by Elizabeth Hofheinz, M.P.H., M.Ed., October 25, 2019
A recent article in HealthLeaders (Christopher Cheney, “Number of Certified Physician Assistants Surging,” October 18, 2019) points to the continued growth of the physician assistant career path, saying that 9,287 physician assistants received National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) certification in 2018—to date the largest number of PAs certified in one year.
April 2019 data from the Association of American Medical Colleges indicates that by 2032, the U.S. will have a physician shortage of approximately 122,000 doctors.1 The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 31% growth in the PA profession from 2018 to 2028.2
In the article, Dawn Morton-Rias, EdD, PA-C, president and CEO of the NCCPA, commented that the relatively high number of recently certified PAs who have chosen to work in primary care is beneficial for U.S. healthcare.
And NCCPA is making it easier for PAs these days with a new platform to provide electronic administration of the 10-year recertification exam, enabling PAs to take the exam on their phone, laptop, tablet, and desktop computers.3
According to Dr. Morton-Rias, as many as 70% of PAs are working in specialty practice, including surgical specialties such as orthopedics, neurosurgery, and cardiothoracic surgery.4 And according to the American Academy of PAs, orthopedic physician assistants are typically employed as surgical assistants or technologists.5
Chris Stewart is the COO & GM, Hospital & ASC Strategy at Ortho Spine Partners. He commented, “This is positive news for the U.S. healthcare system where physician shortage and burnout are on the verge of having devastating results. A recent study estimated that physician burnout costs our healthcare system $4.6B annually.”
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