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So, I'm still in undergrad with a few semesters to go, but I am a tad bit older, have worked other careers and gained a lot of experience doing things I love outside of healthcare. I'm curious what I can expect as far as being to dedicate time to some of the hobbies I love while being a PA. I've been a race car driver throughout my life, and I plan to keep doing it, especially when established in the PA field, but unsure of what kind of time I could expect to be able to put into it without stepping on toes with superiors and colleagues. Some races require me to test and practice for hours a day, and if it's a summer shootout or other series, I could go days at a time out of state at a track. Is this something I will probably have to give up? I know I could run local races, but I'm just curious with the kind of schedules that y'all have, if it's possible to be away from your job to race like that. The only circumstance I could imagine that working is if I did 3 days on and 4 off or something like that? I could be wrong about schedules like this.. But I've seen those kind of schedules run in certain EMS agencies so I didn't know if that's something that is done with PAs. Obviously, not in a clinic setting, but if I was in surgery or EM or something like that, would it be possible?

Again, just curious. Thanks

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The field you choose will impact the ability you have to take time off.  For example in a Surgical specialty, good luck, but if you work urgent care/ER and work 10-12 shifts a month you might be able to swing it.  

I have friends that work 3, 12's a week in ER for example.  

At my current gig I work 3 tens 2 weeks a 24/7 call 1 week.  Leaves me one 6 day and one 7 day stretch off a month...maybe I should take up racing!

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I used to race motorcycles back in the day, before I became a PA.  Amateur racing, no real time, did pretty much my own mechanical work, transported myself, occasionally had friends help me out.  Most people who race have day jobs, they don't make enough or get enough sponsorship to really make a living out of it (in the motorcycle road-racing world)at least).

If I wanted to race again... I probably couldn't do it.  Not because of my job, but because I have a 2 year old that takes up all my free time.  If I didn't have a kid, I would have plenty of time to wrench on my bikes are race/practice on the weekends.  

The majority of PA jobs are M-F 9-5.  Yes, there are some specialties or jobs where you work longer, work nights, work weekends, or take call.  

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16 minutes ago, MCHAD said:

The field you choose will impact the ability you have to take time off.  For example in a Surgical specialty, good luck, but if you work urgent care/ER and work 10-12 shifts a month you might be able to swing it.  

I have friends that work 3, 12's a week in ER for example.  

At my current gig I work 3 tens 2 weeks a 24/7 call 1 week.  Leaves me one 6 day and one 7 day stretch off a month...maybe I should take up racing!

I will figure out what suits me in rotations, but I like the idea of doing a surgical or EM residency or something like that after graduation for better preparation and possibly higher pay and competitiveness. If I only raced local, like here there's usually weekend shootouts.. I'd be fine with that. Or maybe I'll just stick to a project such as building a car in my free time. I went to school as a motorsports engineer, but I knew I'd be resentful on top of the pitbox, calling the shots but not being in the seat so I quickly got out as it ate me alive. So, here I am pursuing this! I'm all for anyone taking up racing. It's one of my favorite things 

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8 minutes ago, cbrsmurf said:

I used to race motorcycles back in the day, before I became a PA.  Amateur racing, no real time, did pretty much my own mechanical work, transported myself, occasionally had friends help me out.  Most people who race have day jobs, they don't make enough or get enough sponsorship to really make a living out of it (in the motorcycle road-racing world)at least).

If I wanted to race again... I probably couldn't do it.  Not because of my job, but because I have a 2 year old that takes up all my free time.  If I didn't have a kid, I would have plenty of time to wrench on my bikes are race/practice on the weekends.  

The majority of PA jobs are M-F 9-5.  Yes, there are some specialties or jobs where you work longer, work nights, work weekends, or take call.  

Didn't think about the kid part. I'm single now, but who knows... I may meet someone in PA school. I'll around 30 when I enter so the biological clock will be ticking for women my age. We'll see. I will put my priorities with work first, as well as family, and then my hobbies... even though I'm sure some of us wish we could switch around sometimes lol

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If you truly value free time and hobbies, I would caution you about getting in to this field for a few reasons:

1) During PA school you will have very little---if any--time for hobbies. That's for 2+ years.

2) In the medical world it is typically difficult to get time off, because we see patients. People are scheduled with us and expect to be seen. You may get in with a group that gives you 4 weeks or more of vacation, which is nice, but this of course has to be scheduled and approved. In outpatient medicine, it's 8-5 or 9-6 M-F. You may be able to find a gig that's 4 days a week.

As others have said EM can offer great time off, but you will work some long stretches and long days.

There is locums work, which can also give you good stretches of time off. But you will likely have massive loans to pay off, so unless you have deep financial resources, working 9 months a year probably isnt on the menu.

I'm a guy who values his hobbies more than his work, so I get it. Dont get me wrong, I do something almost every week, but my free time is limited to weekends, like the rest of the working world, lol. Throw a kid in on top of that? I'd have zero free time.

There have been several BIG things I wanted to do and wasnt able, like 2 week backpacking trips, multiple hunts in a season, and even thru-hiking the AT. You need a special type of job to take that kind of time off.

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As others have mentioned, depends on the gig. I work Urgent Care. 3-12hr shifts a week, off the other 4 for a damn good salary. I have a lot of hobbies that have nothing to do with my day job (amateur road cyclist, former touring musician who still collaborates, writing, travel). Nice thing about the PA world is I'm responsible for my piece of the pie when I'm on, and absolutely off when I'm off. I.E., day to day business operations, hiring/firing, wheeling/dealing for malpractice rates or payroll tax deductions - none of it applies to me. I show up, do my best to provide top notch medical care, and then I drive home for some rest and relaxation.

 

First things first, of course, is getting your ducks in a row to get into PA school. From there, you should really work full time, ideally 3-12s or 4-10s to give you more time to train if racing is your bag. Once you have experience and your chops, you could do PRN (as needed, no obligation for a set amount of shifts a month) or locums (working somewhere for a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Once contract is finished, you're on to the next thing). One of my favorite things about being a PA is the endless possibilities.

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You will have plenty of time once you get the hang of things. Obviously at the start of your career, there is still such a significant learning curve. Don't get me wrong, you will always be learning, but at the beiginning especially you need to dedicate some time for outside study. 

 

That being said, mostly all of my colleagues work 3 12s as a full time position. Many of them pick up another shift for extra income. Hospitality and ICU work can have a 7 on 7 off schedule, which is nice but also difficult. EM will typically require 12-14 shifts per month. My CT surgery job requires 3-4 12s a week. 

 

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Not truly trying to sound horrible but I found your desire to be able to disappear for days on end to race cars while wanting to be a PA somewhat disparate. 

PA is NOT a profession where you can simply up and pull roots and disappear for days on end. Patients count on us whether scheduled in FP or on duty in UC.

You MIGHT be able to be a locums or a per diem but I can't see working anywhere near a normal schedule with your desires. 

Maybe just an off day - but I don't hear your desire to practice medicine - just make money somehow. 

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^ I think what RC is trying to say is that being a PA is not the ideal profession for "work to live" type people. You can make it work, but if your priorities in life are extracurricular, I would suggest a less expensive, stressful, and high-stakes pathway.

I talk to younger people from time to time who want to be PAs. In them I often see myself from 10 years ago--full of hope and idealism about this profession. In some of them I see a mistake in the making. As the saying goes, you dont know what you dont know. It's a fine line to walk, giving someone cautionary advice and not raining on their parade.

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Long post coming up, as I did feel some emotion in it, so feel free to skim or whatever. 

I appreciate everyone's feedback, I truly do. I want to make it perfectly clear, as I tried to in responding to one of the upper responses to my original post: I am FULLY committed to the PA profession. I take no disrespect for people sensing that I don't have that desire, but I do. I love racing, that's just something that's always been a passion of mine, but I stated above that my priorities are with my career first, then my family, and then whatever time I have left to squeeze in for hobbies. I was more curious to see what I could expect and what others are able to do with their free time, to give me an idea of what to expect. I could easily race local on weekends, and just work M-F or something, but this is what I want to do, and there is no deterring me. I won't get into the why because it's very long and whatnot; we all have our reasons, but money is not my reason for choosing this path, whatsoever.

Would I be a PA for free? Absolutely not. PAs are skilled individuals who provide a valuable service and deserve to be compensated as such, so if anyone desires this that much, I'll gladly take the extra income. I know very well that even as I graduate and get a job as a PA, I will be living frugally to pay off debts, and there is no way I could afford to do that, and pay for racecar parts. My passion is in medicine. If my passion was money I would've stayed in my engineering gig where I was around racing non-stop, but that should show that I had other things I wanted to pursue; PA school being the thing for me.

I am not eat, sleep, breathe medicine.. otherwise I would've chosen to be a doctor. Being a PA I can still practice medicine in an advanced setting, but also have more free time than most doctors to pursue hobbies and have a family and whatnot. I am not putting every doctor into this category, but I've been around enough and experienced enough to know this, just as y'all do. It's just better work-life balance, that's all. Racing is not the end-all-be-all for me, by any means.

If I had sponsors to impress and a team to manage, that's one thing, but this is out of my own pocket. I could get as much satisfaction running a couple of weekends a month and still enjoy it. Working on the car in my spare time, practicing, setting a race date and working towards it.. that's what I'd do. I don't drink and go out on the town, or any of that stuff, like many my age. I walk trails with my dog, I shoot my guns, I fish, and I maintain a garden that my family has grown for many generations, as well as being an active member in my church. I'm 26 but I'm not naive, and I have my goals and head in the right direction.

 I have a friend who is actually a professional race car driver in NASCAR, who attended Harvard and raced throughout medical school of The U. His name is Patrick Staropoli.. he's quite accomplished, and does his own thing in the medical field. He races in the touring series, which, I would not do. He will probably have to give that up, for sure. As we get older our priorities change, but it doesn't mean we can't be excited to go out and do something that we enjoy in our free time. I would be packing up my hauler with some buddies to wrench on the car before the race and afterwards, enjoy a night out and head back home. I'm not saying that I WANT to be away from my patients, as my interests are in taking care of them before doing anything else. So, if I had the hauler ready to go and planned to leave at 6 PM, got a call at 5 saying a patient or patients weren't doing well, I know that means this weekend is a no-go. Tough crap. I'm an adult, I have responsibilities, and I chose this path knowing that I have to put this first before anything else.

Again, I do not feel insulted, but I want to make it clear that I am completely sure that this is what I want to do. Racing is great, yes, but this gives me the purpose and meaning that I want out of life.. not some trophy. Seeing my patients get better because of my efforts to treat them, that's my ultimate freaking trophy. That last part was a little cheesy but true. I've had enough life experiences, enough time on an ambulances and in hospitals to understand what I'm getting myself into. I enjoy coming to this forum and throwing out random questions because of the diverse community that is very supporting. I just don't want anyone to every mistake my passion for racing to ever be greater than my passion to help people and to learn more about medicine in my career. Hope that clears it up. 

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I decided to go to an interview that the racecar driver and doctor that I spoke of was a part of. What's interesting is we both started off engineering, and racing, and we both had life-changing experiences (mine were my little sister being killed and my father dying from a PE, and caring for my grandfather for 3 years after his CABG 5 Bypass) All of that sparked my passion to help others and to know more about medicine and continue to learn. I should say that even though I didn't feel insulted, I took my mistake for lack of passion in medicine kind of personal, so that's why I am posting this much. Anyway, enjoy the read. 

Here's the link to the full interview

Why did you go into medicine?

I actually entered college thinking I wanted to do mechanical engineering. Many of the prerequisite classes overlapped with the pre-med classes, and I became really interested in the clinical applications of the science that we were learning. I got involved with Unite for Sight thanks to some friends - our job was to go around Boston and give free vision screenings to the underserved - and I got excited about that type of interaction. I think my dad's accident was still in the back of my mind and I started to realize that I could use all these years of school to help people. I came back from the winter break sophomore year, revamped my whole schedule from engineering to neurobiology classes, and the rest is history.

In addition to graduating from medical school, you are also a professional NASCAR driver, as your dad and grandfather were! How do you balance the many demands of both passions?

Not very well (lol). But seriously, school and racing have always been a balance. The deal my parents made with me when I first started was that I had to get straight A's in school in order to race. I took that agreement a little too literally, but it has opened so many doors - to college, medicine, and racing. Obviously, it's gotten tougher. I only raced three times in the past year, and since school has been my priority, I just need to be very efficient about getting up to speed at the racetrack and picking up my rhythm, despite the lack of practice time and how much the competition evolves in between my races. It adds another layer of difficulty that I constantly have to adapt to.

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3 hours ago, Reality Check 2 said:

Not truly trying to sound horrible but I found your desire to be able to disappear for days on end to race cars while wanting to be a PA somewhat disparate. 

PA is NOT a profession where you can simply up and pull roots and disappear for days on end. Patients count on us whether scheduled in FP or on duty in UC.

You MIGHT be able to be a locums or a per diem but I can't see working anywhere near a normal schedule with your desires. 

Maybe just an off day - but I don't hear your desire to practice medicine - just make money somehow. 

There are opportunities working urgent care/ER in which one can pick up and disappear for days on end and patients don't care.  There will be someone else in the ER to see them.  This is what I loved about ER.  I could swap days or front load my schedule to have a string of days off in a row without even needing to use vacation time.  An FP/IM M-F job is NOT conducive with this at all.  There are doctors/PAs who want to practice medicine, but don't want to be defined by there profession.  I'm a medical provider at work and outside of work I'm just a regular person like everyone else who likes to do things not medicine related. 

My hobby is making wine....well before kids when I was able to have hobbies. 

 

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2 hours ago, BruceBanner said:

^ I think what RC is trying to say is that being a PA is not the ideal profession for "work to live" type people. You can make it work, but if your priorities in life are extracurricular, I would suggest a less expensive, stressful, and high-stakes pathway.

I talk to younger people from time to time who want to be PAs. In them I often see myself from 10 years ago--full of hope and idealism about this profession. In some of them I see a mistake in the making. As the saying goes, you dont know what you dont know. It's a fine line to walk, giving someone cautionary advice and not raining on their parade.

I appreciate your advice. I hope that my response wasn't harsh. I was a bit adamant, as I feel anyone would be when someone questions their desire for wanting to do something that they are passionate about. But I took no offense. I understand what you are saying and I appreciate it. 

3 hours ago, Reality Check 2 said:

Not truly trying to sound horrible but I found your desire to be able to disappear for days on end to race cars while wanting to be a PA somewhat disparate. 

PA is NOT a profession where you can simply up and pull roots and disappear for days on end. Patients count on us whether scheduled in FP or on duty in UC.

You MIGHT be able to be a locums or a per diem but I can't see working anywhere near a normal schedule with your desires. 

Maybe just an off day - but I don't hear your desire to practice medicine - just make money somehow. 

I feel like my response, more or less, was towards your point of thinking that I would choose my racing hobby over my medical career. I may have made things sound cloudy in my original post, but I am passionate about being a PA, and that will come first. I will find my niche, and if I work M-F 9-5, so be it. I'll take that first, as it is my priority. I do respect and appreciate your opinion, though. I just wanted to make sure that you knew that I wasn't upset when I posted that long response; I was more explaining my points and had a good amount of enthusiasm behind it. PA first, family, then hobbies. Always my plan. Thanks again, though. Just didn't want my tone misinterpreted for being upset.

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19 minutes ago, dizzyjon said:

There are opportunities working urgent care/ER in which one can pick up and disappear for days on end and patients don't care.  There will be someone else in the ER to see them.  This is what I loved about ER.  I could swap days or front load my schedule to have a string of days off in a row without even needing to use vacation time.  An FP/IM M-F job is NOT conducive with this at all.  There are doctors/PAs who want to practice medicine, but don't want to be defined by there profession.  I'm a medical provider at work and outside of work I'm just a regular person like everyone else who likes to do things not medicine related. 

My hobby is making wine....well before kids when I was able to have hobbies. 

 

Making wine... that's cool. I have friends that run tiny microbreweries; I'm a little apprehensive to try their beer before it's sampled by others but they enjoy doing it. I mentioned above that I don't drink.. that wasn't entirely true. I don't drink often, and definitely not like other 27 year olds around me. I just don't enjoy getting drunk, but a nice glass of wine paired with a meal, or a small glass of bourbon with a cigar, or a nice IPA once in a while.. that's my thing.

I honestly don't know what I'll enjoy the most, but I will find out during my rotations, obviously. From wherever I end up working, I will base my free time off of that, accordingly. 

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Just a word of caution on a couple things

1: in my opinion priorities should be family first, sure during school you'll have to sacrifice family time for a couple years, but if your career stays your top priority the future of your relationships is grim. 

2:  thinking that becoming a PA rather than an MD/DO means you don't have to eat, sleep, breath medicine is a fallacy.  it may take less time from start of school to seeing your own patients but that doesn't mean it's an easier job or you need to be less committed to medicine.  

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5 minutes ago, MCHAD said:

Just a word of caution on a couple things

1: in my opinion priorities should be family first, sure during school you'll have to sacrifice family time for a couple years, but if your career stays your top priority the future of your relationships is grim. 

2:  thinking that becoming a PA rather than an MD/DO means you don't have to eat, sleep, breath medicine is a fallacy.  it may take less time from start of school to seeing your own patients but that doesn't mean it's an easier job or you need to be less committed to medicine.  

Those are good points. I was typing quickly. Family first, yea. I don't really have one anymore because of what I kind of mentioned above, so I guess I didn't necessarily think of it that way. But yea, if/when I have my own family I will put them above everything else. As far as the second remark, I still have to take medicine in every day and be willing to learn, and that's exciting to me. I completely agree. It's not that it's necessarily any easier because the path is any shorter, but when thinking about what a career in medicine had to be with me, being a PA always seemed to outweigh being a doctor. If I didn't think about medicine everyday in some sort of fashion and find it fascinating then I definitely wouldn't be in this field, but I get what you're saying. 

 

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I completely understand your desire to keep your hobbies. I'm more "work to live" than "live to work" too... I am happy that I went the PA route and I love what I do. I work in EM which allows for a lot of schedule flexibility. I prioritize travel in my free time and love that both my schedule and salary allow me to do so. I work 12 shifts a month and get to pick my 12, as long as my coworkers are ok working when I am gone. We have a good system - we all cover for each other. I've already taken two 2 week long international trips this year and just booked a 3rd... plus have made several trips within the US... all without using my PTO (which I can then cash out). So, you can definitely find ways to have a fulfilling career and a full life outside of it.

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23 minutes ago, km88 said:

I completely understand your desire to keep your hobbies. I'm more "work to live" than "live to work" too... I am happy that I went the PA route and I love what I do. I work in EM which allows for a lot of schedule flexibility. I prioritize travel in my free time and love that both my schedule and salary allow me to do so. I work 12 shifts a month and get to pick my 12, as long as my coworkers are ok working when I am gone. We have a good system - we all cover for each other. I've already taken two 2 week long international trips this year and just booked a 3rd... plus have made several trips within the US... all without using my PTO (which I can then cash out). So, you can definitely find ways to have a fulfilling career and a full life outside of it.

Thank you! haha. I enjoy medicine, and after having different careers and doing my research, as well as working EMS, I know I want to be in this. EM appeals to me, but there are others I am curious about, such as surgery, but I understand this is my career. If I find surgery appealing and I can't make the hobby work, that is ok. I have other hobbies. And I could certainly still race a buddy's car when I know for a fact I'll be off. So, it's not the end of the world or anything. I enjoy helping people, and enjoy learning more, but everyone needs a break, and to take that time for ourselves. So, thank you for that comment. 

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I work ER and have time for my main "hobby". I am a life-long skateboarder and have been skating since I was 13 years old. Did it throughout my 20 year military career and continue now that I have been a PA for the last 2 years. There are times when I have had to hang up the board for a bit (especially when I was active duty) but I actually have more time now; I also have a part time teaching gig. I am the grey head that frequents the local skateparks before the kids get out of school.

 

Shift work is the way to go. ER, hospitalist ect ect.

 

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12 hours ago, Will352ns said:

I work ER and have time for my main "hobby". I am a life-long skateboarder and have been skating since I was 13 years old. Did it throughout my 20 year military career and continue now that I have been a PA for the last 2 years. There are times when I have had to hang up the board for a bit (especially when I was active duty) but I actually have more time now; I also have a part time teaching gig. I am the grey head that frequents the local skateparks before the kids get out of school.

 

Shift work is the way to go. ER, hospitalist ect ect.

 

Nice! I'm actually a big skateboarder myself! I've always been into anything I saw on the extreme sports side, even from an early age. I'm staring at my board collection off in the distance in my study ha. A lot random trucks, wheels, bearing sets, bushings, etc. I enjoy vert and street, so I have board setups for each. I feel like I emphasized my racing more than my other hobbies as well. I love MANY things. Racing happens to be one that's always been there, but if I was too busy to hop in a car then it wouldn't deter me. I'd still have other things I can enjoy. 

Thank you for your service, sir. EM is something I am certainly interested in, so it is very possible I could end up there! Thanks for the feedback.

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Today's shift schedules are definitely very different from the PA workweek several decades ago.  Primary care, where most worked, was at the very least a M through F gig, usually with one week night and one or two Saturday mornings a month.  You got a salary, charted on your own time (although it was much easier then) and felt that you were very lucky to have a job.  One or two weeks of vacation was the California norm back then, unless you worked for a large governmental entity.  

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