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Demand for Physician Assistants Intensifies

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, February 10, 2014

Singleton says the better compensation in specialty care has not gone unnoticed by PAs.

"Yes, PAs, just like MDs, make more as specialists. Yes, that has gravitated about two-thirds of PAs into specialty care," he says. "Unfortunately, the way the market has fallen out we need more primary care. If you are a PA you can't blame them. If they can make 20% to 30% more in specialty care and in some cases have an easier workload it is going to be tough to pull them back into primary care."

Herman says it's not just the relatively lower compensation costs that make PAs a good value. It's also their flexibility.

"If someone is a physician and they are board certified as a dermatologist that is what they do. PAs being trained as generalists are extremely nimble. PAs typically will change specialties or disciplines at least twice during their careers. Part of that is responding to workforce and healthcare needs and it may be the PAs find they want to do something different," says Herman, who in his PA career transitioned from an occupational therapist to the emergency department and then toward family practice.

Singleton says the demand for PAs and NPs reflects a broader trend in healthcare delivery.

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