Date of Award

Fall 10-29-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Katie Smith, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Kelchen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mona Sedrak, Ph.D.


physician assistant, PA education, physician assistant faculty, job embeddedness, job satisfaction, fit, links, sacrifice


The Physician Assistant (PA) profession has grown at a rapid rate with an expected increase of 31% by 2028 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019). PA educational programs are expanding to fill the demand. However, faculty shortages have persisted for years. During the 2017-2018 academic year, 75.5% of new faculty were recruited directly from the clinical environment with no prior experience in PA education, and for those who leave academia, 25.7% report a return to clinical practice (PAEA, 2018). New PA faculty are often not provided adequate mentorship or guidance which can influence perception of satisfaction in their academic positions.

Job embeddedness (JE) is the theoretical framework containing three constructs of fit, links, and sacrifice which house job satisfaction variables that influence an employee’s retention in their role (Mitchell, et al., 2001). In this quantitative research study, job satisfaction variables including but not limited to clinical to academic support, institutional leadership, working clinically, clinical to academic stress, promotion potential, and fair treatment selected from the PAEA 2018 Faculty & Program Director Survey were utilized as independent variables in multiple regression models to determine how these factors influence faculty longevity and their predictive value of identifying if faculty were new or established.

Satisfaction with institutional leadership, agreeing with being treated fairly, and stressful transition from clinical work had negative relationships with longevity but positive relationships with being new faculty. Being male was associated with a decrease in years of employment and women correlated strongly with being new faculty. Results revealed a counterintuitive inverse relationship between satisfaction with JE variables and longevity with all faculty, indicating that with increased satisfaction in JE variables, there was decreased longevity in PA faculty careers. When examining new or established faculty, a direct relationship between JE variables was identified, indicating that the greater the satisfaction in JE factors, the greater the likelihood that PA faculty were new. New faculty were also found to have a relationship with increased clinical to academic stress and decreased length of employment. Decreased longevity was associated with males, Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish participants and those who previously worked clinically. The explained variance in all models was consistently low, between 1%-4%.

Future research is needed to examine and discover predictors of longevity, particularly in differentiating the experiences of new versus established PA faculty in relation to longevity. Additional recommendations involve securing detailed quantitative and qualitative information from new faculty at incremental benchmarks of employment to increase understanding of their job satisfaction experiences and trends toward retention and attrition. Future studies should investigate current trends of poor retention of males and minorities in PA education, as well as the influence of past employment in clinical roles, in efforts to promote greater diversity in the field. Lastly, PAEA surveys require investigation into significant structural and content modifications toward efforts of greater inclusivity. Distinguishing new faculty and established faculty experiences can aid in gaining clearer insight into job satisfaction factors to potentially enhance retention in PA education.