Theses Doctoral

Physician Assistant Students' Perception of Education

Morris, Aldean Ivana

The purpose of this study was to examine PA students’ perceptions of their professional training program in relation to stressors imparted by the hidden curriculum of the community of practice during the didactic and clinical years. The cross-sectional study design involved 50 in-person, semi-structured interviews (divided evenly between students in didactic and clinical cohorts) at one Physician Assistant training program in the New York City metropolitan region. Interviews sought to improve understanding about perceptions of stressors, particularly those imparted by the hidden curriculum, and examine mitigating factors within the community of practice.

Highlights of results were that daunting stresses in the didactic year were mitigated by faculty support, camaraderie among students, and, at times, students accessing important student services such as psychological counseling. The stressors were exacerbated by disorganized teaching mainly by guest lecturers, including frequent absences, which was perceived by students that their time was not a priority. The stressors of heavy course loads dwindled during the clinical year but were replaced by others related to the hidden curriculum of the medical hierarchy, including occasional depersonalization of patients, teaching by humiliation, and favoritism shown to medical students. The community of practice for Physician Assistant students is highly stressful and psychologically precarious. The culture of PA education would do well to strongly encourage self-care and a greater balance between professional preparation of mental and physical well-being in order to encourage professionalism, improve patient care, and cultivate higher levels of job satisfaction and well-being among students.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Thesis Advisors
Basch, Charles E.
Yorks, Lyle
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 24, 2020