What is a Physician Assistant
Physician Assistant (also known as Certified Physician’s Assistant, Physician Associate, Family Practice Physician Assistant, Orthopedic Physician Assistant, Pediatric Physician Assistant, Surgical Physician Assistant, or simply PA) are healthcare practitioners who are trained to provide diagnosis and treatment of illness and injuries under the direct supervision of physicians and surgeons.
The roles of a physician assistant is largely dependent on the supervising physician’s area of practice and the duties they get assigned. In many cases, they can carry out the same tasks as a licensed physician and help alleviate the total workload. However, PA’s often take on patients with minor ailments or returning patients with chronic diseases under control. They tend to leave newly diagnosed, more complicated and severe illnesses for the supervising physicians. For more on job description, please visit our physician assistant job description page.
Where do Physician Assistants Work
Over half of physician assistants, as expected, work in physician offices. They often work alongside of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and many other types of healthcare providers. About 25% of them work in hospitals and other primary care settings. However, they may also work for government institutions, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, outpatient care centers, universities and colleges.. Most PAs spend lots of time on their feet as their job duties require them to make rounds and going from one patient’s room to another.
Physician assistants will often work full time if not more. Their work schedule can vary drastically depending on where they work. In physician offices where operational hours are more regular, they may only have to work weekdays or sometimes evenings. In hospitals, however, these individuals will often work at anytime of the week, including evenings, weekends, and holidays as they will be on call just like physicians.
How Much Do Physician Assistants Make
The average annual physician assistant salary is $94,350. The average salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and divid that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation earns less than $62,030 and the top 10% makes over $130,620. The mean physician assistant hourly salary is $45.36.
Physician Assistant Salary Per Hour and Yearly: Quick Summary
|2013 Mean Salary||$94,350 per year
$45.36 per hour
|Top 10% Salary||$130,620 per year
$62.80 per hour
|Bottom 10% Salary||$62,030 per year
$29.82 per hour
|Number of Jobs, 2013||88,110|
Physician Assistant Job Outlook and Prospects
As the population ages, more and more people require additional care from physicians and other advanced health care professionals but there isn’t enough physicians out there to meet this surge in demand . Many healthcare institutions look for other ways to fill this gap and hence they turn their attention to qualified physician “substitutes” such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there will be a growth of 38%, or 33,300 jobs between 2012 and 2022. There are four very notable reasons why this can be expected:
- An increase in the general population due to an potential rise in immigrants
- An increase in the general population due to a gradual gain in life expectancy
- An increase in the elderly population as the baby boomers near their retirement age
- The rising cost of hiring a physician making the position of physician assistants more desirable
Factors affecting the Salary of a Physician Assistant
There are only 88,110 individuals currently employed as physician assistants throughout the United States according to the May 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics, earning a mean annual salary of $94,350. Geographic location, experience, and industry can all influence this salary, producing a significant range of yearly wages for these medical professionals.
Individuals just entering the field can expect to make a yearly salary beginning at $62,000 whereas those at the top of the field are making $130,000 and more. Greater years of experience will almost always result in a higher salary as a physician assistant. Therefore, while most physician assistants begin work in physician’s offices or in general medical and surgical hospitals, it is those in specialized fields that are collecting significantly more money. These specialties include emergency medicine, internal medicine, pediatric medicine, and surgical medicine, among others.
Like many other healthcare industries, those that require specialized skills are those that have the highest payout. The top paying industry for physician assistants are in specialty hospitals, not including psychiatric and substance abuse locations, earning an annual yearly wage of $100,060 or more. Other prominent, well-paying industries include home health care services, office administrative services, employment services, and outpatient care centers. Of course, these industries employ the smallest numbers of professionals, indicating that the unique skillsets required for these positions make physician assistants in higher demand, resulting in higher pay.
Smaller coastal states are those that typically represent the top paying locations for physician assistants and also represent areas in which there are fewer physician assistants employed. Because smaller states are likely to have a significant number of medical centers in need of these professionals, but also have smaller populations, physician assistants are likely to be in higher demand.
The metropolitan areas that represent the highest earning locations are those in which employment numbers are the lowest. In fact, none of the top ten, highest-earning metropolitan areas have over 200 employees within them. This is especially true for smaller metropolitan areas within large states with high levels of employment, as there are likely to be less people but a standard level of demand for physician assistants.
Top paying nonmetropolitan areas are found in smaller coastal states such as West Virginia, Maine, and Delaware. These areas employ less than 300 physicians assistants each, suggesting again that specialized industries and lower number of employments leads to higher annual wages.