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
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! 🙂
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?
I recently helped to open a start up wellness clinic. I am the Medical Director of this new location, but not the entire franchise. An online magazine came and did a very brief interview with all of the staff. It was poorly written, and I'm fairly sure I did not say the quote they attributed to me. Besides that, my biggest concern is that they called me Doctor Lucas. I never introduced myself as such and neither did any of my staff. Do I need to reach out to the magazine and have them correct/redact?
Any advice is appreciated.
I don't know if anyone else saw the NP ad on TV. I saw it last night on CNN. I was going to link it here, but I cannot find it. It was very professional and gave the message that NPs are being limited their practice across the country. They can provider excellent care. If you want better access to excellent care, support the NPs. My paraphrase. This is the kind of ad, that may have been helpful to the PAs a while ago.