Earning a Doctor of Physician Assistant degree is still a relatively new trend in the physician assistant profession. But an increasing number of physician assistants see the benefit of earning a degree that prepares them to excel in clinical innovation, research, and leadership in clinical practice.
Leading organizations have also backed the idea of PAs earning a Doctor of Physician Assistant degree. The Institute of Medicine, The Joint Commission, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have all called for educational programs to prepare healthcare professionals with the highest level of scientific knowledge and medical practice expertise, according to commentary in Clinician Review.
Touro University Worldwide offers the Doctorate of Physician Assistant degree program, the only 100 percent online professional doctorate program that does not have residency requirements. Physician assistants can complete the program while working full-time. The degree codifies your accumulated clinical expertise in your chosen discipline of medicine.
The Importance of a Doctorate
Writing about the issue for Clinician Today, Dave Mittman, PA, DFAAPA, wrote that the trend toward earning a Doctor of Physician Assistant degree is long overdue. He wrote, “This is very much about a profession that either fits into the 21st century and recognizes that it is no longer 1975, or a profession that will stay misunderstood and undervalued for what it brings to the table.”
Mittman notes that other advanced medical professionals – including pharmacists, physical therapists, and advanced practice nurses – are required to earn a doctorate. Why he asks, would physician assistants not want to also be educated at the highest level?
Insurance Companies, Patients
Mittman also hits upon the issue of patient confidence and comfort working with a medical professional who has “doctor” in his or her title. While patients may not know many details about the background of medical professionals, they know “doctor” connotes “best.”
He also writes that insurance companies have made it clear that those with a doctorate in other medical disciplines have an easier time getting credentialed for reimbursement, something that may eventually apply to physician assistants.
In a recent interview with Health Careers, Dr. Jeremy M. Welsh noted most master’s degree programs for physician assistants require an increased number of credits beyond the typical master’s degree. However, he noted that the physician’s assistant profession has “dragged their feet” while the other health sciences moved to create a doctorate program for those at the top end of the field.
Touro University Worldwide recognized this issue earlier than many schools, creating the online Doctor of Physician Assistant degree program that puts education for physician assistants in line with other health professions.
Benefits of a Doctor Degree of Physician Assistant Degree
In addition to giving patients and insurance companies a level of comfort, a doctorate also gives physician assistants a boost in their own careers. That includes the impact they can make on their profession.
The level of research expertise developed in a doctorate program allows graduates to apply those skills to solving difficult issues in the profession. Each doctoral student, as part of their dissertation, must propose an original solution to just such a problem.
A doctoral degree also makes a physician assistant a more attractive job candidate in a profession that is among the fastest-growing in the country. The numbers show the demand: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 31% increase in the profession between 2018 and 2028. The average salary in the profession reached $108,610 in May 2018.
For those interested in entering the Touro University Worldwide Doctor of Physician Assistant degree program, they must meet the basic requirements for TUW doctoral programs. These include earning a master’s degree from an accredited institution and maintaining a GPA of at least 3.4.