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Hi everyone! Your suggestions were really helpful last time, so I decided to post here again!

 

I have been thinking about my plans after undergrad lately and I feel unsure about what I want to do. To be honest, I initially did not want to pursue the medical field because I thought it was not right for me. However, after taking some classes and volunteering at the hospital, I have found that I really enjoy it. I absolutely love the field of neuroscience/neurology and thought I should become a PA to work in that field. However, I have been discussing my plans lately with my classmates and they have suggested that I pursue medical school instead because it will allow me to "enjoy" neurology more than if I were a PA. 

 

I originally thought PA school would be a better choice because it takes only about 2-3 years and you are able to do most of the things a physician does. The only problem is that PA school requires some HCE, which may take about a year or two (at least for me because I have only been volunteering at the hospital). Although medical school is 4+ years, they concentrate on your GPA and MCAT scores over HCE and that would mean I just need to take my MCAT and a few classes and I will be good. I think both paths are doable and I am planning on taking a year off, so I could either concentrate on my HCE if I choose the PA path, or work on my MCAT for the med school path.  

 

As a side note, I am not pursuing these careers because of the pay. Rather, I want to be able to be in the field of neurology and work with patients, while still getting to understand the mechanisms of the brain. Supposedly I will have a better opportunity to do this if I were a MD/DO, but is that really true?

 

What are your thoughts/suggestions?

 

 

Thank you in advance!!

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The pinnacle of Western medicine is to be an American or Canadian board-certified sub-specialist.  The folks who walk that path successfully become well compensated, highly respected, and get to work in their chosen field indefinitely.

 

Having said that, many PA students find that the reason they THOUGHT they were going into medicine changed during school, and they found themselves in a vastly different specialty than they thought they would be going into.

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Keep in mind that sometimes in the more detailed specialties the scope of practice for PAs does not align quite so much with MD as it does in say, family practice.

 

You also may find that you have less job options as PA in such a specialty for that same reason - the less work PAs are legally allowed to do, the less they may be needed/utilized in that field.

 

Honestly if my heart were set on such a specialty I'd go MD.  See if you can find anyone in the field that will let you shadow or pick their brain; both PAs and MDs to really get a feel for what you could actually do with either degree.

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Thank you for your responses! 

 

I think I am going to try to shadow a physician and a PA in the field and see how they are different. I am starting to lean more towards med school now, but I want to keep an open mind about this! 

 

I am thinking of working towards both applications so I will be ready for whichever path I choose. Do you think that would be a good decision? 

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I work right now as in MA for a neurologist and a neurosurgeon and will be attending PA school this fall. One thing to keep in mind if you choose med school is that it is very competitive to get a neuro residency. PA's are heavily utilized in neurology  at the last few practices I have been working at. It is something you can always do and find a job in as a PA but if you choose medical school and don't do well on your boards, you may not be able to ever do neurology. As a doctor, you don't have the luxury to choose which field you want to practice in, you have to earn it. Just something to think about.

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I work right now as in MA for a neurologist and a neurosurgeon and will be attending PA school this fall. One thing to keep in mind if you choose med school is that it is very competitive to get a neuro residency. PA's are heavily utilized in neurology  at the last few practices I have been working at. It is something you can always do and find a job in as a PA but if you choose medical school and don't do well on your boards, you may not be able to ever do neurology. As a doctor, you don't have the luxury to choose which field you want to practice in, you have to earn it. Just something to think about.

Thank you for the information!

I have also heard that neurology is definitely one of the more competitive residencies for med school and its is not as easy as it seems. You have to be very dedicated and put all of your effort in for it. 

 

You mentioned that there were many neurology PAs where you worked. Could you tell me what they were able to do compared to the doctor(s)? The reason I am so confused about what path I want to do is because I have been told that there are very few jobs for PAs in neurology and also because they really don't get to do as much as the doctor. If I truly want to be a part of the neurology field, I have been told that the MD/DO route is the only way. I would like to think that this is a bit exaggerated and that PAs still do much of what a doctor does in this field. Would you say this is true?

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In my practices, they still see and treat their own patients and collaborate on patients, prescribe medications, order tests, interpret MRI's. The same things you would do in other specialties but just neuro based. They give injections. The only thing our PA's don't do is perform EMG or EEG which you ca do if your trained specifically in. But they do give botulinum toxin injections. I am not sure what you specifically want to do in neurology but you can definitely be involved in everything as a PA.

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In my practices, they still see and treat their own patients and collaborate on patients, prescribe medications, order tests, interpret MRI's. The same things you would do in other specialties but just neuro based. They give injections. The only thing our PA's don't do is perform EMG or EEG which you ca do if your trained specifically in. But they do give botulinum toxin injections. I am not sure what you specifically want to do in neurology but you can definitely be involved in everything as a PA.

Thank you, this was very helpful! It seems like a PA is just as involved as a physician would be. 

 

I think I will still try shadowing both in the field and I will be able to make a final decision about this. Like I said, I am taking a year off so I am just trying to pick the path that is right for me so I can do whatever I need to be competitive in this year off. It sounds like I would still be exposed to the same things as a PA, so maybe it's not a bad choice?

 

Thanks again, I really appreciate your input! 

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No problem. I think you can be very involved as a PA as long as you show that you want to learn new things. Autonomy is different at hospitals vs private practice. I work in private practice in southern California and PA's are so involved here.

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Yeah OP, you are talking about neurology right? That's not the same as neurosurgery. Neurosurgery is probably one of the most competitive residency there is, requiring a 260 Step 1 score. Neurology is very easy residency to get into. Shadowing both PAs and Physicians is great to show you how they work in the professional environment, but it won't show you the 11-16 years of education that physicians endured to be where they're at. 

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Neurology is NOT AT ALL competitive. Typical 3-4 yr residency. Neurosurgery is highly competitive and a grueling 6-7 yr residency.

 

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N910A using Tapatalk

 

 

Yeah OP, you are talking about neurology right? That's not the same as neurosurgery. Neurosurgery is probably one of the most competitive residency there is, requiring a 260 Step 1 score. Neurology is very easy residency to get into. Shadowing both PAs and Physicians is great to show you how they work in the professional environment, but it won't show you the 11-16 years of education that physicians endured to be where they're at. 

 

Hm, maybe I misread that somewhere. I knew that neurosurgery is VERY competitive, but I thought neurology was the same. I guess not...

Even if neurology was extremely competitive, I feel pretty positive that I would still want to be in that field. I don't mind spending the extra time and putting forth the effort because it's something that I want to spend my life doing.

 

Before I thought I was going to pursue PA school, I was thinking of doing a neuroscience PHD because I was so interested in it. The only reason I decided not to was because I found that I enjoyed being around patients more. I know that doctors can do research while still seeing patients if they do a MD/PHD I think, but are PAs able to research as well? Just wondering...

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Hm, maybe I misread that somewhere. I knew that neurosurgery is VERY competitive, but I thought neurology was the same. I guess not...

Even if neurology was extremely competitive, I feel pretty positive that I would still want to be in that field. I don't mind spending the extra time and putting forth the effort because it's something that I want to spend my life doing.

 

Before I thought I was going to pursue PA school, I was thinking of doing a neuroscience PHD because I was so interested in it. The only reason I decided not to was because I found that I enjoyed being around patients more. I know that doctors can do research while still seeing patients if they do a MD/PHD I think, but are PAs able to research as well? Just wondering...

 

Nope, neurology is not the same as brain surgery (neurosurgery). Those two residencies are pretty much night and day from what I've read. Well if you want to pursue neurology then that works out great. It's a easy residency to get into and is pretty short (3 years sometimes). Doesn't require an outstanding step 1 score or multiple publications during medical school. I think you'll be happier as a neurologist.

 

Sure PAs can do research but that would probably be at the expense of your clinical work as in you have to work less in the clinical setting to invest more time in researching. I'm sure this applies to physicians who want to do research as well. Theres just 24 hours in a day you know? haha

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Nope, neurology is not the same as brain surgery (neurosurgery). Those two residencies are pretty much night and day from what I've read. Well if you want to pursue neurology then that works out great. It's a easy residency to get into and is pretty short (3 years sometimes). Doesn't require an outstanding step 1 score or multiple publications during medical school. I think you'll be happier as a neurologist.

 

Sure PAs can do research but that would probably be at the expense of your clinical work as in you have to work less in the clinical setting to invest more time in researching. I'm sure this applies to physicians who want to do research as well. Theres just 24 hours in a day you know? haha

Haha your absolutely right

Sometimes I wish there were just a few more hours in the day! 

 

Thanks for the info! :)

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