The physician assistant workforce in Indiana: Preparing to meet future health care needs

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Abstract

Objective:

This study identifies baseline demographic and descriptive statistics for physician assistants (PAs) in Indiana from 1978 to 2010.

Methods:

Data were obtained from Indiana Professional Licensing Agency applications, the Indiana State Department of Health, and PA educational programs. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the PA workforce as well as their supervising physicians.

Results:

Most PAs working in Indiana were born and educated outside the state. Of those educated in Indiana, 77% obtained an initial license in Indiana; as of may 2010, 62% were still licensed in the state. In the past 8 years, Indiana had a 97% increase in active licensed PAs. Only 24% of PAs work in primary care; 92% work in metropolitan areas. For 40 years, PAs have increasingly worked in areas that are medically underserved or experiencing a shortage of health professionals. However, the overall numbers of PAs working in those areas remain low.

Conclusions:

More PAs in Indiana are practicing in medical specialties than in primary care. As health care policy and regulatory changes evolve, future studies will be needed to understand the impact on the health care workforce of Indiana PAs. This study will serve as a baseline for those studies.

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