Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Interdisciplinary Health Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. William H. Fenn


Since the mid-1980s, a trend has developed whereby Physician Assistants (PAs) are making a transition into medical and surgical specialties (Hooker, 1992). In 1984, 18% of PAs worked in medical and surgical specialties; by 1991, this proportion had risen to 22%; and by 2006, 43% of all PAs worked in medical and surgical specialties ( American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) Census Data 2006 , 2007; Hooker, 1992). One development that may have increased the number of PAs entering specialties was the creation of post-graduate residency programs.

This research examined possible associations between learning style and medical specialty, medical specialty to job satisfaction, and learning style to job satisfaction and medical specialty. The long-range goal of this preliminary study was to build the knowledge base (a) to help determine if PA post-graduate residency programs can identify the learning styles of potential applicants, and (b) to use that information to assess the applicant's suitability as a candidate for their particular PA post-graduate program.

The Kolb Learning Style Inventory Version 3 was utilized for assessment of student learning style. Vocational satisfaction was assessed by the Physician Worklife Survey; this instrument was adjusted for utilization by PAs by changing the verbiage referring to physicians to PAs.

The independent variables identified are Kolb's learning style categories (Accommodator, Assimilator, Converger, and Diverger). Dependent variables are medical specialty choice (Medicine or Surgery) and job satisfaction (Global Job Satisfaction, Career Satisfaction, and Specialty Satisfaction).

The results indicated that discordant Assimilators and Convergers (discordant indicating those who were not in the specialty that was concordant with their learning style) had the highest median Global Job Satisfaction and Career Satisfaction. These results were statistically significant. Specifically, discordant Assimilators had the highest Career Satisfaction compared to other learning style-medical specialty groups. For Global Job Satisfaction, Accommodators report more satisfaction than Convergers. Additional statistically significant findings are in Global Job Satisfaction between men and women, with women having higher job satisfaction.

No statistically significant associations were found between learning style and medical specialty, or medical specialty and job satisfaction.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access