Vital Signs Blog

Physician assistant, nurse practitioner workloads expected to increase

The ranks of the physician assistant and nurse practitioner workforces continue to grow, even as scope-of-practice battles continue between doctors and these advanced practice clinicians.

The workloads of NPs and PAs are expected to increase with the rise of team-based healthcare and primary-care offices adopting the medical-homes practice model. About two-thirds of the large multispecialty healthcare organizations surveyed by the American Medical Group Association and healthcare human resources consultant Sullivan, Cotter and Associates said they increased their advanced practices clinician workforce in the past months and two-thirds are projecting that they will hire more in the next 12 months.

Based on another new survey, the American Academy of Physician Assistants reported this month that 6,000 PAs enter the workforce each year. Both surveys found that compensation varies widely by practice setting.

The AAPA reported that geography is a large factor in compensation, while the AMGA noted that more advance practice clinicians are also moving into administrative roles.

The AMGA reported that both NPs and PAs earned a median of around $104,000 in a hospital setting while the median for both was around $97,500 for both in nonhospital settings with NPs earning slightly more. The AAPA reported that the median base salary for PAs in nonteaching hospitals was $95,000 while those who earned a bonus on top of their salaries earned $103,000 last year. In university hospitals, the numbers were $1,000 to $2,000 lower. PAs in solo physician practices received median base salaries of $85,000 and earned around $98,000 with bonuses.

The highest base salaries for PAs were in Los Angeles, where the median salary was $97,000. If bonuses were included, however, New York was the most lucrative area for PAs with median compensation coming in at $105,000 (compared with $103,250 in Los Angeles). Chicago had the lowest median salaries among the nation's largest cities: $87,500; while the lowest median total compensation for PAs was in Miami: $93,000.

Among the 300 healthcare organizations surveyed by the AMGA, 31% reported having an NP or PA in administrative role. That's up from 20% in 2012.

"These findings provide hard data to demonstrate the importance of APCs in the future of healthcare delivery," Donald Fisher, AMGA president and CEO, said in a news release. “For years, we have seen the movement towards a more team-based, coordinated approach to patient care.”

The AMGA survey included data on some 27,000 clinicians that was current on July 1, 2013.

The AAPA survey included online responses from 18,000 PAs, both members and nonmembers, between March and July 2013.

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks


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