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Most health care professions follow the medical model for professional Clinical doctorates

Context: Evidence suggests widespread adoption of the entry-level doctorate among health professions, although little is known about how these changes have impacted associated professions and influenced education, collaborative practice, professional advancement, or professional salaries.

Objective: Threefold: (1) What doctoral education models are currently utilized among health care professional education programs in the United States? (2) How do entry-level clinical doctorates in health care professions impact research training and productivity? (3) How do clinical doctorates among health professions influence practice opportunities and salary?
Design: Data were extracted from various sources including professional organizations, accrediting body Web sites, and the US Department of Labor database. Full-text articles published in English between the years 2001–2011 were extracted from a search of 38 databases in the University of Washington libraries. The remaining article abstracts were reviewed for compatibility with our research questions. Data were extracted using a standardized rubric and coded according to emergent themes.

Results: Two-thirds of 14 examined health professions (n ¼ 10) followed the medical model of post-baccalaureate entry-to practice professional doctoral education. Less than a third (n ¼ 4) of surveyed professions reserved doctoral-level education for advanced practice, and 1 profession maintains both entry-level and advanced practice doctorates. Only 4 of the 14 clinical doctoral degrees required completion of an original research project.

Entry-level clinical doctorates may provide insufficient specialty training, necessitating further training after graduation.


Conclusions: Most health care professions follow the medical model for professional preparation, though at reduced intensity with fewer clinical hours than physician training. Clinical doctorates are perceived to increase professional opportunities and are associated with higher salaries and doctoral education among health care professions has become the new educational standard, though research training, research productivity, diversity, and professional debt burden have been negatively impacted by this trend.