One of the most frequent questions I get asked is "Why physician assistant? Why not a doctor or nurse practitioner?" Not only is this an important question to be able to answer for yourself (an aspiring PA), but it is also the most important question to be able to answer during a PA school interview. So I decided to share my reasons for becoming a PA specifically and compare the differences between PA, MD/DO, and ARNP.
I first learned about the PA profession when I ran into a very attractive, Tom Hardy looking PA while volunteering at a hospital during my senior year of high school. At the time, I just learned the basics about the profession and continued along aspiring to be a doctor. During my sophomore year of college, I started to learn more about medical school and met quite a few miserable doctors... I started to really think about what I wanted for my future and looked into the PA profession. During my research, I discovered:
PAs and ARNPs are both mid-level practitioners that basically have the same exact responsibilities as a physician, except they have an assigned supervising physician to consult with and have look over their work
PAs have more lateral mobility (meaning they can change specialities without redoing a 5+ year residency) than both doctors and ARNPs
Mid-level practitioners (PAs and ARNPs) are able to spend more time with their patients to discuss treatment plans or diagnoses than physicians
PAs are able to assist throughout surgeries and close solo! ARNPs are very rarely able to assist in surgeries.
PA school is only a 2 year master's program with no required (5+ year) residency and is much cheaper than medical school
PA school utilizes the medical model like medical school, while ARNP school utilizes the nursing model like nursing school
Lastly, the PA profession is ranked #2 in the best healthcare job category and #3 in the 100 best jobs category by U.S. News and World Report. Plus... it currently has a projected growth rate of 37%- Talk about job security!
As someone who loves the medical field, but also loves hiking, traveling, and my family (aka just living a normal life), I felt like the PA profession was much better suited for me than the MD/DO profession. Although the differences between ARNP and PA are quite slim, I decided to become a PA because I wanted to learn using the medical model and I might want to become a surgical PA.
Just to note- ARNPs are able to open up their own practice, while PAs can only work in a practice with a supervising physician. So if opening up your own practice is something you want to do, then you should probably become an ARNP.
Hopefully this information was helpful to anyone considering the PA profession or any pre-PA students trying to construct a good answer to this all important interview question. Happy first day of February!