Physician assistant demographics have changed a lot over the years.
From just four practicing physician assistants in the year 1967 to roughly ~126,000 practicing PAs in 2020. That's a big difference in just over 50 years!
Below is the latest demographic and statistical data on physician assistants from the most recent AAPA Salary report. I have included this cute PA Demographic Infographic that you are free to download and share!
PAs are nationally certified and state licensed to practice medicine and prescribe medication in every medical and surgical specialty and setting in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and uniformed services.
We are educated at the graduate level, with all PAs receiving a master’s degree upon graduation from a PA program.
To maintain national certification, PAs are required to complete 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and to recertify as medical generalists every ten years.
Physician Assistant Facts and Figures
Here is your average physician assistant.
Distribution of PAs by Gender
Two out of every three PAs are female
- Female: 66.2%
- Male: 33.1%
Distribution of PAs by Race
Close to nine in 10 PAs are white and less than one in 10 is Hispanic
- White: 87.3%
- Asian: 4.7%
- Two or More Races: 4.4%
- Black or African American: 3.0%
- American Indian or Alaskan: 0.4%
- Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander: 0.2%
Distribution of PAs by Age
The average age of a PA is 30-34 years old. Just over half (56.5%) of PAs are under 40 years of age
- Under 30: 19.2%
- 30-34: 21.7%
- 35-39: 15.6%
- 40-44: 11.2%
- 45-49: 8.7%
- 50-54: 7.9%
- 55-59: 7.3%
- 60-64: 5.6%
- 65 and older: 2.8%
Distribution of PAs by Years of Clinical Experience
The majority of PAs have five to nine years of clinical experience
Reflecting the recent growth in the number of PA programs and new graduates, more than half (55.9%) of PAs have less than ten years experience as a PA
- 0 to 1 year: 13.4%
- 2 to 4 years: 18.7%
- 5 to 9 years: 23.8%
- 10 to 14 years: 15.4%
- 15 to 19 years: 12.5%
- 20 or more years: 16.2%
Distribution of PAs by Most Frequently Practiced Specialty
The majority of PAs still work in family medicine
Three specialties accounted for almost 40% of practicing PAs: family medicine (18.4%), orthopedic surgery (10.3%), and emergency medicine (8.9%)
- Family Medicine: 18.4%
- Surgery: Orthopaedics: 10.3%
- Emergency medicine: 8.9%
- Urgent care: 6.1%
- Other: 5.0%
- Internal medicine: General: 4.3%
- Hospital medicine: 3.8%
- Dermatology: 3.3%
Distribution of PAs Per Capita by State
PAs practice in every U.S. state and territory. While New York has the greatest number of PAs (11,395), Alaska has the highest number of PAs per capita (76.0 per 100,000 population). Most PAs work in urban areas of more than 1 million people. As of 2016, 15.2% of PAs reported working in a rural area.
|State||PAs Per 100,000|
|District of Columbia||37.3|
Distribution of PAs by Urban-Rural Area Status
The majority of PAs work in large, urban areas with more than one million people
- Urban - more than 1 million people: 50.2%
- Urban - 250,000 to 1 million people: 23.9%
- Urban - less than 250,000 people: 10.7%
- Rural - more than 20,000 people adjacent to metro area: 3.7%
- Rural - more than 20,000 people not adjacent to metro area: 1.5%
- Rural - 2,500 to 19,999 people adjacent to metro area: 4.0%
- Rural - 2,500 to 19,999 people not adjacent to metro area: 1.0%
- Rural - less than 2,500 people adjacent to metro area: 2.3%
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Source: The AAPA Salary Report
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I stumbled over this website. I want to let you know how impressed I am at your efforts here as a voice for PAs. I wanted to share some thoughts I have after reading the previous blog. I’ve been a PA since 2002, mostly in the ED. I also have had a private practice for 6 years. I have taken the last 4 years off for family reasons.
I have watched the PA profession change over the years, the profession has gained great respect from the public. With a few exceptions, the Master degree programs have not turned out more advanced PAs which has been frustrating for me because I have sat on many interview panels and ultimately was responsible for training these new hires. Residencies for PAs has been a far better approach.
M Barbara Klyde says
Interesting to see since I am a woman working in this profession since 1977. When I began there were only 2 other female graduates from my program at Wichita State University in 1977. I began my career in rural Arkansas. Since 1980 have been in California. Have been faculty in 2 PA programs and have a PhD in public health.
Stephen Pasquini PA-C says
Hi Barbara, I agree it is interesting to see, I was having this conversation with a colleague of mine about this very topic the other day. It’s amazing to see how the PA profession has grown and evolved even since I graduated in 2004. Would love it if you would ever be interested in writing a blog post about your time as a PA. I feel like we don’t have enough veteran voices in the blogosphere and it would be great to hear your insights!