Here’s a new an interesting statistic on the physician assistant workforce for you: more physician assistants are practicing now than ever before.

According to the recently published article written by Rene Letourneau of Healthcare Finance News, the number of physician assistants practicing in the US is double – you read that right – double what it was just 10 years ago.  Currently, there are over 83,000 practicing physician assistants in the US.  Clearly, the physician assistant medicine is coming of age, and PAs are needed now more than ever.

A few other promising statistics:

  • PAs (and NPs) can perform 85% of the duties of physicians
  • Their patient outcomes are the same as those of physicians
  • PA salary, calculated by the author at an average of $92,000 per year is very respectable, while their education costs from 1/3rd to 1/10th that of doctors.
  • Patients seem (by a small margin) to be more satisfied with the care they receive from PAs than from doctors.  The authors hypothesize that by seeing slightly fewer patients than physicians, physician assistants have more time with patients, and may therefore do a better job at explaining their care to patients.  (Ask a physician sometime how he or she would like to change their work, and you’ll usually hear them say something like: “I wish I could see fewer patients so that I can have more time to provide good care.”

So do these statistics mean that the physician assistant workforce will soon be bloated, no longer needing new PA students?

Absolutely not.

The 10-year growth rate of the physician assistant profession is 39%, and shortages of PAs, even with the increases in physician assistant training program enrollment make it likely that PAs will be in short supply for at least the next 20 years. 

Yes, it’s a great time to become a PA.