I’m a military Physician Assistant and very happy with my career.
PA’s are medically trained providers (trained like physicians) but usually with only 2-3 years of medical training beyond an undergraduate degree instead of the 7-9 years physicians have to train after getting a 4 year degree. It’s usually near the top of any list of “jobs to get into” based on education requirements, pay and job satisfaction. It’s #5 on this year’s Money Magazine “Best Jobs In America List” (linked below)
PAs are required to work under the supervision of a physician, but with varying degrees of supervision. Some are required to have their supervising physician in the same building, some are required to have the supervising physician within 1 hour travel time of where the PA is practicing (such as rural communities). The military grants PAs much more autonomy than the civilian workplace.
Most PAs I know are making six figures, which is decent considering the number of years of education that goes into the training. And the jobs market for PA’s is growing. Specialty PAs can make twice the mean salary of all PAs. One PA I trained under was working in an ER for two 12-hour shifts (Sat/Sun) a week and making over $100K with full benefits.
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a 53 percent increase in jobs for PAs from 2000-2010. The median salary, according to the 2004 census, is $74,264; the mean salary was $78,257.” from…
The biggest downside is limited autonomy if you were a person who wanted to be the boss. If you choose the right job with a decent physician to work with/for, this is less of an issue.
Also, most PAs don’t have to deal too much with the business end of medicine. Rather, they come in, see patients, and go home. Family Medicine physicians’ mean income is approx $150K/yr, but that often has to cover overhead for running a business/practice and school loans, etc.
Check it out.
Another to consider would be physical therapist. But a lot of those patients are very long term care, and I prefer instant gratification of healing someone rather quickly.
I hope you wind up with something you are happy doing.