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Physician Assistant Entrepreneurship: A Survey

1 August 2000


The aim of this study was to sample a number of physician assistants (PAs) who own, or jointly own, private practices or medical service companies within the United States and to determine in which practice settings and specialties they exist. Additionally, by describing the nature of P A private practice we hope to educate society, physicians, and PAs about said practice. Subsequently, we hope to see more PAs attracted to self-employment and perhaps gravitating to medically under-served areas as well as stimulating a broadening cooperation between physicians and PAs.

Methodology employed started with a convenience sample of known self-employed PAs and was expanded by snowball survey technique and a mass emailing to the leadership of all P A organizations. The data was analyzed by descriptive analysis utilizing a Microsoft Access database.

Employing the snowball technique a total of 57 physician assistants were interviewed, one 100% of which, responded to all survey questions. Respondents were predominantly male (93 %). Respondents had an average of 19.3 years of clinical experience and an average of 8.2 years of being self-employed. Concentrations were noted in location, specialty and service population size. 26% of respondents are practicing in Florida and roughly 10% in Washington, New York, and Idaho. 39% are family practice physician assistants, 33% are doing surgical assisting, and twelve percent are in emergency medicine. 57% of respondents are providing outpatient services, 32% do both, and eleven percent work in inpatient only. 40% of respondents are servicing populations of greater than 100,000 people, but a substantial 26% serve smaller cities between 10,000-50,000 people. In addition to their supervising physicians, respondents work primarily with physicians, but are more than twice as likely to form partnerships with other PAs.

The primary goal was to describe and profile PA entrepreneurs with respect to gender, specialty, state, etc. Additionally, this survey explores the types of services they provide as well as some specifics about their level of satisfaction and whether they recommend self-employment or not. The secondary intention is to stimulate a dialog within the PA profession on the subject of PA entrepreneurship.


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