Base compensation for PAs has rebounded from a slight dip in 2020, increasing 4.5% from a median of $110,000 in 2020 to $115,000 in 2021, according to survey responses from 11,739 PAs. The findings were reported in the 2022 American Academy of PAs (AAPA) Digital Salary Report.
Those in leadership positions had higher salaries, with PAs serving in formal and informal leadership roles having median compensations of $129,911 and $117,000, respectively.
“It is encouraging that the median compensation for PAs rebounded from the dip it took during the height of the pandemic,” said AAPA President and Chair of the Board Jennifer M. Orozco, MMS, PA-C, DFAAPA. “The survey further demonstrates the resiliency and passion that PAs across the country have. Despite an incredibly difficult and stressful 2 years during the pandemic, 79% of PAs feel optimistic about the current state of the profession.”
“However, while PA morale remains high, many PAs are also experiencing the strain and exhaustion of 2 very long years,” Orozco added. “Like all health care providers, PAs are still working long hours and helping to get patients caught up on the care they may have put off, or lacked access to, during the pandemic. The effects of the past 2 years will linger long after the pandemic is over. We’ve already seen the toll the pandemic has taken on the mental health of PAs, with 46% of PAs reporting symptoms of burnout. Mental health will be a big focus during the upcoming AAPA 2022 Conference in Indianapolis. It is imperative that PAs continue to be recognized and supported for the work they do on behalf of their patients every day.
Other key findings from the survey include the following:
- 79% of PAs are optimistic about the current state of the PA profession
- 61% of PAs still use telehealth or telemedicine services
- 46% of PAs are experiencing symptoms of burnout
- PAs reported their median amount of professional development funds from primary employers matched prepandemic levels
The results are similar to those from the Clinical Advisor 2021 salary survey, which showed that many PAs (44%) reported earning a higher salary 2021 compared with 2020. The average PA salary was $116,373 in 2021 and varied by practice area (Table). Nearly one-quarter (27%) of PAs reported earning less income in 2020 because of COVID-19 pandemic.
Table. Average PA Salaries by Practice Area in the Clinical Advisor 2021 Salary Survey
Health Care Staffing Shortages Remain
The survey findings also suggest that health care staffing continues to be a challenge with 88% of PAs reporting that their employers faced staff shortages. When asked to comment on this finding, Orozco told us the following:
“We know that the PA profession is growing rapidly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates PA employment will increase 31% between 2019 and 2030 — much faster than the average for all occupations. At the same time, we acknowledge that the US faces a dire health care workforce shortage. As highly trained and patient-centered health care professionals, PAs can be part of the workforce solution. Updating state and federal laws to allow PAs to practice to the full extent of their medical education and training is critically important to growing the profession further and providing access to care that millions of Americans currently lack. What we’ve found is that many PAs cannot practice to their full abilities and training due to outdated barriers and restrictions. Now, more than ever, PAs need the ability to freely practice and provide the high-quality and safe care that they are trained to provide and that patients deserve.”
“There is an urgent health care workforce shortage demanding solutions that PAs must be a part of,” said Orozco concluded. “With 91 million Americans currently lacking adequate access to primary care services, the high-quality, patient-centered, team-based care PAs are known to deliver is needed now more than ever.”
American Academy of PAs. Annual PA compensation rebounds from 2020, increases 4.5%. News release. April 28, 2022. https://www.aapa.org/news-central/2022/04/annual-pa-compensation-rebounds-from-2020-increases-4-5/