Physician Assistant Careers: For PAs, Location Matters

evaluating physician assistant career opportunities

Upon completion of a masters in physician assistant program, a student will look ahead to the certification examination.  But after completing their certification, one of the most important decisions a newly minted physician assistant must make is where they want to practice. 

Do they want to work for a large health system, an outpatient medical center or a small physician’s office? And, if so, where? In a city? In a rural area? Is it best to stay close to home, or relocate? 

Because physician assistants are in demand, they are likely to have options, including career options outside of clinical work. But they need to consider them carefully in order to make the decision that is best for them and their careers, both in the short and long term.

Factors For Evaluating Physician Assistant Career Opportunities

Here are some of the important factors new physician assistants will want to take into account when evaluating available career opportunities.

  • Career advancement opportunities. For many professionals, urban areas offer more opportunities for career advancement. But for a physician assistant, the opposite may be true. This is because physician assistants nearing retirement age are more likely to practice in underserved rural areas where there is less competition for promotions and more opportunities to move into senior roles. 
  • The potential for burnout. Younger physician assistants are more apt to experience burnout than those deeper into their careers. Why? Perhaps because younger PAs are more likely to choose to work in busy urban areas, where the workload and stress can be significantly greater. 

It is not necessarily that simple, however. Physician assistants working in underserved rural areas also can work long hours and experience stress. In addition, they can miss out on the learning opportunities that can accompany working in a demanding, busy urban environment.  But a physician assistant who can choose to practice anywhere will want to weigh the pros and cons when it comes to their desired work-life balance and their own mental health.

  • The benefits of practicing in the local community. Some people choose to become physician assistants because they want to help people in the community where they live. Or they may just feel most comfortable practicing in a location they already know, whether that is in an urban or rural area. For these individuals, these considerations may outweigh the other factors that could dictate location.

Launch your career as a physician assistant through Carlow University’s MS in Physician Assistant program. This innovative, cohort-based program will prepare you to take the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE) and pursue a versatile and in-demand career as a physician assistant.