According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the job outlook for physician assistants is projected to grow at a rate of 31% over this decade. That is much faster than the average for other occupations. In May of 2020, the median annual pay was $115,390, but a physician assistant employed by an outpatient care center earned the most money at $124,610. In order to enter a physician assistant school, you must first complete an undergraduate program. Then, you may select one of the 10 best degrees/majors for becoming a physician assistant that are listed below:
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Psychology is an excellent major for learning about either yourself or the people around you. Studying for a bachelor’s degree will provide you with insight into the factors that cause people to behave as they do. With this knowledge, you will be able to determine what you need to do to help people as a physician assistant. It will even increase your compassion for others when they are behaving in a difficult manner.
The courses that you will have the opportunity to take will provide you with knowledge of the specialties within healthcare. These include abnormal psychology and psychiatry. In addition to that, you will be introduced to the full spectrum of the psychology specialties. The bachelor’s degree is a great place to start when your intention is to move on to physician assistant school.
The curriculum provides you with instruction in the many areas of psychology as well as the diverse ideas and activities that are involved in this area of study. You will develop a broad knowledge of major theories and the sub-disciplines that are a part of the psychological sciences. Part of this course of study includes learning how to interpret statistical analyses and perform research with the ability to write research papers in APA style.
Courses you will be required to take include biology, analytical thinking, multicultural and international, social science and general psychology. You also have the choice of taking courses in abnormal psychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience. This course of study provides you with a broad and general treatment of psychology, and it will prepare you to move forward in your medical career.
Biochemistry is another excellent option for a future physician assistant. This major will take you to the beginning of human healthcare by introducing you to the extensive knowledge of living organisms. This means that you will learn about living things on an organismal, cellular and genetic level. The study of chemistry relates directly to living organisms on cellular and molecular levels so that you can understand biological concepts.
Biochemistry courses are the foundation that you will need when you arrive at physician assistant school. They include several courses, such as organic chemistry, genetics, cellular biology, chemistry and biology.
As a physician assistant, you will be in contact with patients even more than with the physician. Your biochemistry major will give you the opportunity to take electives in psychology or sociology so that you will have the means to effectively communicate with your patients. Communication is a very important skill to master for someone in the medical field. Then, you will have the means to work in any type of medical practice that you choose.
Ethics are extremely valuable courses for people in the medical field. The decision-making process encompasses several areas, such as what the patient’s insurance company will allow, issues of informed consent, the patient’s wishes, medical ethics and how the medical field is limited. Ethics courses will expand your mind to think in ways that you never imagined.
At times, you will encounter things that are unpleasant in your job as a physician assistant, but a course in ethics will give you the chance to examine these difficult topics in a classroom setting. You will be prepared to address these issues with patients when you must give them news that they do not particularly want to hear.
An introductory ethics course teaches you several theories in this genre, including the theory of virtue and vice, the theory of goodness and badness, and the theory of right and wrong actions. The course will be instrumental in teaching you how to read philosophical literature and then explain it, evaluate it and analyze it as you develop your own ethical positions. This course is important for teaching you how to think critically and analytically with regard to ethical issues.
With an ethics degree, you will be able to provide the best care for your patients. It will be your duty to treat your patients legally and morally, so it is imperative that you know the laws of ethics before you begin your career. Because what the law will require of you and your ethical expectations will not always be on the same page, a degree in ethics would be a highly desirable degree for you to have in this profession.
Kinesiology is a course of study that focuses on health and wellness, physical activity and sports. If you are interested in becoming a physician assistant for a sports physician, this would be an excellent major for you. With this degree, you will learn how to help athletes prevent injuries, decrease the time it takes for them to heal from injuries and improve their bodies’ abilities to move and function. Kinesiology also allows you to be involved in the community. For example, your profession will be at the forefront of helping ordinary people increase their physical activity and improve their quality of life.
As a kinesiology student, you will study the ways in which physical activity affects the human body. The program also focuses heavily on sports as a business and as part of the larger community. Therefore, you can earn different degrees in kinesiology, including sport management, movement science and applied exercise science.
Kinesiology gives you the opportunity to take a course in motor control. In this course, you will learn about movement and the control of movement throughout a human being’s lifetime. Exercise physiology gives you an education on the cardiovascular, hormonal and metabolic responses to physical activity. Biomechanics instructs you about the mechanics that are involved in human movement. The knowledge you will gain from studying kinesiology will prepare you to work in an athletic setting and will be ideal if you are a sports fan.
Chemistry is a natural science that focuses on the properties of substances and the changes of these substances. It also focuses heavily on the natural laws that describe these changes. Chemicals are in absolutely everything, so they are abundant in the medical field. As a matter of fact, one of the most important uses for chemicals is in new medications that cure or treat several diseases and disorders.
Chemistry is a field of study that helps you gain analytical skills, and these skills are important for a career as a physician assistant. It is at the forefront of the medical profession and will teach you infinite lessons on how to care for your patients. For example, with your knowledge of chemistry, you will be aware of the possible interactions that can occur between medications, and this will be highly valuable as a physician assistant.
You will have several options for chemistry courses in the program that you choose. For example, you may be able to select general chemistry, organic chemistry, analytical chemistry and inorganic chemistry.
You learn several important skills from studying chemistry that will benefit you as a physician assistant. For example, you will be introduced to very sophisticated equipment that you will use to examine your patients. You will also learn how to take chemical information and critically analyze and synthesize it as you present it to an audience. You will be an expert in working in a laboratory and providing data analysis. Lastly, you will be able to use the principles of chemistry to solve problems in a medical setting.
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6. Biomedical Science
Biomedical science is the study of biology as it specifically relates to healthcare. Therefore, it is an appropriate field of study for a physician assistant. With a major in biomedical science, you will take courses in kinesiology, nutrition, biochemistry, epidemiology, anatomy and physiology. This field of study will lay the foundation for your future studies as a physician assistant.
A biomedical science degree lays the groundwork for the study of human health and disease as it focuses on biological and molecular sciences. The program you will be involved in will include courses as well as laboratory work and research opportunities that will benefit your communication skills, writing skills, critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Graduates from this program are fully prepared to continue on to further postgraduate studies in healthcare.
Courses in biomedical science include human medical genetics, human microbiology, human physiology and clinical human anatomy. After you are finished, you will have learned highly valuable skills. These include project management, data analysis, safe experimentation, and research and observation.
7. Anatomy and Physiology
One of the most obvious majors for someone in the medical field is “anatomy and physiology.” The majority of pre-med students choose this major for their undergraduate careers, but it is also a great fit for a future physician assistant. The science of anatomy identifies the body’s structures and describes them. The very first thing that you will need as a physician assistant is the knowledge that you will obtain in your anatomy courses.
Physiology studies the ways in which the human body functions. You will learn the physics and the chemistry behind the human body’s functions. For example, one thing you will learn is how the molecules in your body behave in your cells. It is the full study of how the human body works when it is in proper working order. In addition to that, you will learn what is happening within the body’s cells and molecules when illness is present.
In your studies, you will learn about the systems of the body, including the reproductive system, the digestive system, the endocrine system, the respiratory system, the muscular system and the skeletal system. You may also be introduced to microscopic anatomy and the study of tissues and cells of human beings, plants and animals. The specimens that you will be dealing with in this course of study will require that you use a microscope to see them.
This degree prepares you to take biopsies from your patients and analyze them in order to diagnose their diseases.
Mathematics doesn’t seem like the typical undergraduate course of study for a career as a physician assistant, but it is actually highly useful for this purpose. Courses in science and medicine are very important for a career in the medical field, and you need to have strong mathematical skills to excel in those courses. In addition to this, you are very likely to be confronted with math while you are engaging in your duties as a physician assistant.
As a physician assistant, you will find several opportunities to perform mathematical calculations. You can also be assured that you will need to have an understanding of statistics. You may also choose to study algebra, calculus, trigonometry or mathematical modeling.
A mathematics major would be highly beneficial for you when you need to calculate the right amount of medication for your patients. It may also require that you make mathematical conversions, such as converting one type of measurement into another. This is critically important! If you fail to convert the dose into exactly the right dose that the physician prescribed, you may administer too much or too little of the medication to your patient, and this could be very dangerous. Time may be of the essence when performing these calculations, so you are going to need to be very familiar with performing calculations such as these as a physician assistant.
Microbiology studies living organisms that are too small to be seen without a microscope. These microorganisms include algae, protozoa, prions, fungi, viruses, archaea and bacteria. Called “microbes,” they are involved in the mechanisms that cause diseases, so microbiology is a necessary topic of study in the medical field for several reasons.
“Microbiology” is an example of an undergraduate course in the major of microbiology. In this course, you will study the microorganisms that live on and within the human body. You will also begin to learn about the many pathogens that can make the body sick and the tests that must be performed to diagnose the illness. You also learn about the natural immunities that protect the body from dangerous microorganisms.
Microbiology is highly useful for a physician assistant because you will need to know the microbiology terminology as you work in your chosen profession. You are going to need to know how to recognize the most common diseases and the signs and symptoms of those illnesses. It is also helpful to know how often a disease occurs and how often people die of the disease. Your studies in microbiology will place you in the best position to be prepared to diagnose diseases.
10. Human Development
Human development studies the ways that the environment causes people to change throughout their lives. Specifically, it studies the developmental processes that human beings go through at each stage of their lives. This is the area of study where you will learn how people develop socially, emotionally and cognitively. It is seen through the prism of individuals, families and communities. Human development requires that you study nutrition, social science and biological science. Observation techniques will also be a part of the curriculum. Along with studying how human beings develop normally, you will also study abnormal development in children as well as adults.
You will have the opportunity to study several sciences, including chemistry and biology. This program also requires that you study statistics, mathematics and nutrition. Along with those classes, you will also take courses in human development. For example, human development is where you will learn several highly important studies, including the development of identity, moral development, separation and individuation, adolescent cognitive development, self-concept and self-esteem, family and school influences, social development, language development, learning, attachment and temperament.
After you complete your studies in human development, you will have knowledge of how human beings develop within their families, within a community and within the larger society. You may choose to focus on older adults, adolescents or early childhood.
The skills that you learn from a human development program will transfer to your career as a physician assistant. For example, you will be ready to help those in need in familial groups, in the community or individually. You will also have experience in keeping people from falling into the use of drugs or alcohol as well as the knowledge to stage an intervention. You will be able to recognize the problems that your patients are having, and you will be able to refer them to human service agencies or other appropriate professionals if this is the best course of action.