Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hello Everybody,

I am in a very unique situation, and would love everyone's input!

I have been wanting to be a doctor my whole life, but after meeting my stepmother 10 years ago (who has been a Physician Assistant for over 20 years) I have grown to have a great admiration for the profession and countless hours of shadowing has given me a deeper understanding of the PA role. When I applied last cycle to PA schools I did not get a single interview invite. I began to internalize the idea that perhaps the Physician Assistant profession was not in the books for me. I decided to apply again this cycle and retake a couple classes to help my science GPA. One of my professors this summer recommended I apply to Podiatry School which will allow me to become a doctor/surgeon with 2 years of didactic, 2 years of rotations and 3 years of residency. I was very desperate to be in medicine and felt like this was my golden ticket, I applied (literally on the last week of the cycle being open for Podiatry) and to my surprise I was accepted! I started podiatry school a few weeks after being notified this August 2020. I had applied again to PA school but given that I did not get a single interview invite, I felt that my odds were low and didn't want to miss out on what might be my only opportunity to be in healthcare. Then to an even bigger surprise I got accepted Into PA School just last month. My dilemma is that, if one year ago I had gotten into PA school that is where I would be, but I am now in medical school and have been struggling internally ever since I received notice of my acceptance into PA school.

Now this is me being very very honest. Due to life circumstances, I am almost 30 and just now starting medical school. Although this has been a dream of mine, I can't help but feel that in 7 years when I am done with my residency, I will have career fulfillment but at the expense of personal sacrifice. I am currently engaged and we would like to have kids in the future, but with the way school is going I can't image doing either of those while I'm still in school (although I know it is possible). PA has always been high on my list because of the flexibility it provides. I witnessed my stepmother have the opportunity to easily adjust her work schedule as my brothers were growing up so that she could prioritize her personal life and even switch specialists based on her new interest and schedule desires. 

I guess I am hoping to get feedback on weather or not I should quite medical school to start PA school next Fall. I know that this is a decision that I alone can make, so I'm hoping that someone can give me the pros and cons to being a Doctor over a PA and a PA over a Doctor. 

Thanks in advance! 🙂

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hear you.  You are speaking to a female PA.

Work-life balance is a nebulous cloud.  It's ultimately dependent on the specialty, practice, and how much you really want to work.  What I've seen is that "work-life balance" is frequently touted by pre-PAs but what they mean is "shorter formal education and training." 

The subject of PA vs MD/DO has been beaten to death in this forum.  I suggest using the search feature.  Good luck to you.

  • Like 2
  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stay in med school. Plenty of residents have kids, get married, enjoy their lives-although of course busy. Podiatry is a more cushy field from my understanding. The PA career has entered a very dark tunnel recently and has an ambiguous future. As mentioned above the work/life balance thing varies greatly, but is often now  generalized fallacy. High pay, easy hours, no call, plenty of jobs, etc. All exaggerated product pitches from PA schools. Largely not the case anymore. Not in this day and age. Your step mom sounds grandfathered in, well-established at her practice, became a PA when it was blossoming. That does not guarantee a similar situation for you. It does not rule it out either.

Edited by ANESMCR
  • Like 2
  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agree with everyone else....stay in podiatry school.  You can get married and have kids during school/residency.  You'll make more money in the end and not have to deal with any dependent practice issues.  You can have any work/life balance you want as a PA or Physician.  You just have to find the right job/specialty that will allow you to have it.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like others have said, work-life balance is dependent on the specialty you go into a little more than which of these two fields you go into.  


Personally speaking, I prefer the prospect of a PA career because it will enable me to get into the field faster, and I am very eager to begin on achieving life goals, not because I just want to get in on the action before others. Also, it will enable me to spend less time paying off debt as well as spend more time with social circles/personal pursuits as I can't handle the idea of detaching from them, if not most.


My father went down the M.D. route and went into PM&R, but I did not see him very much for many years of my early childhood into late teens. The reason for this is he wanted to achieve a position in his setting that allowed him to control the variables of his career such as hours, provider team, and family time allotment. In order to do this, A LOT of work had to be done and there had to be sacrifices. His PAs have always told me they never regretted their decision, though I have heard a few doctors say they would've picked the PA field if they could go back (not sure if this was just a "in the moment" comment made during a difficult year of work, but they seemed convinced). Plus, paperwork and finagling insurance sucks. 


With that said, I think you should stick with medical school. You've already begun it, and I would love to see you push forward and get the career in medicine you've wanted for so long. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@ivincent Thank you for your comment. I am just so torn. With the amount of formal education and 60+ hour weeks in rotations & residency I feel that if I do proceed in my current route it will come at great personal sacrifice like planning for a wedding later and having kids earlier. I just dont see how I could plan a wedding with my current work load as even a first year medical student and much less as a future mother without the hard fact that my career will need to come first. I'm just not sure that aligns with my goals anymore. I believe the PA profession can give me the fulfillment I've wanted by treating patients without having to sacrifice so much of my personal life. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, vkbrba said:

@ivincent Thank you for your comment. I am just so torn. With the amount of formal education and 60+ hour weeks in rotations & residency I feel that if I do proceed in my current route it will come at great personal sacrifice like planning for a wedding later and having kids earlier. I just dont see how I could plan a wedding with my current work load as even a first year medical student and much less as a future mother without the hard fact that my career will need to come first. I'm just not sure that aligns with my goals anymore. I believe the PA profession can give me the fulfillment I've wanted by treating patients without having to sacrifice so much of my personal life. 

Ah I see. I still fully support whichever decision you make because there are benefits to both, but it seems like you have your mind made up already (:  


If PA school is what will work best for your personal life, then go for it! I am slightly biased, but with what you just said, it seems like the smarter option. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Go to Med School. If you want a good work life balance, work at the VA. I currently do my family med rotation at the VA and almost all the MD/DOs that work there chose to work there because of the work life balance. ALL of there were happy with taking a pay cut to spend time with family or work on other endeavors.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Content

    • By tegriswold446
      Hello, new clinical rotation student here! I saw the  pinned 'clinical advice' forum was from 2005 so I wanted to start one fresh.
      I would love if people could drop their best advice (ex. advice per specialty/ rotation, comfortable business professional shoes, pocket books to get, EOR advice, skills to definitely have perfected, how to make a good lasting impression, etc). Any and all advice you think of is appreciated! Thank you so much 🙂
    • By futurepa1998
      Do I have a chance?
      I’m struggling to decide if I should apply for this cycle or not due to my gpa and PCE. I graduated last august with a bachelors in biology. I’m 23 btw. 
      Cumulative Gpa before post bacc credits-2.98
      Sci GPA-2.65
      Cumulative gpa after post bacc-3.17 (32 credits)
      Sci gpa after-3.10
      Post bacc cgpa- 3.98 sgpa- 4.00
      PCE hours as a CNA~1500
      Medical assistant~ 400
      HCE as a Pathology Tech~ 1360
      LOR- one from MD that I worked with, one from a PA I shadowed, and one from a former boss
      Shadowing~150 hours 
      Leadership Hours~80 hours 
      Volunteer~150 hours
      Taking the GRE this month 
      My GPA was low in my undergrad bc of going through personal circumstances and recently learning that I have ADHD. After finding out my diagnosis I completely changed how I studied and I had an upward trend my senior year and during this post bacc.
    • By 201920192019pa2019
      Hi all,
      I am a second semester PA student who was accepted with a low GPA directly out of undergrad. I am holding Zoom Advising sessions where I can help you figure out how you can improve your application and answer any questions you may have about the application process including personal statement review. The cost of each session is $10. Please send me a PM if you are interested! Thank you, and Good luck!
    • By vkbrba
      Please help me make a complete list of Pros and Cons of being a PA vs Physician.
      Physician Assistant:
      Shorter School Less expensive Work Life Balance Lateral movement in career Doctor:
      Greater Pay More Autonomy Cons__________________________________
      Physician Assistant:
      Lower Pay Less Autonomy Doctor: 
      Longer Training (residency) Limited to one medical specialty   
    • By Yasuo
      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?
  • Create New...

Important Information

Welcome to the Physician Assistant Forum! This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn More