I’ve been asked a few times by readers about how welcoming the physician assistant profession is to women. My answer: very.
A quick look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics makes the good news for all of us clear:
Historically, medicine has been dominated by men – particularly those with the most authority – physicians. This being true, as a woman, you might wonder if you will:
According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA), these are these are areas that most female PAs rate highest when asked about their work. In addition, women are slightly more likely to recommend the profession to a friend than their male counterparts.
Isn’t medicine dominated by men? Not this part of it. True, the first PAs were men, and it wasn’t until 1970 that Joyce Nichols became the first female PA. Incidentally, she was also the first African American PA! Her story is inspirational and probably set the stage for the profession being similarly welcoming to men and women. Check it out!
Today, about 55% of PAs and 72% of new PA students are female. This means that the percentage of PAs will continue to grow. In most medical schools, students these days are more often female by a slim margin, so the physicians who supervise tomorrow’s PAs are more likely to be female too (though with doctors it’s changing much more slowly).
The researchers in the JAAPA study theorized that the PA profession is attractive to women because it offers satisfying work that is well compensated, and more flexibility than that of physician, particularly for those who wish to be both PAs and mothers. My friend Sundance spoke to this her video interview
Clearly, PA medicine has a lot to offer women, and they seem to be leaving their mark on the field. Are you sold yet? I thought so.