There are multiple differences when it comes to physician vs physician assistant, like physicians can do more than a physician assistant in a healthcare setting, but only about 20 percent more as statistics show that a PA can do about 80 percent of the job duties that a physician can do. They can do this without having to complete the grueling road to that an individual must take to become a physician, which usually consists of 4 years of studies as an undergraduate, medical school for for years along with up to 8 years of residency schooling and internships, as well as 1 to 3 years in a fellowship if you choose to get schooling in a particular specialty. Whereas an individual can be come a physician assistant by completing an accredited masters degree PA program, which can be done in as little as six years.

Other Major Physician vs Physician Assistant Differences

Below is a detailed overview of various differences between a physician and a physician assistant:

  • Job Position – A physician assistant is one who practices medicine under a certain amount of supervision from a physician, whereas a physician takes full responsibility of what happens with the patient as far as testing, medication, therapy, alternative resources, care plans and more. Physician assistants often develop plans and order testing for patients but the physician essentially has the last say if they think the developed plans are to their liking.
  • Salary – As far as physician vs physician assistant pay, a physician assistant has an average yearly salary which currently resides at $89,990, which can go much higher if one chooses to specialize in a PA specialty, which incomes for PA specialties have incomes that range from $100,000 to $200,000 per year. This income also includes things like; bonuses, profit sharing, benefits, 401k, retirement bonuses and more. The average salary for a physician is tough to pinpoint considering there are so many specialties, but to give you a fell for what the earning potential is for a physician, the three highest paid specialties are; spine surgery which has a salary in the highest percentile of $1,352,000, the neurological surgery physician can earn as high as $936,000 and a radiology physician assistant can earn as much as $911,000. These projections are based off of alliedphysicians.com, and are based off physicians who have been practicing for over 3 years.
  • Work Scope – The other major physician assistant vs physician difference is that the work of a physician requires much more focus and attentiveness as the deal with the patient the most on a physical level, like surgeries, whereas a PA does more of the busy work requiring and assists patients during times of surgery.
  • Work Schedule – When it comes to the work schedule of each profession, often times especially in rural areas, a physician oftentimes is only available for a couple days a week, meaning that the PA assumes the main healthcare provider position and must be able to consult with the physician at all times through phone or email.

These are the main physician vs physician assistant differences, but as far as similarities go, both career fields must:

  • Apply for licensure in the state that they live in.
  • Complete continuing medical education in order to stay certified.
  • Both must take recertification examinations after a certain amount of years.