A National Survey of Quality Improvement Education in Physician Assistant Programs

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Physician Assistant Education








PurposeQuality 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.MethodsCurriculum 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.ResultsAll 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).ConclusionQuality 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.