PAs have repeatedly been ranked as one of the top jobs in the country. Yet, spend any time on online forums or talking with actual PAs and you’ll soon discover thatmany are looking for other opportunities

Career Advancement for PAs and Other Healthcare Professionals

Last Updated 21 May 2020

PA in operating room

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Russel Singleton, PA

Russel Singleton, PA

Russell Singleton, PA practices family medicine and is a contributor to ThePADoctor.com.

The PA Doctor

The Best Healthcare Job in the United States

PAs (physician assistants) have been ranked repeatedly as one of the top jobs in the country. It offers excellent flexibility and earning potential with substantially less debt than other healthcare professions.

Yet, spend any time on online forums or talking with actual PAs and you’ll soon discover that many are looking for other opportunities.

Now to be fair, this sentiment is not unique to PAs. Physicians are retiring younger and in greater numbers than ever before. Medicine has changed. Patients have changed. In generations past, the practice of medicine was much more paternalistic and authoritative.

Doctors were once ubiquitously placed on a pedestal. The physician had the final say in the care of his or her patient. Things could not be more different today.

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The Rise of Non Clinical Careers

Not all the changes in medicine are to be lamented, however. There is a greater focus on patient autonomy, and patients are generally more sophisticated than ever before. But the growing bloat of government bureaucracy and the intrusive presence of third-party payers is driving clinician burnout.

Highly educated professionals are steering their children away from healthcare as income is continually threatened, respect dwindles, and red tape abounds. This has led to a growing interest in non-clinical careers for once bright-eyed and idealistic doctors, nurses, and PAs alike.

There are not many well-established paths out of medicine, unfortunately. The old adage that says, “those that can’t do, teach” is often the first alternative that comes to mind.

Another common suggestion is working in legal or utilization review. This entails working as a freelancer or joining the ranks of the third-party payers that were once responsible for many gray hairs. Other novel career paths are less clear such as “entrepreneur” or “consultant.”

My Non Clinical Career Path

I’ve certainly had my moments. I was surprised how soon that first yearning to flee actually came. I was still a new grad working in a rural area. I was overwhelmed and underprepared. I quickly started looking for supplemental work and was eventually hired on as adjunct faculty at a private university. I dabbled in consulting and helped a few new PA grads review their employment offers.

My next grand non-clinical career idea was real estate investing. I actually did quite well with a small single-family home, and we doubled our investment in about 2 years. I’ve always been a fan of investing in general and I’m a regular contributor to indexed ETFs and REITs. I’ve even dabbled in currency trading, peer-to-peer lending, and have a small amount of Bitcoin.

Nothing really clicked for me until I was able to find something that combined my desire to develop alternative income streams with my desire to advance the PA profession.

I was planning on pursuing a clinical Doctor of Medical Science degree from Lincoln Memorial University when it occurred to me that others may be interested in how I came to this point in my career. I was also concerned about the proliferation of DMS/DMSc programs and wanted to help others see how disparate current offerings could be.

So a few colleagues and I started The PA Doctor, a blog dedicated to advocating for PAs, Optimal Team Practice, and PA doctorates.

The PA Doctor

It has been no small task to try and master everything from web hosting to SEO writing, marketing, and monetization; however, what keeps us going isn’t the $10 that we made last month, it’s doing something we enjoy. It’s doing something we believe in.

My fellow contributors and I don’t expect to ever be able to retire off of income from The PA Doctor, and as for me, I’ll always identify with and strive to be a better healer.

But a complete career change was never really the point. Medicine provides a very comfortable living. What I needed was a new challenge. New goals. What I needed was to design a life that I didn’t need to retire from. All the better if it pays a small dividend.

Russell Singleton, PA practices family medicine and is a contributor to ThePADoctor.com

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