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Growing Supply of PAs

Growing Supply of PAs May Alter Healthcare Job Market

The PA profession has experienced rapid growth over the last two decades. The annual number of new graduates is expected to triple from 4,000 in 2002 to 12,000 in 2022. This increase is a boon for patients and the healthcare systems, but also brings concerns that the nation may overproduce PAs and other clinicians. A new study suggests that as more PAs are trained, the job market will tighten in some specialties in some communities within the next several years, and opportunities will become more limited thereafter.

The authors also note, however, that compared with other clinicians, PAs have the advantage of being able to enter a wide variety of specialties after graduation, have more flexibility, and that good options are likely to be available in some specialties and geographic areas for many years to come.

The authors examined the factors that increase both demand and supply of PAs, and evaluated what that will mean for the job market. Based on factors such as population growth, population aging, increased longevity with chronic illness, and expansion of health insurance coverage, demand has increased for care coordination, management, and prevention; all areas where PAs can make a major contribution.

The authors also note three other specific reasons why demand for PAs has increased: greater pressure to deliver services efficiently, consumers’ positive experiences with PAs and greater acceptance of their role in the delivery system, and a shortage of physicians in some specialties and geographic areas. Factors that have led to increase in supply include greater numbers of quality programs. At the same time, the numbers of physicians and NPs have also been increasing.

The authors state that due to efforts to promote interdisciplinary teams and improved care coordination, the increasing supply of PAs, NPs, and physicians is good news for the nation in terms of both access and costs. However, the ability of the healthcare system to effectively use and incorporate more than one NP or PA for each physician remains to be seen. They state that combination of growth and supply means that some specialities and regions will see a tightening in the job market. However, they note that at present there is little evidence of saturation even in the most desirable areas, which suggests that the job market for PAs is likely to continue to be generally good for the next few years. The authors suggest that a supply and demand system should be established to assist the PA community in monitoring growth and job shortages. They conclude that although the future is very bright for the PA profession, monitoring supply, demand, use, and distribution is needed to help align educational production with the needs of the nation.


Byline: Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C

Posted: November 29, 2016

Source: JAAPA
Adapted from the original article.

[Image: Pixabay / Geralt]

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