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Best Careers 2011: Physician Assistant
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Best Careers 2011: Physician Assistant

As one of the 50 Best Careers of 2011, this should have strong growth over the next decade

By Kirk Shinkle

Posted: December 6, 2010

Since the mid-1960s, physician assistants have been treating patients and providing many of the same services that physicians offer—filling a critical need, given the shortage of doctors in some parts of the United States. You may choose to work in primary care, or you may specialize in surgery or geriatrics. As a physician assistant, you'll work under the supervision of a physician, but if you're working at a clinic, the physician may be around only a day or two each week. That means it's up to you to treat patients, whether you're putting kids in casts or looking at an older patient's X-ray. Many PA's value their high level of independence.

[See a list of The 50 Best Careers of 2011.]

The outlook:

Job growth is expected to be much faster than average, thanks to the growing demand for healthcare services, the impending retirement of baby boomers, and broader efforts to limit healthcare costs. The volume of jobs is expected to grow by 29,200, or 39 percent, by 2018, among the fastest occupational growth rates projected by the Labor Department.


Median annual earnings for physician assistants in 2009 were $84,420. The lowest paid 10 percent earned less than $55,880, while the highest paid 10 percent earned more than $115,000.

Upward mobility:

You can pursue additional schooling. Some physician assistant schools offer postgraduate programs in specialties such as pediatrics, emergency medicine, and surgery. Pay can increase over time, but you'll always be under the supervision of a physician.

Activity level:

Variable but generally pretty high. You're likely to spend much of your time on your feet, particularly if you're on a surgical team.

[See a list of the best healthcare careers.]

Stress level:

Sometimes high. Schedules can include lots of graveyard shifts, plus weekend and holiday work. The stakes are high when providing medical care, and many situations can be physically and mentally taxing.

Education and preparation:

The path to a physical assistant job first requires completion of a two-year program at a school of allied health, a medical school, or four-year college. After graduating from an accredited school, you'll need to pass a Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination.

[Find online degree programs in healthcare.]

Real advice from real people about landing a job as a physician assistant:

For job hunters, state and local associations of physician assistants or the American Academy of Physician Assistants keep updated job lists, says Marcia Ceesay-Slater, acting associate director of the Family Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant Program at the University of California—Davis. Since jobs tend to be plentiful, she suggests that job seekers spend extra time finding just the right fit and making sure they'll get along well with the doctors they'll be working for. "Make sure there's enough support and availability for consultation on patients," Ceesay-Slater says. "Make sure there are development opportunities." Also, she says, keep in mind the scope of the practice where you'll work. Be sure the sorts of procedures that you want to perform are offered regularly within the practice you're considering joining.

Suggested job searches: Medical Assistant jobs | Physical Therapist Assistant jobs | Occupational Therapy Assistant jobs | Nurse Practitioner jobs
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lots of inaccurate info here.
Associates Trained PA-C here. 158k last year working 44hrs/wk no call no weekends.

55k is *absolutely* unheard of. Those definetely aren't full-time wages. The lowest I have heard for a new grad PA/NP is 68k and that is only because they had ZERO experience. A PA/NP with over 2 years experience should NEVER work for under 85-90k. They are simply worth too much to a practice to sell themselves out that short.

Also 85% of all PA programs are now Masters Degrees. Only 3 Associates programs remain.

The education section clearly misrepresents the profession

[report comment]
behnam of MN @ Feb 23, 2011 02:00:23 AM

jordanna reply
175K a year ...I'm interested on how to market myself or place myself as successfully as you have done. I'm ED trained and have had extensive training...Are you working in a surgical discipline? I am for promoting the PA value and for fair compensation...it seems to be a struggle to break barriers.

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1   [USMedEdu 于 2011-03-03 18:05:37 提到] [FROM: 172.]
Best Careers 2011: Healthcare Jobs

Helping care for an aging baby boomer population is a sure way to land a steady paycheck

By Alexis Grant

Posted: December 6, 2010


Healthcare continues to offer excellent opportunities for job seekers, and not only positions that require a medical degree. Occupations that call for fewer years of study and offer more moderate salaries—like physical therapist assistant and lab technician—are also in demand. Many of the occupations on this list rank at the top of the Labor Department's growth projections for 2008 to 2018, largely because millions of aging baby boomers will continue to place heightened demand on healthcare providers.

[See the full list of The 50 Best Careers of 2011.]

Additions to this year's list include massage therapist and athletic trainer, both rooted in preventative medicine. Veterinarians are also very much in demand.

Our picks in the healthcare category this year:

• Athletic trainer

• Dental hygienist

• Lab technician

• Massage therapist

• Occupational therapist

• Optometrist

• Physician assistant

• Physical therapist

• Physical therapist assistant

• Radiologic technologist

• Registered nurse

• School psychologist

• Veterinarian

For more career advice, visit U.S. News Careers, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.
2   [USMedEdu 于 2011-03-03 18:01:10 提到] [FROM: 172.]
Why Physician Assistant School May be Right for You
It's one of the fastest growing careers in the country. Learn about how to get into a top program.
By Brian Burnsed

Posted: August 6, 2010


After graduating from Manhattan College in 2004, Jason Lightbody had aspirations to pursue a career in the medical field, but didn't want to sacrifice his personal life to the rigors of medical school, a residency, and life as a physician. He remembered being treated by a physician assistant for injuries he sustained as a soccer player at Methodist University during his first two years of school, and soon realized that pursuing a career as a PA would be rewarding while allowing him a full life outside of the one he lived in his scrubs. Lightbody graduated from the Yale School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program in 2007. "I never want to regret not living life to the fullest and I thought that if I were to go to med school then I wouldn't be able to do a lot of things in my life that I wanted to do," he says. "I'm still certain I made the right decision."

The decision between PA school and medical school is one that an increasing number of college graduates and young medical professionals are facing. With the economy tight in recent years, demand for physician assistants has increased, as they are capable of practicing medicine at roughly the same level as a full-fledged physician, but at a much lower cost, which makes them an appealing asset to medical providers looking to trim budgets. And, given that many programs are roughly two years, PA students amass far less debt than their counterparts in medical school. The American Academy of PAs estimates that there will be nearly 150,000 practicing PAs in the U.S. in 2020, up from 70,000 last year. Like Lightbody, more people are taking note of the profession. "Ten years ago when I introduced myself patients would ask, 'What's a PA?'" says Mary Jo Wiemiller, chair of physician assistant studies at Marquette University College of Health Sciences. "Now, when treating patients, they respond with something like, 'Oh, my niece or nephew is in PA school.'"

[See more about a career as a physician assistant.]

But the appeal that is spurring job growth may make it tougher for aspiring PAs to get into school. According to Wiemiller, the number of applications to Marquette's PA program has quadrupled over the past year. Due to the increased interest, the school can only accept 10 percent of applicants. "With heightened awareness of the PA profession in the last decade, it has become increasingly more competitive to gain acceptance to a PA training program," says Wiemiller.

Given the heightened competition, it's important for applicants to understand what matters most to PA admissions committees. These three top the list, according to officials at PA schools:

1. Medical experience: Your life working in the medical field will not begin once you've graduated from a PA program; it should start well before that. For students hoping to jump directly from their undergraduate studies to a physician assistant program, it is imperative that they spend as many college summers as possible, or use their free time during school, working or volunteering at a hospital or doctor's office. For those students who wish to wait to attend PA school—the average age of people entering PA programs nationwide is 27—find a full-time job working in the medical field after earning your undergraduate degree. "We really are looking for—and I think a lot of other programs are, too—students who've had some previous healthcare experience where they've had some direct interactions with patients," says David P. Asprey, director of the Physician Assistant Program at the University of Iowa Caver College of Medicine, which is U.S. News's top-ranked PA program. "[It] adds a level of maturity."

[See the top ranked physician assistant programs.]

2. Science classes count most: Take as many core science classes—anatomy, biological sciences, and organic chemistry, to name a few—as you can and focus intensely on this coursework. PA programs not only look at your overall GPA—many schools require at least a 3.0 for admission—but give extra weight to your performance in science courses. "Obviously it would be a tragedy if we invited a student to join our program and we could anticipate that they would have difficulty with the academic rigors that are associated with it," says Asprey. "It's not for the faint of heart."
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Along with Angela
Obviously PA's have less knowledge, they have less training, but they are quite capable to do the job they are hired for. If they knew as much as doctors they would not need doctors over them.

Secondly, PA is a great job, pays well, get to help people, but thats what you are, a PA. There is very little room to maneuver, you were trained for one job. And besides you have tell everyone you are a PA :(

[report comment]
Mr. Smith of KS @ Mar 03, 2011 10:29:06 AM

Pa compared to md
I am responding to Angela of il

I have been a PA for 12 years working in emergency rooms and urgent cares. I believe that when a pa graduates, he she probably is at an interns level. However, you must consider the medical experience they may already have when entering school. I have worked in hospitals since I was 18years of age. Many are RNs, paramedics, military corps men ect. Have years of experience before they even apply To disregard that medical experience, and how that affects the learning curve would be a mistake. Also keep in mind that after 3+years of practice in an area of medicine many are up to par with most physicians. Also all studies regarding PAs show that their pt outcomes are in line with the outcomes for patients seen by MDs.

In response to you get what you pay for, actually most PAs I know make great money as we are in high demand. Yes it is less then a physician, but only specialties like neurosurgery and cardiovascular surgery have large disparities between PA and MD salaries. In areas such as family practice, pediatrics, and urgent care the difference on average is usually around 30% less then the physician. But I also had only one third of the school loans to repay. also remember, the more you make, the more taxes you pay. The other day at work, a physician and I calculated that I make more then him in take home pay because he pays 30%alimony to his ex wife. It's all relative. And no one should go into medicine to make money anyways. Much easier ways to make money.

Finally, it has been my experience that when someone speaks the way you did, they have already made up their mind about the profession without doing their homework and looking up any actual data or stats on PAs. I wish you the best of luck in your career, and maybe someday you will meet a PA who might open your mind further to the profession.

[report comment]
Brian of NV @ Oct 30, 2010 01:26:45 AM

Job Search Assistance for Physician Assistants
If You are a newly graduated Physician Assistant looking for your first position, or are a Physician Assistant that has been practicing for a while, but you are looking to relocate, you should contact Cornerstone Medical Recruiting.Cornerstone Medical Recruiting, LLC , based in St. Louis Missouri, is a medical recruiting firm that specializes in recruiting Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners, and Physician Assistants. Through the vast database resources that Cornerstone Medical Recruiting has at it’s disposal, Cornerstone is able to find many career opportunities in many different medical facilities throughout the United States.You may contact Cornerstone Medical Recruiting in the St. Louis, Missouri area by calling (314)868-7390, or toll free at (877) 868-7390. You may also visit their website at www.cmrmedcareers.com

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