Secondary Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

A National Survey of Quality Improvement Education in Physician Assistant Programs

Berkowitz, Oren, PhD, PA-C; Goldgar, Constance, MS, PA-C; White, Susan E., MD; Warner, Mary L., MMSc, PA-C

The Journal of Physician Assistant Education: March 2019 - Volume 30 - Issue 1 - p 1–8
doi: 10.1097/JPA.0000000000000243
Research Article

Purpose Quality improvement (QI) is emerging as a leadership and career track for physician assistants (PAs). Information on how PA programs teach QI is sparse. This study aimed to define how PA programs are providing education in QI through a national program survey.

Methods Curriculum survey questions were deployed as a part of the 2014–2015 Physician Assistant Education Association program survey. Questions were grouped into 4 categories: QI champion, pedagogy, integration strategy, and curriculum content. Differences between groups were analyzed, and logistic regression models were built to explore associations.

Results All 194 (100%) PA programs responded to the survey. There were 137 (70.6%) programs that were teaching QI. The median number of total instructional hours was 12 (interquartile range = 16, overall range = 109). There were 37 (27%) programs that were categorized as having a “mature curriculum.” Mature curricula were significantly associated with a QI champion who is an expert from an outside department/institution (odds ratio [OR], 5.05; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.14–22.33) and with programs that have a QI capstone or thesis project (OR, 3.66; 95% CI, 1.14–11.72) whose educational hours correlated more with experiential learning (r = 0.51, P < .01), small group sessions (r = 0.42, P = .01), and web-based modules (r = 0.36, P = .03).

Conclusion Quality improvement is an important skill set for PAs, but nearly one-third of PA programs do not have a QI curriculum. Mature curricula were associated with more experiential learning and project-based learning (including capstone/thesis). This study captured many elements of QI education for PAs, which can be used by programs to develop and improve their curricula.

Oren Berkowitz, PhD, PA-C, was director of research and an assistant professor of medicine in the PA program at Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts. He is now a senior lecturer in the Department of Health Systems Management at Ariel University, Ariel, Israel.

Constance Goldgar, MS, PA-C, is the director of graduate studies and an associate professor for the Physician Assistant Program at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Susan E. White, MD, is the director of didactic education and an assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology in the PA program at the Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mary L. Warner, MMSc, PA-C, is the program director and an assistant professor of medicine in the Physician Assistant Program at the Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts.

Correspondence should be addressed to: Oren Berkowitz, PhD, PA-C, Department of Health Systems Management, Ariel University, Ariel 40700, Israel. Telephone: +972-3-906-6661; Email:

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

This project was a product of the PAEA Support to Advance Research (STAR) Award.

Copyright © 2019 Physician Assistant Education Association
You currently do not have access to this article

To access this article:

Note: If your society membership provides full-access, you may need to login on your society website