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We developed the DPAS program based on one main consideration: Practice-based learning and analysis by PAs advances the quality and value of the care we provide. Our perspectives are informed by our experiences as clinically practicing PAs, PA educators, administrators in a school dedicated to training a variety of health care professionals, and graduates of a doctoral program.   

PAs are very capable of contributing to the improvement of the quality of care we provide. This includes optimizing patient outcomes and efficiencies we can achieve by being reliable health care providers who analyze our practice to better plan, carry out and study the impacts of our work. This work is of value to the patients and populations we serve by improving quality of care, increasing the efficiency of care, and recognizing and eliminating disparities and gaps in care. This work is also valuable to the health systems who employ PAs as they incorporate self-analysis and improvement practices, projects and expectations into their “career ladders” to determine promotions and salary increases. Culminating in more than just a credential, this program builds transferable skills and is personalized to the professional needs and goals of its students.  

While quality improvement, study design and basic research principles are covered in most PA programs, very few really prepare graduates to analyze and improve on their own practices. At Pitt SHRS, we are changing that! Our program offers a way for PAs to further develop their abilities in these areas through a curriculum designed for working professionals. The curriculum allows PAs to lead change in the places they practice, in immediate and meaningful ways, while also respecting and encouraging work-life integration. The program includes the completion of an improvement project under the guidance of a doctorally-trained faculty advisor who will guide them through the program and remain a colleague and mentor after graduation.   

We believe it’s humanity’s essential nature to work to better ourselves and improve how we serve others, so we have guided the development of this program to pave the path for our fellow PAs to achieve their professional goals in as little time as necessary and at the lowest possible cost. The Doctor of PA Studies degree also embraces the name of our profession to show our pride and further our reputation as invaluable members of health care teams.  

We believe our work on this program has succeeded on all fronts. We are excited to get to know the first class of PA colleagues who join our program and watch as they make positive impacts on their patients, populations and practices. 

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Written by: 

Dave Beck

David Beck, EdD, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA 
Associate Dean for Interprofessional Studies, SHRS
Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Physician Assistant Studies  

 

Mary Allias

Mary C. Allias, EdD, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA
Director, Doctor of PA Studies (DPAS) Program, SHRS

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Published March 2, 2022

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Updated October 5, 2022