Physician assistant specialty choice: Distribution, salaries, and comparison with physicians

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Abstract

Objectives:

To describe trends in physician assistant (PA) specialty distribution, compare these trends with physicians, and quantify the relationship of PA specialty prevalence with both PA and physician salary.

Methods:

PA specialty and salary data were obtained from the 2013 American Academy of PAs' Annual Survey; physician specialty and salary data from the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile and the Medical Group Management Association. Analyses included descriptive statistics and linear regression.

Results:

The proportion of PAs working in primary care decreased from 50% in 1997 to 30% in 2013. Substantial growth in PA proportions occurred in surgical and medical subspecialties. Regression models showed a higher prevalence of PAs in specialties with higher PA salary, higher physician salary, and higher physician-to-PA salary ratio (P<0.05).

Conclusions:

PAs are moving toward subspecialty practice. Our study suggests that demand for PAs may be an important factor driving the trend toward specialization.

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