WEDNESDAY, May 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Many physician assistants (PAs) are employed in dermatology, with a larger annual increase seen for PAs in dermatology versus other specialties, according to a research letter published online May 4 in JAMA Dermatology.

Justin D. Arnold, M.D., from the University of California in Irvine, and colleagues characterized the dermatology PA workforce in a cross-sectional study using deidentified longitudinal data from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants from January 2013 to December 2018.

Data were included for 98,554 certified PAs. The researchers found that in the study’s final year, there were 3,938 PAs practicing in dermatology compared with 94,616 in all other fields. Compared with 3.7 percent in all other specialties, only 1.6 percent of PAs in dermatology identified as African American or Black. The rates of Hispanic ethnicity were similar for PAs in dermatology and other fields (6.0 and 6.5 percent, respectively). Compared with PAs in other specialties, PAs in dermatology mainly worked in office-based private practices (92.5 versus 37.7 percent) and more often resided in metropolitan geographic settings (94.7 versus 92.0). During the study period, dermatology added 164 to 539 PAs to the field annually, with a mean annual increase of 11.6 percent compared with a mean increase of 7.8 percent in all other specialties.

“Although this study did not assess the reasons for the substantial increase of dermatology PAs, numerous factors, such as a potential physician shortage or the expansion of private equity-owned practices, may contribute to the accelerating use of PAs within the field,” the authors write.

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