In 2021, 10,950 PAs earned their initial certification marking the greatest number of newly certified PAs in a given year, according to the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistant’s (NCCPA) 2021 Statistical Profile of Certified PAs. Overall, 158,470 certified PAs were practicing in the US at the end of 2021, which represents a nearly 30% increase in PA numbers between 2017 and 2021.
In addition to a growing profession, NCCPA reports high job satisfaction and a substantial increase in average income with 70.5% of certified PAs indicating they are completely or mostly satisfied with their present jobs and the average income for certified PAs increasing from $107,718 in 2017 to $117,381 in 2021. An estimated 9.9 million patients are seen each week by all clinically practicing PAs, the NCCPA reported.
Table. Key Findings From the NCCPA’s Statistical Profile of Certified PAs
|• The number of certified PAs per 100,000 population increased from 37 in 2017 to 48 in 2021|
|• The family medicine and psychiatry specialty practice areas experienced the greatest proportional growth between 2017 and 2021.|
|• Certified PAs practicing in urgent care settings increased by 97.3%, and 21.8% provide care to patients in designated health professional shortage areas or medically underserved areas|
|• Rhode Island (48%), Mississippi (47.2%), and Indiana (46%) experienced the highest percentage of growth in the number of certified PAs|
|• The percentage of certified PAs participating in telemedicine increased from 8.4% in 2017 to 33.6% in 2021|
|• 33.4% of certified PAs reported that their primary place of employment is currently hiring/recruiting PAs|
|• 99.7% indicated they work with other health professionals in their principal practice: |
– 94.6% work with physicians
– 79.1% work with other PAs
– 68.7% work with advanced practice nurses
– 39.6% work with mental health providers
“Although the past few years have been challenging for health care providers overall, the PA profession continues to grow and step up to varying patient needs,” said NCCPA President and CEO Dawn Morton-Rias, EdD, PA-C. “For example, there has been a tremendous increase in the use of telemedicine, which helps increase access to care for patients in remote areas with travel restrictions or other barriers to attending in-person health care appointments. Certified PAs remain an integral and responsive part of the US health care system.”
“The pandemic heightened the need for health care providers, but even prior to that the PA profession was highly sought after for its autonomy as well as being able to practice medicine and take care of patients,” commented American Academy of PAs (AAPA) President and Chair of the Board Jennifer M. Orozco, DMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA.
“In this day and age, especially across generations, people really want to get into health care to serve patients,” Dr Orozco said. “All of the evidence that we have on PAs over the years on how they practice, how they are trained, and the high quality of care that they deliver is attracting people to become a PA.” Dr Orozco is also director of Advanced Practice Providers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and an assistant professor in the Department of PA Studies at Rush University College of Health Sciences.
PAs are consistently ranked among the top jobs in America. In 2022, PAs ranked second on the U.S. News and World Report Best Health Care Jobs list and third on the 100 Best Jobs list.
National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Statistical Profile of Certified PAs: Annual Report. 2021. Accessed August 12, 2022. https://www.nccpa.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/2021StatProfileofCertifiedPAs-A-3.2.pdf
Record Number of PAs Earned Initial Certification in 2021. News release. National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. https://www.nccpa.net/record-number-of-pas-earn-certification-in-2021/