25 Interesting Facts About Physician Assistants

If there’s anything we’ve learned from our physician assistants (PAs), it’s that being a PA is never boring. In that spirit,  we’ve assembled 25+ physician assistant fun facts, ranging from PA salaries to mental health and job satisfaction.

Physician Assistant  Demographic Facts

These physician assistant facts cover general information about the physician assistant population and practice.

  • 69% of PAs identify as female. 78% of current PA students identify as female.
  • The average age of a PA is 34, compared to an average age of 46 for NPs.
  • The average PA has been in practice for 7 years.


Physician Assistant History Facts

These nurse practitioners facts cover information about the history of the PA profession.

  • The physician assistant profession was created to improve and expand access to healthcare in 1965.
  • The first ever PA class graduated from Duke in 1967.
  • The AAPA (American Academy of Physician Assistants) was founded 1 year later in 1968.
  • National PA Day was created on October 6th, 1987 on the 20th anniversary of the first graduating class.
  • In 2021, the AAPA changed its name to the American Academy of Physician Associates to better encompass the responsibilities of a PA.


Physician Assistant Salary Facts

How much do physician assistants make? Which PA specialties make the most money? Explore these PA salary facts.


Physician Assistant Specialty Facts

Explore facts about types of PAs and the most popular physician assistant specialties

  • The top three most popular specialties for PAs are surgical subspecialties (18.6%), family medicine (17.1%), and emergency medicine (11.2%).
  • Physician assistants specializing in cardiovascular/cardiothoracic surgery were the top earners among PAs, making around $152,000 a year.
  • The number of PAs entering primary care has steadily decreased since 2009, with PAs entering specialty areas citing work-life balance and compensation as top motivators.

Physician Assistant Mental Health Facts

How do physician assistants feel about their work, and how does being a PA impact their mental health and overall happiness?

  • 65% of physician assistants report being burnt out and/or depressed.
  • Half (52%) say they feel more burned out now than during the pandemic quarantine. (Just 19% feel less burned out now.)
  • Locum PAs were 36% less likely to report either burnout or depression.
  • Nearly three out of five PAs (57%) say the top cause of burnout is too many bureaucratic tasks, like charting or paperwork
  • 43% of PAs say lack of respect from administrators or colleagues was a contributing factor.
  • Almost half (47%) of PAs say reasonable patient loads would be the best way to reduce burnout

Physician Assistant Education Facts

What does it take to become a physician assistant? These PA schooling facts cover the long road physician assistants take in order to practice as a physician assistant.

  • The educational model for PAs was based in part on the training program for new doctors who served on the battlefronts in World War II.
  • New PA grads can work in virtually every medical and surgical setting.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts PAs will be the second-fastest-growing health profession in the next decade. In fact, an estimated 4,100 PA students have graduated so far in 2016!
  • PA students are required to take more than 400 credit hours in basic sciences, 175 hours in behavioral sciences, and 580 hours of clinical medicine.
  • PAs must participate in more than 2,000 hours of clinical rotations, with an emphasis on primary care in ambulatory clinics, physicians’ offices, and acute and long-term care facilities.
  • PAs are being trained on a variety of EMR systems, making them the most technologically savvy candidates to come on the market yet.
  • Modern PAs are more autonomous! They’re qualified to write prescriptions for controlled medications, manage acute care and chronic diseases, do clinical consultations, and even perform minor surgical procedures.


Want to learn even more about PAs? Check our dedicated physician assistant page or explore open PA jobs.

Looking for NP facts? Find our sister resource on nurse practitioner facts here.