PA applicant U.S. citizenship status and likelihood of program matriculation

Mary Showstark, Michael Bessette, Carey L. Barry, Shahpar Najmabadi, Joanne Rolls, Catherine Hamilton, Virginia L. Valentin, Alicia Quella, Trenton Honda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Barriers to matriculation into Physician Assistant (PA) programs and entry into the PA profession have disproportionate impact on historically marginalized groups. This study evaluates if U.S. citizenship status is associated with likelihood of matriculation in PA Programs. Methods: Data from five Centralized Applicant Services for Physician Assistants (CASPA) admissions cycles (2012-2021) was evaluated cross-sectionally for the primary outcome of binary matriculation status (yes/no). Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression was utilized to investigate associations between self-identified U.S. citizenship status and likelihood of PA program matriculation. Models controlled for important potential confounders, including age, gender, race/ethnicity, non-native English speaker, patient care experience hours, total undergraduate grade point average (GPA), and number of applications submitted to various programs. Results: Non-U.S. citizen status was statistically associated with persistent lower likelihood of PA program matriculation compared to U.S. citizenship. Odds of matriculation were 41% [OR 0.59 (95% CI: 0.51, 0.68; p <.001)] to 51% [OR 0.49 (95% CI: 0.41, 0.58; p <.001)] lower in unadjusted models. Odds were 32% [OR 0.68 (95% CI: 0.56, 0.83; p <.001)] to 42% OR 0.58 (95% CI: 0.48, 0.71; p <.001) lower when adjusting for important covariates. The lowest likelihood occurred in 2012-2013 with 51% lower odds of matriculation and in 2016-2017 with 42% lower odds when accounting for important covariates. Discussion: PA programs are charged with improving diversity of clinically practicing PAs to improve health outcomes and better reflect patient populations. This analysis shows that non-U.S. citizenship may be a barrier to PA school acceptance. PA schools should raise awareness and create means and accessibility for admissions for this underrepresented group.

Original languageEnglish
Article number887
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Matriculation
  • Medical education
  • PA
  • Physician assistant/associate
  • US Citizenship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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