If you need more proof the PA profession is evolving, then look no further than the most recently certified group of physician assistants.
According to a report from National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) published earlier this month, last year’s cohort of 9,287 people is the most diverse — from age to gender to ethnicity — to ever earned the title PA-C. And if diversity wasn’t enough, this group is 26.5 percent bigger than 2013’s class.
Most notably, 2018’s certified PAs are…
- Young — 72.5 percent are under 30 years old. This is the youngest group yet.
- Racially diverse — 14.4 percent identify as non-white and 7.6 percent are of Hispanic, Latinx or Spanish origin.
- Heavily female — 73.9 percent identify as women.
- Culturally diverse — about one-fifth say they can communicate with patients in a language other than English.
- Well-compensated — their median salary is $95,000 a year.
These stats are encouraging, especially since a lack of diversity among PAs has been a roadblock to the profession’s growth in the past. To glean some additional insight into why they matter, Florence Health chatted with NCCPA president Dawn Morton-Rias, EdD, PA-C.
“In the early days, PAs were medical corps men,” Dr. Morton-Rias recalls. “Now, women and young people are looking at this profession as a real, viable option.”
She emphasizes that youth of the newest group is especially exciting.
“This is a population that has tremendous reach not only in the one-to-one care that they provide but through their social and technological reach,” Dr. Morton-Rias explains. “We’re seeing a continued increase in the social media presence of the profession. It’s dispelling myths regarding the title, what PAs can do and how PAs work across all disciplines.”
The ethnic diversity component, she notes, is something the PA profession has been striving towards for a long time.
“One of the hallmarks of this profession is that we value diverse perspectives,” Dr. Morton-Rias says. “When patients see a provider that reflects their gender or cultural background, it helps them communicate more freely and improves early access and quality of care.”
And of course, the steady increase is size is meaningful because it increases access to care. “PAs have a willingness to go to underserved communities,” she adds.
Should more experienced PAs be intimated by this remarkable group? Absolutely not, Dr. Morton-Rias stresses.
“We should be encouraged by the newly certified,” she says. “These young PAs are hitting the ground running and ready contribute … The youth of this cohort bodes well for the longevity and impact of this profession.”
2018 Statistical Profile of Recently Certified Physician Assistants, National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.