Physician assistant (PA) programs are the linchpin of endeavors to increase the diversity of the PA profession. Key to this role is understanding whether students from various backgrounds value certain program attributes differently. The current study investigated whether PA students' demographic characteristics were associated with their likelihood of having considered program diversity, and the importance they placed on program diversity when selecting a program to attend.
In 2017, 3882 recently matriculated PA students provided key demographic information (ie, gender, race, and ethnicity) and indicated whether they had considered student body and faculty diversity when choosing PA programs to attend. Those who had considered a factor then reported how important it was to them for their program to have that attribute. The current study investigated whether students' demographic characteristics were associated with their likelihood of considering PA program diversity and their subsequent ratings of the importance of program diversity.
Female, Asian, and underrepresented racial and ethnic minority students, compared with male and non-Hispanic white students, were significantly more likely to consider program diversity when choosing PA programs to attend and rated program diversity as being more important.
Program diversity is a greater concern for female and racial and ethnic minority students when selecting PA programs to attend. Less diverse programs could potentially increase their appeal to minority students by highlighting opportunities to connect with communities of color outside of the PA program and by prioritizing the recruitment of minority faculty.