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

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hot & Cold Therapy Myths & Facts

Hot & Cold Therapy Myths & Facts

Ice is Better than Heat to Treat Pain: MYTH

The fact is, it depends on the stage of the injury. So to say that using heat or ice to treat an injury is better or worse is inaccurate unless you’re speaking to when they should be used. Initially, when the injury is fresh, you will want to use ice. Applying ice to an injury will cause the blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow and reducing swelling. An ice pack will also serve as a local anesthetic, numbing the pain that you’ll be feeling from the injury.

Heat therapy is best for chronic injuries & ailments. If swelling and inflammation isn’t an issue, heat therapy is generally okay to use. If you have a chronic injury, applying heat will help loosen up your joints and muscles, increasing flexibility and reducing pain when you’re active.

You Shouldn’t Put Ice on a Head Injury: MYTH

With concussions becoming a major concern in contact sports, some myths about head injuries have been floating around that are simply inaccurate. As far as hot and cold therapy is concerned, you should apply ice to a head injury. This serves the same purpose as any other injury—reducing blood flow to reduce swelling and inflammation, and also relieving the pain from the injury.

What you will want to avoid, especially if the head injury seems serious, is applying pressure to the injury. In the event that the skull has been fractured, applying pressure can further injure the area. Simply place and hold a cold pack on the injury don’t press it down.

Only Keep Ice or Heat on an Injury for 20 Minutes: FACT

Icing or heating an injury for too long can cause further damage to the muscle tissue you’re trying to repair. If you ice an injury for over 20 minutes, you run the risk of frostbite or nerve and tissue damage. Your body will also try to counteract the cold and actually open the blood vessels up, which could increase swelling—the very thing you are trying to prevent. Heat application is a bit more tricky considering that it is used for chronic injuries. If you suspect you have a chronic injury (3+ months of pain), it’s important to visit a doctor that can instruct you on how to treat it.