Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership

Major Professor

William H. Young, Ed.D.

Committee Member

W. Robert Sullins, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Donald A. Dellow, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Richard Roetzheim, M.D., M.S.P.H.


PANCE, PACKRAT, Completion, Healthcare, Admissions


The primary purpose of this study was to determine if applicants who had an associate degree in the health sciences prior to acceptance to a physician assistant program would do better than those applicants without an associate degree in the health sciences on three measures of success of physician assistant education. The three measures of success used were graduation rates, scores on the Physician Assistant Knowledge Rating and Assessment Tool (PACKRAT), and performance on the national certifying exam, the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE). Data used for this dissertation were taken from original source documents and raw data sent to Nova Southeastern University by the PACKRAT and PANCE testing services. The study population was the three classes graduating in 2007 to 2009.

Correlations between the groups and their measures of success showed that there were no statistically significant difference in the graduation rates or PACKRAT scores (p-value was 0.328 and 0.095 respectively). The variable having a statistical significance was PANCE scores. The mean scores between the groups were significantly different (p-value 0.012) with the group without an associate degree in the health sciences having higher mean scores. Coincidental findings showed that older students and students with higher graduate records examination (GRE) scores did better on the PANCE. Following this, further data analysis showed that the group with an associate degree in the health sciences were older (p-value 0.06) and scored statistically lower on the GRE (p-value 0.012).

Findings showed that many of the considerations used to select students for physician assistant programs did not make a difference in outcomes. The two that did were age and GRE scores. The study group with associate degrees in the health sciences was, on average, older, had lower mean GRE scores and demonstrated the most gender and ethnic diversity. Programs using admission data to select students for the best chance of success should consider student educational experience and GRE scores, especially when some schools are looking to increase diversity in the students entering their programs.