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Salary discrepancies between male and female physicians are well documented; however, gender-based salary differences among clinically practicing physician assistants (PAs) have not been studied since 1992 (Willis, 1992). Therefore, the objectives of the current study are to evaluate the presence of salary discrepancies between clinically practicing male and female PAs and to analyze the effect of gender on income and practice characteristics.
Using data from the 2009 American Academy of Physician Assistants’ (AAPA) Annual Census Survey, we evaluated the salaries of PAs across multiple specialties. Differences between men and women were compared for practice characteristics (specialty, experience, etc) and salary (total pay, base pay, on-call pay, etc) in orthopedic surgery, emergency medicine, and family practice.
Men reported working more years as a PA in their current specialty, working more hours per month on-call, providing more direct care to patients, and more funding available from their employers for professional development (p < .001, all comparisons). In addition, men reported a higher total income, base pay, overtime pay, administrative pay, on-call pay, and incentive pay based on productivity and performance (p < .001, all comparisons). Multivariate analysis of covariance and analysis of variance revealed that men reported higher total income (p < .0001) and base pay (p = .001) in orthopedic surgery, higher total income (p = .011) and base pay (p = .005) in emergency medicine, and higher base pay in family practice (p < .001), independent of clinical experience or workload.
These results suggest that certain salary discrepancies remain between employed male and female PAs regardless of specialty, experience, or other practice characteristics.