The purpose of this study is to examine the cost effectiveness of mid level providers, such as physician assistants, compared to physicians. In order to thoroughly evaluate the difference in cost one must look at more than one aspect of the physician assistant versus the classic physician. From a purely economic standpoint one needs to address the cost of education, differences in the way patients are treated based on the kind of medicine practiced and the cost of employment between physician assistants and traditional physicians. For example, some schools of thought suggest that a physician assistant may order more unnecessary tests than a physician because they are not trained well enough to know what is and is not important (Hooker,
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When considering the additional cost of traditional medical school combined with the cost to fund residency programs, lasting anywhere from three to five years, one can see the impact this has on the education sector of the economy. With all of the above taken into account the cost of attending traditional medical school versus physician assisting school more than doubles in many instances (Burnsed, 2010).
For example, let us analyze the cost of several different physician assistant schools, and then compare them to the cost of several medical schools in the nation. The cost of PA programs runs from as low as $20,000 all the way up to as much as $70,000 for the 25-month program at Duke University, the top ranked PA school in the nation. At Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio tuition for their 27-month program is $30,000. However, this figure does not include the cost of textbooks, food, lodging, a required laptop computer, lab coats, and portable diagnostic equipment. These costs can be substantial; the Duke program website quotes the total cost of attending their school runs to $135,000 when these extra costs are factored in (How Much Do Physician Assistant Programs Cost? 2013).
The cost of Ann Arundel Community College’s program is a little lower, especially if one lives in the county of Ann Arundel, Maryland. The cost of the program for an in-county resident is $20,000; someone emanating from out of state will end up paying $40, 537. Again,