So Forbes has a list for everything. Want to know the largest private companies, most expensive zip codes, most powerful women or world’s billionaires? Forbes can tell you. Now, how important or useful that information is, is all in the eye of the beholder. However, back in June Forbes published a list I hope most college students took notice of.
The Best and Worst Master’s Degrees for Jobs (http://blogs.forbes.com/jacquelynsmith/2011/06/06/the-best-and-worst-masters-degrees-for-jobs/) identified the physician assistant degree as the top degree on the list, tied with computer science. The science behind the list had Forbes tracking the median pay for 35 of the most popular graduate degrees using payscale.com. Next the study looked at Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment projection data to identify fields with high growth projections. Finally, the study ranked the degrees from one to 35 by averaging the degree pay rank and estimated growth.
It is really no surprise that PAs are in high demand. There aren’t enough doctors to keep up with our aging population and there aren’t enough medical school seats to produce the doctors to keep up. Logic tells you that alternative measures are needed. Enter the physician assistant. A physician assistant is educated in the medical model. PAs are nationally certified and work side by side with both osteopathic and allopathic physicians in every medical specialty. PAs are licensed to diagnose illness, prescribe medications and assist in surgery. They conduct physical exams, order and interpret medical tests and provide counseling on preventive health care. A PA has at least six years of education: a four-year undergraduate degree and the physician assistant degree. PA students complete more than 2,400 hours of clinical rotations prior to graduation.
PAs aren’t paid quite as highly as doctors; nevertheless, the Forbes article points out the mid-career median pay exceeds $100,000. The growth of the PA job market is also expected to grow by 39% over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The PA works as part of the health care team. The profession originated at Duke University in the 1960s after medics returning from the Vietnam War discovered there was really no civilian equivalent to their former military profession. From the beginning, the physician assistant profession has embraced a teamwork approach to health care, providing mid-level practitioners who can work side-by-side with physicians to provide efficient and effective health care to patients in need.
The inaugural class of the Physician Assistant Program at Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) will celebrate its commencement on Saturday, July 30, at 10 a.m. at the Sam and Sue Mars Performing Arts Center in the Duke Hall of Citizenship on the LMU main campus in Harrogate, Tenn. The class of 32 new health practitioners are ready to make an impact on our region and beyond. Many have already secured clinical positions and will be immediately helping to serve the health care needs of the region.