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Growth and Demand for Physician Assistants

A recent article by Delece Smith-Barrow in U.S. News & World Report’s Graduate School Advice section highlights that an employment surge is likely for physician assistants in the coming years, and for good reasons: with a manageable amount of training, the opportunity of career, and great pay, physician assistants increase access to medical care in America. 
In the article, Steve Howe, an associate professor and medical director of the physician assistant program at Marietta College in Ohio, shares, “Jobs like physician assistants may fill a void for the health care industry,” and Smith-Barrow suggests college students with an interest in medicine and who excel in biochemistry consider a physician assistant occupation. 
In the 1990s a little more than 50 physician assistant programs existed. Now, less than 15 years later, 187 accredited programs have been established. John McGinnity, president of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and professor at Wayne State University ?in Michigan’s physician assistant program, notes, “The demand [for physician assistants] has really taken off.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physician assistants is projected to grow 38% from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than the average growth of other occupations. 
Still, Smith-Barrow writes that students choosing between different medical professions need to weigh several key factors including schooling and training, career flexibility, and pay. She shares McGinnity’s path as an example: he didn’t want to lead or run a medical practice by himself. However, as a physician assistant he especially enjoys working in a dynamic team environment. “The collaborative nature of the work and the opportunity to only focus on patients are some of the best aspects of the job for him,” writes Smith-Barrow. 
McGinnity shares, “For me it is truly about access,” and helping people with limited health care resources is part of the nature of being a physician assistant.
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Image: Jasleen Kaur

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