Physician Assistant Vs. Pharmacist

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Physician Assistant Vs. Pharmacist

Seeing their names, you might think they’re two very different health care professionals. The truth is, they’re not. In fact, there’s just a slight difference between both of them. Know what that is, in the article that follows below…

There’s a thing about medicine. You have a range of fields to choose from, and each of them is rewarding. Medical aspirants often find themselves in a fix when it comes to choosing careers. While physician assistance is considered as a patient-oriented field of medicine, pharmacy is more chemical-oriented, where a pharmacist deals with medications. It totally depends upon the work setting you like, and the field of health care that inspires you the most. Here, in this article, we will be understanding how exactly is physician assistance different from pharmacy, and what are the duties involved in both. Moreover, an insight into the career path that is comparatively more lucrative will be offered. Both physician assistants and pharmacists have a set of educational requirements to shape a career in their respective fields, and that, later on, determines their pay scale. Today, in this adverse, let’s figure out the difference between a physician assistant and pharmacist, along with the worth and career prospects of both. Take a look at the following sections.

Physician Assistant

Definition: Medical professionals who provide diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive health care services, under the supervision of physicians and surgeons are called physician assistants or PAs. They are employed in various specialties such as pediatrics, family medicine, internal medicine, orthopedics, and geriatrics.


Definition: Health care professionals who provide medicines as prescribed by the health care provider, assess the correctness of the prescription, and dispense medication in accordance with the settings that they have been trained in, are referred to as pharmacists. Many pharmacists advise their patients with regards to the selection and dosage of medications, along with the side effects of the same, if any, and analyze the entire progress of the patient while they are consuming their medications effectively.

Educational Requirements

The minimum educational qualification for a physician assistant is a bachelor’s degree in any health care specialty, along with a completion of at least two years of a physician assistant education program. The American Academy of Physician Assistants provides various programs for physician assistants, depending upon the field of medicine that an aspirant chooses to serve in. Moreover, a physician assistant is required to be certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA), in order to practice in any state in the US. This certification requires the aspirant to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination, along with 100 hours of continuing medical education every 2 years.

A pharmacist training and educational requirements are a bit more than that of physician assistants. To start with, an aspirant is required to hold a Pharm. D Degree from an accredited college, which takes at least four years to complete. Unlike physician assistants, many pharmacy graduates enroll for residency programs of two years that involves training in clinical practice, research labs, and public health. Post the residency training, many aspirants go for a master’s degree in public or business administration. To obtain certification, an aspirant is required to appear for the licensing exam held by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), qualifying which, will fetch the aspirant the licensure to practice pharmacy or start a business of his own.

Nature of Work

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, America, has recognized physician assistance to be one of the fastest growing jobs in the world, thanks to the interesting profile of the career path, and the job scope of the same. The key duties of physician assistants involve taking the medical history of the patient under the supervision of their physicians, carrying out treatment plans, performing therapies, interpreting laboratory tests, providing counseling to patients, and referring patients to specialists dedicated to a particular illness the patient is suffering from. Physician assistants need not work with physicians and surgeons, as they are required to perform the tasks their supervisor physicians have assigned to them, which can vary on a regional basis.

Pharmacists, on the other hand, collaborate with physicians to provide medications to patients, and make the side-effects known to them, if any. Pharmacists are knowledgeable of a large number of medicines and their usage, which they bring into use for the purpose of their day-to-day tasks. Many medical aspirants drop down the idea of taking up pharmacy as a career for the reason that they misconstrue the field as a job where you have to deal with medications only, and that there is no scope of treating patients, and meeting new people. However, just so they know, pharmacy is no more about learning the names of medicines, and providing stock to physicians all over the area. In fact, pharmacists today not only supervise the pharmacy department, but also provide health advice to patients with regards to the medication that they have been assigned. Pharmacists work in various fields such as retail drug stores, nursing homes, hospitals, and clinics.

Pay Scale

Both pharmacy and physician assistance are extremely lucrative careers. But when it comes to comparing both in terms of remuneration, pharmacy seems to make headway. While the average annual income of a physician assistant in the United States of America lies between $75,000 – $105,000, the annual salary of a pharmacist goes well above $120,000! Clearly, pharmacists earn more than physician assistants, and this salary figure depends largely on the specialty they choose to work in. Pharmacists are becoming more and more involved in patient care, and hence, enjoy their work that involves both treating the patients and dealing with medication.

Conclusively, it can be said that if you’re interested in treating patients directly, and are driven more towards patient care in hospital settings, a career as a physician assistant is for you. However, if counting pills and chemistry is what allures you more, you can dedicate a few years of rigorous study and become a pharmacist. Note that, salary figures have a lot to do with choosing a career path, and from the pay scale section, it was clear that pharmacists earn a lot more than PAs. Both are equally rewarding careers, and both require hard work in the initial years. Even though practicing medicine as a PA and pharmacist are different, you can be sure to take a hefty salary home, regardless of the career path you go for. So, physician assistant or pharmacist? You choose better.

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