Is being a physician assistant worth it? Is PA a good career?

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Is being a physician assistant worth it? Yes, it surely is. Being a PA is distinct because it allows you to become able to diagnose illness and diseases alongside physicians and help the physicians to carry out a lot of procedures and you get no legal burden or liability. But it also comes with the issue which most people face is that they are not actually doctors and they can not treat patients solely without the guidance of an attending physician.

How many years do physician assistants go to school?

Most PA’s go directly to PA school at the graduate level after they complete a short training in the healthcare field. PA school is four years after a graduate degree so in total, about 8 years of education is required to become a PA.

The requirements for a PA program include:

  1. A bachelor’s degree (a science or healthcare related major is usually best);
  2. One year of work experience in a healthcare setting;
  3. Next, you need to apply to ARC-PA accredited programs;
  4. You can opt for a 2-3 year, master’s level program, or directly enter ( depends on state);
  5. Next, you would have to pass the PANCE licensing exam, but this is usually taken while in PA school similar to USMLE in med school.

Visit the American Association of Physician Assistants ( for the latest details. You should also read “What to do with a biology degree besides medical school” to check what other career options do you have.

Is being a physician assistant worth it

What are the pros and cons of being a physician’s assistant?

Pros of being a Physician Assistant

  • No legal liability. You can not get sued for medical malpractice or negligence.
  • Easy course of study as compared with med school
  • Early entry into the profession
  • Easy licensing exams
  • High salary compared to other professions (physician assistants can expect salaries upwards of $100,000)

Cons of being a Physician Assistant

  • Not licensed to treat illness and prescribe treatments
  • Can not practice independently
  • Salary is low when compared to an average doctor’s salary

Is physician assistant a stressful job?

Yes, it is. You will have to take calls and your job timings will be determined by a Rota. You will not be able to take long vacations off. If you want a holiday you will have to inform your supervisor in advance and arrange a replacement for yourself on the Rota. If you get on a job in a hospital half the month you will be on the night roster which will mean that you have less family time in general. But despite all these stressful situations, which are very common in the profession there are also work-based stressful situations like trauma support and code blues. So, if you are not someone who can deal with all these stresses it’s better to choose a different career now. But if you think that you will be able to manage this, especially with a family, and are passionate about helping people by all means pursue the career.

Do you regret becoming a PA? Is being a physician assistant worth it?

I am not a PA. But I talk to many PAs on my shift. Most don’t regret the job. The only regret they have is missing family time. The most common complaint I hear from PAs is not being able to take the day off for their kid’s birthday or school recital. They never express any regret about choosing the career. They all love the hustle and bustle at the hospital and are passionate about helping people. But to be honest, these issues are common to all healthcare professions except maybe a few. So if you are thinking about joining a healthcare field be very aware of these.

Are PAs happier or Doctors?

PAs are much happier as they don’t get burned out on the same level as Doctors. let me explain. Doctors specialize in only one field and have to do the same procedures and the same treatments in the field over and over again, day after day. It gets quite boring and couple this with the long hours most get burned out in a couple of years. PAs on the other hand can switch specialties and work in different fields without requiring any further certification. PAs are generalists and hence they can move from one specialty to the next to keep the job from getting mundane. Hence they are much happier over the course of say 30 years, in general.

Do PA’s work long hours?

Yes, they do. If they are on call, on a Rota system. If they are working shifts they generally have to work 8 hours. But these hours can be from 8 to 4 in the morning, 4 to 12 in the afternoon, or 12 to 8 at night. Hence even if the shift hours are not lengthy, the timing of the shift can annoy some people.

Do PAs regret not going to medical school?

In my discussions with many PAs, they usually don’t regret it. But I have discussed with only older-aged PAs so I can’t say anything about younger ones. The ones who do regret becoming a PA, do so because they think they would be better off if they had entered the field as a Nurse practitioner or Registered nurse instead. When I asked them why they said that they would be able to advance their career and earn higher and higher salaries if they entered as an NP or RN. It would also save them the high college debts that they had withdrawn to pursue this career, as NP is a 6 months course while RN is a 4-year course at the undergrad level.

The PA program does not have any further specialization routes to follow after you graduate other than PA training in highly specialized healthcare fields. To quote a few, “to advance my career as a PA, I have to leave the profession entirely and adopt an administrative or research role by doing a masters or Ph.D.”.

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