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I'm in high school and definitely want to be a PA, but I have questions..


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On this same note, I have met so many doctors through shadowing experiences who have told me that they regret having gone to med school and that they would've chosen the PA route in a heartbeat if only they'd known about it. Some of these same doctors have also told me that they are discouraging their children from following in their footsteps. I've also met many doctors who pull >60 hours/week as well as PAs who work 3-4 12's per week. Again, it is all a matter of perspective and your specialty. Staying open-minded is great, but someone's beliefs shouldn't automatically be disregarded because of their age. I'm a traditional student who just graduated last year and wants to be a PA. Does that mean I'm jumping the gun? No, it doesn't.
Not everyone who wants to practice medicine wants to be a doctor.

I've heard the same. I'm not disagreeing with you, and I wasn't disregarding her beliefs because of her age - just urging her to do more research. There's nothing wrong with being a traditional student going into this profession. I'm just speaking historically how this profession has been and what it was made for originally. It's certainly evolved, and I am not discouraging anyone wanting to go into medicine. I'm simply saying there is time, do the research, get experience and shadow, and then be able to make a more definitive answer to find what you'd really want to do.


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16 hours ago, LadyNichiavelli said:

Maybeee my math is off? But assuming that you graduate from undergrad when you're 22, go straight into a 4-year medical school, and then do 3-7 years of residency, the earliest you'd be done is 29.

I'm definitely all for exploring every option that you can, but just because someone is young does not mean that they should automatically gun for medical school. But that's just my two cents.

OP, definitely shadow both professions and do your research and if PA school is still what you want to do, then you have some pretty good advice given to you on this thread. :)

Ugh thank you, this is exactly what I keep telling EVERYBODY. the benefits of being a PA really do balance out the benefits of being a physician, not only financially and time-wise, but on so many other levels as well. 

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4 hours ago, EMEDPA said:

you have a lot of research to do still. outside of surgery, many PAs work MORE than the docs they work with. I have been working in medicine for over 30 years. I know a lot more happy, well rounded physicians than PAs. the folks I know who are better parents are the docs, not the PAs, why? they work 30 hrs/week while the PAs work 45-80. they are home at night while the PAs cover the ICU, ER, etc  they are home Christmas, etc while the PAs staff the various hospital depts. they are at their kid's ball games while the PA is seeing pts in clinic.

physicians who get initial training in family medicine can do many things outside of clinic work. this is a very flexible career path. one can do ER coverage, manage OB pts including c-sections,  work as a hospitalist, do lots of procedures like scopes, derm stuff, treadmills, cosmetic stuff, vasectomies, overseas work, etc.

my biggest regret in life I think is not going to medschool. I like my current PA job, but it took 20 years to get here to work at a place a physician could work day 1 out of residency. I also have to drive more than an hr from a major metro area to find a place that treats PAs well, one of the few places in my state. Docs get instant respect based on the initials after their name. we get instant doubt about our qualifications and constantly have to prove ourselves.

please, do yourself a favor. Shadow docs and PAs in the same specialty. ask them about their lives outside of work before you make a decision about who has a better life.

I understand this, but I also don't envision myself working in a hospital. I would rather love to belong to a private practice.

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3 hours ago, LadyNichiavelli said:

Okay, but OP did not ask anything about being a PA vs. a doctor. I don't know why posts like this from young prospective PAs always get responses that seem to steer towards discouraging them from joining such a great profession. Keep the faith, OP. If you want to be a PA, you will get there. Try also asking your question on the Pre-PA Reddit (which I find to be more supportive toward young people becoming PAs).

Thank you very much <3 

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6 hours ago, EMEDPA said:

you have a lot of research to do still. outside of surgery, many PAs work MORE than the docs they work with. I have been working in medicine for over 30 years. I know a lot more happy, well rounded physicians than PAs. the folks I know who are better parents are the docs, not the PAs, why? they work 30 hrs/week while the PAs work 45-80. they are home at night while the PAs cover the ICU, ER, etc  they are home Christmas, etc while the PAs staff the various hospital depts. they are at their kid's ball games while the PA is seeing pts in clinic.

physicians who get initial training in family medicine can do many things outside of clinic work. this is a very flexible career path. one can do ER coverage, manage OB pts including c-sections,  work as a hospitalist, do lots of procedures like scopes, derm stuff, treadmills, cosmetic stuff, vasectomies, overseas work, etc.

my biggest regret in life I think is not going to medschool. I like my current PA job, but it took 20 years to get here to work at a place a physician could work day 1 out of residency. I also have to drive more than an hr from a major metro area to find a place that treats PAs well, one of the few places in my state. Docs get instant respect based on the initials after their name. we get instant doubt about our qualifications and constantly have to prove ourselves.

 

Making me feel all warm and fuzzy about choosing PA over MD. Honestly didn't want to take the MCAT, big part of my decision, plus the length of medschool + internship + residency.  Hope i don't regret it in a few years :/ 

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jesuschrist people, the girl is 18. 

Just go to any college and pursue any major for now. Neither med or PA school cares about colleges or majors. Make sure you keep your GPA as high as possible. Get HCE/PCE because thats necessary for both PA and med school. And most importantly, just enjoy college. Enjoy your youth. 

As for whether you should go PA or med school, you got plenty of time to decide. You got until junior year at the minimum to figure out which profession you want to pursue. Things happen and people change over time. Who knows? Maybe by junior year you rather go to PT school or whatever. I was dead set on pharmacy school my first 2 years of college. Things changed. 

A lot of people here always say if you're young, go to med school etc etc. I'm 24 and just started my rotations for PA school and I just can't imagine going through more school. I'm pretty tired of school. Maybe in 20 years I'll wished I went to med school instead, but as of right now at this very moment, I do not lol. 

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Making me feel all warm and fuzzy about choosing PA over MD. Honestly didn't want to take the MCAT, big part of my decision, plus the length of medschool + internship + residency.  Hope i don't regret it in a few years :/ 

I hope it makes you feel better that I've had the opposite experience. I work 12-13 nine hour shifts a month. The MDs I work with tend to work more shifts and end up staying late at their shifts regularly when I rarely get out more than a half hour after my shift is over. I've seen a lot of MD burn out and a lot more PA satisfaction, maybe because it's easier to switch jobs? Our group is easily, fully staffed with PAs and NPs so we have great work life balance, but we have a hard time recruiting MDs and they are all working a lot more shifts. I have also been told by a few MDs that they wish they would've done PA instead and I know one who told his kid to consider PA over MD (she ended up doing RN, so maybe she's going to be an NP). I don't question all those years of experience and what EMEDPA has seen, but I don't think it's like that in every situation. For example, the OBGYN I was precepted by worked about 80 hours a week because of surgery, delivery, clinic hours and being on call. The NP she worked with did M-F 8-5 and never took call (she didn't deliver babies so no reason). The peds and PCP preceptors I had were PAs and worked bank hours. The orthopedic surgery PA I shadowed did clinic days and then first assist for surgery and worked great hours, no weekends (to be fair, I think his surgeon did the same). I did two hospital internal medicine rotations. The hospitalist PA I was a student with worked weekends and holidays but did 40 hour work weeks, took about an hour when he first got to work to chat and eat breakfast and had hour long lunches. The MD hospitalist I was a student with pretty much worked 7 days a week and did 12-14 hour days (he took long lunches, too). I kind of suspected he did that to himself and wanted to avoid being at home or maybe it's because he and his partners owned the practice? I don't know what his deal was but he was just always working.
This isn't a factor for everyone, but it's worth noting that all of the doctors I work with had their kids either in their mid to late 30's or early 40's (they were talking about it one day, not just me pondering their reproductive lives). A PA friend of mine works with a neurosurgeon who is in her early 40's and doing IVF with a sperm donor because she says she just never had time for a personal life but wants kids now. I also work with a doc who told me the best thing about finishing residency was being able to have dogs again. I have a friend who is married to an EM resident and they had their first kid just before he started. They're doing fine but he is at work all the time and as someone who has a kid the same age, I can't imagine missing so much time with my toddler (seems like they change by the hour sometimes). I think it would be really hard. I'm all for deciding never to have kids, not having them in your twenties, prioritizing career, being a stay at home parent, etc etc, no wrong way to do it (or not do it). I don't want to offend anyone by mentioning this stuff, but some people like to consider it when looking into their career.
Sorry this turned into such a lengthy stream of thought post! I just want you to feel warm a fuzzy about your PA choice, again.
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16 hours ago, MyNameWasUsed said:

jesuschrist people, the girl is 18. 

Just go to any college and pursue any major for now. Neither med or PA school cares about colleges or majors. Make sure you keep your GPA as high as possible. Get HCE/PCE because thats necessary for both PA and med school. And most importantly, just enjoy college. Enjoy your youth. 

As for rather you should go PA or med school, you got plenty of time to decide. You got until junior year at the minimum to figure out which profession you want to pursue. Things happen and people change over time. Who knows? Maybe by junior year you rather go to PT school or whatever. I was dead set on pharmacy school my first 2 years of college. Things changed. 

A lot of people here always say if you're young, go to med school etc etc. I'm 24 and just started my rotations for PA school and I just can't imagine going through more school. I'm pretty tired of school. Maybe in 20 years I'll wished I went to med school instead, but as of right now at this very moment, I do not lol. 

Ugh thank you so much for this support. It's has honestly been so overwhelming just looking at all the discouraging messages. It's true, right now I'm on the PA path, but if that will change, so be it. But if that's my path for now, I have to prepare myself for it! Hence my questions. Thank you for your feedback and understanding.

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1 hour ago, JMPAC said:


I hope it makes you feel better that I've had the opposite experience. I work 12-13 nine hour shifts a month. The MDs I work with tend to work more shifts and end up staying late at their shifts regularly when I rarely get out more than a half hour after my shift is over. I've seen a lot of MD burn out and a lot more PA satisfaction, maybe because it's easier to switch jobs? Our group is easily, fully staffed with PAs and NPs so we have great work life balance, but we have a hard time recruiting MDs and they are all working a lot more shifts. I have also been told by a few MDs that they wish they would've done PA instead and I know one who told his kid to consider PA over MD (she ended up doing RN, so maybe she's going to be an NP). I don't question all those years of experience and what EMEDPA has seen, but I don't think it's like that in every situation. For example, the OBGYN I was precepted by worked about 80 hours a week because of surgery, delivery, clinic hours and being on call. The NP she worked with did M-F 8-5 and never took call (she didn't deliver babies so no reason). The peds and PCP preceptors I had were PAs and worked bank hours. The orthopedic surgery PA I shadowed did clinic days and then first assist for surgery and worked great hours, no weekends (to be fair, I think his surgeon did the same). I did two hospital internal medicine rotations. The hospitalist PA I was a student with worked weekends and holidays but did 40 hour work weeks, took about an hour when he first got to work to chat and eat breakfast and had hour long lunches. The MD hospitalist I was a student with pretty much worked 7 days a week and did 12-14 hour days (he took long lunches, too). I kind of suspected he did that to himself and wanted to avoid being at home or maybe it's because he and his partners owned the practice? I don't know what his deal was but he was just always working.
This isn't a factor for everyone, but it's worth noting that all of the doctors I work with had their kids either in their mid to late 30's or early 40's (they were talking about it one day, not just me pondering their reproductive lives). A PA friend of mine works with a neurosurgeon who is in her early 40's and doing IVF with a sperm donor because she says she just never had time for a personal life but wants kids now. I also work with a doc who told me the best thing about finishing residency was being able to have dogs again. I have a friend who is married to an EM resident and they had their first kid just before he started. They're doing fine but he is at work all the time and as someone who has a kid the same age, I can't imagine missing so much time with my toddler (seems like they change by the hour sometimes). I think it would be really hard. I'm all for deciding never to have kids, not having them in your twenties, prioritizing career, being a stay at home parent, etc etc, no wrong way to do it (or not do it). I don't want to offend anyone by mentioning this stuff, but some people like to consider it when looking into their career.
Sorry this turned into such a lengthy stream of thought post! I just want you to feel warm a fuzzy about your PA choice, again.

This response is everything. Thank you for sharing.

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3 hours ago, JMPAC said:


I hope it makes you feel better that I've had the opposite experience. I work 12-13 nine hour shifts a month. The MDs I work with tend to work more shifts and end up staying late at their shifts regularly when I rarely get out more than a half hour after my shift is over. I've seen a lot of MD burn out and a lot more PA satisfaction, maybe because it's easier to switch jobs? Our group is easily, fully staffed with PAs and NPs so we have great work life balance, but we have a hard time recruiting MDs and they are all working a lot more shifts. I have also been told by a few MDs that they wish they would've done PA instead and I know one who told his kid to consider PA over MD (she ended up doing RN, so maybe she's going to be an NP). I don't question all those years of experience and what EMEDPA has seen, but I don't think it's like that in every situation. For example, the OBGYN I was precepted by worked about 80 hours a week because of surgery, delivery, clinic hours and being on call. The NP she worked with did M-F 8-5 and never took call (she didn't deliver babies so no reason). The peds and PCP preceptors I had were PAs and worked bank hours. The orthopedic surgery PA I shadowed did clinic days and then first assist for surgery and worked great hours, no weekends (to be fair, I think his surgeon did the same). I did two hospital internal medicine rotations. The hospitalist PA I was a student with worked weekends and holidays but did 40 hour work weeks, took about an hour when he first got to work to chat and eat breakfast and had hour long lunches. The MD hospitalist I was a student with pretty much worked 7 days a week and did 12-14 hour days (he took long lunches, too). I kind of suspected he did that to himself and wanted to avoid being at home or maybe it's because he and his partners owned the practice? I don't know what his deal was but he was just always working.
This isn't a factor for everyone, but it's worth noting that all of the doctors I work with had their kids either in their mid to late 30's or early 40's (they were talking about it one day, not just me pondering their reproductive lives). A PA friend of mine works with a neurosurgeon who is in her early 40's and doing IVF with a sperm donor because she says she just never had time for a personal life but wants kids now. I also work with a doc who told me the best thing about finishing residency was being able to have dogs again. I have a friend who is married to an EM resident and they had their first kid just before he started. They're doing fine but he is at work all the time and as someone who has a kid the same age, I can't imagine missing so much time with my toddler (seems like they change by the hour sometimes). I think it would be really hard. I'm all for deciding never to have kids, not having them in your twenties, prioritizing career, being a stay at home parent, etc etc, no wrong way to do it (or not do it). I don't want to offend anyone by mentioning this stuff, but some people like to consider it when looking into their career.
Sorry this turned into such a lengthy stream of thought post! I just want you to feel warm a fuzzy about your PA choice, again.

Great insight. I think the whole work life balance between PAs vs MDs is silly. Every profession (computer programmer, engineer, medical, finance, consultant, politics, whatever) has people who work 30hr/week and 80hrs/week. I've work with two doctors at my current rotation. Doc A works 33 hours a week MAX and he's taken 2 weeks of vacation within a 5 week period. Doc B works like 45 hours a week. Work life balance is a choice.

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