Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

MS in Physician Assistant Studies (PA)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Eric Van Hecke


With a shortage of mental health specialists, primary care providers, which increasingly include physician assistants (PAs), must be able to adequately recognize, diagnose, and treat common mental health disorders. Unfortunately, providers are not currently able to meet this challenge and frequently underdiagnose and undertreat psychiatric conditions. This paper examined the amount of didactic education in psychodiagnostics PA students receive compared to the amount of didactic psychodiagnostics training psychotherapists students receive in graduate school. Results indicated that while psychotherapists have, on average, more classroom time, the difference in seat time between PAs and psychotherapists is less than double, but the assigned readings are more than triple for psychotherapists. Moreover, PA programs are not taught directly from the industry standard, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5). This suggests that PAs have adequate time to be taught psychodiagnosis, but that that the reading assignments are not sufficient. Following from the research, the differences between the biomedical and the biopsychosocial model of health and wellness are explored. Finally, suggestions for further and future research are discussed.


SC 11.PAS.2021.Berzins.D