Ollivander

Why is there a negative stigma associated with PAs who want to go back to med school?

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So I'm on the brink of beginning to collect HCE hours in order to apply to PA school next April. As I do this and the more I talk with doctors and PAs, the more I continue to not completely rule out medical school on down the line. However, there seems to be such a negative stigma on this forum associated with doing this. Why is that? I don't want to pursue something as daunting as medical school at this point in time because I don't want to lock myself down to such a time commitment and financial obligation in my 20's. It's not how I want my life to play out. Although if I were to pursue becoming a doctor later in life, at that point I'd have contributed 7-10 years into the PA profession. In other industries people go back to school all the time later in life and give up their careers in order to do so. Why do PAs frown on students wanting to get their feet wet in medicine as a PA before taking such a giant leap into becoming a doctor? It seems like a PA would be better prepared for medical school than anyone else from having significant experience under their belt educationally and on-the-job.

 

With saying all of this I do not plan to go to medical school later in life. It's just something I haven't ruled out or completely eliminated from my mind. Right now I want to pursue a career as a PA. But as the thread title suggests, what's wrong with not having completely eliminated the possibility of going back later in life? Why does it have to be one or the other? I realize this thread might not go very well and people might take this logic and reasoning the wrong way, however I felt that I needed to ask some of you that are more experienced to garner your opinions on the topic. I thank you in advance.

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I think that it largely stems from the fact that this line of thinking just further solidifies the idea that we really are just "midlevels" after all, and that the profession in itself is not one that is as rewarding as becoming a physician. In a sense, it's treating a very rewarding profession as a stepping stone to your truly desired profession.

 

But in all honesty, your story is not uncommon. Read through the bios of older doctors in Wisconsin and you will see that many of them had their beginnings as PAs back when the University of Wisconsin was awarding bachelor's degrees in PA studies. 

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I think that it largely stems from the fact that this line of thinking just further solidifies the idea that we really are just "midlevels" after all, and that the profession in itself is not one that is as rewarding as becoming a physician. In a sense, it's treating a very rewarding profession as a stepping stone to your truly desired profession.

 

But in all honesty, your story is not uncommon. Read through the bios of older doctors in Wisconsin and you will see that many of them had their beginnings as PAs back when the University of Wisconsin was awarding bachelor's degrees in PA studies. 

Great post! I think the beauty of the PA profession is it is what you make of it. It has the potential to be a career that spans over the course of a person's lifetime, or it can be the beginning of an educational journey into medicine. People say all the time on this forum that medicine is a lifelong learning process, so what's wrong with someone using PA as a step along that journey if they so choose? I know a handful of doctors that wish they had gone into whole separate industries entirely unrelated to medicine in hindsight, but because they went to medical school right after finishing up their undergrad they had no choice but to continue along the road of practicing medicine due to the larger burden of debt along with the time commitment they gave up during the prime of their life. To back out would wreck their personal finances as well as have them admit they wasted 7-10 years training for nothing. Whereas on the flip side, the PA profession has a much lower debt burden and time commitment. This not only allows for financial independence through the PA profession quicker, but also if someone decides medicine is not for them they are easily able to exit the profession/industry and seek out another passion. This isn't an option for most who pursue doctoral degrees in healthcare (MD, DO, DMD/DDS, etc). It's a risk averse route of exploring a career in medicine in today's age, and it can be molded into a career or a stepping stone. It doesn't have to be one or the other.

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No matter what career you decide on at any point in your life, there is no rule that you have to do it forever. While each change will have financial and time costs associated with it, I've found in my own life that you only need to decide on what you want to do next. Each change brings some new awareness of yourself and where you want to go next. That's kind of what life can be like: something akin to picking out stones to step on as you cross a creek.

 

I've known some people who have gone on to medical school. From where I sat, they got the usual questions of "Why would you want to do that?" from some other people. I got the same question when I changed careers to become a PA. 

 

As long as you know the answer to the question for yourself, have thought through the time and money costs, and have made peace with the significant others in your life, then go for it. You only go around once and you weren't born with all of the answers. 

 

But try to learn all you can before you make the leap. While each such career move is really a leap of faith, there is no reason not to spend some time scoping it out.

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No matter what career you decide on at any point in your life, there is no rule that you have to do it forever. While each change will have financial and time costs associated with it, I've found in my own life that you only need to decide on what you want to do next. Each change brings some new awareness of yourself and where you want to go next. That's kind of what life can be like: something akin to picking out stones to step on as you cross a creek.

 

I've known some people who have gone on to medical school. From where I sat, they got the usual questions of "Why would you want to do that?" from some other people. I got the same question when I changed careers to become a PA. 

 

As long as you know the answer to the question for yourself, have thought through the time and money costs, and have made peace with the significant others in your life, then go for it. You only go around once and you weren't born with all of the answers. 

 

But try to learn all you can before you make the leap. While each such career move is really a leap of faith, there is no reason not to spend some time scoping it out.

I apologize that it took me so long to respond to your post. Threads seem to get buried pretty quickly, so I miss some replies from time to time. I just wanted you to know that I very much appreciated your response, and it gave me a lot of perspective about how to approach careers and life. I think I'm definitely going to keep pursuing becoming a PA. Afterwards I'll consider my options after working for a while. At this point in my individual situation though, PA seems such a risk averse decision for me personally that I'd be dumb and naive to not keep chugging along. Thanks for taking the time out to respond!

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I apologize that it took me so long to respond to your post. Threads seem to get buried pretty quickly, so I miss some replies from time to time. I just wanted you to know that I very much appreciated your response, and it gave me a lot of perspective about how to approach careers and life. I think I'm definitely going to keep pursuing becoming a PA. Afterwards I'll consider my options after working for a while. At this point in my individual situation though, PA seems such a risk averse decision for me personally that I'd be dumb and naive to not keep chugging along. Thanks for taking the time out to respond!

PA profession is not "risk averse". If you would speak with some seasoned pas you may get an idea why there can be some animosity for the profession. there is much to learn about the role of the profession that can only be learned through direct experience. every thing has a black and white side

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To answer your question, it's a little bit of insecurity, sort of like the "assistant" title thing.  They are separate career fields, in the same industry, not one leading to the other.  It's frustrating when people don't understand it.  

 

I'm a vocal detractor of this and that, and I have my opinion, but I want it clear that I mean no disrespect to someone who chooses a different option; good for them.  I will tell you the facts of the case and you can decide.  My frustration comes in when people aren't told about the cost or work or time that goes into it...or they are in denial.  If they acknowledge all of that and choose whatever, great.

 

( however keep in mind that all of my opinions are always correct and people who disagree with them are wrong.  of course we know this)

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PA profession is not "risk averse". If you would speak with some seasoned pas you may get an idea why there can be some animosity for the profession. there is much to learn about the role of the profession that can only be learned through direct experience. every thing has a black and white side

I said it's risk averse in regards to my specific situation. Less than 100K of debt versus the 400-500K I was contemplating taking out prior is risk averse based on the average salaries of careers I was comparing at the time (PA versus dentistry).

 

Also, I think I've decided against medical school completely at any point. It's not something I can see myself wanting to endure. I think I just got it into my head that all 20-something year olds should be contemplating medical school, not PA school because I spend too much time on this forum reading that advice from PA's.

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If a person chooses PA as a stepping stone to MD/DO and not as a first career choice then that person has wasted a seat in school and an opportunity for someone else who perhaps wants to be a lifer.

 

IF someone becomes a PA and seriously decides that moving to MD/DO serves them best, then I have no ill will.

 

I am offended if someone who went from PA to MD/DO bashes the PA profession in hindsight or fails to remember where they came from. 

 

Every person has to follow their true desires and calling but would be wise to not poop along the trail taken or despair others or gloat at any perceived changed in hierarchy.

 

If a person needs constant reassurance that the move was good or ok or acceptable - then it probably wasn't the right move in the first place.

 

Be true to oneself and give 100% to the chosen task.

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