Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Healthcare Genetics

Committee Chair/Advisor

Linda Ward

Committee Member

Leta Tribble

Committee Member

Casey Hopkins

Committee Member

Tracy Fasolino


This dissertation comprises five chapters to describe genetics and genomics education among physician assistant/associate (PA) students and practicing PAs. Chapter I introduces the gap in supply and demand of genetic services, the need for non-genetics healthcare providers to fill the gap, and the PA profession as a solution.

Chapter II is a rapid literature review that summarizes the available literature regarding genetics and genomics education for PAs. A paucity of literature exists to describe the current state of PA genetics-genomics education. The few studies retrieved describe content being taught in PA programs, the number of genetics-genomics contact hours PA students receive, and recommendations for continuing education programs. Most of the available literature is outdated, however, leaving a need for more current information to inform the education of genetic- and genomic-competent PAs.

Chapter III describes a PA program survey that assesses the current landscape of genetics and genomics education in PA student training. Findings showed that each responding program reported integrating some form of genetics and genomics into their curriculum; however, no standardization existed between programs. The number of contact hours was unchanged, and content was less dispersed throughout PA curricula than reported in a similar 2007 survey. Although the field of medical genetics-genomics has advanced significantly since the previous survey conducted 14 years ago, the landscape of genetics-genomics education in PA student training has not.

Chapter IV describes a survey of practicing PAs to determine their genetics and genomics knowledge, attitudes, and application in practice. Findings indicated that PAs do not feel adequately trained for genomic healthcare. PAs lack knowledge and confidence in integrating genetics and genomics into the care of their patients; however, PAs have a positive attitude towards genetics and genomics and want to improve their knowledge and confidence through educational interventions.

Chapter V synthesizes the dissertation findings from Chapters II-IV. Limitations, recommendations, and future research opportunities are described. The literature review, PA program survey, and practicing PA survey revealed that PA students and practicing PAs are not adequately trained for post-genomic healthcare. Through adequate training, however, PAs can become genomic-competent providers and improve health outcomes.

Author ORCID Identifier




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