Administrator rev ronin Posted May 19, 2011 Administrator Share Posted May 19, 2011 Mind if I rant a wee bit here? In the two years and change I've been here, I've been seeing more and more posts from new members that go something along the lines of "I want to be a PA, but how do I get HCE?" or, less commonly, "I want to be a PA, but how do I find a PA to shadow?" Rather than chewing on any particular newbie, here's my generalized response: 1) PA is not an entry-level medical profession. It is a profession specifically crafted to take experienced providers and uplevel them. If you're not already an experienced entry-level (or higher) provider, you probably don't actually want to be a PA. You might think you want it, but how on earth can you know you want to see patients day in and day out if you've never seen a patient in your life? 2) HCE is not "paying your dues" or "checking a box". HCE is an integral part of the reason a pre-PA chooses to become a PA. As an EMT, I was thinking I wanted to go to Paramedic school... until I got to assist in surgery on a medical mission. If you can't point to a specific patient care experience and say "this is when I decided I wanted to practice medicine", then you probably only think you want to be a PA. If you read any of the nonsense articles that said that PA was one of the best jobs in America and that influenced your decision to seek admission to PA school, then you need to think long and hard about why you're really interested. 3) PA is not for the young; they belong in medical school. If you're under 25 and want to practice medicine, go to medical school. It's longer and more expensive, but it's a tried and true way for the young, malleable, and motivated to practice medicine. PA is orchestrated from the ground up to take people who have experience, adult learners, who have already demonstrated competence in limited fields to uplevel their skills and knowledge to the level needed to practice medicine, and are willing to live with de facto caps on their salary and professional respect. If you do the math and the number curves, physicians more than make up for the additional cost in med school over the course of their careers, provided they start early enough. For those of you who think you can make bank right out of school AND have a comfortable, casual lifestyle you desire, you, too, don't get it. 4) PA is not a shortcut. Yes, the school may be shorter chronologically than med school, but that's missing out on two key things: PA school needs far more than just an undergraduate degree (see 1-3 above), and residents really do practice medicine. They do so in conditions that would draw fines if any other workers were subjected to them, for pay that is ridiculously low given their level of responsibility, but they practice medicine. I love the fact that I'm in my clinical rotations now. I love the fact that at 40, there's a career option that will let me bring my existing life skills and knowledge into medicine. I make no secret of the fact that if I'd known how much more fun biological systems were than digital systems, I wouldn't have gone into IT as a first career. 5) If all PA programs respected points 1-4, there would be far less call for mandatory PA residencies and jobs seeking only PAs with 2+ years of experience. 2-2.5 years is not enough to take any random person off the street and shape them into a medical practitioner. If the folks selected don't have enough judgment, scientific acumen, and patient care experience to step into the role of a medical provider after the PA school length, then the selection process is wrong. So by all means: those of you who have HCE, real-life experience, and the smarts to knock the science prerequisites out of the park, please come be PAs. The rest of you, who think you WANT to be PAs but are missing one or more of those three legs, don't try and shortchange the process. It should probably be harder than it is, because somehow they let me into the coolest profession on the planet. 32 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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