Vanderbilt University Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies

Issue Brief no. 1

David Auerbach, Peter Buerhaus, Douglas Staiger

About this series:

The Center will occasionally release peer-reviewed scholarly analyses in the form of Issue Briefs as part of our electronic research collection.  These pieces will often focus on a particular workforce segment, such as medical assistants, community health workers, nurse practitioners, etc., or a particular research topic such as education or forecasts. We encourage you to use this information to shape your work and to explore policy options; please cite this as your original source of data. We look forward to many installments of our Issue Briefs to come.


  • The number of Medical Assistants practicing in the US has grown roughly 15% from 2010 to 2013
  • Annual full-time earnings for MAs are just under $30,000 and have held steady for those working in offices of physicians while dropping slightly for those working in other settings
  • Roughly 20% of MAs have an associate’s degree and 9% have a bachelor’s degree; the latter earn roughly $7,500 more than those without
  • Per-capita numbers of MAs vary by a factor of 2 or more by region of the country, and areas with more MAs have fewer LPNs and vice-versa (r=-0.7)
  • States with the most favorable laws governing MA practice have the highest number of MAs and the highest ratio of MAs to LPNs (0.88)


Click here to download the full issue brief ->  MA_Issue Brief_vol 1