Physicians Assistant or Anesthesiologist Assistant?

<p>Which career, in your opinion, is best considering all factors (time spent with patients, doing things hands on, length of training, salary, etc) and why?

<p>I think being a physician assistant would be a safe choice. The requirements for admission to PA training programs vary depending upon college and place. They only need to complete an accredited education program and pass a national exam in order to obtain a license. So being a physician assistant is easy, and the job prospects is also very high.</p>

<p>Becoming a Physician Assistant is definitely not easy. Over 1/3 of the entering class for the graduate phase drops out or fails out in many schools. Many of my daughter's classes are med school classes, taught by the same profs who teach med students, condensed into a shorter time period but containing all of the information that the med students receive. She is in classes from 7:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. four days a week, with a half day on Fridays after 4 hours of clinic. Anything under an 80% is failing. She had 10 final exams last semester in classes varying from pediatric cardiology to pharmacology. PA's have to take licensure exams every few years, and must test in every specialty instead of just the one that they are practicing within.</p>

<p>That said, she absolutely loves it. </p>

<p>As far as the contrast with anesthesiology, it depends upon your interest. You would have limited patient contact as an anesthesiology assistant. A PA has a range of practice choices.... my kid is going into general practice, so she will see the same patients and develop relationships with them, as opposed to seeing patients only before and after surgery.</p>

<p>Anesthesiologist Assistant is a relatively new profession and is not recognized or licensed in all states. Not all practices will use them even where they are recognized. Being a PA will likely give you more flexibility. If you really want to do anesthesia as an allied, you might consider being a CRNA.</p>

<p>AA is a great career choice for those interested in the OR but not the extremely long education required for an MD Anesth. AA program is a super intense 2 yrs with great earning potential $120K right out of school. AA education was pioneered at Emory in Atlanta and is now at Case Western and a couple more schools - Case is expanding their program to Houston and DC. Same job duties as CRNA.</p>

<p>The great thing about P.A.s is that you can switch specialities at any point in your career. Orthopaedics, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, emergency med, ob/gyn, dermatology, are also choices.</p>

<p>"The great thing about P.A.s is that you can switch specialities at any point in your career. Orthopaedics, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, emergency med, ob/gyn, dermatology, are also choices."</p>

<p>This is true. Even when you receive a $44K government grant to encourage you to stay in primary care, after doing that for a few years.</p>

<p>As an anesthesiology resident, having gone through medical school, experienced PA's and CRNA's (but no AA's admittedly), I can say that the training between a PA and doctor of medicine is drastically different. PA's and NP's know a decent amount of clinical knowledge, but their training is nowhere near the pathophysiology that a medical student learns. They know the symptoms and the treatments, but not the "why," if you will, of disease processes from the intracellular level to the clinical presentation and the pharmacology to the same extent...</p>

<p>That being said, I think AA (or CRNA for that matter) is an excellent choice. You won't have the longevity of patient contact vs being a PA, but your contact is short and sweet in anesthesia. You have to rapidly gain patient trust and develop report in the matter of minutes, which is a skill not easily mastered. That being said, anesthesia is awesome - you are the master of applied physiology and pharmacology. As an AA or CRNA, you will be supervised by a physician, but you do have a decent amount of freedom to practice intraoperatively in your own style. </p>

<p>Both PA and AA are valid options; it's really just what you would rather do. I couldn't stand being in clinic all day every day dealing with essential hypertension and diabetes over the course of decades. I'd rather deal with it in the OR for short spurts and not worry about long-term patient compliance. You're taking over a patient's respiration, hemodynamic stability, providing analgesia/amnesia, and waking them up at the end to a (hopefully) relatively free pain environment after someone just cut them open with sharp knives and prodded their organs with pointy objects. It's pretty cool</p>