PAs are increasingly moving to complex specialty areas

The percentage of physician assistants working in surgical sub-specialties has increased over 70 percent since 2013, according to the 2017 Statistical Report of Certified Physician Assistants by Specialty released by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

The NCCPA gathered data through its PA Professional Profile, which is presented to PAs through a secure portal within NCCPA's website. The data in this report includes responses from PAs who were certified as of December 31, 2017, and have made updates to their profile between January 1, 2015, and December 31, 2017. The NCCPA also used other data collection strategies.

As of December 31, 2017, there were 123,089 certified PAs, and 112,485 provided responses for at least one portion of the NCCPA's PA Professional Profile.

Four report findings on PAs:

1. The number of PAs in all practice specialties increased more than 13 percent since NCCPA published the 2015 specialty report.

2. There are currently 128 certified PAs per 1,000 physicians, an increase of over 23 percent in three years, the report found. But in some specialties, that number is significantly higher.

3. In occupational medicine, there are 621 certified PAs per 1,000 physicians; 537 per 1,000 in orthopedic surgery, 390 per 1,000 in neurosurgery and 320 per 1,000 in dermatology.

4. The average annual salary for PAs across specialties is about $108,000.

"The PA profession has changed dramatically, in numbers, demographics and scope of practice, since its founding more than 50 years ago," said Dawn Morton-Rias, president and CEO of NCCPA. "As demand for specialty services increases, physician leaders are looking to increase certified PAs to healthcare teams because of their reputation for quality care."

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