Female PAs are paid 89 cents for every dollar that men are paid, according to research conducted by the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA), published in Women’s Health Issues.

Although this wage disparity is less than the national average, the AAPA emphasizes that it remains unacceptable for one of the fastest growing health professions, which is 70% female.

“As a PA educator, I feel keenly the burden of student debt,” stated L Gail Curtis, PA-C, MPAS, DFAAPA, president and chair of the AAPA Board of Directors. “One way to think about the impact of the gender pay gap is in the context of the $150,000 in student loans facing a typical PA upon graduation. A male PA earning $10,000 a year more than his female PA counterpart could use that extra money to pay off his student loan debt in 15 years. The disparate treatment of women in the PA profession is simply unacceptable.”

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Researchers examined 2014 compensation data among male and female PAs and found that there are workplace practice variables that predict PA salary and compensation. These variables include years of experience, hours worked, specialty, postgraduate clinical training, number of patients seen weekly, and hours on call. These differences were controlled for in determining the wage gap.

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To decrease the wage gap, the AAPA researchers note that employers should not use an individual’s previous salary to determine compensation offers, and instead use job duties, experience, and skills. They also call for compensation transparency and implicit bias training for employers.

“While we are encouraged by the positive trends the research uncovered, we still have work to do,” stated Jenna Dorn, CEO of the AAPA. “As an organization dedicated to the PA profession, AAPA will continue to advocate for pay equity.”


  1. American Academy of Physician Assistants. Compensation disparity between female and male PAs persists [press release]. Published September 14, 2017. Accessed October 6, 2017.
  2. Smith N, Cawley JF, McCall TC. Examining the gap: Compensation disparities between male and female physician assistants. Womens Health Issues. 2017;27(5):607-661.