Originally Answered: Physician Assistant vs. Pharmacist?
I have been a PA for 11 years. I believe your question is flawed.. being a PA or Pharmacist is up to your personal choices and skills, etc. I hope the information that follows will be helpful.
The type of work is very different between the two careers. There is nothing particularly "better" about one over the other. In most cases, the salary potential is higher with the PA profession. A PA is responsible in diagnosing and treating patients, exactly like a doctor would. All work is under the general or direct supervision of the supervising physician. That said, a PA must have a doctor "oversee" the care given by a PA. I see a 100-125 patients a week myself independently and occasionally I need to have my supervising doctor help with the care of the patient. Rules governing the duties that a PA can do are generally dictated on a state to state basis. PA's order tests, physical therapy, durable medical goods, home health, medication, and fitness for duty or activity restrictions. Most PA's will have a master's degree and there are many PA schools in the USA. The length of time it takes is usually 24 months. There will be several prerequisites to qualify for the program such as many biology courses and chemistry courses as well. A requirement that ALL medical schools should have is a requirement that the applicant have over 1000 hours of direct patient care experience. This can be obtained by being a technician in the ER or becoming an EMT or helping out in the hospital or clinic in other ways, but make sure you are somehow involved in the direct care of patients. It is important to think about not only about earning potential, but also how you want your days to be spent. In a clinic seeing patients all day, in the operating room for many hours, trying to get along with all the other support staff, or quite often, a little of it all. On the other hand, being a pharmacist will "look" different than being a PA. A new grad can expect a beginning salary of 76,232 based on a survey of new grads from 2007; whereas the average salary for all PA's reported a salary of $89,987. After a few years, a PA will make 100k fairly quickly.
PA's that work in surgical sub-specialties will earn more than other primary care positions. However, a surgical PA often is on-call and the hours can exceed 50-60 a week. One extremely important point is that being a PA means that you will need to find a doctor that you can get along with. Like a marriage, you will need to get along with each other, and a sense of mutual trust is vitally important. Personality issues, like anywhere, can influence your enjoyment of your job in a huge way.
It is important to think about not only about earning potential, but also how you want your days to be spent. In a clinic seeing patients all day, in the operating room for many hours, trying to get along with all the other support staff, or quite often, a little of it all. On the other hand, being a pharmacist will "look" different than being a PA. A PA must maintain his license by earning 100 hours of continuing medical education credits every two years, and every six years re certifying by taking a test. It is true that it is possible to lose one's medical license by failing the test, but that is very rare.
I briefly looked up info for pharmacist pay, etc. On Payscale.com, new grads will expect a salary of 72,500-99,000. I'm not certain why the large spread.. I hope you find this information helpful.