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Article by DFPM Researchers Wins "ARTICLE OF THE YEAR" Award From PAEA


DFPM research spans a wide range of healthcare and training topics, and the hard work of DFPM researchers in testing, considering, and developing lines of inquiry both contribute to and focus the work of peers in their field. A particular piece of that hard work in the form of an article co-written by DFPM researchers, has been recognized as being especially helpful by the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), and they have awarded the article the coveted title of “Article of the Year.”


The article in question, “Maximizing Black applicant matriculation in U.S. PA programs: associations between the number of submitted applications and likelihood of matriculation,” looks at an aspect of a problem highly relevant to physician assistant (PA) programs everywhere: how best to increase underrepresented minority group application and matriculation into their programs. The article was led by former PA Division Chief Trenton Honda, PhD, PA-C, and includes Virginia Valentin, DrPH, PA-C, another former PA Division Chief; Shahpar Najmabadi, PhD, DFPM researcher; José Rodriguez, MD of Family Medicine; and Trent Henry, MSPH, a DFPM graduate, as co-authors. Multiple studies have shown that a diverse healthcare workforce, especially among clinicians, has a positive effect on the health of the patients and communities that they serve. However, significant challenges can stand in the way of minority applicants, which means that increasing the share of underrepresented clinical workers can be a slow and difficult process. Because they operate on a slightly quicker timescale than medical school, however, PA programs have the unique opportunity to make significant inroads in helping clinicians from underrepresented backgrounds enter the healthcare workforce. One particular challenge for underrepresented applicants is the high cost associated with application, leading to a need for an application strategy. The authors of the paper focus on this problem, analyzing how many applications typically lead to acceptance by a program, splitting the results out by race to identify trends that would be most helpful to underrepresented groups thinking of applying to PA programs. The researchers discovered that, in general, 16 applications is the maximum limit after which acceptance begins to become less likely for an applicant. However, when those results were separated by race, researchers found that Black applicants began to see a decrease in likelihood of acceptance after only 7 applications. This finding has important implications for Black applicants considering joining the PA profession, helping them and program advisors set a strategy for application that greatly reduces the costs of application.