Physician assistants (PAs) have provided cost effective, high quality care in the United States for more than 40 years. There is a growing international interest in utilizing PAs for a variety of pressing health care needs. This pilot study compared the performance of PA students trained in the United States to those trained in the United Kingdom on a core biomedical science knowledge examination using multiple choice questions developed by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). The study found that despite differing educational models and health systems, the students performed similarly. While rigorous statistical analyses were not possible given the small sample sizes, the study provides a promising indication that there is an international common core of biomedical science knowledge. Repeated studies and the expansion of the pilot to other countries will provide more generalizability and statistical support to establish whether there is an assessable, global core of PA biomedical science knowledge that could become one component of locally determined national standards for PAs.
Arbet S, Parle J, Lathrop JJ. UK and US Physician Assistant Student Performance on an International Test of Core Biomedical Science Knowledge. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2012 Jul 01;10(3), Article 5.