What Are the Pros and Cons of Being a Physician Assistant?

One of the primary advantages of being a physician's assistant is need to only finish a two-year program to get qualified, while one of the major downsides is the near-constant supervision. This means that there is no opportunity to work independently no matter how skillful the practitioner becomes.

Becoming a physician's assistant is one of the most in-demand careers today. It is also one of the fastest-growing careers, expected to grow up to 38 percent by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). The job opportunities as a physician's assistant are vast because a graduate can work in all areas of medicine. Moreover, the working conditions and the compensation for physician's assistants are better than other careers in health care. In the Occupational Outlook Handbook published online by the BLS, as of 2014, the annual median pay of a physician assistant is $90,930 or $43.72 per hour.

On the downside, the job description is much more stressful than a regular physician, because it includes both clerical and managerial duties. And with all that work, a PA's salary is still lower than that of an MD. Adding to the stress is the need to undergo 50 hours of Continuing Medical Education or CME every year, plus pass a certifying exam every 6 years.