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Millennials Are Ditching Aspirations Of Being Doctors To Be Physician Assistants

By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: College of DuPage

When it comes to the medical field, people under the age of 40 are not shooting for the highest title the field can offer nowadays.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation of a physician assistant is the most rapidly growing job in the nation. Over the course of the next decade, the Bureau believes that the number of physician assistants may increase nationally by 37%. This dwarfs the national increases in the growth of other occupations.

In a column, USA TODAY very recently profiled this phenomenon in the medical filed and conducted interviews with a number of younger medical professionals. They all gave their reasons for aspiring to be physician assistants instead of physicians. Some of their explanations had to do with a desire for convenience.

Others said condensed school scheduling was an attractive factor. And of course, there was the cost/benefit analysis as well. “I’ll be in a position where I’m almost doing the same thing as a surgeon would be but less schooling, more flexibility and no crazy hours,” said Victoria Calo, 20.

Calo is a student at the University of Delaware and is in her third year of school. She is majoring in exercise science. The USA TODAY national newspaper also interviewed established medical professionals with years of experience. One of them said that the rise in the number of physician assistants today resonates the reality that there is a lack of options.

Most students cannot afford to incur the insurmountable debt that becoming a doctor can cause. Physicians can make over $200,000 a year starting out. However, the base pay for an assistant is only $80,000 a year. A salary that size can still be hard to live on when the high cost of monthly student loan repayments is factored in.

However, a physician shortage in the future could have far-reaching ramifications.

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