Salary Ranking Report Shows High Level Of Burnout Among Lower Paid Specialties

20 Jun, 2022 F.J. Thomas


Sarasota, FL ( – While insurances companies have not been offering increases to providers at negotiation time and are moving more towards case-focused arrangements, providers have been left with the task of cutting costs. In an effort to reduce cost but maintain the productivity levels required to stay in business, the healthcare industry has seen in a shift in the use of Physician Assistants or PAs.

According to a report released in February by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants, the number of PAs in Rhode Island more than doubled, increasing by 116 percent, and in South Carolina by 86.6 percent from 2016 to 2020. These two states were not the only ones see drastic increases. During the same time period, New Jersey increased by 58.9 percent, closely follow by West Virginia at 58.8 percent. Nebraska, California, Alabama, Nevada, and Wyoming all saw increases of 50 percent or more from 2016 to 2020.

During the same four year time period, approximately half of PAs reported employment with hospitals, and around 25 percent were employed in primary care.  Around half of those employed reported starting annual salaries at over $100,000.

While the main goal in increasing the utilization of the number of PA’s in practice was to lessen cost but maintain productivity, a recent salary ranking report from the American Academy of Physician Assistants shows that keeping costs low enough may be a difficult task, especially in certain specialties. With a high burnout rate, that cost may go even higher.  Over half of PA’s, at 52.3 percent, reported feelings of burnout. Emergency medicine and critical care had the highest reported levels of burnout symptoms, while plastic surgery and other specialties reported less. By contrast, while emergency medicine and critical care had the highest levels of burnout reported the salary for both specialties was $18,000 to $23,000 less than the top paying specialty.

Around 2 percent of PAs worked in cardiovascular/cardiothoracic surgery, earning an annual salary of $147,200 on an average workweek of 50 hours. The reported rate of burnout among PAs in cardiovascular was 47.6.

Dermatology ranked second, with 2.9 percent of PAs working in the specialty. By comparison, their average hours worked was 40, and the average annual salary was $146,000. The dermatology burnout rate was 43.2 percent.

Emergency medicine ranked third in salary at $129,146 annually, but reported a 61.8 percent burnout rate even though they worked fewer hours at an average of 38 hours weekly. Critical care PAs made even less at $124,866 average annual salary, and worked more hours with an average 40 hour work week. More hours and less salary may be a deadly combination as the burnout rate among critical care PAs was even higher at 63.4 percent. Seven percent of PAs work in emergency medicine, and 2.3 percent work in critical care.

Urgent care PAs also had a high burnout rate at 54.5 percent. While the average hours worked per week were 40, urgent care ranked 8th on the list with an annual salary at $123,517. Around 7 percent of PAs work in urgent care.

Surgical subspecialties ranked 4th with $127,775 annual salary, and a relatively low burnout rate of 32 percent. Occupational medicine ranked 5th with an annual salary of $125,600 and a noticeably higher burnout rate of 42.1 percent. Both specialties put in an average of 40 hours per week.



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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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