The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce designated the physician assisting profession as having a “bright outlook” statewide, with a projected job growth rate of 33% between 2012 and 2022.
PAs are Well Compensated When Serving as Primary Care Providers
Physician assistants have been recognized for their ability to provide high quality care in medically underserved areas struggling with a shortage of physicians. This makes them particularly important in South Dakota since the Association of American Medical Colleges ranked the state as having the 43rd lowest number of actively practicing primary care physicians in the country in 2009.
A 2011 report released by the Office for Healthcare Workforce analyzing physician workforce data in South Carolina shows that the demand for physicians is expected to grow rapidly in the state over the next two decades. The author concluded that the state may have difficulty producing enough physicians to meet this demand. As South Carolina’s population ages and more of its citizens obtain health insurance, the demand for physician assistants will continue to grow.
In 2013, the state of South Carolina made it easier for physician assistants to practice in the state. With strong support from the South Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants, Governor Nikki Haley signed S. 448—the Modernization of the PA Practice Act. This bill allows physician assistants to become licensed initially without first identifying a supervising physician. The bill also created a one-page form to simplify the process of changing or adding additional supervising physicians.
PA Salaries in South Carolina According to Experience and Location
As of 2014, experienced physician assistants in South Carolina earned an average salary that was 98% higher than that of their colleagues who were new to the profession according to the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce. Experienced physician assistants earned an average of $101,030, while entry-level PAs averaged $51,000 that year.
The median salary among South Carolina’s physician assistants varied a great deal depending on their location. While the statewide median was $85,710, physician assistants in Sumter earned a median salary that was 21.1% higher:
- Sumter: $103,780
- Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord: $96,750
- Anderson: $91,180
- Myrtle Beach: $89,210
- Florence: $88,430
- Greenville: $87,850
- Columbia: $87,230
- Spartanburg: $86,930
- Augusta-Richmond County: $85,700
- Charleston: $85,060
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a detailed analysis of salaries for physician assistants in five major metropolitan areas and several nonmetropolitan areas as of 2014. Experienced physician assistants in the 90th percentile in the nonmetropolitan area of Upper Savannah had a substantially higher average salary than their colleagues in the rest of South Carolina: