Pennsylvania had the 5th highest level of employment of physician assistants in the country in 2014 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Certain regions of Pennsylvania had particularly high levels of employment. The Philadelphia metropolitan division had the 7th highest level of any metropolitan area in the country, while the nonmetropolitan area of East Central Pennsylvania had the 5th highest level of employment of any rural area.
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry projected that the number of physician assistants would increase by 12% between 2012 and 2022. This agency made their prediction before the full ramifications of the Affordable Care Act became evident. In 2015, Forbes stated that the demand for physician assistants is “unprecedented,” so it is likely that this growth rate is even higher at this time.
Factors Driving Job Growth for Physician Assistants in Pennsylvania
Like much of the country, Pennsylvania faces a physician shortage. Primary care physicians are particularly likely to be in short supply in the coming years, and legislators in Pennsylvania were so concerned about this shortage that they passed Resolution 735 to authorize a study of the issue in 2014. The Joint State Government Commission tasked with investigating the physician shortage included a recommendation to fully utilize physician assistants to provide primary health care to Pennsylvania’s residents.
A substantial amount of information on Pennsylvania’s physician assistants comes from a 2012 survey on physicians and physician assistants conducted by the state’s Department of Health and published in 2014. The survey focused on physician assistants serving as primary care specialists, reporting the top five specialties to be:
- Family medicine: 16%
- Emergency medicine: 13%
- Surgery—orthopedic: 10%
- Internal medicine: 7%
- Surgery—general: 5%
Their findings also showed that more than 90% of these physician assistants worked in one of these three employment settings:
- Office or clinic (non-hospital outpatient setting): 46%
- Hospital—inpatient: 30%
- Hospital—outpatient: 15%
The Salaries of Physician Assistants Vary Throughout Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry reported that physician assistants in the state earned an average salary of $87,020 as of 2014. Experienced physician assistants earned an average of $92,340, while their colleagues just starting out averaged $62,370.
The salaries of physician assistants varied a great deal between county, with PAs in Franklin County earning the highest average salary:
- Franklin County: $101,450
- Union County: $100,100
- Warren County: $98,930
- Monroe County: $95,880
- Northampton County: $95,180
- Mercer County: $94,040
- Berks County: $92,360
- Washington County: $91,540
- Montgomery County: $91,350
- Chester County: $90,990
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a high level of detail on the salaries of physician assistants in Pennsylvania’s rural and urban areas as of 2014. Physician assistants in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metropolitan area earned the highest average salary: