Physician Assistant Salary

Physician Assistant Salary

Working as a physician assistant, also often referred to as a PA, is rewarding in many ways. In addition to having the opportunity to help doctors care for patients on a regular basis and enjoying the freedom to move between specialties, the average physician assistant salary is quite high compared to other similar occupations. On average, a typical physician assistant’s annual salary is between $75,000 and $110,000. The top PAs in the country make approximately $200,000.

Physician assistant salary ranges vary depending on a number of factors. Here, we’ll review those factors, as well as explore the career opportunities for PAs. We’ll also take a quick look at typical duties performed during a physician assistant’s day, as well as the average amount of schooling necessary to enter this exciting field.

Becoming a Physician Assistant

Before you begin earning a physician assistant salary, you must first complete the required schooling. Currently, there are approximately 150 accredited PA programs in the United States. Before entering one of these programs, having a Bachelor’s Degree is usually required. Working in nursing, medical assisting, or another form of healthcare while attending school is helpful, in order to increase your chances of immediate employment as a PA upon graduation.

A degree as a physician assistant is either a Bachelor’s or a Master’s Degree, requiring from 2 to 4 years of targeted study. Most schools are currently moving toward offering only Master’s Degrees in this field.

One of the Top Jobs in the Country

Physician Assistant Salary

According to CNN Money, a physician assistant holds the second most desirable job in the entire nation.* Why? The combination of high salary, a focus on patient care and the freedom to move between specialties all factor into this ranking. In addition, most PAs are extremely happy in their careers and there is an abundance of physician assistant jobs in the US.

Physician assistants get to work closely with doctors and help patients on a daily basis, without the grueling studies and lengthy residency programs required to become a medical doctor. They also enjoy not being limited to one field of medicine, as most doctors are. If a PA spends ten years in general practice and then decides it’s time for a change, they’re free to make that change with little or no extra schooling required.

It’s not hard to see why a physician assistant salary is so high. PAs work closely with patients, performing tests, taking medical histories, treating minor wounds, educating and prescribing medicine. They get to consult with doctors, and have the freedom to pass a particular case on to a doctor if they feel it’s too complex for their level of expertise. Many PAs feel that they have the best job in the world, due to the excellent pay and rewarding job responsibilities.

What Is A Typical Physician Assistant Salary?

The salaries of physician assistants vary from area to area. In large cities, physician assistant pay is almost always higher than in rural areas. The local cost of living plays a large role as well. In general, the higher the cost of living, the higher the pay.

Experience also plays a large role in a physician assistant salary. A recent graduate will probably find themselves earning approximately $10,000 less per year than the median salary in their local area. For example, if the median physician assistant salary in your area is $90,000, you may earn approximately $80,000 until you have a few years of experience. This shouldn’t’ discourage prospective physician assistants from entering the field; PAs still enjoy one of the very highest starting salaries of all careers in the United States.

Where you live and work also plays an important role in your physician assistant salary. According to studies, the states with the highest PA salaries are Nevada, Mississippi, California, Alaska and Rhode Island. The lowest salaries for physician assistants are found in Indiana, Colorado, South Dakota, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Though there are exceptions, salaries generally mirror the cost of living. A PA living and working in West Virginia, even though the salary is less than the national average, may be able to live just as comfortably as a PA living and working in California, simply because major expenses such as housing and fuel are much lower.

As if these high starting salaries weren’t enough, the physician assistant salary outlook is bright. As the country’s population ages and healthcare reform brings more individuals into hospitals and clinics, the already high demand for qualified healthcare workers is only going to rise. Salaries will go up accordingly, since employers will be willing to pay more in order to have an adequate number of qualified workers on hand.

Working in a highly specialized field can increase your physician assistant salary as well. A PA working under a surgeon, for example, typically makes significantly more than a PA working under a general practitioner. This is due to the amount of extra experience and knowledge required for delicate surgical assisting.

What Does a Physician Assistant Do?

During a typical day, a physician assistant in general practice will perform many of the same duties as a doctor. They will perform testing on patients, treat minor wounds, interpret laboratory results, prescribe medication, counsel and educate patients on healthy living habits, and perform a wide variety of other medical functions as needed. They will also assist the doctor when required, and consult with doctors on complex cases which require more expertise.

In areas which are more specialized, such as surgery, a physician assistant will work closely with a doctor during surgery, offering vital professional support and an extra pair of hands when required. A PA working in surgery may also be in charge of monitoring a patient after an operation.

Your physician assistant salary will be hard-earned, but nearly all PAs report that they wouldn’t have it any other way. The challenges of seeing new patients each day keeps them motivated and interested in their jobs. A physician assistant salary truly reflects the amount of time and dedication these healthcare professionals put into their work.

Do You Have What it Takes To Earn A Physician Assistant Salary?

While the high physician assistant salary is a big draw, it’s important that a prospective PA has the right personality for this challenging job. Entering a career simply for the money, especially a caring career such as hands-on healthcare, is never a good idea.

A physician assistant must also be prepared to cope with the high stress which comes along with any healthcare position. While some days may be routine, a PA never knows when an acute illness or an emergency is going to come along. While many thrive on this unpredictability, it makes others nervous. A nervous PA can’t perform up to their ability, putting their patient’s health in jeopardy.

Another thing to consider is the subordinate role of a physician assistant. While they are highly skilled and carry a great deal of responsibility, PAs are not doctors. If you feel that you won’t be comfortable with a doctor supervising your work, then perhaps physician assisting isn’t the right career for you.

Those most ideally suited for a career in healthcare have a genuine concern for their patients and a desire to see them healthy. They enjoy treating patients, conversing with them and educating them on staying healthy at home. In short, the best physician assistants are caring individuals with the intelligence and schooling to offer reliable medical treatment and advice.

Does this sound like you? If so, you could soon be earning a top physician assistant salary and truly enjoying your career!

* Source: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bestjobs/2010/snapshots/2.html

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