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Why do PAs leave their jobs?

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

Employee turnover is an important indicator that carries a heavy financial cost for healthcare organizations. Although previous research has highlighted some factors associated with turnover, the reasons physician assistants (PAs) leave their jobs are not fully understood. The JAAPA released a study aimed to determine the most common reasons behind PA turnover.


In 2019, the American Academy of PAs (AAPA) distributed a survey to all PAs with an eligible email address. The survey included a question asking respondents if they had left or changed their job in the past year. Respondents answering this question in the affirmative were asked a follow-up multiple-choice question to determine the reason behind this change.


A total of 13,088 PAs responded to the AAPA salary survey; of these, 1,261 reported leaving a job within the past year. The most common reasons provided for leaving a job were: better work/life balance (n = 209, 16.8%), moved (n = 208, 16.7%), better management/leadership/environment (reasons related to toxic/abusive environment) (n = 170, 13.6%), and better compensation/benefits (n = 148, 11.9%).


Employers should focus on common reasons for turnover that can be reasonably addressed. Of the top three reasons behind PA turnover, those related to toxic/abusive work environments may be the most practical and important to address.



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