The selection of applicants for the Master of Physician Assistant Studies program in the Netherlands is nationally regulated. The minimum criteria are 2 years of experience in health care and a bachelor's degree in nursing or allied health care. However, when students lack the requisite degree, entering a physician assistant (PA) program is possible through an additional assessment process that includes a test of cognitive ability and personality traits. Since 2004, a national registry has tracked all PA students into their employment setting. An evaluation of Master of Physician Assistant graduates who processed through both portals, traditional and alternative, was compared for validation of criteria.Methods
The success rate of PA students with a bachelor's degree was compared with the success of the cohort that completed the alternative assessment. Descriptive statistics and Pearson's chi square statistics were applied to ascertain differences between the 2 cohorts.Results
From 2004 to 2014, there were 1241 students enrolled in a PA program in the Netherlands; 184 nurses and nurse anesthetists were enrolled through the alternate pathway. Of the cohort with an assessment, 167 of 184 students (91%) graduated. Of the group with a prerequisite bachelor's degree, 944 students graduated (89%). Differences were considered negligible.Conclusions
It seems that the nondegree alternative assessment of PA education is a reliable predictor of program completion. Because the nondegree alternative assessment is a national standard screening test, it was decided that there is no need to change the admission procedure for PA applicants.