Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone,

 

I'll get straight to the point. I am a 3rd year medical student at a mainland US medical school. For a variety of reasons, I have gotten to the point where I'm sure that I no longer want to pursue this path to a career in medicine.

 

After speaking to the dean, I have been granted a short leave to figure out what I need to do. He recommended researching the PA profession. Thus here I am.

 

I have done a bit of research online and found some things out. But I still have a bunch of questions about the application process.

 

 

1. During my first two years, we had clinical work (standard patients) as well as OSCE's and preceptorships year-round. I've seen all kinds of patients - those who listen, those who don't listen, those who try to sell me drugs, those who threaten to kill me, etc. While working under doctors, I've been "pimped" more times than I can imagine. Would my time in med school be considered clinical experience worthy of a PA acceptance?

 

2. My GPA from college was 3.4. My GPA from med school was a pass, which I'd assume would be a 2.5-3.0. Which would PA schools look at? And are those numbers competitive?

 

3. I took the MCAT in 2007 (32 with even 11/11/10 spread). Would I need to take another exam? I noticed that MCAT and GRE were both acceptable options.

 

4. Would any of my medical school classes transfer to PA school? For example, I'm sure both programs' gross anatomy classes are similar enough.

 

5. Are former medical students frowned upon when applying to PA? This is what I'm most worried about. I believe my intentions are good - I want to become a PA because I still want to be involved in patient care. But I don't want to be tied up in the BS that physicians are engaged in - such as the red tape, constant worry about lawsuits, not being able to spend time with family/friends (this is huge; I saw a doctor cry when talking about not being able to see her kids grow up as much as her friends could with theirs), and the elitism that some current med students seem to be showing (some of the jokes my classmates have made about PA's are just appalling). I would be more than willing to "give up half my salary" (as a friend said when I told him my intentions to look into PA programs) if it means that I will have more freedom both in my career as well as during my time away from the clinic. I don't mind having to report to a physician to achieve this goal.

 

/end rant.

 

 

 

And some questions about the profession in general.

 

1. What are the hours like? This is one of the main reasons I am turned off by medicine at the moment. I want a "job" - standard 8-5. Is this possible for PA's?

 

2. I have heard of the PANCE, which I assume would be equivalent to our board exams. Is this test also a "career determiner" like our USMLE Step1? How long do most people study for this?

 

3. How does the future for PA's look?

 

 

As you can see, I am as green as they get in the world of PA.

 

Any assistance would be appreciated.

Edited by CaptainRom
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 58
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

1. What are the hours like? This is one of the main reasons I am turned off by medicine at the moment. I want a "job" - standard 8-5. Is this possible for PA's?

It depends on the specialty. I think it's a fallacy to think that PAs works less hours than physicians, or that PAs get "to spend more time with patients". (I have to admit that once upon a time I believed the latter.) I would say it's equitable per specialty. ie. In outpatient primary care, the work week is more standard along the lines of M-F 8ish-6ish. Inpatient medicine usually has a more variable work schedule with 12 hours on/12 hours off for multiple days in a row with days off in between. The advantage of the PA field is the option for lateral and geographic mobility. Lawsuits, though, involve PAs just like physicians. Everyone needs to be careful.

2. I have heard of the PANCE, which I assume would be equivalent to our board exams. Is this test also a "career determiner" like our USMLE Step1? How long do most people study for this?

Similar to step 2-3 with the exception that once you pass, your score doesn't matter.

3. How does the future for PA's look?

Many posts on this forum about this. My opinion, great! With the ACGME work hour restrictions, at the very least, you can find a hospitalist job nearly anywhere.

Link to post
Share on other sites

1. During my first two years, we had clinical work (standard patients) as well as OSCE's and preceptorships year-round. I've seen all kinds of patients - those who listen, those who don't listen, those who try to sell me drugs, those who threaten to kill me, etc. While working under doctors, I've been "pimped" more times than I can imagine. Would my time in med school be considered clinical experience worthy of a PA acceptance?

 

Contact a few schools of interest and ask for their thoughts on this.

 

3. I took the MCAT in 2007 (32 with even 11/11/10 spread). Would I need to take another exam? I noticed that MCAT and GRE were both acceptable options.

 

Few schools accept MCAT scores. The majority of schools require the GRE and you will have to take it unless you want to limit your school options.

 

4. Would any of my medical school classes transfer to PA school? For example, I'm sure both programs' gross anatomy classes are similar enough.

 

Most schools state on their websites that they do not accept transfer credits but again, check the websites(or call) of the schools you are interested in.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't begin to imagine dropping out of the third year of med school to start all the way over again in PA school. Think long and hard about this decision. Can you afford the loans you have, and will continue to accumulate with a PA salary? Do you think that you'll work less in PA school or as a PA? Are your undergrad prereqs too old? Will dropping out and going to PA school fix whatever issues you have now that are driving you to drop? Do you think PA admissions will look favorably on someone who dropped out of med school so late in the game. Be prepared to have very good answers to all these questions before you make any decisions.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderator

you have finished the hard part of medschool already. suck it up, finish rotations, do a cush fp residency and don't look back.

as a former adcom member I can almost guarantee you that you would not get a spot in a reputable pa program at this point. many on this board would trade body parts to be where you are right now.

any hassle that docs have pa's have as well. we also tend to work longer and worse hours(nights/weekends/early am, holidays) so don't look at this as a family friendly career. docs hire pa's to do the work they don't want to do when and where they don't want to do it. keep that in mind.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for taking the time to help me out. I guess I will have to take the GRE at some point. I will be sure to investigate the credit transfer issue some more as I'd hate to have to retake anatomy.

 

If anyone else can provide some answers, I'd really appreciate it.

 

Also, I would love to hear from anyone is a former MD student or who knows someone who dropped out of medical school and subsequently headed to PA school.

Link to post
Share on other sites
you have finished the hard part of medschool already. suck it up, finish rotations, do a cush fp residency and don't look back.

as a former adcom member I can almost guarantee you that you would not get a spot in a reputable pa program at this point. many on this board would trade body parts to be where you are right now.

any hassle that docs have pa's have as well. we also tend to work longer and worse hours(nights/weekends/early am, holidays) so don't look at this as a family friendly career. docs hire pa's to do the work they don't want to do when and where they don't want to do it. keep that in mind.

 

Thank you very much for this message.

 

Though I disagree with you regarding the "hard part" - I have been holding my breath since first year that I will enjoy 3rd year. But I've only gotten more miserable as I have gained a more thorough insight into what being a doctor is like.

 

Working terrible hours would not be a problem for me. When I worked before med school, I volunteered to take over the holiday hours as no body wanted those (in exchange for having time off later of course). I don't really have family to turn to, so holidays don't mean much to me. But do PA's at least have set number of hours like a "real job?" - ie. 8 to 5?

 

 

as a former adcom member I can almost guarantee you that you would not get a spot in a reputable pa program at this point.

 

This certainly worries me. Though have you ever encountered medical students who did what I am planning to do? And were they successful in entering PA school and then later the PA workforce?

 

I'd really appreciate it if you could share some stories of success from someone in my position.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderator

there are "regular jobs" out there for pa's but there are for docs as well. a doc I work with just left our dept for a job working 20 hrs/week with full benefits. at 20 hrs/week she will make more than I do working 50 hrs/week.

if you are struggling with clinicals keep in mind that the 2nd yr of pa school is interchangeable with the third yr of medschool at many programs. same hours/expectations, etc

4th yr as you know is mostly electives, vacation, and interviewing time. for all intents and purposes medschool is ms1+ pa school.

as I said before the basic sciences in ms1 for most folks is the hard part of medschool. I would strongly advise you to continue medschool. by the time you got into a pa school you would have been done with medschool and already in residency. best case scenario you end up a pa the same yr you would have become a residency trained/board certified doc. seriously, do not drop out. years from now when you realize the differences in lifestyle between a pa and an md you will hate the decision you made. many of us on this forum struggle with going back to medschool and very few ever do. 5% of pa's go back to medschool, >50% probably want to but can't.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just curious which medical school were you in? Is it a US medical school or a caribbean medical school? Honestly if I were you I would get that MD degree. You have so much more freedom with your scope of practice. I wouldn't leave med school for pa school, I have heard of people finishing pa school and going back to medical school. Good luck in your decision.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You say becoming an MD may not be for you, but you haven't really gone into why you feel that way. If you tell us that, then you might get even better insight than you have already gotten. As was pointed out, PA's have to endure many of the same conditions as MD's do, with smaller paychecks & often less respect. Depending on your reasoning, maybe switching to PA will not improve anything.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If being a MD is not what you want, why do you feel being a PA would be any better? If you are seeking to change professions, maybe you should ask yourself if the medical profession is actually where you want to be? I personally never wanted to be a physician, and was asked many time why I didn't go to med school as I have always had the aptitude for medicine and the practice of... I have worked as a Respiratory Therapist, and for the past 4 years lining pre-reqs out for PA school. I know exactly what I want, and that is to be a PA. If medical school has caused you to question "why am I doing this?" then maybe you are not cut out to work in a medical environment. It is tragic considering all of the education you have and the effort which has been put into this journey, but speaking as someone who has told her own adult children, " to find their passion...find a way to make a living at it...and be happy"....maybe your should do just that.... AND as one who is anxiously awaiting for letters to just get an interview to a PA program....I know what I want...I have worked hard and sacrificed much to get this far. If someone who was on the "bubble" of deciding what to do with their life was accepted ahead of me, I would not be happy. Good Luck with your decision....With all sincerity, Good Luck!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Captain Rom. I would have given everything except my kid and my dog to have been able to attend med school. I was in PA program same time my son's wife was in Med School. When I 'hit the wall mid 2nd year, I was told to suck it up and report for class the next day or..drop on request. she hit the wall end of 2nd year and was given FIVE months to rethink, regroup, renew..and then went back to finish. today, my pay is 87K, hers is 210K, same specialty. and even her social status and job perks so far exceed mine it makes me cry. and student loans!!! med school x 3 yrs plus 2.5 yr @ PA....you, like me, would spend the rest of your life paying it off. I agree that if you drop Med school after so far in, regardless of what you don't like, you will regret it for the rest of your working life...I agree that if you finish, there are "cushy" MD jobs for you, shorter hours, less liability...look for them. I thought I heard you say you wanted to drop MD because of all the negative aspects of MDdom you have heard...grapevines tend to lift up the bad news faster than the good..don't believe everything you hear...except of course unless it came from the PA FORUM :=D::heheh:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for taking the time to help me out. I guess I will have to take the GRE at some point. I will be sure to investigate the credit transfer issue some more as I'd hate to have to retake anatomy.

 

If anyone else can provide some answers, I'd really appreciate it.

 

Also, I would love to hear from anyone is a former MD student or who knows someone who dropped out of medical school and subsequently headed to PA school.

 

 

on mypatraining.com (insidepatraining.com) there is an interview paul does with a woman named sundance who is also a med school dropout who decided to pursure PA.

its a youtube vid, maybe worth looking at. i believe the quick tab is under MD vs PA

Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you very much for this message.

 

Though I disagree with you regarding the "hard part" - I have been holding my breath since first year that I will enjoy 3rd year. But I've only gotten more miserable as I have gained a more thorough insight into what being a doctor is like.

 

Working terrible hours would not be a problem for me. When I worked before med school, I volunteered to take over the holiday hours as no body wanted those (in exchange for having time off later of course). I don't really have family to turn to, so holidays don't mean much to me. But do PA's at least have set number of hours like a "real job?" - ie. 8 to 5?

 

 

 

 

This certainly worries me. Though have you ever encountered medical students who did what I am planning to do? And were they successful in entering PA school and then later the PA workforce?

 

I'd really appreciate it if you could share some stories of success from someone in my position.

 

Rom,

 

I would suggest you take the time you need to decide what you want to do in life in broad terms. By this, I mean medicine vs. something else. It is easy to allow the rigours of medical school to get you down and maybe even make you a bit jaded. If you're not interested in medicine, then there is no sense in looking at PA.

 

If you're still interested in medicine, then I think you really need to rethink things. When it comes to lifestyle, physician lifestyles are not all terrible. Often, doctors work long hours because they choose to. The doctors who you are exposed to during placements are likely some of the most ambitious.

 

You have less than two years of medical school left. PA school will be at least two years and it could be a year or more before you get in. Sure, there is a residency after that if you continue with medical school, but at the end of it all you will be making significantly more than you would as a PA. Money isn't everything, but making more per hour means you could live on working much less if you choose.

 

Honestly, your thinking doesn't seem to make sense to me and I wonder whether there may be other issues contributing. If there is anything else, I would highly recommend you get help to address that and then get back to medical school.

 

Best of luck!

Link to post
Share on other sites
on mypatraining.com (insidepatraining.com) there is an interview paul does with a woman named sundance who is also a med school dropout who decided to pursure PA.

its a youtube vid, maybe worth looking at. i believe the quick tab is under MD vs PA

 

Found it. Thanks for letting me know. It'll definitely be worth watching.

 

Edit:

Just watched it. She pretty much summarizes how I feel while in med school, except she's a bit more positive about it.

Edited by CaptainRom
Link to post
Share on other sites

NOTE: Please forgive any grammatical errors. I tried correcting them, but I'm sure some of them slipped through.

 

----

 

Um wow... thanks a lot to everyone who has taken the time to visit this thread and give some thought to my problem. I'll try to answer all of your questions as best as I can.

 

First off, I go to a mainland US med school. It's on the east coast.

 

Secondly, I recently found out that I failed the Step 1. The school is allowing me to take time off to re-study for it. I know why I failed. It's due to my state of mind during the summer of studying. I couldn't concentrate at all. I would read for 5 minutes, then I would spend the next 10 minutes thinking, "what in the [gosh darn heck] am I doing here?"

 

 

For those who are wondering, I didn't go to med school for the money. Heck, I've done minimum wage jobs since I was in elementary school (came from a poor, dysfunctional family; so I had to grow up real quickly). I would be satisfied with enough money to survive. I don't want a fancy car or a nice house. I'd be happy to keep my '95 Civic running and live in an apt that is $300/month for the rest of my life if I can have a job where I would be happy waking up and going to every morning.

 

I went to med school for the same reason that many others did - for the patients. But once the work started, I realized that I had gotten more than I had bargained for. But by then, the debt had already started to pile up. So you can say that I stayed in med school because of the exorbitant amount of debt. To make matters worse, I had no support. My parents didn't even want me to go to med school - they thought that I was taking a seat away from a "smart kid." My friends aren't the supportive type either. And my school ... they have been very different from the stereotypical med school admin folks who care for the students and don't want the students to fail. My school admin folks told me that "if you don't like it, quit. You're taking up a seat that belongs to someone who wants to be here."

 

The debt as well as knowing that my whole life is going to belong to medicine put me in a pretty dysthymic state. I can honestly say that if you had asked me the SIGECAPS questions over the past two years, I'd have failed all of them (except I'm not suicidal).

 

To me, med school has been a prison. Wake up at 6. Decide whether to go to class. Either way, studying will take place from 8 to 5. Then gym. Then come back and study for clinical class. Rinse and repeat. If I'm lucky, I get some time to work on some outside-of-med-school projects such as programming a computer game. And I'm doing all this while my friends are able to have fun every day after work (based on what their facebook statuses say and what they tell me when I do get a chance to talk to them).

 

All this leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I figured that I had two options: stay miserable for the rest of my life while being a doctor. Or get out now and find something that I can actually be happy doing.

 

They sent me to counseling right now while I'm restudying for the Step1. I don't think it's even worth my time, as I know exactly what's wrong with me and how to fix it.

 

The solution is simple:

-I need to get out of this MD school.

-But I need to leave with an alternate career in mind, otherwise my whole life would be ruined with the 150k of debt I already have.

 

What I want in my life is a job where I can work 8-5 (or similar hours) and then go home without having to worry about work. An MD cannot do that - I've asked the many doctors I've worked with. They all seem to agree that your whole life revolves around medicine once you've committed yourself to becoming a doctor. I need the free time for my dreams outside of med school. I need the free time to work on projects -computers, programming, art, misc engineering projects - that have helped keep my sane over the years (until med school started).

 

Everywhere I read, it seems to summarize PA's as doctors except without as much responsibility or politics and with much more manageable hours (ie. 8-5). That seems ideal for me. And that's the reason I want to switch to the PA route.

 

So is my understanding of the PA incorrect? Are PA's hours really no different from those of physicians'?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I sympathise with you. I think that you have two major options; Either decide that you want to go back to med school, become a doctor, and dedicate yourself to that - or you need to find something else to do. There are plenty of ways to be involved in medicine that aren't being a doctor or PA. Look at a variety of allied health programs and find something that interests you. Most of them aren't 9-5, but they are specific shifts where you can leave your work at the hospital. If I couldn't be a paramedic anymore and I wasn't heading for PA school, I would look at either respiratory therapy or cardiovascular perfusion. Both are high level, hands-on, working with patients (even if they aren't conscious), with a fair degree of autonomy.

 

My point is this: If all the things that you have said about being unhappy with med school and a career as a doctor are true, then PA is not for you either. This doesn't mean that you have to give up on medicine all together. Good luck and hang in there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Unsure if being a physician assistant is right for you? Curious or confused about the PA training process? Sometimes it helps to hear the stories of others who have gone before you…Sundance describes her time as both a Physician Assistant student and MD med student, and her tough decision-making process related to these two paths....

 

 

Check this video out: http://www.mypatraining.com/pa-student-interviews

 

Hope that helps :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

What I want in my life is a job where I can work 8-5 (or similar hours) and then go home without having to worry about work. An MD cannot do that - I've asked the many doctors I've worked with. They all seem to agree that your whole life revolves around medicine once you've committed yourself to becoming a doctor.

 

This is FAAAAAAR from correct...

 

The MD degree alone will open doors that won't be available to a PA.

 

"Medical Director" of a PA program... 9-5

"Medical Director" of a Suboxone clinic ... 9-5

Medical Director of a Wgt Loss clinic... 9-5

MD Medical Lecturer for Pharma or Devices ... 2 hr lecture = $1,500-$2,500

A&P/Patho/Pharm Lecturer in pretty much ANY health occupations program

Administration in Large Heathcare Orgs (Insurance, Case Management, Longterm Care, etc.)

State Department of Health and/or BOM inspector/investigator

 

As I write this... I'm reflecting on the 5 MDs I work/interact with:

 

1 Works 10 days per month... she spends the rest of her time doing oils and playing with her grandchild.

 

1 Works 11 days in a row... then takes 3 days off then repseats the cycle (recent divorce so trying to pay off judgement).

 

1 works 2-5 days a month... then sails his boat up and down the cost for the rest of the month.

 

1 is a "Medical director" and does "admin" stuff from 9-5 (in reality she generally arrives at about 10:15 am and leaves for home at 2:20pm each day) and maintains a patient panel of about 20 patients to keep her clinical skills up to par.

 

ALL of them make ~ $850-$1000/day regardless of how long they have to stay and work. On average... they are physically at work about 4-5 hrs/day.

 

There are LOTS of things you can do with a MD degree that doesn't entail being tied to "clinical medicine" 16hrs/day.

 

 

FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED...!!!

 

Complete that MD degree then let it entice folks to offer you obscene sums of cash for your "opinion."

 

My $0.02

 

Contrarian

Link to post
Share on other sites
This is FAAAAAAR from correct...

 

The MD degree alone will open doors that won't be available to a PA.

 

"Medical Director" of a PA program... 9-5

"Medical Director" of a Suboxone clinic ... 9-5

Medical Director of a Wgt Loss clinic... 9-5

MD Medical Lecturer for Pharma or Devices ... 2 hr lecture = $1,500-$2,500

A&P/Patho/Pharm Lecturer in pretty much ANY health occupations program

Administration in Large Heathcare Orgs (Insurance, Case Management, Longterm Care, etc.)

State Department of Health and/or BOM inspector/investigator

 

As I write this... I'm reflecting on the 5 MDs I work/interact with:

 

1 Works 10 days per month... she spends the rest of her time doing oils and playing with her grandchild.

 

1 Works 11 days in a row... then takes 3 days off then repseats the cycle (recent divorce so trying to pay off judgement).

 

1 works 2-5 days a month... then sails his boat up and down the cost for the rest of the month.

 

1 is a "Medical director" and does "admin" stuff from 9-5 (in reality she generally arrives at about 10:15 am and leaves for home at 2:20pm each day) and maintains a patient panel of about 20 patients to keep her clinical skills up to par.

 

ALL of them make ~ $850-$1000/day regardless of how long they have to stay and work. On average... they are physically at work about 4-5 hrs/day.

 

There are LOTS of things you can do with a MD degree that doesn't entail being tied to "clinical medicine" 16hrs/day.

 

 

FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED...!!!

 

Complete that MD degree then let it entice folks to offer you obscene sums of cash for your "opinion."

 

My $0.02

 

Contrarian

 

Do those doctors still go throw residency and fellowship to earn those types of jobs?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Everywhere I read, it seems to summarize PA's as doctors except without as much responsibility or politics and with much more manageable hours (ie. 8-5). That seems ideal for me. And that's the reason I want to switch to the PA route.

 

So is my understanding of the PA incorrect? Are PA's hours really no different from those of physicians'?

 

Your understanding is NOT correct. Doctors hire us to do the work they don't want to do, like stay late, work weekends, make hospital rounds, etc. We are the permanent scut monkeys, for 1/3 the salary. I work outpatient internal medicine, and my hours are not bad working 8 to 6. But I also have to pull 100% of the call, work two Saturdays a month, see all the walk-ins, etc. The MDs work 8 to 2, never work weekends, never pull call, get more benefits, and three times the pay. You will essentially quit med school to gain an additional 100K of debt in PA school if you attend a private university, wake up at six, go to your mandatory attendance classes from 8 to 5, and on some days later, study from the time you leave class until you go to sleep, all to graduate by the time you would be halfway through your PGY-2 year to work for 1/3 the pay and MORE hours, not less.

 

If you want guaranteed bankers hours, you need to work at a bank, not medicine.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the replies.

 

 

"1 Works 10 days per month... she spends the rest of her time doing oils and playing with her grandchild.

 

1 Works 11 days in a row... then takes 3 days off then repseats the cycle (recent divorce so trying to pay off judgement).

 

1 works 2-5 days a month... then sails his boat up and down the cost for the rest of the month.

 

1 is a "Medical director" and does "admin" stuff from 9-5 (in reality she generally arrives at about 10:15 am and leaves for home at 2:20pm each day) and maintains a patient panel of about 20 patients to keep her clinical skills up to par."

 

 

Now I'm even more frustrated. The doctors we are assigned to work with are of the 6 day a week / 8-7 types (8-5 work; 5-7 admin stuff). Either that or we're with residents all the time.

 

Also, bradtpa ... an internist working 8-2? None of the internists I've seen get to go home that early.

 

Why didn't they ever tell us that this was possible? Are they funneling us to the busiest doctors?

 

At our school, our teachers get upset when we refer to being a doctor as a "job" instead of a "calling." There's so much cheese that it would make papa john's jealous.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Welcome to the Physician Assistant Forum! This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn More