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PhD before (or after) PA School??

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Greetings All. I posted this in the pre-PA forum but I am really looking for a response from PA's and or PA students who may have faced a similar decision/interest that I have. Please help!


I am a rising junior at the undergrad level and am strongly interested in becoming a PA. I am certain that it's what I want to do but the route getting there is what I am a bit ambiguous about.


Today I had a meeting with my Biology professor about post graduate plans and found myself considering the option of getting an PhD in an Integrated Bio related field before applying to PA programs. Would this be totally absurd and useless to my endeavors as a PA? Personally, I love biology and would love to give myself more time (than just two years) to explore my interest in it... both for experience with research and breadth of academic study. Ideally in some way that could complement (and supplement) my pursued career as a PA but I wasn't sure.


Is it worth it? Are there any professional PA's that found it advantageous to have a PhD prior to applying to PA school? Does it lead to a wider range of opportunities after graduating from a PA program? Could anyone share there experiences with introducing pursuits for a PhD degree with PA career plan? Does anyone pursue a PhD
working as a PA for a bit? Which is the better route? The extra perk is that currently I won't have an outstanding amount of HCE and figured that I could gain significantly more experience both in EMS and through clinical exposure (depending on the field I would go into... Medical Science for example) over the time that I am in a program.


Trust me, I'm not just considering the idea because of "having the title" or "prestige". I just really would like to further my study in biology... BUT, I care most about being a PA and so I don't want me spending 5-6 yrs to get the degree to hurt my chances of getting into PA school and/or have been such a non-worthwhile time investment (as I have been hearing PhD programs are) when I could have already started working as a PA.


Please help! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I am really trying to sift through my interests to decide what is most advantageous and fulfilling for me... as an academic and an aspiring medical professional.



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Can a PhD help a PAs career? Sure. I guess the big question is in what way ... This depends on what you want to do with the PhD and its subject matter. Doctoral work in Integrative Biology would likely place you in a research / academic role, or do you have another idea? The knowledge will be useful for PA school and practice. And I would imagine a PA with PHD in biology would be more attractive than one without. It will unlikely carry big weight, especially as your career advances and other ways to demonstrate your value emerge. One possibility is that of a dual academic/clinical career. Teaching basic sciences to PA/Medical students? Or perhaps a research/clinical position in an academic center. This could prove challenging as there are not many PAs in these roles (to set precedent) and securing funding and running a trial without an MD license I am unsure about.


2) Is this feasible? Obtaining a PhD (as you know) is difficult work and typically leads to post doc work in - esp in the biologic sciences. At that point (if your lucky) you can secure as assistant professorship/research position. Early academic careers in the sciences are very demanding and im not sure how PA school could fit in with that. ALSO demanding is an early career as a PA. There is a steep learning curve and to take a few years off from practice to pursue a PhD will make your early clinical career a challenge. Perhaps doing a PhD part time after PA school ? (this is what I did). However, my area of study was not laboratory based nor in the sciences so I am unsure how feasible part time is for you.


Im curious what your goals might be.... What is your research interest and what univ is the PhD from? Have you looked into Wake forrest PhD / PA program? Even if it is not for you their website and faculty could be useful information sources. I am very satisfied being a PA .. so it pains me to say this hah .... but have you thought about an MD/PHD program? The "prestige" does not correlate with admissions difficulty AND the education is typically fully funded. I had a few friends go this road ....


Message me questions or post on here if you think it is relevant to future readers..

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^^^^ This.


PhD is only useful if you plan to teach or do research. I am getting my DHSc now, but that's because I am trying to transition to a 1/2 research, 1/2 clinical career....(LESS patient care)....It sucks. It is hard. Unless there is a specific reason to get it, I wouldn't.

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