Work-Life Balance and Finances Top Concerns of New PA Students

Achieving a work-life balance and money — the price of a PA education and expected future salary — top the list of concerns of matriculating PA students today. That’s what a recent survey conducted by our research team discovered. They also found that the personal touch played a major role in influencing students’ choice of which PA program to attend.

Just who is the typical PA student? What motivated them to take the PA career path? What were they doing before PA school? What do they hope to do after graduation?

These are just a few of the questions that our Research Department sought to answer by surveying thousands of first-year PA students at programs across the country. What they learned provides a clearer, and sometimes surprising, picture of our nation’s PA students.

The compiled data from the 5,530 responses are presented in the just-released By the Numbers: Matriculating Student Survey 2014. Here are some of the findings that caught our attention:

Financial Concerns

  • Nearly 97% of matriculating students picked work-life balance and availability of jobs as “essential” or “very important.”
  • Most students predict their debt from PA school will be between $75,000 and $150,000.
  • 68% of students expect starting salaries in the $80,000 to $100,000 range.
  • Approximately 23% of the students had significant financial concerns at the start of their PA education.

Choosing the PA Profession

  • The majority of students decided to become a PA at some point during college or just after receiving their bachelor’s degree, with most making the decision in their first two years of college.
  • Friends, a PA acquaintance, or family member played the most significant role in influencing their career choice.
  • More than 63% of the students considered, but did not apply to, medical school before enrolling in a PA program.
  • The top three factors in selecting a program were: 1) conversation with program faculty (the personal touch), 2) program reputation, and 3) program location. Cost of study was the most common negative influence.

Future Plans

  • As first-year students, the most desired areas of practice include suburban locations, family practice, emergency medicine, and surgical subspecialties.
  • Approximately 68% reported they would like to work in a medically underserved area after graduation.

To find out more about matriculating students — our nation’s future PAs — read the full report.

Download the MSS Location Research Brief – pdf