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NCCPA Data-Driven Insights Show Vital Role of PAs

Profession Sees 87% Growth From 2013-2023

A new report by NCCPA sheds light on the continued growth of the PA profession and its effect on patient care.

At the end of 2013, the number of Board Certified PAs was 95,583. By the end of 2023, there were 178,708 PAs – an 87% growth in the profession.

Nearly 95% of PAs are actively involved in clinical practice, collectively seeing about 10.8 million patients on a weekly basis, the NCCPA 2023 Statistical Profile of Board Certified PAs annual report shows.

“The 2023 Statistical Profile emphasizes the vital role of PAs and the growing demand for their services, from primary care to specialized medical fields throughout the country,” said NCCPA President and CEO Dawn Morton-Rias, Ed.D., PA-C, ICE-CCP, FACHE. “By continuing to understand the trends and challenges that the PA profession faces, we can ensure they continue to make a positive difference in the lives of their patients.”

All states experienced growth in the number of PAs, however, Mississippi, South Carolina and Alabama have been leaders over the past five years, with 54.2%, 46.4% and 45.1% growth, respectively.

The median age of PAs has remained steady at 38 for the past six years, with the proportion of female PAs slightly increasing to 71.2% in 2023. The report also highlights ongoing challenges in achieving racial and ethnic diversity within the profession.

“Racial and ethnic diversity continues to be a challenge for the PA profession with very little change over the past five years,” Morton-Rias said.

About 23.7% of PAs reported that they provide services to patients in designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) or Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs).

“This underscores the role of PAs in addressing health care disparities,” Morton-Rias said.

PA Career Satisfaction

While professional burnout among PAs increased, with 34.1% reporting experiencing burnout – a 22% increase since 2019 – most PAs expressed satisfaction with their career (86.7%) and current job (83.1%).

“As the world continues to emerge from the pandemic health care crisis, we see the toll it has taken on the PA profession,” Morton-Rias said.

PAs working in office-based private practice reported the highest career satisfaction (84.7%), while those in community health centers reported the highest levels of burnout (43.1%).

Embrace Telemedicine

The adoption of telemedicine among PAs has also undergone steady growth, with 42.7% of PAs saying they’ve participated in telemedicine compared to 9.2% in 2019. Among PAs engaging in telemedicine, 20% dedicated 10 or more hours per week to patient care.

Addressing Mental Health

More than a third of PAs (33.4%) said they encountered patients daily who they believe may need treatment for mental disorders.

“By making mental health screening a routine part of patient care and connecting patients to resources, we can make a real difference in the lives of those we serve,” Morton-Rias said.

Additional Findings:

  • PA income rises as the number of years practicing increases, but levels off after 6-to-10 years. The mean income for PAs working 0-1 year was $107,076 and $124,278 for those working 6-to-10 years.
  • 11,762 PAs obtained certification for the first time in 2023, the highest number in a single year. This may be attributed to an increase in PA programs.
  • 41.5% of PAs indicated their primary place of employment is currently hiring or recruiting PAs.
  • Most PAs, 78.8%, practice in a hospital or office-based private practice setting.
  • Nearly 45,000 PAs (35.2%) have a patient panel for which they are the primary provider.
  • The top practice area for the past five years was surgical subspecialties (18.7%), while the percentage of PAs working in primary care has steadily decreased from 25% in 2019 to 22.3% in 2023.