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Is becoming a PA right for me?


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To current working PA's,

 

I am in the midst of a big career decision:  To take prereqs towards PA school or Medical school.  I was wondering if I could get some input from current working PA's on the career.

 

I am a 28yo m, single, no kids, with a BA in Global Studies and Spanish 3.5 GPA.  

I am currently working as a Paramedic.  I love medicine, the patient connection and the science of it.

I just finished my first Chem class and came out with an A.  Now I have to choose between taking Microbiology for PA school or Chem 2 for Med school.  

 

PA, by all means, seems like the most practical decision.  You care for patients, often with more time to connect and do a thorough assessment.  You aren't bogged down with boatloads of debt and you have the ability to get out and work after two years of school.  The lateral mobility through medicine is also very appealing.

 

I would like to start a family somewhat soon and don't have much interest in being a surgeon, cardiologist etc.  I would like to continue working in EM and also in low-income medical clinics.

 

My question is- do the PA's out there regret their decision?  Do you feel limited by not being an MD? 

 

Any feedback and advice would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you!

 

Michael

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you certainly are at a good point to pursue either path. don't believe that pas have more time with patients, however, that is one of the big myths of the profession.another is the better schedule. not true. most PAs work as much as the docs they work with(if not more) and on the same schedule. also be aware that lateral mobility is becoming more restricted every year by credentialing bodies. remember pas work at the times and places docs don't want to work. that is why they hire us. nights/weekends/holidays/early am rounds, etc

As an EM PA of almost 20 years and a former medic I know what I would do in your position but I'm not you. If I was 28 with no significant commitments in my life I would pursue med school. I have seriously tried to go back several times in my 30s and 40s but each time life got in the way (wife lost job, etc).

life is just so much easier as a doc than as a pa with regards to scope of practice, autonomy, and respect. I have a great job today, but it took wading through ok and crappy jobs for 15 years to get it. I also drive hours from home to work in a very rural area for the privilege of working at this job, the only one of it's kind within 500 miles of here (solo pa coverage of an emergency dept).

ps if you do decide to pursue PA and go into EM I would HIGHLY recommend an EM PA residency. there are 23 now listed as a sticky at the top of the em forum here. . that is the pathway to the best current and future jobs for em pas. good luck whatever you decide.contact me by pm if you like with any specific questions or feel free to post here.

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Research research research. Some schools do not REQUIRE OChem. I would not take it if I didn't absolutely have to. Carefully choose your classes. For me, every time I took a class I was thinking about how this class might affect my GPA. Just order your steps. GPA is forever. Harder to compensate for a misstep.

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AGREE WITH ABOVE. many schools today require ochem, but probably not a majority yet. One of the reasons I chose PA over MD back in the day was to avoid ochem. it wasn't a good reason in retrospect, but it was a reason...

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I just happened to be Pre med initially, took ochem 1&2. I also took physics 1&2 (good grief, never despised a class more).

I think the quality of a physics course is directly based on the instructor. I loved my yr of college physics and almost took more physics for fun. I hated almost every chem course I ever took. I just don't think that way.

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I think the quality of a physics course is directly based on the instructor. I loved my yr of college physics and almost took more physics for fun. I hated almost every chem course I ever took. I just don't think that way.

My physics instructor was really good and always available. I'm decent at math, but the applied math of physics just wasn't for me. I felt like there were so many equations/scenarios to know, and every one of them had some sort of exception. I scraped through and made B's thankfully. However my years of gen Chem and ochem were my favorite classes. My ochem teacher actually became my mentor essentially and is writing one of my LOR's.
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My physics instructor was really good and always available. I'm decent at math, but the applied math of physics just wasn't for me. I felt like there were so many equations/scenarios to know, and every one of them had some sort of exception. I scraped through and made B's thankfully. However my years of gen Chem and ochem were my favorite classes. My ochem teacher actually became my mentor essentially and is writing one of my LOR's.

I would rather run a marathon every day for a semester than have to sit through a general chem lab again.

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if I had taken ochem on schedule in 1988 I would likely be a physician today...

You likely don't remember, a few years back you spoke to me on SDN. Was tossing a few professions around and you advised me and warned me about regret in the future. Here I am now, with all pre reqs and an MCAT score. I feel like I have decided PA is best for my family (16 month old and wife is pregnant now) and the upfront commitment, not having any really involvement with my son for the next 8 years at least with my son scares me. I'm not sure why I'm saying this, maybe for some affirmations, nice to say it out loud sometimes.
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You likely don't remember, a few years back you spoke to me on SDN. Was tossing a few professions around and you advised me and warned me about regret in the future. Here I am now, with all pre reqs and an MCAT score. I feel like I have decided PA is best for my family (16 month old and wife is pregnant now) and the upfront commitment, not having any really involvement with my son for the next 8 years at least with my son scares me. I'm not sure why I'm saying this, maybe for some affirmations, nice to say it out loud sometimes.

I understand your decision given your life situation. you can always do LECOM APAP later. If you do PA I would still highly recommend a residency...

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I understand your decision given your life situation. you can always do LECOM APAP later. If you do PA I would still highly recommend a residency...

I've actually been looking at the list of residencies. I've always had a huge interest in NICU or PEDs (possibly stay in ICU) work, hopefully more open up around Texas in the next few years.
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Emedpa,

Thanks for your reply.

I've bumped into your posts on sdn as well. Most of the pa's I talk to in the er's seem to like what they're doing and be happy. They are definitely not in charge of the med codes and such, but they seem to love the work still.

 

Wondering if you know many pa's who feel the same as you do? Do you think some of it is geographic specific? (I live in the SF Bay Area and want to remain here if I can). What specifically has bothered you in your career?

 

I do love emergency medicine but not sure I want to remain in it forever. It would be nice to work EM for a while and later do primary care. The PA road would let me do that while MD would not.

 

As someone who was once a medic as well I think your perspective would be great to hear

 

Do you have any thoughts?

Thank you,

Michael

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I really want to do full scope emergency medicine and I have worked my way into jobs that allow that, but it has required lots of sacrifices. if I was content to do just fast track I could work anywhere. most of that stuff bores me to tears and doesn't challenge me as I want to see really sick folks and do significant procedural interventions without having to mother may I to anyone else. at my current job if I want to cardiovert a pt I just do it. at many em pa jobs that case would be run by a physician only or once the pa indentified the arrythmia they would have to sign the pt over to a doc..most of the medic to pa folks I know feel the same way because they know what real autonomy feels like. other folks have never had it so many don't know the difference and don't miss it.

PS: as an FP doc you could do rural em for a few years then be a clinic doc later in your career.

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OK now this is good information. I know this is premature (I'm not in PA school yet), but how competitive are these programs generally? Looking at them I typically see sizes of 1-5, any idea how many applications they receive?
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