Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Article Title

Wait, Don’t Go! A Look at Physician Assistant Attrition




Dr. Mark Archambault


Learning Objectives

Learning Outcomes

1. Discuss current data rates for faculty satisfaction, attrition, and burnout in physician assistant education.

2. Examine current research to reduce faculties’ intent to leave.

3. Compare and contrast causes of attrition regarding PAs in education versus clinical practice

Session Purpose

The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) strongly encourages program stability. This is evident through standard D1.01.1 Current literature indicates 43.3% of PA educators have been in their position three years or less with an overall attrition rate of approximately 9.2% annually.2-3

Studies have evaluated the reasons that program directors attributed for faculty leaving their institution. The common theme that emerged was a desire to return to clinical practice.3 Research is now looking deeper into this issue and addressing factors correlating with faculty intending to stay or leave.2 An article by Beltyukova and Graham gave five predictors for faculty to leave academia and return to clinical practice, which mostly regarded issues involving administration and program leadership.4 The administration and program leadership should seek to establish precise factors faculty seek to change, especially as satisfaction results conclude that PAs are more satisfied with their job and have lower levels of burnout than other faculty in higher education.4

Many of the factors cited in PA faculty attrition are also factors in PA clinical practice attrition. This includes job satisfaction, burnout, and organizational support.3, 4 If individuals of the PA profession cite versatility as a driving force to enter the profession, should it also be considered a factor for attrition in both PA education and PA clinical practice?5 Other questions to consider, should future research compare attrition rates of PA educational faculty to PAs clinically practicing or keep them in separate studies, as it is presently done?

A great deal of research is still needed to evaluate the reasons behind PAs leaving both academia and clinical practice settings. To better inform both educational institutions and business organizations on changes to benefit the PA profession, validated data should be presented on the topic.

Engagement Strategy

The session instructor will utilize think-pair-share, Poll Everywhere, and group discussion to actively engage attendees. At the end of the session, small groups will deliberate on the similarities and differences affecting attrition rates of PAs in academia versus those who are clinically practicing. They will also discuss how organizations and institutions could address these factors. We will conclude with a large group discussion summarizing group ideas.

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