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PA Among the Fastest-Growing Careers for Young Professionals

Wayne Whitehurst October 24, 2020

If you were asked to name what you believe are the fastest growing jobs among young professionals, would physician assistant (PA) jobs be on your list? They should be. A recent survey looking at the top 25 jobs for young professionals has physician assistant at number three. It is surpassed only by information security analyst and computer programming and operations.

Anything having to do with IT and computers would logically make this kind of list. Younger people just graduating from college have grown up on technology. We expect them to have an interest in all things computer and IT.

As far as medical careers go, it would be reasonable to assume doctors and nurses would make the top 10. But guess what? Neither make the list. The only other medical jobs on the list were nurse practitioner (14), dietitian/nutritionist (23), and pharmacist (24).

PA job growth has been pegged at 93% from 2015 to 2019. So what is so attractive about PA jobs? Health Jobs Nationwide has a few suggestions:

1. Good Pay

You always have to consider compensation when you are trying to figure out what attracts young people to their chosen careers. It is no secret that PAs make good money. Maybe not as much as physicians, but good money, nonetheless.

According to the Bureau of Labor and statistics (BLS) the median pay for physician assistants in 2019 was $112,260 annually. That works out to nearly $54 per hour. It stands to reason that six-figures would attract young professionals.

2. Education Requirements

Physician assistant is one of only a few jobs on the top 25 list requiring education above and beyond a bachelor’s degree. But compared to other clinical jobs, the education requirements for a PA are reasonable. A typical PA program runs from 22 to 28 months following completion of a bachelor’s program.

By contrast, physicians complete four years of medical school followed by an internship that could be as long as three years. Some even choose a one or two-year fellowship after that. By the time the doctor completes his or her education, the PA has already been on the job for several years.

3. Plenty of Specialties

PAs are licensed to practice in every state. Furthermore, they have a range of specialties to choose from. Physician assistants can be found in emergency medicine, primary care, dermatology, pathology, and more. The sheer number of choices does not limit future physician assistants to just one or two PA jobs. This is attractive in terms of both finding that first job and developing one’s career.

4. Work-Life Balance

Young professionals desiring a medical career might be steered away from physician jobs because of the demands such jobs would place on them. Alternatively, it has been suggested that PA jobs offer a better work-life balance. Why would that be?

First of all, the majority states still do not allow PAs to work completely independent of supervising physicians. That eliminates the possibility of owning one’s own practice. Second, employed PAs do not have the same types of responsibilities as doctors. They are not always on call and do not have the hassles of trying to run a business. It is easier for them to put in their work hours and then go home to the rest of their lives.

America’s young professionals are an up-and-coming group of people facing a world vastly different from what their parents and grandparents faced. Things are changing fast in the modern world. And with those changes, job choices are evolving as well. Many young professionals are choosing a medical path by pursuing careers as physician assistants.