Physician Assistant Trends: How Is the Average PA Changing?

Healthcare is constantly changing, and with it the professions that make up the industry. Overall, the nurse practitioner and physician assistant professions have enjoyed forward momentum in recent years. The cost effectiveness of care NPs and PAs provide, has people taking note. As scope of practice for NPs and PAs increases, so do salaries in these professions. Just how much has the average physician assistant changed in recent years?

Every few years, the American Academy of Physician Assistants releases the results of a national census on the profession. The census includes data about PA demographics, salary, and specialty distribution. The organization released data in 2009, 2010, and 2013. Here are the cliff notes of the AAPA’s findings, giving a quick look trends in the PA profession.

The average age of physician assistants, as well as gender distribution, has not changed significantly over time, nor has the average number of years in practice. The number of full-time hours worked on average by PAs has, however decreased by about three hours. This may represent improved work-life balance for those employed in the profession.

Specialty distribution also remained stable among PAs from 2009 to 2013. While other studies have indicated a shift from primary care to specialty practice among physician assistants, the trend appears minimal, or to have stabilized, between the 2009 and 2013 AAPA surveys.

Salaries for physician assistants have increased steadily in recent years. The median salary for physician assistants increased by $2,500 in just four years, according AAPA census data. Some specialties enjoyed an even more significant compensation jump. Surgical PAs, for example, saw median compensation increase by $13,000.

The AAPA’s national census data represents a segment of the physician assistant population. While the data is not comprehensive, it gives us a good idea of demographic and salary information for physician assistants overall, and helps identify trends in the profession.

How have you seen the physician assistant profession change over the past few years?


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