Does the idea of spending four years in medical school intimidate you? Not to mention at least three years in internship and residency? In spite of these fears, do you still have a strong desire to practice medicine?
Do you already have experience working in health care?
If these questions describe you, becoming a Physician Assistant may be the perfect option for you.
US News and World Report describes it as one of the 31 Careers with Bright Futures in 2008. Here’s what they have to say:
Don’t confuse physician assistants with medical assistants, who aren’t qualified to do much more than take your blood pressure. Physician assistants do 80 percent of what doctors do: conduct exams, diagnose conditions, prescribe medications, even assist in surgery. While PAs are supervised by physicians, they have considerable autonomy. And while pay isn’t doctorlike, it’s far from sickly.
The Physician Assistant career is one of fastest growing occupations in the country.
How much training is required?
Most Physician Assistant programs are 2-3 year masters programs. A few exist as Bachelors degrees or just certificates, but these are becoming less common. The masters programs start at the beginning of the summer and go straight through, no breaks.
What is the average salary of a Physician Assistant?
The middle 50% of Physician Assistants make between $70,000 and $85,000. Specialize a little more, gain a little bit more experience and you’re bound to make a great salary with a schedule and benefits that few careers can match.
How can I learn more?
Check out the American Academy of Physician Assistants website.
The PA Forum also has some great information. Here you can discuss the field with PAs and PA students.
Pre med students should consider the PA path. I work with PAs in the ER and have only had great experiences with them. They love their work.
I gave it strong consideration, and it still is a possibility in my mind, although it is becoming more and more unlikely. Do some research, talk with some Physician Assistants and maybe you’ll find that it’s the path for you.