Salary discrepancies still exist between men and women physician assistants

LAS VEGAS – Gender bias continues to affect how much money physician assistants make, data from the first study to analyze the effect of gender on PA salaries since 1992 indicate. Results were presented during a poster presentation at the American Academy of Physician Assistants' 39th Annual PA Meeting.

Bettie Coplan, MPAS, PA-C, an assistant professor in the physician assistant program at Midwestern University in Glendale, Ariz., and colleagues evaluated gender differences in PA salaries across multiple specialties using data from 18,901 civilian PAs that participated in the 2009 AAPA Physician Assistant Census.

Specialties evaluated included orthopedic surgery, emergency medicine and family practice. Average respondent age was 41.6 years, 65% were female and 73% held bachelor's degrees.

The researchers found that overall men reported higher total income, base pay, overtime pay, administrative pay, on-call pay and incentive pay based on productivity and performance than women PAs (P<0.001 for all comparisons).

These differences remained significant in all specialties evaluated independent of clinical experience or workload, according to the researchers.

Additional data revealed that men reported working more years as a PA in their current specialty, working more hours per month on-call, providing more direct care to patients and receiving more funding from their employer for professional development (P<0.001 for all comparisons).

“Future analyses should aim to monitor the presence of salary discrepancies by gender within the PA profession,” the researchers wrote.

Coplan B. “Salary discrepencies between practicing male and female physician assistants.” Presented at: American Academy of Physician Assistants' 39th Annual PA Meeting. 2011; Las Vegas, Nevada.

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