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Starting PA School this Spring, Wanting to know specialties that people recommend


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Hey everyone I wanted to throw this topic out there real quick to get some advice/hear some thoughts from current and students alike about specialties that they like.  A little background about myself: I will be starting PA school in May, worked in a hospital for 5 years 2.5 as a Critical Care Tech in an Intensive Care Unit.  Therefore, I always love the fast pace and the procedures and having to quick thinking.  One specialty that I have obviously looked into is Critical Care and hopefully when done with school one option that I would love to do is go on to do a residency in Critical Care.  However, for my school I get to pick two specialists that I want to go do clinical's in so I have been wanting to get ideas of other specialties that I would enjoy. One area that I have always been interested in has been heart and lungs (loved that subject in physiology/anatomy) so I thought about CT surgery; however, after seeing the ones in my current hospital it seems like a specialty that just gets overworked looks exhausting.  One other area I have recently been looking into is possibly Interventional Radiology I have taken a few patients over to the Cath lab and have been fascinated by everything; but not sure if there are many PAs in that specialty.  Overall I know I have a full year before my clinicals but I just wanted to get a better idea of what specialties I might want to look into.  Any advice is appreciated. 

 

Thanks! Chandler

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Guest HanSolo

Wait until you take some classes. See what information you're drawn to. You might be surprised. Along the lines of what Ikth487 said, I might do a rotation in Dermatology, and I consider myself more of an inpatient leaning person. I just am not sure when I would get the opportunity to learn that type of information in a guided setting again. 

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I agree with HanSolo on waiting until you take some classes. Not sure how your program is set up, but for mine we picked our elective rotations in the 2nd semester or something. 

It sounds like you're more of a hospital-type person (I am too) so you could consider neurology and ask about getting a rotation in neurocritical care. A few people in my class liked heme/oncology. You could also try to do a peds rotation in the hospital. 

Here is the trick to working in a surgical specialty without working ridiculous hours: private practice. I'm doing a rotation in neurosurgery that is through a private practice and I've maybe had like...one or two 12 hour days but many of them even as short as 5 or 6 hour days. The PA told me he used to work in neurosurgery at the hospital and he was worked to death but with the private practice his hours are so much nicer. Basically private practices for surgical specialties will have maybe one day a week where they will take consults in their outpatient clinic and then do their surgeries at whichever hospitals they have access to. I'm really liking it!! I've been able to see a lot of cool stuff assisting in the OR and doing hospital rounds post-op has been good experience. The practice I'm with also takes call for the hospitals so they will get emergent cases too.

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One bit of advice I've given others: you may not rotate in exactly the specialty/environment/location you eventually end up working. Instead, as you rotate, get a good mix of disciplines, environments (hospital, small office, big office), and location (rural, suburban, urban) so you can see what combinations of the three that you like. School will help you decide what you like; at our place, we have simulations of seriously ill patients and emergencies -- students find out if that's what they like.

When I went to PA school, I figured I would go into emergency medicine (I am a paramedic) or family medicine. As I went though my rotations, I realized that (1) I wanted to see what happens to the patients I treat  (so not the fire-and-forget medicine of the ER), (2) I loved the camaraderie of the hospital, as opposed to going from room 1 to room 2 to room 3, (3) I liked my patients awake (most of the time),  (4) I wanted to work for one doc and learn from him, and (5)  I was too old to work rotating shifts. I liked labs, cool meds and interventions, and intricate problems but without a special love for procedures. Voila: an independent, single physician, multi-hospital cardiology practice for me.

So what you think you like and what you know now may play a role in picking your area of medicine. But maybe not. Make sure you get a rotation in something you think now that you are interested in, but open yourself up to some new experiences too.

Good luck!

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Okay sounds good thanks for all the advice.  I will definitely look at what classes interest me and hopefully look into something that maybe I don't think I will love.   My PA school is up in Wisconsin so hopefully there should be opportunities in different type of settings.  I am unsure about neurology I shadow a Pediatric Neurology PA and I just didn't really enjoy Neurology.  Since I talked about liking heart and lung physiology and anatomy I have been wanting to look into possibly something like Electrophysiology.  However, as everyone kind of stated I plan on just keeping my options open and not have my eyes pinpointed on one specialty only.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you want the hardest specialty then do family med! :) You will get crapped on, belittled, yelled at, (by patients and other providers), fill out tons of paper work, get paid at the lower end of the scale, have to do all of medicare/medicaid requirements for PC (HEDIS/MIPS/etc), the community will think you are the lower end of the "doctors" (you are "JUST" a PCP), the patients will want you do fix all their complaints in ONE visit, the insurance companies want you to get pre-authorizations for everything, and the list goes on..., but you will know your patients and can take care of several generations from one family. 

P.S. I am serious about family medicine is very difficult field as you have to know a little bit about everything, but not a master of none. Your scope of practice is good and autonomy usually is great. I could careless what people think of me as I know how hard this specialty is and you won't have to study for the PANRE as you will pass it with flying colors. :D

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