Salaries increase for physician assistants as demand for these positions continues

Doctors talking
In high demand to provide care for patients, physician assistants have seen their salaries increase. (Getty/wmiami)

Salaries for physician assistants (PAs) increased slightly last year as they remain in high demand, according to a new report.

The median base salary for PAs increased by about 1%, jumping from $105,000 in 2017 to $106,000 in 2018, according to the new salary report from the American Academy of PAs (AAPA).

In keeping with past trends, the median base salary for the PA profession is steadily outpacing inflation over time, the AAPA said.

For the first time, the report includes a figure for the median compensation across the profession, which totaled $107,500, including base salary, hourly wages, and productivity pay.

The report was based on the responses of more than 13,000 PAs to a survey conducted earlier this year.

As with physicians, salaries differ based on the specialty areas where PAs choose to work. PAs who work in emergency medicine earn more than other major specialty areas, with a median base compensation of $116,964, the report found.

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“The year-to-year, steady increase in PA salary affirms that PAs are in high demand,” David E. Mittman, P.A., president and chair of the AAPA board of directors said in a statement. “That is why it is so important to advance policies that will eliminate administrative burdens and allow PAs to work at the top of their education, training and experience.”

PAs and nurse practitioners are playing an increasing role in caring for patients in physician practices. With more than 131,000 PAs working in healthcare today, the PA profession is projected to increase 37% from 2016 to 2026, significantly more than average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Here are other findings from the report:

  • PAs working part-time (less than 32 hours per week) report working a median of 24 hours weekly and report median base salaries of $83,000 and median hourly wages of $60.
  • Full-time PAs report working a median of 40 hours weekly and report a median base salary of $106,000 and median hourly wages of $60. Median pay among PAs who are paid based on productivity metrics was $150,000.
  • About half of full-time PAs received a bonus and half of PAs who received a bonus reported it was $5,500 or more.

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PAs and NPS are offering relief for healthcare organizations struggling with the physician shortage and rising burnout rates. The country could see a shortage of up to 122,000 physicians by 2032, according to the latest statistics from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

While physician practices are increasingly using PAs to supplement their workforce, they have a tough time competing with hospitals. An AAPA survey released last fall found that PAs working in hospitals make more money and have more leadership opportunities and better benefits than their counterparts employed by physician practices.