There is a physician assistant specialty that is perfect for you, be it surgery, emergency medicine, internal medicine, dermatology, and urology. If you are considering a career in physician assistant medicine, having an idea about what physician assistant specialty you might train in will help to guide your career trajectory.
About a week ago I wrote on the physician assistant personality, and John Holland’s theory that you tend to enter careers that align with your own personality. Even if you aren’t yet in PA school, start thinking about which physician assistant specialty might be right for you–now. Why? There are two primary reasons:
- First, it could make the difference between attending one PA school and another. For example, my school, UC Davis School of Medicine, places huge value on primary care (AKA general practice or family practice) as a physician assistant specialty. If primary care wasn’t a good fit for me, it would have made more sense for me to go somewhere else.
- If you are interested in a competitive specialty (say, cardiothoracic surgery) you can start shaping your education right now. You can learn about the specialty, make contacts, and line up clinical experiences that will make you the ideal candidate for work in that area when you graduate.
But how can you know which clinical specialty is right for you before you’re in the field? You can’t. What you can do is get a feel for which physician assistant specialty or specialties tend to fit with–you guessed it–your personality. I should say here that many feel that the power of the PA license is its versatility. Even so, the world will always need PAs who are experts within specialty areas of medicine.
The MSAT is a quick and free inventory that ranks the various medical specialties that might be a good fit for you and who you are. It’s helpful and interesting.
Before you take the MSAT, you should know:
- The test is designed for pre-meds (pre-MD), not PAs. There’s no way to know if it’s less valid for pre-PA students or not, so just keep this in mind.
- Because it’s designed for pre-meds, there are specialties listed that may have fewer openings available to PAs. With that said, there are PAs working in most or all of the areas listed.
Don’t read into this test too much – I include it here to help guide your search for a physician assistant specialty that might be your calling.