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Celebrate PA Week October 6-12


October 6-12 is national PA Week

This week is an opportunity to celebrate the PA profession which was begun 50 years ago, on 6 October 1967, with the first three graduates of Duke University's PA program.

Since that time, the profession has grown significantly:

There are now more than 160,000 practicing PAs in the US alone, and the profession is expanding to other countries.
PAs practice and prescribe in all 50 states.
There are now more than 250 PA programs educating future PAs.

US News and World Report ranked the Physician Assistant career as #2 in the Best Health Care Jobs of 2020 and #3 in 100 best jobs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has estimated that the PA profession will grow 31% between 2018 and 2028.

 (see this document from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants for more statistics)



PAs are nationally certified and state licensed medical providers trained to diagnose and treat patients as well as prescribe medication. Thanks to an education modeled on the medical school curriculum, PAs learn to make life-saving diagnostic and therapeutic decisions while working autonomously or in collaboration with other members of the healthcare team. PAs are certified as medical generalists with a foundation in primary care. Studies have shown that PAs help reduce hospital readmission rates, lengths of stay, and infection rates. Ninety- three percent of patients who recently interacted with a PA agreed that PAs are trusted healthcare providers.

PAs practice in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, and the uniformed services. Today, there are more than 160,000 certified PAs in the United States.

PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, write prescriptions, perform medical procedures, counsel patients on preventive healthcare, assist in surgery, and make rounds in nursing homes and hospitals, among many other medical services.




  • Roughly one-fourth of PAs practice in primary care, while other PAs practice in specialty medicine or serve in leadership positions.
  • Nearly half of PAs are employed by a physician office or clinic.
  • More than one-third practice in hospital settings (university or other). The remaining PAs work in a variety of settings, including community health centers, freestanding surgical facilities, nursing homes, school- or college-based facilities, workplace clinics, and correctional institutions.
  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is the largest single employer of PAs.



  • There are currently 250 accredited PA programs and around 8,000 PA students taking the certifying exam each year.
  • PAs are often educated alongside physicians in medical schools, academic medical centers, and residencies. Because their education is modeled on the medical school curriculum, with a combination of classroom instruction and clinical rotations, PAs share diagnostic and therapeutic reasoning with physicians.
  • After a year of classroom study, PAs complete an average of 1,700 hours of clinical rotations across all major medical specialties with an emphasis in family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, general surgery, emergency medicine, and psychiatry.



  • Attend and graduate from an accredited PA program
  • The typical entering student has a bachelor’s degree and approximately four years of healthcare experience.
  • The average graduate program takes 27 continuous months (three academic years) to complete. Nearly all programs award master’s degrees.



  • Graduate from an accredited program and pass the national PA certification exam administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).
  • Obtain a state license.
  • Complete 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years.
  • Recertify every 10 years through an exam that evaluates generalist medical knowledge. PAs recertify as generalists, not specialists.



  • PAs have been practicing medicine for 50 years. The PA profession was created to address a physician shortage in the 1960s. The chair of the Department of Medicine at the Duke University Medical Center established a program in 1965 that educated Navy Corpsmen to practice medicine.
  • The first PAs graduated from Duke University in 1967.



PAs are proven to create access, elevate health outcomes and increase patient satisfaction. Studies identify high-quality care with physician-PA teams and have shown that the quality of care provided by PAs is comparable to that of physicians, that PAs enhance care coordination, and that practices relying on PAs are more cost-effective than those without PAs.



  • Surgical Subspecialties 25.8%
  • Primary Care 24.6%
  • Internal Medicine Subspecialties 10.7%
  • Emergency Medicine 8.9%
  • Pediatric Subspecialties 1.3%



The states with the greatest number of recently certified PAs include: New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, California and Florida.



  • More than 140,000 certified PAs in the nation.
  • The profession is projected to grow 31% by 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • 50 states and the District of Columbia authorize PAs prescribing privileges.
  • The typical PA sees 15 patients per day, 63 patients per week.
  • The typical PA writes 50 prescriptions per week.



  • 4.9% Outpatient (Solo or Group Practice)
  • 32.3% Hospital (University or Other)
  • 3.7% Government (Federal, State, or Local. E.G. The US Navy)
  • 3.5% Federally Qualified Health Center

Content from: National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. (2020). Statistical Profile of Certified Physician Assistants [Brochure]. Retrieved October 04, 2020, from

American Academy of PAs. (2017). PAs PRACTICE MEDICINE [Brochure]. Retrieved September 27, 2017, from

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