5 Genuine Reasons Why You Should Become a Physician Associate Instead of a Doctor

doctor sitting in front of his desk

Making the decision on whether to study to become a doctor, or a physician associate can be a daunting and often intimidating prospect.

On the one hand, doctors are more well known and have been around for longer, but on the other, the PA role is new and quite promising!

But which is best?

doctor sitting in front of his desk
5 Genuine Reasons Why You Should Become a Physician Associate Instead of a Doctor

Why you should become a Physician Associate instead of a doctor

You start earning money sooner

One of the biggest benefits of becoming a physician associate instead of a doctor is you don’t have to spend as much time studying at university.

 If you already have an undergraduate degree, you should expect to only spend 2 additional years at university before you start making money.

This might be extremely important for individuals with dependants, or other responsibilities who may not be able to afford the prolonged drop in income that comes with full-time and long-term educational commitments.

You have less responsibility

As a PA, you have less responsibility in terms of delivering care to patients in certain complex situations.

This usually means less autonomy, however, the upside is your role is generally more straightforward than a doctor’s.

This should be taken as a positive, rather than looked upon as inferior as it means you have more time to focus and PERFECT your area of medical expertise and interest.

It is less competitive to become a PA

PA school is currently easier to get into, however, this may change in the future.

The entry requirements are slightly lower, and despite there being a very limited number of places, more and more universities are offering this MSc Program, and the number of applicants is still relatively limited.

Increasingly more PA jobs are available

More PA jobs are set to be created and integrated into the current healthcare structure, meaning PAs benefit from the same high employability rates that doctors are privy to.

The sudden increase in the PA workforce has been generally welcomed, however, we now have a problem where the medical program itself is becoming oversubscribed.

This means, in the future, it may be easier to get a job, and a better starting salary as a PA when compared to doctors!

The UK government looks to be on track to deliver 26,000 more primary care staff to the workforce which includes physician associates.

You make potentially more money than a Doctor

As mentioned in a separate post, PAs actually make more than junior doctors in the first few years of practice.

This may change in the future.


While the PA role is often made out to be a lesser degree when compared to attending medical school, the program is a good opportunity to make a difference within healthcare.

PAs solve many of the issues that arise from having a lack of doctors in the wards, and as such their presence is highly valued.

If you are considering studying the PA program, you certainly are thinking along the right lines in terms of job satisfaction, potential earnings, and ability to help your local community.

Author’s note

This article outlines some of the potential pros of becoming a physician associate that past cohorts and current PAs may have voiced at one point.

This is not an exhaustive, list, nor is it definitive. Your experience may be different and indeed there is certainly more progress to be made for PAs in general before individuals can be truly comfortable in the profession. 

Rest assured the role is still in its infancy in the UK, and you may be a necessary force to supplement the positive progression of the PA role and improve public perception!
To read about the cons of becoming a physician associate, check out the article titled “5 annoying downsides of becoming a physician associate”.

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