The November 2009 issue of Money magazine ranks physician assistant and nurse practitioner among the 50 best jobs in America.
In fact, physician assistant ranks second and nurse practitioner fourth. The study rated jobs on flexibility, benefit to society, satisfaction and stress, and PA and NP received identical scores in three of the four categories: “B” for flexibility, “A” for benefit to society and satisfaction.
The low grades (“C” for PA, “D” for NP), not surprisingly, were in the stress category. (Don’t let this scare you — only six occupations received “B’s” in this category, and there were no “A’s.”) The article also provides salary information, and the news there is encouraging. The median salary for PA’s is $90,900, with a top salary of $124,000. NP’s come in slightly lower with a median of $85,000 and a top of $113,000.
The best news of all, given today’s employment market, is that both professions are considered recession-proof. The shortage of primary care physicians and the advent of stand-alone urgent care centers and clinics in retail establishments have created many new opportunities; in addition, both PA’s and NP’s are attractive to medical facilities looking to keep costs down. A Winston-Salem PA quoted in the article considers flexibility the best part of his job. To date, he has worked in family practice, public health and emergency medicine. A New York City NP most enjoys teaching her patients about the small lifestyle changes which can lead to significant improvements in health.
If you’re on the fence about medical school, or you know you want to work in health care but haven’t zeroed in on a specific occupation, these are solid choices to consider carefully.
By Joan Davis, who had 18 years of experience as a pre-medical adviser at the University of Rochester before joining Accepted in 2006.