I had been accepted into a few PA programs and had planned to attend (the nurses I had spoken to warned me away from nursing) when the financial aid statement came in and basically said, "You'll be 97 grand in debt". At the same time the job market for PAs is on the decline (apparently) due to an oversupply of new grads. The starting salary (average) from one of the better known PA schools
in Pennsylvania has dropped significantly over the past two years ($12,000) That's a good indication of supply catching up with demand--not too surprising given the sudden increase in press the PA profession was given (the *HOT JOB* du jour).
So to make a long story longer, I took a second look at nursing (thankfully). The advanced practice options for RNs are much greater than that of PAs. In most states (from my cursorial research) it appears that the nurse practice acts allow NPs (and other advanced RNs) more autonomy than PAs. Additionally, RNs may advance into management. In my area there are NO PAs in management and probably won't be (remember what ASSISTANT means).
There are hospitals in the country that still value the RN, and pay them what they are worth. IF the RN profession ever gets its act together re: entry into the profession, a stronger central organization, more control over reciprocity issues, etc. RNs will be in a great position for changing health care and changing with health care.
At this point I'm still very glad I didn't attend PA school, but until I start working (2 years yet) I won't be totally sure. If I ever suddenly realize I've made a mistake, I can always go back for a PA masters, although I don't plan on it.