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U.S. Physician Assistant Workforce Doubles in 10 Years

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 9, 2011

There were 83,466 physician assistants practicing in the United States in 2010, a 100% increase over the past 10 years, according to a survey from the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

A further breakdown of the survey found that nearly 30% of PAs practice in single-specialty physician group practices, and 40% have been in their current primary specialty for at least six years.

The census also shows that 66% of PAs said they are satisfied or mostly satisfied with their career. Female PAs outnumber male PAs by nearly 20,000. More than 30% of PAs practice in primary care, making it the largest specialty for PAs, AAPA said in a media release.

"PAs are the only healthcare providers educated and credentialed with a primary care focus, providing a strong foundation for any  specialty in which they may choose to practice," said AAPA President Robert Wooten, PA-C. "The information from AAPA's salary and census reports clearly confirm what PAs and the healthcare world have known for years: The PA profession is growing rapidly, and it is key to expanding access to quality healthcare for millions of Americans." 

PAs earn a median annual salary of $90,000, up 2.8% from the 2009 survey. The three states with the highest salary increase in 2010 were Rhode Island, South Dakota and Missouri, all with increases of more than 9% over 2009, the survey found.

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