5 Reasons to Consider a Physicians Assistant Career
For Many, Pursuing A Career In Medicine Or Healthcare Stems From A Desire To Help People.
Of course, with the vast array of concentrations, specialties and levels in the healthcare sector, the extent of the help and care you provide can vacillate greatly, and is often proportional to your education and compensation.
However, many American admissions committees only accept medical students they believe can become physicians, and some students still do not graduate within seven years. For various differing reasons, some students simply come to realize medical school may not be for them.
Coming to this decision can be an opportunity to discover a career better suited for your personality and lifestyle. Or if you’re undecided about your career path but are compassionate and enjoy problem solving and enjoy working with people, you might consider becoming a physician assistant.
One of the highest-paid, most in-demand jobs in the United States healthcare industry is the physician assistant. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor is forecasting a 38% increase in the employment of PA’s (physician assistants) by 2022.
All of the above elements may enhance the benefits of choosing a career as a physician assistant. While the benefits may vary from person to person, below are five key benefits of working as a PA:
#1. Education: PA’s Spend Less Time in the Classroom
Doctors must work much harder to earn their independence and practice medicine. While both physicians assistants and doctors need a healthy amount of schooling to prescribe and diagnose, doctors are in school and doing clinical rotations longer than physicians assistants. To become a doctor, you must invest an excessive amount of time, money and training to become proficient within your chosen field. On average, it takes the following amount of time to become a doctor:
- Four years at an accredited undergraduate program
- Four years at an accredited medical school
- Three – seven years of residency training
Becoming a PA isn’t easy, but it takes less time than becoming an MD. Qualifications may vary for each state, but most physician assistant can finish their schooling and training in the half of the time that a medical student and resident will. On average, it takes the following amount of time to become a physicians assistant:
- Four years at an accredited undergraduate program
- 25 month accredited physician assistant training program
- One year clinical rotation
#2. Schedule: PA’s Share Responsibility, With More Flexibility
While physician assistants day-to-day duties closely resemble that of doctors, there are some distinct differences between the two professions. A physicians assistant is always under direct supervision by a doctor. The physicians assistant does not have the autonomy to make decisions on their own and must consult the doctor with every patient they see. However, both doctor and physician assistant share in patient care and responsibility.
For example, a physicians assistant can be responsible to round on patients, diagnose illnesses, identify and study patients history, develop and carry out treatment plans, counsel patients and assist with any surgeries or procedures. It is easiest to remember their relationship in this way: a physician can work independently, while a physicians assistant always has to work collaboratively with a physician.
Doctors train hard to get the skills they need to work in the specialty of their choice. But once they’re there, they’re pretty locked in. An orthopaedic surgeon who decides he’d rather work in pediatrics will need to spend several years receiving additional education before making the switch.
However, once you obtain your physician assistant license, you have the qualifications you need to work in any medical specialty you like. That means you can transition from obstetrics to oncology without heading back to the classroom.
IF YOU WANT TO WORK IN MEDICINE BUT FOR WHATEVER REASON BECOMING A PHYSICIAN JUST ISN’T IN THE CARDS, A CAREER AS A PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT COULD BE FOR YOU.
#3. Salary: PA’s Still Get Paid Well
According to the Bureau of labor statistics in may of 2018, the median annual salary for physician assistants was $108,610. For that same time-frame, the median yearly wage for physicians and surgeons was $208,000 per year. The wages for physicians and surgeons are among the highest of all occupations, and you can see this with the $100,000 salary disparity between physicians assistants vs. doctors salaries. Based on this data, a doctor makes more money than as a physicians assistant.
However, the significant time in school and initial startup money it takes to become a doctor might curtail those who seek to work within this profession. Becoming a physicians assistant takes less time, is less money up front and the starting salary is very favorable. The financial gains of a doctor are only realized after schooling ends and the job begins, and some cases that can take over a decade to happen!
#4. Lifestyle: More Freedom & Work-Life Balance
It can be very challenging for doctors to juggle their personal lives with the demands of their profession. If a doctor is not in a clinical setting with patients, they are often analyzing clients charts of working on paperwork in the office. These professionals are often working long and late hours, and many of them are still required to be on call after hours or on the weekends.
A physicians assistant is awarded more freedom and can keep a more regular schedule. Since the report directly to doctors, they can work their shift, report to their attending and leave for the day. A lot of the stress and burden of the more difficult decisions rest upon the shoulders of the attending doctor. The physicians assistant, by definition, has less responsibility within the clinical and business side of the job and usually retains a better work-life balance than the physician they are working for.
#5. Growth: PA Careers Are Growing In Popularity
According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics article, employment of physician assistants is expected to rise a substantial 37% within the ten-year time frame of 2016 to 2026. PAs are continuing to take on new leadership roles in the healthcare system, fill the gaps wherever necessary, and break new boundaries in proving their relevance in the healthcare world!
Careers as a physician assistant are on the rise. With a shorter schooling time compared to other graduate programs, high job satisfaction, a healthy work-life balance opportunity, an environment that provides a chance to collaborate with teams of other healthcare professionals, and a high earning potential, it is surely obvious why pursuits in becoming a physician assistant professional are quickly growing!