Physician Assistants More Than Double in a Decade

Larry Hand

August 12, 2014

The number of certified physician assistants (PAs) grew 219% from 2003 to 2013, almost 6% alone during the last year of that decade, according to the 2013 Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants published online by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

The number of certified PAs stood at 95,583 across the United States at the end of 2013, compared with 90,227 in 2012 and 43,500 in 2003. PAs practice in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the NCCPA, the only certifying organization for PAs in the country.

The organization analyzed data primarily from responses provided by almost 80% of certified PAs in their personal profiles on a portal of the NCCPA Web site.

Multiple Job Offers

Most PAs (66%) are women, and 62.2% of them are under 40 years old, while 37.6% of men are under 40 years old. PAs are overwhelmingly (85.6%) white, and most (66.2%) have earned master's degrees.

While 3.4% of PAs speak 2 or more languages, most who communicate with patients in a non-English language speak in Spanish.

Percentages of Physician Assistant Specialties


Almost half of PAs practice in family medicine/general practice or surgical subspecialties, accounting for about 20% each. Other practice areas include emergency medicine and internal medicine.

PAs work an average of 40.57 hours and see an average of 70 patients a week.

More than two thirds (78.1%) of recently graduated PAs received multiple job offers, and more than half (52.3%) received 3 or more job offers.

"It is not surprising to see that demand is high for certified PAs in the era of health care reform," Dawn Morton-Rias, EdD, PA-C, president and CEO of NCCPA, said in a news release. "The PAs who responded cumulatively see over 5 million patients a week and are well entrenched in the delivery of health care to patients across the nation. As newly insured patients increase and more Baby Boomers enter the Medicare system, demand for PAs will continue to surge as proven providers of quality care."


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