Please help me make a complete list of Pros and Cons of being a PA vs Physician.
Shorter School Less expensive Work Life Balance Lateral movement in career Doctor:
Greater Pay More Autonomy Cons__________________________________
Lower Pay Less Autonomy Doctor:
Longer Training (residency) Limited to one medical specialty
Hello, I recently made a post yesterday and got some great feedback. You can read more about my background and thoughts there. Feel free to give more insight. I am reading all comments and using it sort of as a guidance in making a serious life decision. You can check it here:
However for the professional PA's who are currently working, my main question for you today is:
Are you satisfied as being a PA? What are some things that Physicians do that you can't in your specialties? Give me concrete examples!
A lot of people say autonomy, wide scope of practice, vertical mobility, etc. But what exactly are those day-to-day job differences or limitations that you have noticed in your specialty as a PA? Or do you feel like you have full autonomy?
I am interested in either Internal Medicine (Hospitalist) or Emergency Medicine. But if it's pretty much 90% of the same job as Physicians, then I am not sure if 7 years of medical school is worth it for me. I know people usually recommend PA to MD mostly if you want to go into either surgery or a specialization of some sort.
Can't wait to read your thoughts! Hopefully your comments and answers will give me and others in similar situations a strong resolution.
Should I go back to Medical school AFTER becoming a PA?
Specialties interested in: Internal or Emergency Medicine
Here are my personal thoughts:
I don't like to disparage my profession, but the way we learned medicine was through memorization of algorithms and buzz words. We were not taught the basics of science from a molecular level working upwards. We basically skipped step 1 and went straight into step 2 clinical knowledge. Doctors can see and understand things we cannot. And make connections that we cannot. I think this is what I am craving for. To be that kind of an “expert.” To understand medicine at that level and solve complex cases. I think the funny stereotypical word for this is “mental masturbation” or “intellectually stimulating” haha. I have the personality type of being the best in whatever I do. I feel limited in that sense as a PA.
Financially, I would say I am kind of lucky. I wouldn’t normally tell this to people, but just to give you guys an idea of my situation. I actually don’t have any loans or interests at the moment after PA school. I paid out of pocket. But I was given some personal loans from close families and friends. I do have to pay them back eventually, but there is no time limit. And they would understand if I decide to pursue medical school. I would still have to take the MCAT, apply, do interviews, and then start the following year (this could take 2-3 years; here I could work as a full time PA and save money for medical school). The medical schools in my state are $100k for 4 years. Which is not bad compared to the crazy $200-400k type of other medical schools.
For family life, wouldn’t it still be possible to have? Instead of working 8 hours a day, I would be studying or going to lectures. And then spend time with my family. Especially since I am not a typical pre-med student. I will be entering with a stronger background knowledge from PA school. However I do understand that the residency years will take a huge toll on my work/life balance for 3 years. (My mom or future wife would still have an income during the 4 years of medical school).
But at the end of it all, won’t I truly be knowledgeable in a field of medicine, from basics to advanced. With the reward of earning a higher income and becoming a doctor (not what I’m going for, but still a benefit). I will be done around age 35 and can work 30 more years until 65. Won’t the money gain as a doctor in that time cover any expenses I had? And then be able to teach the next generation as well, confidently. I have a desire to teach as a professor at PA or MD/DO programs. And precept as well.
This is my current thought process, BUT if you guys think that I am delusional or crazy, please call me out on it! Give me reasons why staying as a PA from age 26 will be better for my life in the long-run. And to not make the mistake of going to medical school for 7 years, with unnecessary stress. I want to hear both sides and arguments really well.
How different is the autonomy in internal or emergency medicine between PA and MD/DO? Can I learn step 1 on my own while working as a PA, and be just as knowledgeable and happy? Or is the in-depth training of medical schools and residencies unmatched? And no amount of clinical experience as a PA can ever replace that? (I have my own thoughts of course since I have done clinical rotations, I just want to hear from what you guys think).
***Here are some more of my thoughts that I just private messaged someone:***
Thank you so much for replying, I really need guidance in my life. I am confused and don't know WHAT path is actually WORTH taking.
I love medicine. I have grown super passionate about it. I also love academia. I watch a lot of medical school vlogs and wish I went through the rigorous schooling like they did. PA school felt like a joke to me. It was mainly memorizing buzz words, without understanding the "why's".
Now, I know I can learn the why's using third party resources on my own - like sketchymedical, boards and beyond, pathoma, premade anki decks, etc. However, if I am going to do that, why not do it through medical school and get rewarded with prestige, money, and autonomy?
But that does come with its cons - such as a losing lost income as a PA, family time, and basically life. For 7 years.
I am interested in Internal medicine (hospitalist) or Emergency Medicine. What I want to really know is if there is a huge difference in autonomy, day-to-day job/tasks, etc. Because if it's 90% of the same job, then I am not sure if 7 years of medical school is worth it for me. I know people recommend PA to MD if you want to go into either surgery or a specialization of some sort.
Basically, is 7 years of medical school worth it for me (I am single and 26 years old; I only need the MCAT to most likely get into this DO program in my home city; this way I can be with family and friends and not miss out on life events). It seems like a fun journey to me, something that I would look forward to.
But there is this other easier, more convenient, and relaxing path - which is to remain as a PA and practice medicine. Earning a six figure salary. Living life. And also studying step 1 material with the resources I mentioned earlier.
*sigh* Do you see my dilemma here. Like what is the right path for me - in terms of happiness, life, money, etc.
If I were to redo my years of schooling, I would 100% choose medical school. But because I finished PA school and am interested in specialties that might not be that different as a doctor, is it worth it? Because I do realize I will have to go through numerous standardized examinations - MCAT, Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 3 CS, and residency boards. Also the stress of interviews, applications (both initial and for residency), research papers, etc.
Or will I always regret not going back for medical school?
Hello, everyone. I know it may seem like this would be a bit of a biased place to ask for an opinion on this, but this forum seems really open-minded and overall really respectful with people asking these sort of questions compared to *cough* SDN *cough* other websites. I'm in a bit of a dilemma and I know ultimately this is only a choice I can make myself, but I'd like to get some opinions from others who are ahead of me on their medical journies as a little guidance.
I'm 29 years old and a graduate of Arizona State University, where I majored in Biological Sciences with a minor in Psychology. I always wanted to go the PA route, but the closer I am to finishing my undergrad, the more I'm concerned about possibly regretting the decision to not go ahead and commit to becoming a doctor. One of my biggest concerns with med schools is that I completed my degree online, although I did all my science labs in-person by flying out to the ASU campus. Long story short, I still think I have a good chance at med schools that accept online credits, but I'm unsure if it's what I should do. A quick rundown of my stats:
- Non-traditional, white male, 29 years old
- 3.91 GPA, 3.85 sGPA
- 510 MCAT
- 650+ hours volunteering for a suicidal hotline company. 200+ volunteer hours as a phlebotomist (mostly school blood donating events), and donated $2,000+ in crowd-funded scholarships to students throughout the state with a small company I started in 2015.
- 3,000+ hours as a Certified Surgical Technician at an orthopedic surgery center
- Strong LOR's from 2 orthopedic surgeons, a CRNA, a very well-respected professor, and 2 more from my volunteer coaches
- 40 hours shadowing an Anesthesiologist and CRNA
I feel as if I'm a strong candidate for med school and PA programs, but I'm older. I'm 29 now. I used to work in construction, then aviation, and even ended up leaving a Fortune 500 company (that paid extremely well) to pursue a career in medicine. I made a lot of sacrifices, but it was all worth it. I love my patients and couldn't imagine myself doing anything else in life.
I also want to marry my long-time girlfriend. She's 25, so by the time I'm actually a doctor, she would be around 33. I graduated high school with a 2.3 GPA, suffered from depression for years, considered suicide many times, etc. I went through a lot (as I'm sure a lot of people have) and another one of my main goals is to write books about my experiences and to help motivate others. If I can graduate high school with a 2.3 and go on to become a doctor, I think it would be an awesome story in terms of my writings and would help a lot of people, outside from my patients.
With all this being said, I think the career of being a PA will still satisfy my wants to help people in medicine. My biggest concern so far is that I'd regret not going to med school, but I hear a lot of horror stories about divorces, not being able to see your kids as much when they're younger, residency stories, and etc. The debt is also a big concern, because I would be 37-ish before I could really start paying my loans off. I don't know if it's worth it for me and my age, although I'm not that old. I just want to ask openly - if you were in my shoes, what would you do personally? I know everyone is different, but I'm just looking for some insights from different perspectives. Thanks for the read and sorry to type out so much.