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

Perri Morgan, Christine M. Everett, Katherine M. Humeniuk, Virginia L. Valentin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-52
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Physician Assistants.


  • Physician
  • Physician assistant
  • Primary care
  • Salary
  • Specialty
  • Workforce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nurse Assisting


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