Robert Wooten is a physician assistant at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Top 50 rank: 2
What they do: Call it MD lite. Working under the supervision of a doctor, PAs do all tasks involved in routine medical care, such as diagnosing illnesses and assisting in surgery. In most states they can write prescriptions as well.
Why it's great: You get the satisfaction of treating patients minus insurance hassles, since PAs have far less administrative responsibility than the typical MD. "I'm part of a team yet have a lot of autonomy," says PA Robert Wooten.
You don't have to take on the time or expense of med school and the field is virtually recession-proof, owing to an ongoing shortage of primary-care physicians. PAs are also far cheaper to employ than MDs, so demand is expected to steadily increase as medical facilities try to rein in costs, says Bill Leinweber, CEO of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.
And since they don't need as much specialized training as doctors, PAs can switch from, say, geriatrics to emergency care with relative ease.
Drawbacks: It's a fairly new profession, so the number of annual job openings is still small.
Pre-reqs: A master's degree; 100 hours of training every two years; recertification every six.
Do Physician Assistants have great jobs, or what?
Physician Assistant stats
|Job title||Best Jobs rank|
|Telecommunications Network Engineer||30|
|Personal Financial Advisor||N.A.|