methods An anonymous, quantitative, exploratory, descriptive survey was sent to clinical-year PA students enrolled in PA programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA).

Results A sample of 493 self-selected PA students in their clinical year of training responded to the survey. Only 3% of clinical-year PA students self-reported cheating during PA school. Males self-reported significantly higher rates of cheating in PA school than females. The most common cheating behavior that clinical-year PA students reported either observing or hearing about in PA school was receiving information about an exam prior to its administration (70.9%). The attitudinal statement that respondents most strongly agreed with was that “cheaters in PA school just end up hurting themselves in the long run.” The strongest predictor for cheating in PA school was a history of cheating as an undergraduate.

Conclusion This study confirmed previous research indicating that academic dishonesty exists in PA education. It also determined that clinical-year PA student attitudes toward and experiences with academic dishonesty vary.

Marianne E. Vail, DHSc, PA-C, is director of clinical curriculum, Department of Physician Assistant Studies, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Suzanne Coleman, DHSc, RN, College of Graduate Health Studies, A.T. Still University, Mesa, Arizona.

Mark B. Johannsson, DHSc, MPH, College of Graduate Health Studies, A.T. Still University, Mesa, Arizona.

Karen A. Wright, PhD, PA-C, Department of Physician Assistant Studies, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Correspondence should be addressed to: Marianne E. Vail, DHSc, PA-C, Department of Physician Assistant Studies, The George Washington University, 2100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 378, Washington, DC 20037. Telephone: (202) 994-6785; Email: mavail@gwu.edu

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Copyright © 2015 Physician Assistant Education Association
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