Retention and change in PAs' first years of employment

Alicia K. Quella, Augsburg University
Roderick S. Hooker
John M. Zobitz


OBJECTIVE: Employment analyses demonstrate that physician assistants (PAs) exhibit role flexibility in US medicine. The next step in understanding this labor-shifting observation is to know at what career stage it first occurs. METHODS: Using matriculate data linked to the American Academy of PAs (AAPA) census survey data, a longitudinal analysis of seven graduate cohorts revealed that one-third of PAs changed specialty roles at least once during their first decade of employment. RESULTS: From this series, it appears that new PAs spend about 3.4 years in their first job, on average, before they decide to move to another medical or surgical field. In examining PAs who changed their clinical role during this time period, 28% shifted from primary care to another medical or specialty role. Overall, the PA career movement to nonprimary care specialties increased substantially. CONCLUSIONS: These findings support observations that PAs provide an adaptive role in a dynamic and changing medical workforce.