Career Advancement for Physician Assistants

Becoming a physician assistant requires one to gain a graduate degree; however, advancement for those in this career may still mean going back to medical school to earn a professional degree. Those who do not want this can also consider jobs in management.

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Career Growth Opportunities for Physician Assistants

Physician assistants work with doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals to help in treating patients and diagnosing medical issues. This job requires a master's degree, and often those entering this field have some prior experience in medicine as an EMT or registered nurse. Career advancement for a physician assistant often means going back to medical school. This process involves more time in class, as well as additional years in a residency at a medical facility. For those physician assistants who don't want to go back to college, moving into a position within medical facility management can be an alternate way to advance one's career.

Job Title Median Salary* Job Growth (2016-2026)* Qualifications
Anesthesiologist $453,687 (2015) 15% Medical school degree, completion of residency program, licensing through the state
General Surgeon $409,665 (2015) 14% Medical school degree, completion of residency program, licensing through the state
Family Doctor $230,456 (2015) 14% (family or general practitioners) Medical school degree, completion of residency program, licensing through the state
Medical and Health Services Manager $98,350 (2017) 20% Experience working within the healthcare industry

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov)

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Career Information

Anesthesiologist

Working as an anesthesiologist is an option for physician assistants who decide to enroll in medical school. The skills required to perform the tasks associated with this position are distinct and require a specific course of study. Anesthesiologists administer general and local anesthesia before medical procedures. They also monitor the patient throughout the procedure and must report to the surgeon if anything seems to be going wrong. Once one has received the proper training in anesthesiology at medical school, they must also complete a residency which can take 3 to 7 years.

General Surgeon

Similar to becoming an anesthesiologist, performing surgery requires a highly-honed skill set that is gained through the completion of medical school and a residency program. General surgeons are trained to do many different types of surgeries on various areas of the body. Many surgeons then concentrate on certain types of surgical procedures later, once they have developed their abilities and discovered their area of interest.

Family Doctor

A professional degree gained through completion of medical school is needed, followed by a residency in family medicine. Family doctors, also known as primary care physicians, are responsible for monitoring the overall health of their patients. They perform routine checkups and are often the first medical professional a person sees when something seems to be amiss with their health. Family doctors are trained to detect many different issues and can refer their patients to specialists if needed.

Medical and Health Services Manager

This is the only career move on this list that does not require physician assistants to go back to school. In fact, the experience gained as a physician assistant positions one perfectly for becoming a medical and health services manager, as a thorough knowledge of the healthcare industry is required. Master's degrees are also preferred, although they are not always necessary for those with the right skill set. As a medical and health services manager, one is responsible for coordinating how medical services are administered. Individuals may oversee an entire facility, a department, or a small group of doctors. The work is administrative in nature and can be a good fit for physician assistants who no longer want to practice medicine but do want to remain in the medical industry.

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