Demand for Physician Assistants Intensifies

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , February 10, 2014

The annual survey of the American Academy of Physician Assistants also shows a strong demand that is reflected in a nationwide median compensation of $90,000 for PAs who are paid salaries and $100,000 when PAs earn a base plus a bonus.

For a little perspective, the national median household income [PDF] is about $55,000, so PAs are doing alright. However, by healthcare sector standards, they provide excellent bang for the buck. Consider that primary care physicians, who are also in high demand, had an average base salary of $185,000 in 2013, according to Merritt Hawkins.

"PAs are perhaps the single best bargain in healthcare right now and that is one of the reasons why people are snapping up PAs right as they graduate," says AAPA President Lawrence Herman, PA-C, MPA. "More hospital systems and employers are looking and asking 'where is my value?' They are looking at outcomes too."

"It's not a matter of buying a cheaper car. It's buying a car that may be less expensive, but has better statistics in terms of safety. So, when you are looking at patient satisfaction levels, there are high parallel to physicians and in some instances higher than physicians. When you are looking at other outcomes data there is substantial data that show that PAs do it as well as physicians in the primary care setting."

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