PAs and Where They Work

How many certified PAs are there? How many work in each state and territory? What percentage of PAs practice in medically underserved areas?  

There are more than 90,000 nationally certified PAs, according to the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

In 2010, there were 6,630 first-year PA students and 5,964 graduating PA students.

The number of licensed PAs in 2013 as reported by state medical boards are:


Chart - PAs By State 


In addition, about 60 PAs work in U.S. territories. PAs are authorized to practice and prescribe medication in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. They are not authorized to practice in Puerto Rico.


The need for care in underserved areas is increasing with the physician shortage. Only about 10 percent of physicians practice in rural areas, where approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population lives. Rural residents are also limited by lack of transportation, extreme weather, social isolation and poverty. Therefore, access to care is a major concern in most rural areas. Fortunately, PAs are helping to extend care to areas most in need: About 17 percent of PAs practice in rural areas.

  Chart - PAs - Urban Rural Areas 


Not only do PAs help extend care in rural areas, but they are also serving those most at need in urban areas. A recent article published in the Journal of Health & Human Services shows that the use of PAs and community health workers to expand healthcare within an urban community was met with great success. There were improvements in the use of health services, patient satisfaction and parental self-efficacy in navigating the healthcare system for their children.

Read more Quick Facts about the PA profession.

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