By Sterling Medical Staff
The rise in Physician Assistant positions is a consistent trend. The levels of PA education have increased from less than 21% of PA’s with four or more years of college in 1980, to more than 65% in 2007. Percentage of minority and age of the PA workforce have increased over time.
Prominent causes of the changes in the PA workforce include educational factors and federal/state legislation and regulation. Less than 17% of PA’s were of minority groups in 1980, this figure rose to 23% in 2007. Although nearly 70% of PA’s were younger than 35 years old in 1980, this percentage fell to 38% in 2007.
The number of states which allow PA’s to prescribe drugs has also increased. In 1992 there were a surprising 15 states which gave PA’s zero authority to prescribe medication (1). Comparatively, in 2005 only 2 states did not grant PA’s the right to prescribe drugs. In 1992 the number of states where PA’s possess controlled substance prescriptive authority totaled a measly 24 (1). In 2005, 44 states gave PA’s the right to controlled substance prescriptive authority.
Some states realize the importance of PA’s more than others. In 2004, it was stated that Indiana had only 0.63 Physician Assistants in Clinical Practice per 10,000 Residents (2). Maine stood at a higher 3.33 Physician Assistants in Clinical Practice per 10,000 Residents (2).
The average number of Physician Assistants in Clinical Practice per 10,000 Residents in the United States stood at 1.69, totaling roughly 53,667 PA’s in Clinical Practice (2). These statistics mark a staggering increase in the number of PA’s in the United States. In 1990, the number of PA’s in the US totaled roughly 24,000 (3). In only 15 short years the number of PA’s in the United States has virtually doubled.
The identified trends in Physician Assistant opportunities are as follows:
“Educational level, percentage of minority, and age of the PA workforce have increased over time. Major causes of the changes in the PA workforce include educational factors and federal legislation or state regulation.” (4).
(1) Staff research of state regulations and statutes and American Academy of Physician
Assistants’ Physician Assistant State Laws and Regulations, 1992.
(2) Kraditor and U.S. Census Bureau
*Note: The latest state population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau are for 2004.
(3) Hum Resource Health. 2009; 7: 86.
Published online 2009 November 26. doi: 10.1186/1478-4491-7-86