Study Suggests Women Physician Assistants Are Getting Paid Less

F.J. Thomas

Sarasota, FL ( – It seems women are getting the short end of the stick in the healthcare industry, according to several reports showing not only job loss, but lower pay. Over all industries, three times as many mothers have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

According to a pulse survey taken in May by the American Academy of PAs (AAPA), one in five PA’s were furloughed due to the pandemic, and 3.7 percent were terminated. Of those PAs that were still working, 58.7 percent stated they had a reduction in hours, and 30.6 percent stated their base pay was reduced.

Additionally, 5.9 percent of the PAs stated they had changed specialties, and 9.9 percent changed practice settings. In comparison, the number of PA’s that made career changes during the 10 week survey period equaled the number of changes made during the entire year for 2019. The bulk of responses came from PAs working either in Primary Care settings or for specialists. Of those polled, 25 percent came from a Primary Care setting, 27.5 percent came from other specialties, and 21.4 percent came from surgical subspecialties. PAs from emergency medicine and internal medicine settings accounted for 12 percent each of the total polled.

With an already volatile work environment, a new study of 2019 data published this month in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants suggests female PAs make $9,010 a year less than their male counterparts during their first year of work. Of the 8,339 respondents, the overall average annual salary was $116,209.68. When separated out by sex, male PAs averaged $130,091.71 in annual salary. By comparison, women made $6,222.81 less than the average and $20,104.84 less than the male average salary at $109,986.87 per year. Although 49 percent of the PAs received a bonus, more males than females received the additional pay. Of those that were paid a bonus, 53.1 were male and only 47.2 percent were females.

The study also noted that women PAs were much less likely to receive compensation based on productivity, were less likely to take calls, and less likely to be in a position of leadership or to be offered a partnership in a practice. Additionally, the data suggested that women usually had less experience, worked fewer hours and saw less patients, and worked fewer days in comparison to their male partners.

According to Doximity’s 2020 Physician Compensation report, the same wage discrepancy holds true for female physicians as well. For instance, according to the Doximity report, a male orthopedic surgeon averages $614,447 annually. However, a female orthopedic surgeon makes $149,677 less a year for an average salary of $491,770.

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