Weighing Careers: Medical Assistant vs. Physician Assistant29 August 2017
If you’re considering on whether or not to pursue a career in healthcare, you may find yourself weighing the pros and cons of studying to be a medical assistant vs. a physician assistant. We know education is a big investment of your time and money, so let’s compare some of the differences between an MA and a PA.
Of course, both options involve setting out on an educational journey to get you to the job. To become a physician’s assistant (PA) requires more education. You’d need to begin with a bachelor’s degree in a related field, as well as ensure that you take prerequisites necessary to apply for a PA program. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to consider PA schools and determine whether you have the necessary pre-requisites. These graduate programs are typically two years long. If you’re ready for a career change sooner, a medical assistant certificate may be a better alternative. PPC offers two programs focused on medical assisting, one is a 50-academic week diploma which can be completed in as little as a year, and the other is an associate’s degree, which could be completed in 70 academic weeks. A medical assisting program provides entry-level healthcare job opportunities.
As you may have guessed, the responsibilities between these two roles are very different. A medical assistant is responsible for clinical tasks as well as administrative tasks. This can be a good direction for someone who is unsure they want a hands-on role with patients, as some career possibilities include helping the physician with patient examinations. A medical assistant may often be the person who helps a patient prepare for an examination by taking a medical history as well as vitals. On the other hand, a physician’s assistant can examine, diagnose, and treat patients all under the care of a licensed physician. Like medical doctors, PAs can specialize in an area of medicine and assist in advanced medical procedures, whereas medical assistants are more limited. This difference in responsibility is the reason for the difference in education and licensure.
You may still find yourself unsure as to which medical career to pursue. If you’re looking at getting a start with a shorter academic program and an entry-level healthcare job, a Medical Assisting program at PPC for either a diploma or an associate’s degree may be the right fit for you. Talk with one of our admissions officers, today, to see how one of our programs would fit into your life.