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I know this question is going to be difficult to answer, but there are some on this forum that have done both med and PA. My question is, is med school really much more difficult than PA school? For most people the hardest part is the book learning/didactic material. It's just difficult to learn so much material in such a short amount of time. I interviewed at two schools in Iowa. One was the University of Iowa where the med students and PA students took the EXACT same classes, same exams, same professors, same grading scale for the didactic portion. The other school (Des Moines University) the med students and PA students take the EXACT same pharmacology class and have to pretty much get the same grades to pass. Pharmacology is known as one of the harder classes in that program.

 

I agree that Med school is much longer. +Residency can be extremely stressful. But from what I've heard 4th year of med school is not THAT hard. And although residency requires more hours than being a PA, isn't the stress of taking care of patients the same (i.e being a resident vs being a new PA is similar stress)?

 

 

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Some of my most productive studying occurred while flash carding on the toilet..   ☺

I think a huge factor that is often ignored is the difference in academic pressures between PA school and med school. As a PA, I knew that this was my terminal degree and the main thing that mattered

I'm hoping that in 10 years there will be more programs that credit PAs for their prior education and allow them to make up the difference in a much abbreviated 18-24 month program...

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PA school is denser but shorter, and covers somewhat less material.  This is not news.

 

Whether that ends up being harder or easier may be a pretty subjective thing, based on how students perceive the difference in material coverage rates.  Is a marathon or a half-marathon harder?

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PA school is denser but shorter, and covers somewhat less material.  This is not news.

 

Whether that ends up being harder or easier may be a pretty subjective thing, based on how students perceive the difference in material coverage rates.  Is a marathon or a half-marathon harder?

 

Ya it covers less material but its also half as long. My point is that the speed at which we have to memorize lectures, daily, in PA school is the same as in med school. Med school is just longer so they end up covering more...But at some schools, like UIowa, there is obviously no difference between MD and PA.

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Ya it covers less material but its also half as long.

Not exactly.  The long-running joke has been that it's 2/3rds of the material (or more) crammed into half the time. PA school is typically 7 semesters, vs. 10 for medical school--it may be half the calendar time, but the actual time in class is far more than half of med school. PA students get very little time off compared to med school students.

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At my school, which had both, the joke was that if you trust US News, the PA program is top-15 in the country and the MD program is... not. But on a day to day basis, the differences were more cultural. They had a much looser schedule, and lectures were often semi-optional for the MDs, whereas we had to have butts in seats. They had the option of studying in the library and showing up for testing days every few weeks; we had at least one exam every Friday.

 

We did share the same Gross Anatomy professors, curriculum, and full cadaver dissection teaching model as the MDs, but we did it in Summer term whereas they did it over Fall and Winter. Pharmacology was exactly the same class, and we shared the auditorium and the professors.

 

It sure felt like our typical day to day was more intense, but they weren't exactly all slackers either. Either way you do it, there's a boatload of stuff you're held responsible for knowing. I tried to comfort myself with the thought that I would end up using a higher proportion of what I learned, and I still like to believe that was true.

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PA school is much more difficult than med school.

 

PA classes are longer and more in-depth than med school, plus they have to be done in 1/2 the time.  Med schools have classes 2-3 hours per day, PA schools are 6-8 hours per day.    Med school classes are strictly optional, PA lectures are usually required attendance.  

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PA school is much more difficult than med school.

 

PA classes are longer and more in-depth than med school, plus they have to be done in 1/2 the time.  Med schools have classes 2-3 hours per day, PA schools are 6-8 hours per day.    Med school classes are strictly optional, PA lectures are usually required attendance.  

 

Lol I can't detect sarcasm well on the internet, so I'll treat this as a serious reply. Obviously PA school is NOT "much more difficult than med school". I was never trying to say that PA school is harder. My point is, we always assume that med school is far harder than PA school. But looking at the schools I interviewed at in Iowa, the PA students took many of the same classes. They had the same exams, with the same professors, and used the same grading scale. We don't have to take Step 1, which does make things significantly easier.

 

My point was that the assumption, that med school is harder, does not seem to always hold true. PA school might be slightly easier. But it would be wrong to say its "wayy easier" because of the FACT that med and PA students share many of the same difficult classes at both DMU and UIowa.

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Obviously PA school is NOT "much more difficult than med school". I was never trying to say that PA school is harder.

Why is it obvious that med school might not be easier than PA school?  Again, you get more time to process the material, even though there is more of it.  If you're a sprinter, a marathon is hard.  If you're a marathon runner, a sprint is pretty intimidating.  They're different approaches to teaching the basics of medicine, and the PA model comes out of a wartime rushed-MD model.

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We have both. Med school seems to be much more focused on balance and experience that students get during those 4 years. Way more time off, way more ways to volunteer, do some soul searching. They have class till noon and free time after, I see students jogging, playing sports in the yard, doing dinners, formals, dances, music nights etc etc... as a PA student you have time to shit and hopefully time to sleep. Not much emphasis given to your inner well being. 2 year long boot camp

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as a PA student you have time to shit and hopefully time to sleep. Not much emphasis given to your inner well being. 2 year long boot camp

Some of my most productive studying occurred while flash carding on the toilet..

 

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More non-lecture time, more study time, enhanced understanding and recall of material.  Simple.

 

This is why watching video lectures at an enhanced speed is the best thing you can do to improve didactic performance (within speed limits).

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At my school, which had both, the joke was that if you trust US News, the PA program is top-15 in the country and the MD program is... not. But on a day to day basis, the differences were more cultural. They had a much looser schedule, and lectures were often semi-optional for the MDs, whereas we had to have butts in seats. They had the option of studying in the library and showing up for testing days every few weeks; we had at least one exam every Friday.

 

We did share the same Gross Anatomy professors, curriculum, and full cadaver dissection teaching model as the MDs, but we did it in Summer term whereas they did it over Fall and Winter. Pharmacology was exactly the same class, and we shared the auditorium and the professors.

 

It sure felt like our typical day to day was more intense, but they weren't exactly all slackers either. Either way you do it, there's a boatload of stuff you're held responsible for knowing. I tried to comfort myself with the thought that I would end up using a higher proportion of what I learned, and I still like to believe that was true.

 

 

one exam every Friday? Goodness. That sounds nice. 

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I haven't attended either (yet! starting next month), but I work with a lot of med students. One reason I am glad I'm going to PA school instead of Med school is that I will hopefully be able to focus 100% on learning to be a good PA. In Med school, you also have to worry about getting into a residency, picking your specialty that you will have for the rest of your career, and doing research and publishing. I have no idea if it's harder or easier, but I am so excited to not have to worry about that stuff in PA school (I think).

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We have both. Med school seems to be much more focused on balance and experience that students get during those 4 years. Way more time off, way more ways to volunteer, do some soul searching. They have class till noon and free time after, I see students jogging, playing sports in the yard, doing dinners, formals, dances, music nights etc etc... as a PA student you have time to shit and hopefully time to sleep. Not much emphasis given to your inner well being. 2 year long boot camp

I had study notes taped to the mirror so that I could study up while shaving and brushing my teeth (in addition to flashcarding).  I kid you not. 

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If you're a sprinter, a marathon is hard.  If you're a marathon runner, a sprint is pretty intimidating.  They're different approaches to teaching the basics of medicine, and the PA model comes out of a wartime rushed-MD model.

Fun trivia: my state re-uses medical license numbers. Mine used to belong to an MD who graduated Med school in 1943. I looked him up once, and he was assistant ship's surgeon like a month after graduation. Residency happened after the war, and it was likely truncated, I don't remember. He retired in the late 80s, and presumably passed at some point in the last 20 years.

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Define "harder". I believe most PAs are (or were at the time) capable of getting through medical school. If you have the chops to get in to either you can make it.

 

Like Rev said it's a sprint vs a marathon. There is more total work performed in the marathon, but the sprint is more demanding of you in the short-term.

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I had study notes taped to the mirror so that I could study up while shaving and brushing my teeth (in addition to flashcarding).  I kid you not. 

 

This reminds me of my multi-colored dry erase notes on the bathroom mirrors.

Apparently, according to photos of me during school, that's all I used the mirrors for.

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Lol I can't detect sarcasm well on the internet, so I'll treat this as a serious reply. Obviously PA school is NOT "much more difficult than med school". I was never trying to say that PA school is harder. My point is, we always assume that med school is far harder than PA school. But looking at the schools I interviewed at in Iowa, the PA students took many of the same classes. They had the same exams, with the same professors, and used the same grading scale. We don't have to take Step 1, which does make things significantly easier.

 

My point was that the assumption, that med school is harder, does not seem to always hold true. PA school might be slightly easier. But it would be wrong to say its "wayy easier" because of the FACT that med and PA students share many of the same difficult classes at both DMU and UIowa.

 

I'm not being sarcastic.  PA school is harder than med school.  PAs cover the same material in half the time.  PA tests are harder because they cover a larger amount of material per test whereas the med students have it nice and spread out.

 

In the clinical years, PA is also harder.  Med students get told to go research stuff in the library and generally they don't carry very many patients.  At 1 place I worked at, the PA students presented ALL the patients to the attending while the med students just observed.

 

 At the 3 institutions where I have worked, the PA students carry the load while the med students constantly take time off to go do stupid stuff like "physician and society" where they spend hours learning about "diversity", LGBT issues, social work stuff, etc

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I'm not being sarcastic. PA school is harder than med school. PAs cover the same material in half the time. PA tests are harder because they cover a larger amount of material per test whereas the med students have it nice and spread out.

 

In the clinical years, PA is also harder. Med students get told to go research stuff in the library and generally they don't carry very many patients. At 1 place I worked at, the PA students presented ALL the patients to the attending while the med students just observed.

 

At the 3 institutions where I have worked, the PA students carry the load while the med students constantly take time off to go do stupid stuff like "physician and society" where they spend hours learning about "diversity", LGBT issues, social work stuff, etc

Ah, Dunning-Kruger at its finest.

 

Your purely anecdotal experience with med students is not the norm.

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PAs cover the same material in half the time.  PA tests are harder because they cover a larger amount of material per test whereas the med students have it nice and spread out.

 

While more material in less time is a good bragging point, it doesn't translate well into difficulty.  It can, it might, but doesn't necessarily.

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I laughed so hard reading Gordan PA-C comments. Have you done both PA and Med school, since you are so confident/ignorant with your responses? I graduated PA school in 2013, worked a year as a PA, and I'm now finishing my first year of med school. You have no idea what you're talking about, absolutely none.

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I laughed so hard reading Gordan PA-C comments. Have you done both PA and Med school, since you are so confident/ignorant with your responses? I graduated PA school in 2013, worked a year as a PA, and I'm now finishing my first year of med school. You have no idea what you're talking about, absolutely none.

 

Totes agree. I think Gordan PA-C, like a lot of PA's, feels disrespected which is why he's bashing their training. Obviously, med school is very hard, and a lot of PAs would struggle to even get in. Since you're now in med school, how would you compare the two? Is MS1 similar/same as 1st year PA school?

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