This study was conducted to examine the relationship between physician assistant (PA) educational program length and PA programs' 5-year average Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) first-time pass rates.
This was a retrospective correlational study that analyzed previously collected data from a nonprobability purposive sample of accredited PA program Web sites. Master's level PA programs (n = 108) in the United States with published average PANCE scores for 5 consecutive classes were included. Provisional and probationary programs were excluded (n = 4). Study data were not normally distributed per the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test, P = .00.
There was no relationship between program length and PANCE pass rates, ρ (108) = −0.04, P = .68. Further analyses examining a possible relationship between program phase length (didactic and clinical) and PANCE pass rates also demonstrated no differences (ρ  = −0.05, P = .60 and ρ  = 0.02, P = .80, respectively).
The results of this study suggest that shorter length PA programs perform similarly to longer programs in preparing students to pass the PANCE. In light of rapid expansion of PA educational programs, educators may want to consider these findings when planning the length of study for new and established programs.