Save on Student Loans: Physician’s Assistant Vs. Pharmacists

by Erika Torres
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Attending medical school to become a physician’s assistant or pharmacist requires dedication to the medical field. As with most other areas of study in the medical world, attending school is costly. As a result of this schooling, the salaries for each of these professions are rather similar. Based upon performance, there are percentiles of pay ranges. In some cases, a physician’s assistant earns more than a pharmacist.

Physician’s Assistant Loan Costs

Student loans for a physician’s assistant can be greater than $138,500 over a period of three years. If additional courses of study are picked up, the cost can increase. Loans do not have to be paid back until after graduation. Student loans and financial aid are on a fixed interest rate scale. This prevents the loan amounts from going up too high. Late payment fees and other penalties can be assessed for non-payment.

Although a physician’s assistant deals with more common medial problems you still need to get a great education.

Pharmacist Loan Cost

Given the nature of this profession and the amount of information needed, student loans can top $224,000 for a pharmacist. Most pharmacy programs are 2 – 3 years in length. Student loans, financial aid and FAFSA applications can all be applied to the cost of schooling. Grants and/or scholarships may also be available in order to help reduce the cost of schooling some.

Although a pharmacist job looks cool, you will not exactly be a Walter White. There is lots of equipment and drug information to learn and memorize.

Length of Programs for Each

Both programs average 3 years. Additional schooling is available for any medical profession. What you can do is take additional courses after graduation, if needed, to broaden your horizons and learn more about drug interactions, bedside manner and other elements to help you advance your career.

Average Salaries upon Graduation

The salaries for physician’s assistants and pharmacists are rather similar. At the end of the day, pharmacists earn roughly $10,000 more per year. The average salary for a top-rated or high-percentile pharmacist is $116,000. The top salary for a physician’s assistant is $109,000. On the bottom of the scale, the lowest paid physician’s assistants earn an average salary of $78,000 per year with pharmacists on the same level earning $89,000 per year on average.

As you can see from these statistics, Pharmacists spend more on schooling and do earn a bit more per year on average. While the responsibility for patient safety and well-being is equally important, a pharmacist essentially has more responsibilities. Physician’s assistants work under a senior doctor where diagnoses and treatment suggestions are approved prior to being given to a patient to ensure that it is the right course of action.

Photo credit: DonkeyHokey.

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