Approximately 70% of PAs working in emergency/urgent care medicine rated managing work and life balance as extremely important, according to a survey report by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) in collaboration with the Society of Emergency Medicine PAs (SEMPA).

After work/life balance, the respondents’ top issues were keeping a job (60.0%), developing/maintaining a strong PA/physician relationship (58.9%), managing work stress (53.6%), and establishing/maintaining their position/role within their current work setting (41.9%), according to the survey data collected from 16,000 PAs working in emergency medicine and urgent care nationwide.  

“The vast data provided in this report provides important information that can be used by policy makers, employers, PAs, and others,” said NCCPA President and CEO Dawn Morton-Rias, EdD, PA-C. “It demonstrates the contributions PAs working in emergency medicine and urgent care make, as well as highlights the nonclinical aspects such as the training, compensation, and benefits PAs receive in their current role.”

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Highlights of key findings from the survey report titled PAs Practicing in Emergency Medicine and Urgent Care: 2021 Survey Results are summarized in the Table. Just over half of respondents were women (58.4%) and nearly 50% were certified for 10 or fewer years. The majority (83.0%) were White.

Table. Summary of PA Survey Findings

Practice setting• The majority of respondents (88.7%) practice in emergency medicine; 6.4% practice in urgent care
• The largest proportion of PAs (33.7%) practice in the South followed by the Northeast (23.4%), Midwest (22.0%), and West (20.9%)
• Practice setting was most commonly urban (39.2%) following by suburban (35.1%) and rural (20%)
• Almost half (45.3%) of PAs practice in a nonacademic hospital and 30.3% work in an academic/teaching hospital
Education• 74.5% received a master’s degree upon completion of their entry-level PA program
• Over half of the respondents obtained additional master’s or doctoral degrees, most commonly a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (31.8%)
Salary• Salaries varied by years certified, gender, and region 
• 64% earned more than $120,000
• The most common salary was $120,001-$130,000 (15.6%) followed by $130,000-$140,000 (13.3%)
• Many PAs reported receiving receive a bonus (54.0%), holiday (50.6%), night rate (45.3%), and overtime (42.2%) pay
Patient acuity level• Over half of respondents (53.0%) routinely treating patients categorized as ESI 1-2
• 43.6% routinely treat patients categorized as ESI 2-3
Routine tasks• The most commonly reported tasks were:
–  Basic diagnostics (96.0%; basic laboratory interpretation, slit lamp exam, ECG interpretation)
–  Initial radiographic interpretation (89.8%)
–  Wound care management (78.4%)
–  Therapeutic procedures (64.7%; fracture, dislocation, epistaxis)

• The following advanced procedures were reported:
–  Advanced radiographic interpretation performed daily (24.6%)
–  Wound management performed monthly (27.0%)
–  Lumbar puncture (44.2%), paracentesis (25.6%), ultrasound-guided procedures (25.2%), and diagnostic ultrasound (17.8%) performed a few times a year
ECG, electrocardiogram; ESI, Emergency Severity Index

“We were pleased to collaborate with NCCPA on what we believe is the most in depth report on certified PAs practicing in emergency medicine and urgent care, especially during the pandemic, when these frontline PAs continue to be so vital to providing care for patients,” said Philip DaVisio, DMSc, CAQ-EM, PA-C, president of SEMPA.


1. National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. PAs Practicing in Emergency Medicine and Urgent Care: 2021 Survey Results. May 2022.

2. Newly released data on certified PAs working in emergency medicine and urgent care demonstrate their significant contributions to patient care. News Release. National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. May 18, 2022. Accessed May 31, 2022.