NOVA1

2+ Year Member
Jun 18, 2016
20
2
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Hello All,

I have been having trouble on deciding which path I should take to get into m medicine. Im a 21 year old non traditional student. I enlisted in the army after high school for the school benefits so I wouldn't have any school loans to pay off. Im in the Reserves and got picked up for active reserves. I just completed my first year of my three year tour. After my three years are complete I will have the full post 9/11 GI bill (full tuition paid and monthly BAH for living).

So I'm confused on what I should do because i am really interested in medicine. I researched the Physician Assistant career and MD. I've talked to military docs and PAs. I've considered the army IPAP program where you only need 60 credits to apply and shadow time with a PA. It's a 26 m program I believe and at the end you receive your Masters. I will be considered active duty in school so I will receive full pay and benefits. These seems like a really good choice for my husband and I financially right now.

But going to medical school has always been on my mind. I keep going back to the idea even when I think I have my mind made up. I could get off active duty and use my GI bill so I wouldn't have any undergrad debt and then apply to medical school and the Army HSPS scholarship to eliminate any medical school debt.

I think both careers are great but if i go PA I feel like I will hit a ceiling in my career and will not be able to advance into other things such as various leadership roles, academics, and research. I love the fact that the career is flexible and you are able to switch specialties. If I chose MD/DO I feel like I will be able to do more and be more equipped to handle things. I really love my science classes and I'm the type of person that likes to know everything but that is a long road and its a lot of risks. Medical school is really competitive and there isn't much you can do with a Bachelor's in Biology if your not accepted. Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks.
 
May 4, 2016
7
3
Status
Pre-Medical
Very complicated question here so let me try my best to answer what I know.

Your first step is to decide what you want to do. That's the tough part. You know the difference between the two careers but can't choose one. In my experience I can tell you for a fact that a physician definitely can do more as part of his or her qualification including leading the team but PA's are just as vital and in some cases actually take the place of general physicians in clinics. You're obviously interesting in healthcare so my question to you is why do you want to be a physician? Do you want to practice or do you want to do research/academics? It seems like you're a little confused there. If your goal is to practice, don't worry about opportunities in research and academics as those opportunities tend to be very limited once you begin practicing due to time, etc. If you want to do research, you should consider the M.D./Ph.D. route or just try a Ph.D. route....

As for education.... Trad PA's do have a much shorter studying period (Don't know if you need a bachelor's degree but I know undergrad work is required) with PA school being about that 26 month mark you mentioned. If you go the med route, expect a long haul. Think about your family's future. Considering the fact that you're 21, you'll only finish med school around 29 plus residency. I don't know your personal plans but having a family can get in the way of education so just remember that. Med students don't have much of a life outside of class and doctors only really return to a normal life after residency and getting a permanent job so keep that in mind (not to sound discouraging!)

If you want to be a doctor, then go to college. Most probably you should be aiming for a 4 year university if possible as I know medical school requires a bachelor's degree. If you need to you can probably go to a CC and get a lot of pre reqs done and transfer to a full program to complete your pre-med reqs. Don't worry right now about not getting into med school. Follow your college's pre-med plan and study hard. Do well on your MCAT's. Develop a good relationship with professors. Get some good extra-curriculars which can help your resume stand out. If you really want to become a physician, there will be a way to get there so don't worry too much about that (you can take a gap year, post bac, apply DO, apply abroad, etc.)

isn't much you can do with a Bachelor's in Biology if your not accepted.
I'm not sure if you know that you can major in anything as long as you complete your pre-med requirements but you can. There is no requirement to be a bio major although that tends to be the most convenient and easiest major for most aspiring students. You can look into majors that have decent opportunities and aren't too hard to complete alongside a rigorous science based curriculum. IMHO however, study whatever YOU want to study as you will have a better college experience because of it. Whether that be biology, history, political science, engineering, etc. take classes you like as you will do better in them. Explore a lot in undergrad so that you become a well rounded person. You will be studying purely science in med school and won't have the chance to explore after so do something you enjoy!

If you are really looking for a major that can satisfy a post degree career if med school isn't an option, look into Bioengineering as it satisfies most pre med reqs and has a great outlook. The only drawback is that engineering can get a bit difficult in general (or so I have heard, not an engineer so I can't attest to that fact).

Please DM me if I can help you out some more. I kinda abbreviated a lot of what I was going to say for the sake of the length of this post.
 
OP
N

NOVA1

2+ Year Member
Jun 18, 2016
20
2
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Very complicated question here so let me try my best to answer what I know.

Your first step is to decide what you want to do. That's the tough part. You know the difference between the two careers but can't choose one. In my experience I can tell you for a fact that a physician definitely can do more as part of his or her qualification including leading the team but PA's are just as vital and in some cases actually take the place of general physicians in clinics. You're obviously interesting in healthcare so my question to you is why do you want to be a physician? Do you want to practice or do you want to do research/academics? It seems like you're a little confused there. If your goal is to practice, don't worry about opportunities in research and academics as those opportunities tend to be very limited once you begin practicing due to time, etc. If you want to do research, you should consider the M.D./Ph.D. route or just try a Ph.D. route....

As for education.... Trad PA's do have a much shorter studying period (Don't know if you need a bachelor's degree but I know undergrad work is required) with PA school being about that 26 month mark you mentioned. If you go the med route, expect a long haul. Think about your family's future. Considering the fact that you're 21, you'll only finish med school around 29 plus residency. I don't know your personal plans but having a family can get in the way of education so just remember that. Med students don't have much of a life outside of class and doctors only really return to a normal life after residency and getting a permanent job so keep that in mind (not to sound discouraging!)

If you want to be a doctor, then go to college. Most probably you should be aiming for a 4 year university if possible as I know medical school requires a bachelor's degree. If you need to you can probably go to a CC and get a lot of pre reqs done and transfer to a full program to complete your pre-med reqs. Don't worry right now about not getting into med school. Follow your college's pre-med plan and study hard. Do well on your MCAT's. Develop a good relationship with professors. Get some good extra-curriculars which can help your resume stand out. If you really want to become a physician, there will be a way to get there so don't worry too much about that (you can take a gap year, post bac, apply DO, apply abroad, etc.)


I'm not sure if you know that you can major in anything as long as you complete your pre-med requirements but you can. There is no requirement to be a bio major although that tends to be the most convenient and easiest major for most aspiring students. You can look into majors that have decent opportunities and aren't too hard to complete alongside a rigorous science based curriculum. IMHO however, study whatever YOU want to study as you will have a better college experience because of it. Whether that be biology, history, political science, engineering, etc. take classes you like as you will do better in them. Explore a lot in undergrad so that you become a well rounded person. You will be studying purely science in med school and won't have the chance to explore after so do something you enjoy!

If you are really looking for a major that can satisfy a post degree career if med school isn't an option, look into Bioengineering as it satisfies most pre med reqs and has a great outlook. The only drawback is that engineering can get a bit difficult in general (or so I have heard, not an engineer so I can't attest to that fact).

Please DM me if I can help you out some more. I kinda abbreviated a lot of what I was going to say for the sake of the length of this post.
Thank you for the reply! I am going to volunteer more and try to find time to shadow both. Hopefully I can understand the difference between the two careers better. I am leaving more toward the MD route, I'm just scared of how it will affect me financially if I go that route.