Hospital-employed PAs earn more, see more leadership options, report finds
Physician assistants employed by hospitals earn higher salaries, see more leadership opportunities and better benefits than those employed by physician practices, according to the American Academy of PAs' 2018 AAPA Salary Report.
PAs employed by a hospital earned a median base salary of $107,000 in 2017. That’s more than the $101,000 for PAs employed by physician practices.
PAs employed by hospitals were more likely to hold formal leadership positions (57.5% compared to 28.2%). They were also more likely to report a career ladder for PAs in their organization (27.7% vs. 11%).
Health systems are relying more on non-physicians to deliver care. That trend will mean more responsibility and likely higher pay for PAs and nurse practitioners. A recent Medical Group Management Association study found overall compensation for nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other non-physician providers grew 8% in the past five years.
More than 123,000 PAs are licensed today, according to the association. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the profession is expected to increase 37% from 2016 to 2026. Part of that growth should help alleviate potential provider shortages.
A recent Association of American Medical Colleges prediction estimates a shortfall of more than 120,000 doctors by 2030. That number grew from a similar study last year, which suggested a 105,000 shortage. The gap for primary care will be between 14,800 and 49,000, depending on the number of advanced practice nurses and PAs, according to the report.
There could also be a bottom line reason to use NPs. A different MGMA report found that medical practices that use non-physician providers receive more revenue and enjoy better productivity.
The latest PA report found that physician practice-employed PAs make up 46.1% of the professional with hospital-employed PAs the second largest group with almost 35%. Nearly half of PAs employed by a hospital are in academic medical centers and almost 40% are in community nonprofit hospitals.
PAs' overall median base salary increased from $102,000 in 2016 to $105,000 in 2017. Those working part-time (24 hours per week) have base salaries of $79,500, which is also about 75% of the full-time median base salary. Hospital-employed PAs are more likely to complete formal leadership training at nearly 13% compared to less than 9% of those employed by physician practices, according to the report.
PAs employed by hospitals are also more apt to get paid time off. Those numbers include 20 days general paid time off for hospital-employed PAs compared to 17.8 days for physician practices and 8.4 sick days for hospital-employed PAs versus five days in physician practices.
- American Academy of Physician Assistants 2018 AAPA SALARY REPORT