PAs in primary care: Current status and workforce implications

Bettie Coplan, Noel Smith, James F. Cawley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objectives: Understanding the PA primary care workforce is an initial step toward greater use of primary care PAs in new healthcare delivery models. This study sought to describe primary care PA practice as it compares with PA practice in other specialties. Methods: Data from two 2015 national American Academy of Physician Assistants surveys were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Statistically signifi cant differences between primary care and specialty PAs were assessed using tests of column proportions and tests of column means. Results: Compared with PAs in specialties, primary care PAs were older, saw more patients per week, and spent less time consulting with physicians. In addition, higher percentages were Hispanic, had a record of military service, and had plans to leave their specialty or retire. Conclusions: Primary care PAs appear to possess unique strengths; however, challenges to maintaining a primary care PA workforce are substantial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • PAs
  • Primary care
  • challenges
  • healthcare workforce
  • physician assistants
  • specialties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nurse Assisting


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