Pros and Cons of Being A Physician’s Assistant

So, you are thinking of being a physician’s assistant? Good for you! It’s a noble profession, but before you embark on this journey, here’s a list of pros and cons to consider:

Pros and cons of being a physician's assistant
Photo By Luis Melendez

Benefits of Being a Physician’s Assistant

1. Plenty of Opportunities: Being a Physician’s assistant can provide you with job security due to there being a high demand for openings in the health care field. According to the United States Bureau of Labour Statistics, the need for PAs is supposed to grow by 31% by 2028. 

2. Career Path Flexibility:  When one trains to become a doctor and choose their specialty, they are pretty much stuck there. Your physician assistant license gives you the qualifications you need for any medical specialty. You can transition from oncology to pediatrics without having to go back to school for another two years to change your specialty. This, of course, doesn’t mean you will always be able to find a job in another specialty.  

3. Above Average Salary: Physician’s Assistants make pretty good money. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that their median pay was $104,860 in 2017. The top 10 percent made over $146,000, and the bottom 10 percent named less than $67,000. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $66,590, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $146,260.

4. You Get to Practice Medicine: You get to practice medicine like doctors and physicians, which is a distinguished and impressive career. 

5. Shorter Schooling than Doctors:  The typical physician’s assistant program is a two-year master. This will total up to six years when you include your undergraduate degree. Physicians, on the other hand, have to go to school for eight years between their undergrad and medical school, as well as residency for three to seven years. Altogether, a physician could be in school for up to fifteen years.  

6. Help Patients in their Time of Need: Physician’s assistants are responsible for managing patient care by diagnosing and treating their symptoms and illnesses. You have an opportunity to make an impact and look after others. It is a genuinely worthwhile profession. 

Disadvantages of Being a Physician’s Assistant

1. You’re Going to See Patients Die: Sometimes, despite how hard you try, unfortunately, you will lose patients. It can be a traumatic thing, but you will undoubtedly have to save many more lives. 

2. Inconvenient Work Hours: Being a physician’s assistant is not your typical Monday through Friday 9 am-5 pm job. You will most likely be required to work evenings and weekends. You will often be on call as well and probably won’t have an ideal schedule. 

3. Little opportunity for advancement: Physician’s assistants don’t have much room to move up in their field without further schooling.

4. Your Pay Level Will Never Match a Physician: More often than not, physician’s assistants and physicians will do roughly the same thing. The only thing that won’t be the same is your paychecks. 

5. You Must Check with Your Supervisor: Physician assistants must always work under the supervision of a physician and cannot make medical decisions without passing it by their supervisor.

6. You’ll Have to Recertify Your License: Unlike other professions where you just pay money to keep renewing your license, physician’s assistants have to retake a certification test every 6-10 years. 

Travis King
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