South Dakota had the second highest per capita concentration of certified physician assistants in the country in 2014 according to a statistical profile of PAs compiled by the National Committee on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). The nonmetropolitan area of Western South Dakota had the highest concentration of certified physician assistants of any nonmetro area nationwide, while Central South Dakota ranked second among all rural areas.
Job Growth Projections for Physician Assistants in South Dakota
Despite the high concentration of PAs in South Dakota, their numbers are expected to increase in the coming years to keep pace with the growing demand for medical services. The state’s Department of Labor and Regulation projected an increase of 24.5% in the number of jobs for physician assistants between 2012 and 2022. Job growth should be even higher in South Dakota’s major metropolitan areas:
- Rapid City: 26.3%
- Sioux Falls: 25.0%
An analysis conducted by the Robert Graham Center suggests that the demand for primary care physicians in South Dakota will outstrip the supply. This study suggests that 27% more primary care physicians will be needed by 2030—a level of growth that is higher than that currently seen in the Midwest and the country overall.
Physician assistants can provide high-quality primary care to patients at a much lower cost than physicians. The NCCPA reported that a much higher percentage of South Dakota’s certified physician assistants practice primary care than what is seen nationally: 41.1% in South Dakota compared to 26.6% nationally. This data, combined with the high concentration of physician assistants in South Dakota’s rural areas indicates that PAs very often serve as primary healthcare providers in these largely underserved areas.
Physician Assistant Salaries Throughout South Dakota
Experienced physicians in the state earned 60.7% more than their entry-level colleagues in 2015 according to salary data from the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. Physician assistants in the 90th percentile in South Dakota earned an average of $119,683 a year, while those earning in the 10th percentile averaged $74,464. The median salary among physician assistants in South Dakota was $93,080 as of 2015.
The salaries for physician assistants were fairly uniform throughout the state:
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides an analysis of earnings for South Dakota’s physician assistants by hourly wage and annual salary as of 2014: