Postgraduate programs for PAs provide formal postgraduate training for clinical specialty areas. These programs are intended to provide intense specialty training in various fields, as well as to standardize education beyond the entry level. The purpose of this descriptive study was to determine if there are consistent trends or clear differences in program length, approach to training, validation of learning, and accreditation through the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) for postgraduate programs with a surgical focus in the United States.


This study is a non-experimental and descriptive research design. Program directors were mailed a survey consisting of questions about program information, prerequisites, curriculum, training, evaluation, and perspective of graduates after completion of program.


Of the 29 program directors who were mailed a survey, 62% responded with completed surveys (n=18). 38% of respondents (n=11) stated the annual salary ranged from $40,000 to $60,000. Five programs were accredited by the ARC-PA and four programs were actively seeking accreditation. The majority of program directors believed the attitude of the medical community is higher towards PAs who complete a postgraduate education program.


As postgraduate programs increase in popularity, it is important to evaluate the standardization of the programs nationally. Papers like this will help drive a consistent approach to PA fellowship development and evolution. As healthcare evolves, there is a need to develop highly specialized physician assistants and place a premium on retaining them within the healthcare systems. Obtaining information on standard practices across postgraduate PA programs helps determine what requirements should be upheld nationally.