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Why did you choose PA?

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Life is too short for “what ifs.” Truth be told, you can never be sure that you wouldn’t still be second-guessing yourself if you had taken the other path.

From what I see, the world is not exactly full of happy physicians these days.


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23 minutes ago, UGoLong said:

Life is too short for “what ifs.” Truth be told, you can never be sure that you wouldn’t still be second-guessing yourself if you had taken the other path.

From what I see, the world is not exactly full of happy physicians these days.


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I know more happy physicians than happy PAs, but that may be specialty related. My chief just took A YEAR off to go sailing in the Caribbean....another doc I work with takes off 3 months every year to go surfing. another takes off 3 months a year to live at his mansion in Aruba...when they can't fill physician shifts at one of my previous per diem jobs they offer them $5000 single shift bonuses in addition to their base rate of 200/hr....they offer us 1.5x regular rate. I once asked for double time for a shift they really needed to fill that was super inconvenient for me. they said no. I didn't work it. 

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I know more happy physicians than happy PAs, but that may be specialty related. My chief just took A YEAR off to go sailing in the Caribbean....another doc I work with takes off 3 months every year to go surfing. another takes off 3 months a year to live at his mansion in Aruba...when they can't fill physician shifts at one of my previous per diem jobs they offer them $5000 single shift bonuses in addition to their base rate of 200/hr....they offer us 1.5x regular rate. I once asked for double time for a shift they really needed to fill that was super inconvenient for me. they said no. I didn't work it. 


Highest suicide rate for any profession:
https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/896257


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56 minutes ago, UGoLong said:

 


Highest suicide rate for any profession:
https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/896257


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high among dentists and nurses as well. I am guessing no one has ever studied PA suicide rates, but would expect them to be similar. we are all kind of driven people with high expectations and often subject to burnout. when those expectations are not met or they see no escape from stress, some turn to suicide. I left busy inner city trauma center practice because I knew I could not spend 20+ more years in that setting with minimal respect and autonomy and emerge unscathed on the other side. 

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I originally wanted to go to med school like many PAs. I was wait-listed one cycle and the next year got 5 or 6 interviews right off the bat. What deterred me was the time, money, and stress involved in that pathway. I never went to my second round of med school interviews and applied to PA school in the 11th hour, got in right away. 

I am not one of those folks who regrets not going to med school. Knowing what I know now, as I've said here many times before, I would not go into medicine at all. It can be ok if you are in a good niche where you can have some professional satisfaction and arent getting absolutely killed with patients, but as a PA you just have so little control over that.

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Didn't weigh enough to apply with what is now Dallas Fire-Rescue (had to be 140 lbs. minimum).  Uh, I don't think that that would be an issue present day.  Last time I went through my EMS training (3 years ago?) I had to run their training tower.  They all loved me.  All the FF's training for EMT status had a looooong lunch break as this older middle-aged, out of shape guy, was huffing and puffing.

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3 hours ago, Potatolife said:

If the physicians are making $200/hour, how much do the PAs and NPs make? I hope at least 40% of that ($80/hour)

I was the highest paid APC in that group and made 75/hr. most folks there made 65/hr.

At my new job I make $15/hr less than the FP docs who are there on the days I am not and about 60% of what the EM boarded guys make. . I am good with that.

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On 12/4/2018 at 9:51 PM, EMEDPA said:

I know more happy physicians than happy PAs, but that may be specialty related. 

Wow, I have found physicians to be almost the most utterly miserable people around. They are usually more miserable than the patients. The ones I have worked with have pretty uniformly told their kids not to go into medicine. 

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2 minutes ago, CJAdmission said:

Wow, I have found physicians to be almost the most utterly miserable people around. They are usually more miserable than the patients. The ones I have worked with have pretty uniformly told their kids not to go into medicine. 

EM docs as a group are pretty happy. most work 10-12 8-12 hr shifts/month and make 250k-350k/yr.  If my kid wanted to go into medicine I would recommend MD/DO >>>>any other pathway.

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Was a med tech for a couple years and wanted to get some patient interaction. Never wanted to be a doctor. PA was a good meet in the middle with a salary I wanted and got into the school I wanted where I was able to pay tuition cash without going into debt 

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4 hours ago, CJAdmission said:

Wow, I have found physicians to be almost the most utterly miserable people around. They are usually more miserable than the patients. The ones I have worked with have pretty uniformly told their kids not to go into medicine. 

People say that, and yet med school is full of kids with one or both parents as physicians.  Might even be a majority...

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Sounds like we all have a ton of personal anecdotes without much evidence. 

I'm with UGoLong on this one. Make a decision and roll with it. You never know what the future brings. 

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1 hour ago, EndBulbsOfMouse said:

People say that, and yet med school is full of kids with one or both parents as physicians.  Might even be a majority...

yup, my dad was an old school nose to the grindstone doc. he did very well for himself, but was not very good at work/life balance. If he had been, I have no doubt that I would be a doc now.

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I chose PA because I'm naturally indecisive and being able to choose different specialties appealed to me. I also liked that the schooling was shorter and the profession seemed to provide better work-life balance (especially in the beginning compared to residents) than it does for docs. As someone who has been specialty hopping for  the past 3 years, I'm glad I chose this route over med school, but to be honest I never really wanted to go the med school route anyway.

That being said, I'm also part of the "regret going into medicine altogether" boat. Perhaps I just haven't found the specialty or position that's right for me, but I just feel like medicine is a business. It's all about seeing as many patients as you can as fast as you can, and making sure everything is charted. Actual patient care seems to have taken a back seat. YMMV. 🤷

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20 hours ago, CJAdmission said:

Wow, I have found physicians to be almost the most utterly miserable people around. They are usually more miserable than the patients. The ones I have worked with have pretty uniformly told their kids not to go into medicine. 

This.  Was a respiratory therapy student.  Never finished, and transferred to PA school.  This was 30 years ago.  I have never once regreted being a PA.  Don't and never did desire to go to med school.  I am not driven by money, but with smart aggressive investing, I could retire right now at 52 y.o..  But I won't, I love working as a PA (General Surgery).

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Originally, I wanted to go to medical school but my parents talked me out of it citing the rigors of training a physician and the length of training.  Went to PA school because I thought it was the fast track to medicine and it does get you practicing medicine quicker but it comes at a cost.  I also thought I could make a primary care physician's salary working in CT surgery in Pennsylvania (that didn't work out).  After a few years, I decided it was too much of a cost considering my age and financial situation so I went back to medical school. 

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On 12/10/2018 at 2:51 PM, CJAdmission said:

Wow, I have found physicians to be almost the most utterly miserable people around. They are usually more miserable than the patients. The ones I have worked with have pretty uniformly told their kids not to go into medicine. 

Agreed. Unless they work 2 days a week, are a dermatologist, or some other tier-1 specialist running the roost, it is a thankless and miserable profession.

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2 hours ago, BruceBanner said:

Agreed. Unless they work 2 days a week, are a dermatologist, or some other tier-1 specialist running the roost, it is a thankless and miserable profession.

Anecdotes aside, the actual surveys of satisfaction across specialties doesn't really bear that out.  Dermatology is at or near the top, but so are fairly easy to get into specialties (which wouldn't be described as tier-1 by anyone).  For example geriatrics is always very high.  On the other hand, Neurosurgery (a "tier 1" specialty) tends to be very miserable.

 

Top: 1) PEM, 2) Geriatrics, 3) Derm, 4) Peds, 5) IM/peds, 6) Peds specialty, 7) Nicu,  8 ) Allergy/Immunology, 9) Child and adolescent psych.  For 7 out of those 9 specialties, you can likely be the lowest ranked med student in your class and still get into that specialty.  So certainly not tier-1.  Many of those specialties had MANY unfilled spots last year (programs are really hurting for applicants - because many of them pay less than other specialties, but not surprisingly - satisfaction and salary weren't particularly closely related).

Bottom (worst first): 1) neurosurgery, 2) pulm/cc, 3) OB/Gyn 4) Nehrology, 5) Vascular surgery

 

https://bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6963-9-166

 

Edited by lkth487

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Back in 1974 while in the US Army, I worked with members of the Army's first class of PAs. These guys came into work on their time, sat at their desk drinking coffee, reading Stars and Stripes while smoking as we Medics held sick call. Our PA slept at the VOQ, not in Tent City with us, left the field early, didn't go to PT, the Sergeant Major left them alone and they got paid much better too! I knew that I had found my calling in the Army!

Edited by CAdamsPAC
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Back in 1974 while in the US Army, I worked with members of the Army's first class of PAs. These guys came into work on their time, sat at their desk drinking coffee, reading Stars and Stripes while smoking as we Medics held sick call. Our PA slept at the VOQ, not in Tent City with us, left the field early, didn' go to PT, the Sergeant Major left them alone and they got paid much better too! I knew that I had found my calling in the Army!

As an HN in the Navy, I have also run Sick Call as the IDC (HMC) and the HM2 went out to do who knows what. Lol. I started up smoking just so I can get a break since everyone who smokes gets 3-4 smoke breaks a day while the non smoker stays in the shop. Also ended up doing all the scut work and was often times "the Brown Finger Guy" Gotta love the military.

 

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Why did i choose PA? Genuine answer: because I wanted to make decent $$$... good thing that I ended up loving what I do! 

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Hedging my bets that I wouldn't stay in the field my entire life. It is a lot harder to leave medicine after medical school and residency. Had I gone to med school, I would just now be practicing my first year as an attending. I think I've already figured out that the medicine ship has sailed for me by choosing PA vs. MD/DO. I do really enjoy my gig at the moment, but it isn't heavy on clinical medicine. 

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1 hour ago, printer2100 said:

Hedging my bets that I wouldn't stay in the field my entire life. It is a lot harder to leave medicine after medical school and residency. Had I gone to med school, I would just now be practicing my first year as an attending. I think I've already figured out that the medicine ship has sailed for me by choosing PA vs. MD/DO. I do really enjoy my gig at the moment, but it isn't heavy on clinical medicine. 

I think it's true to some extent.  It depends on what you mean by 'leaving medicine'.  There are a lot of opportunities for physicians in pharma (in drug development or QI or testing), in other industries (EMR, etc), or in healthcare administration.  There's also suprisin amount of opportunities in consulting and finance - people want someone with a medical degree (along with a MBA or some other experience) as part of their team for specific cases as it relates to investing/managing/consulting/ in health care or pharmaceuticals or biotech, etc.  I get emails all the time about opportunities like that.  I got an email the other day about a company offering to pay for an MBA if I was interested in joining some consulting (in a field I had never heard of) firm.  

On the other hand, if you wanted to do civil engineering, then it is probably a complete waste of time.

Edited by lkth487

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42 minutes ago, lkth487 said:

I think it's true to some extent.  It depends on what you mean by 'leaving medicine'.  There are a lot of opportunities for physicians in pharma (in drug development or QI or testing), in other industries (EMR, etc), or in healthcare administration.  There's also suprisin amount of opportunities in consulting and finance - people want someone with a medical degree (along with a MBA or some other experience) as part of their team for specific cases as it relates to investing/managing/consulting/ in health care or pharmaceuticals or biotech, etc.  I get emails all the time about opportunities like that.  I got an email the other day about a company offering to pay for an MBA if I was interested in joining some consulting (in a field I had never heard of) firm.  

On the other hand, if you wanted to do civil engineering, then it is probably a complete waste of time.

Yeah, that is a super valid point. I think there are opportunities like that for PAs also, but they are certainly more open to physicians. I more so mean that I could more quickly pay off debt as a PA (I was debt free before I would have ever been an attending) and also limit the sheer time spent on obtaining the degree if I found that I didn't enjoy practicing clinically. I would, realistically, have to spend another 3-5 years working and living frugally as an attending to pay off my debt. I would then be almost 40 by the time I could change away from something I figured out I wasn't a huge fan of as a PA at more like 30. I am sure I am losing out on money, but I think I probably made the right decision and I am absolutely winning on the happiness front. 

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