The physician assistant profession will add some 24,700 new jobs between 2010 and 2020, expanding by nearly 30 percent. Duke University's PA program graduated 74 students last August; as of Jan. 1, only five didn't have jobs.
"Many physicians are so in need of PAs that if you're talking to [one] they'll say 'Call me, let's talk, I need help,' " says Katherine Pocock, who was weighing several offers early this year as she neared graduation. Pocock chose PA school over med school because she found the prospect of six more years of training (and debt) "daunting." And she thought being a PA would be more lifestyle-friendly.
Salaries aren't bad, either. According to the American Academy of Physician Assistants, full-time PAs commanded median pay of almost $91,000 in 2010; those working in specialty settings like orthopedics or dermatology can earn more.
This story is excerpted from the U.S. News Best Graduate Schools 2014 guidebook, which features in-depth articles, rankings, and data.