Overall job satisfaction remains high among Certified PAs, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest data from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). In the 2021 Statistical Profile of Certified PAs by Specialty: Annual Report, 70.5% of PAs indicated they’re completely or mostly satisfied with their job.1
The highest satisfaction rates were reported in the plastic surgery and dermatology specialties with 78.7% and 76.7% of PAs in these respective specialties reporting that they are completely or mostly satisfied with their job. The lowest satisfaction rates were found for emergency medicine (64.0%), physical medicine/rehabilitation (64.7%), and pain medicine (64.9%). The full list of satisfaction rates by specialty is found on page 42 of the report.
“One of the great attributes of the PA profession is the training and ability to practice across different specialties during the course of one’s career,” said NCCPA President and CEO Dawn Morton-Rias, EdD, PA-C. “Certified PAs have the flexibility to explore and find the specialty that works for them at various stages of their lives.”
Job Satisfaction Rates by Practice Setting
PAs in office-based private practices had the highest rate of satisfaction with 72.6% reporting they are completely or mostly satisfied with their job, followed by rural health clinic (70.3%), hospital (70.2%), federal government facility/hospital/unit (69.1%), and community health center (66.7%) settings, according to 2021 data in a previously issued NCCPA report.2 The lowest rate of PAs who were completely or mostly satisfied with their job was found among those working in urgent care (63.8%).
Burnout Rates Remain High Among PAs
A significant percentage of PAs reported burnout (30.6%) with PAs in critical care and emergency medicine specialties experiencing higher rates of burnout when compared with rates in the 2020 report. The critical care medicine specialty showed the highest percentage of PAs reporting 1 or more symptoms of burnout (37.9% vs 31.8% in 2022), followed by emergency medicine (36.8% vs 30.6% in 2022).
“We are all ready to return to prepandemic times, but health care providers are still treating patients for COVID-19,” said Morton-Rias. “The increase in burnout among Certified PAs in critical care and emergency medicine serves as a reminder that our health care facilities and providers are still grappling with the pandemic.”
The annual Statistical Profile of Certified PAs by Specialty tracks growth and trends in 25 specialties across the PA workforce. Clinical Advisor previously reported on the record high number of newly certified PAs as found in the NCCPA data. Other highlights from the reports include the following:
- 14.9% of PAs in critical care medicine and 9.4% in emergency medicine completed a postgraduate training program
- 33.4% of PAs indicated their principal place of employment is recruiting PAs
- 15.1% of PAs in occupational medicine plan to retire in the next 5 years
- The greatest proportion of PAs who use telemedicine in their practice specialized in gastroenterology (92.9%) and general pediatrics (92.6%)
- The critical care medicine specialty reports the highest percentage where an employer is hiring/recruiting PAs (60.7%), followed by oncology (49.0%)
1. National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. Statistical Profile of Certified PAs by Specialty: Annual Report. 2021. Accessed August 12, 2022. https://www.nccpa.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/2021-Statistical-Profile-of-Certified-PAs-by-Specialty.pdf
2. 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