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Physician Assistant Ranks See 'Phenomenal Growth,' Lack of Diversity

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 19, 2014

Rising numbers of women in higher education and a growing desire among healthcare workers for work/life balance are fueling physician assistant job growth. But the head of a PA industry group says the lack of diversity among PAs is "disturbing."


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A first-of-its-kind statistical profile of the nation's certified physician assistants shows that they are in high demand everywhere across the nation, with many recent graduates having three or more job offers.

The more than 76,000 responses to the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants survey, the group represent 80% of the more than 95,500 PAs working in the nation, also showed that 66% of PAs are women, and 86% of PAs are white.

Dawn Morton-Rias, president/CEO of the NCCPA, says a lack of diversity for PAs is a problem shared by many professions. For example, the most-recent data from the Association of American Medical Colleges for 2008 showed that 75% of physicians were male and white.

"This is a statistic that is disturbing across the board. Certainly as America becomes more diversified we want to have a much more diverse profession as well," she says. "We certainly are interested in partnering with the educational institutions and others to promote diversity within the profession."

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