Would You Go Back and Do It Differently?

  • I'm a practicing PA and love my job. I do not wish I had gone to medical school.

    Votes: 3 18.8%
  • I'm a practicing PA and if I could do it again would go to medical school but am happy where I am.

    Votes: 3 18.8%
  • I'm a practicing PA and want to go to medical school.

    Votes: 2 12.5%
  • This whole health care business is for the birds. Get out while you can!

    Votes: 8 50.0%

  • Total voters
    16

arm7d

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jun 1, 2008
1
0
1
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
I'm looking for advice from practicing PA's and other health care providers with knowledge of the field. I was recently accepted to a good PA school affiliated with an academic hospital but since then have had nagging thoughts that I should turn down the offer and work towards going to medical school.

I was pre-med in college but goofed off and ended up with a 3.1 GPA and a 3.0 science GPA. After college, I got my paramedic (I've been an EMT since I was 16) and have been working full-time in an urban paid EMS system. I did a post-bacc program in biochemistry from 2008-2009 and had a 3.4 GPA. Courses included biochem, mammalian phys, cell/molecular bio, cardiovascular phys, and bacterial pathogenesis. I surprisingly found the coursework interesting but did not work as hard as I could/should have. I applied to PA school after the post-bacc program because I became disillusioned with the prospect of sacrificing so much for an MD but still wanted to progress in medicine and be a strong practitioner. I'm also very interested in military medicine which has a lot more to offer (IMO) to PAs than to MDs. I also feel the work/life balance of a PA more suits my personality style. I've never taken the MCATs (and dread doing so haha).

In any case, I was waitlisted at 2 schools and just got into one from the waitlist. Since then, I haven't been excited about the prospect of going to school. Some of that is the financial and personal stress it will cause (will be doing the long-distance relationship for several months) but I can't help but think some of it is disappointment in myself or disappointment in what will be the final outcome of my schooling if I go the PA route.

I'm still not sure I want or am willing to put in all the work to get to an MD, but at the same time, it would ultimately be worth it if I truly would not be fulfilled as a "mid-level." On the other hand, PA school is in my hands and mine for the taking. The short-term (being done in 2012) is very attractive and makes a lot of sense.

I'm hoping others who perhaps had similar paths or anyone with insight on the topic might be able to offer advice. I've read all of the relevant threads on here (that I could find) and several other forums/blogs related to this topic.

Thanks in advance for being here to help me work through this decision.
 
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AegriSomnia

7+ Year Member
Jan 8, 2010
132
0
141
Status
Non-Student
I think you should go down the PA route. You were wait listed at these programs and were lucky enough to be admitted to one. Your GPA is low for med school and your post bac, while not bad, is still low. I think you would have a real hard time getting into a med school because of that. Being realistic I think you were lucky to get into PA school this cycle never mind med school.
 

emedpa

GlobalDoc
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Aug 25, 2001
6,014
301
381
Taking an Away team....
Status
Post Doc
Apply to DO school. you want to be a doc.
they like older applicants with medical/life experience and if you apply broadly and can pull an mcat>24 you should do fine. if you go to pa school now you will always wonder "what if I was a doc". and the longer you work as a pa the harder it becomes to go back. after a few yrs as an em pa you will be making >100k with very little debt and it's REALLY hard to go from that to no income or a residents salary of 45k or so and report to folks much younger than you.
give the spot to someone who really wants to be a pa.
if I could do it over I would have taken ALL the medschool prereqs in undergrad(instead of most of them), taken the mcat, gone to medic school and done 2 yrs as a medic then applied to medschool.
you could also apply for a military scholarship for medschool to defray some cost if the military is your longterm goal anyway.
 
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DNPDoctor

5+ Year Member
May 7, 2009
90
0
91
Status
Apply to DO school. you want to be a doc.
they like older applicants with medical/life experience and if you apply broadly and can pull an mcat>24 you should do fine. if you go to pa school now you will always wonder "what if I was a doc". and the longer you work as a pa the harder it becomes to go back. after a few yrs as an em pa you will be making >100k with very little debt and it's REALLY hard to go from that to no income or a residents salary of 45k or so and report to folks much younger than you.
give the spot to someone who really wants to be a pa.
if I could do it over I would have taken ALL the medschool prereqs in undergrad(instead of most of them), taken the mcat, gone to medic school and done 2 yrs as a medic then applied to medschool.
you could also apply for a military scholarship for medschool to defray some cost if the military is your longterm goal anyway.
If your heart desires, you can still apply and get into medical school.
 

emedpa

GlobalDoc
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Aug 25, 2001
6,014
301
381
Taking an Away team....
Status
Post Doc
If your heart desires, you can still apply and get into medical school.
It would be financially irresponsible of me to do so at this point in my life. my opportunity cost to get the md/do is > 1 million dollars(lost income x 7 yrs + cost of school). also the specialty I would likely go into (full scope rural fm) might pay me less than I make now.
 
May 1, 2009
13
0
0
Ivory Tower
Status
Post Doc
I agree with the poster who said you will have a tough time getting into an allopathic school with those grades. On the other hand, there are too many folks who really want to be PA's - if you aren't passionate about it, for heaven's sake don't do it.
 

pamac

7+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2010
1,121
346
181
Status
Other Health Professions Student
Emedpa...question...do you post under the same name over at the pa forums? If you do then you sure get around and I like a lot of what you have to say.
 

peppy

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Nov 20, 2002
1,683
62
261
Status
Attending Physician
The grass is always greener. If I could do it all over again I would have become a PA or NP instead of a doc.
You cannot imagine the personal and financial stress that med school causes.
I graduated with $200,000 of student loan debt (and I went to an in-state school).
Many people imagine themselves having lots of power as a doctor but don't really think about the fact that being a doc means a lack of control over your life for 7+ years (since you can't be sure what school or residency will accept you, you can't necessarily choose where you live during those years). The time you could spend on hobbies or loved ones that you lose to studying or being on call is time you'll never get back.
 

emedpa

GlobalDoc
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Aug 25, 2001
6,014
301
381
Taking an Away team....
Status
Post Doc
Emedpa...question...do you post under the same name over at the pa forums? If you do then you sure get around and I like a lot of what you have to say.
yup, I'm the em forum moderator over there.
 

BruceBanner

strongest one there is
10+ Year Member
Apr 26, 2007
149
2
0
Northeast
Status
The grass is always greener. If I could do it all over again I would have become a PA or NP instead of a doc.
You cannot imagine the personal and financial stress that med school causes.
I graduated with $200,000 of student loan debt (and I went to an in-state school).
Many people imagine themselves having lots of power as a doctor but don't really think about the fact that being a doc means a lack of control over your life for 7+ years (since you can't be sure what school or residency will accept you, you can't necessarily choose where you live during those years). The time you could spend on hobbies or loved ones that you lose to studying or being on call is time you'll never get back.

I agree with Peppy.

The grass is always greener, but it's a give and take and you have to decide which side of it you wanna be on. Physicians get RESPECT and do hold some power, but it is a huge life sacrifice. PAs dont always get the respect they deserve for their scope of practice, but most of them have lives, less debt, and bring in a good income.

Friends, hobbies, and family matter more to me than work. These are the things that truly bring you joy, not your job (although medicine has its moments i'm sure).
 

Pharos

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Dec 4, 2004
124
1
0
Northeast NY
Status
The grass is always greener. If I could do it all over again I would have become a PA or NP instead of a doc.
You cannot imagine the personal and financial stress that med school causes.
I graduated with $200,000 of student loan debt (and I went to an in-state school).
Many people imagine themselves having lots of power as a doctor but don't really think about the fact that being a doc means a lack of control over your life for 7+ years (since you can't be sure what school or residency will accept you, you can't necessarily choose where you live during those years). The time you could spend on hobbies or loved ones that you lose to studying or being on call is time you'll never get back.
You sound like a well-balanced person. I agree with you...it seems to be human nature to think the grass is always greener on the other side. There are positives and negatives to all careers I suppose. Hang in there - hopefully once you are done residency, things will look better for you.