December 2, 2020
9 Reasons to Become a PA
Join this fast-growing profession now
November 15, 2018
By Brian Palm
If you need a list of reasons to become a PA, repeatedly voted one of the best (and most needed) healthcare professions in the future, we have you covered. Being a PA has so many benefits that it’s hard to argue against wanting to pursue this career. But, if you need more convincing, here are nine reasons to become a PA:
PAs practice in every state and in every medical setting and specialty, improving healthcare access and quality. That’s right, any specialty you can think of, PAs are sure to be found helping care for patients. As a PA, you can practice in areas like dermatology, pathology, cardiothoracic surgery, emergency medicine, and of course, family medicine. Each specialty comes with its own set of responsibilities and practice guidelines, so even if you want to try your hand at a different specialty five years down the road, you can!
- Work/life balance
Another fantastic benefit of the PA profession is the ability to have a life outside of your regular full-time job. Being a PA allows many to have families, hobbies, and time off, without having to be on-call 24/7. While there are certain specialties that are a bit more demanding than others, in general you can count on being able to enjoy your days off without worrying about work.
- Competitive Salary
According to the 2018 AAPA salary report, the median salary of PAs is $105,000. And while your annual salary as a PA will be based on multiple factors such as location, specialty, and years of experience, you can count on being able to provide a great standard of living for you and your family.
- Length of school
Most PA programs last anywhere from 23-28 months, depending on the school. This is of course after you earn your bachelor’s degree. In comparison, medical school involves four years of additional classes after your bachelor’s, then internship/residency for at least three years, then a fellowship (if one chooses). By becoming a PA, you’ll be diagnosing and treating patients shortly after graduating from your PA program! Does it get any better than that?
- Ability to give back to the community
As a PA student, you’ll be trained according to the medical model, getting exposure to many different facets of medicine. Your in-depth training will allow you to recognize and treat illnesses of all different kinds. With this foundation of knowledge, you’ll eventually be able to help volunteer in clinics in the U.S. and abroad. Many PAs go on to work with medical relief charities or volunteer in underserved countries.
- Develop relationships with patients
You likely got into this field because you have a passion for working with others. As a PA, you will have the opportunity to truly make a difference in their quality of life. You’ll be able to assess and treat patients and, while doing so, you’ll get to hear about their lives: about their grandkids, vacations, relationships, etc. You are going to be their shoulder to cry on, and it truly is an honor to be given that much trust and respect from someone who would otherwise be a complete stranger.
- Team-based care
PAs are committed to team practice with physicians and other healthcare providers. In 2017, AAPA passed new policy called Optimal Team Practice, which calls for practice-level decision-making about collaboration. PAs in some specialties may be the only provider for miles, the only access to care patients have. As a PA, you will likely be the one ordering diagnostic studies, doing physical exams, prescribing medicine, and referring patients to specialists. You’ll experience a lot of autonomy, but if you ever need any help, you’ll always have your team to ask questions!
- Continuing education
PAs are required to complete 100 hours of continuing medical education (CME) every two years. This is a great way to stay up to date on the most current practice guidelines, treatment, and latest research. If you enjoy constantly learning and are never satisfied with your foundation of knowledge, this is the profession for you! Fortunately, AAPA provides its members with numerous resources to obtain CME including a JAAPA subscription that will help you hit that mark.
- Job market
The Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees the PA job market to increase 38 percent from 2012 to 2022. Other professions are dwindling, or being replaced by automation, but you can enter the PA field with considerable job security.
Brian Palm, PA-C, practices emergency medicine in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He manages www.myparesource.com.