Monday, December 30, 2013

Should You Go to PA School? Deciding if Becoming a Physician Assistant is Right for You

The healthcare industry is booming right now, with nearly all medical professionals in high demand. Physician Assistants are among the most highly sought after graduates and it's a great career choice for people that want to be heavily involved in diagnosis and treatment, but might not want to spend the time and money to become a physician.

One of the benefits of becoming a physician assistant (PA) as opposed to a nurse practitioner (NP) is that a physician's assistant often has more flexibility in his or her career choices after becoming a certified PA. NP's are trained within a specialty, and so if they were to move between specialties, additional training would be required.


Physician assistants require a master's degree in Physician Assistant Studies, Health Science, or Medical Science. To get into a PA program, the applicant has to take the GRE or MCAT, and also needs a bachelor's degree. Typical bachelor's degrees for PA students include nutrition, sports physiology, psychology, biology, and other science majors. Not only will a science based major look better when you're applying to a PA school, but it will also ensure you have taken the required classes and help you on the GRE or MCAT more than a non-science major. Finally, most PA students have a work background in health care, including technicians, medics, nursing assistants, medical assistants, and more.

PA school is usually a two to three year program. According to U.S. News & World Report these are the top 25 PA programs in the country:

  1. Duke University
  2. University of Iowa
  3. University of Utah
  4. Emory University
  5. George Washington University
  6. Baylor College of Medicine
  7. Oregon Health and Sciences University
  8. University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey–Newark
  9. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center–Dallas
  10. University of Washington
  11. Quinnipiac University
  12. University of Colorado–Denve
  13. Interservice Physician Assistant Program
  14. Northeastern University
  15. Stony Brook University–SUNY
  16. University of Nebraska Medical Center
  17. University of Oklahoma
  18. Philadelphia University
  19. University of Texas Health Science Center–San Antonio
  20. Wake Forest University
  21. Yale University
  22. Drexel University
  23. Midwestern University
  24. Shenandoah University
  25. DeSales University

You should pick a handful of schools you are interested in attending and do your research into their requirements for admission to maximize your chances of getting in.

Salaries & Schedule

PA's typically work on salary, as opposed to a nurse that typically works on an hourly basis. If you need the flexibility of an hourly schedule, pursuing an NP career might be more suitable. Your level of pay as a PA will largely depend on the state that you are practicing in and the demand for that particular area, but the median in the United States is $90,000/year according to

MMAR Medical is a medical equipment retailer that specializes in bracing, DME equipment, diabetic footwear and more. Visit our store for our complete selection.