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MD vs PA, honest answers from all viewpoints please :)

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mountaingirl23

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Hey guys! So bear with me, this may be a bit long... but I really would like some honest, thoughtful advice from several different viewpoints.

I am 22, (often confusing it with being about 45), and began college at 17 after graduating high school early. I completed four years at a community college, and just finished a year at a university to complete my undergrad. I am tracking about another year, year and a half to completion. The reason for the four years of community college... trying to figure out what I wanted to do, finished an associates and started pre reqs for nursing, realized I wanted to go into medicine and needed a four year degree, thus, at a university now. I am pursuing a biomedical science degree which is taking slightly longer than other degrees, but I am fine with that. I joined the military at 17 and have been in the Army National Guard for the last 5 years. This is a few days out of the month commitment. I also worked as an EMT for 2 years on an ambulance and have worked the last 6 months as an ED tech in the ED, part time. I also babysit part time and have full time school. I manage this well most days. I work well under stress and prefer it that way.

I have traveled to Africa and Central America within the last year for medical volunteer work which I thoroughly love. This is something I would love to continue to do throughout my life as it brings me so much joy!

I have been in a serious relationship for the last five years (he's 24), and we both have always wanted children and a family. He is also an EMT as well as a firefighter; working on his bachelors as well. Although I know time will tell and you cannot plan everything, we have discussed marriage in the next few years post undergrad, and children after PA school.

Now.... hopefully that is enough background, or maybe too much. But I am back on the PA vs MD debate. I have felt confident in my decision to attend PA school for the past 3 or so years now. However, once starting to work in the ED (fairly busy hospital, close to inner city but still suburbs area, average 200 patients a day with 4 trauma rooms), I have begun to question that. All of the PA's that work in our ED are extremely nice and seem to enjoy their career. However, I see most of them doing things such as suturing/ fast track/ low acuity things. All of the big traumas that come in are run by the MD and the trauma surgeon, along with RN's, RT, techs (me :) ), etc. I'm not really sure how I feel about this. I am aware that this is very hospital dependent, but do I really want to be job searching for only specific hospitals in order to practice the way I want to? Also, the idea of a family and traveling is very important to me. Medicine is my passion but I don't want it to consume my life. I'm okay with it being a huge factor but I do crave that balance. The PA school I would like to attend is 3 years, and with med school only being a year longer, is there really any reason not to? I used to think of residency as still being in school and sort of this black hole where you can't do anything else with your life but I'm really seeing that that is not the case. Any insight on residency, or starting a family during it? I am a little worried about when I would be able to have children if I went the MD route. Post med school I will be about 27/28/29 depending on when I get accepted, and I really don't want to wait until after residency to start a family. This is where PA fit perfect as I will have graduated and be able to start my career, have children, buy a house etc....

But I really do worry about the scope. Another issue I had was that I wasn't sure how I felt about specializing. In my head, I would love to dabble in everything, ED, trauma surgery, peds, cardiothoracic, neuro.... but is that just me being young and inexperienced? I have shadowed in all of those departments and am so intrigued by them all. I'm afraid if I specialize I will wish I was able to try other things. This is where PA was a positive as it would allow me to switch within reason. I am okay with extra training for those specialties but unsure of how I feel on going back for a residency each time... I am not sure how heavily I should weight this as my main love is emergency medicine, and maybe with time I will realize that although the other specialties are intriguing, this is the one I want to pursue?

Lastly, I really enjoy research. I have done a few research projects in genetics and micro and would love to continue this throughout my life. I have such a brain for research and am worried about the PA's place in this. I also would love to teach at the med/PA school's while still practicing. I know that PA's are able to do this but is it the same for MD?

I hope this doesn't sound too all over the place. I understand that I am young, but please know that my mindset is not always that of a 22 year old. I have contemplated this for several years, and am not still trying to "soul search". I have lived a much larger life than my age shows, and am at the point where I am trying to find the best fit for my future self and family.

EDIT: I have never been interested in primary care. Aside from clinical trials and hard to crack cases, I have never taken much interest to working with the same patients long term. I would rather work with traumas or in the ED where you fix what you can in that time, and either discharge them or send them to a specialist. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy patient care and talking to patients. I know those statements may be contradictory but if you saw me at work I really do enjoy patient contact and love people. But my heart is in the biology of what's going on over everything else.
I also don't have an ego. I am not searching for that title of Dr. and am comfortable with having people over me. I am very focused on the hands on, though. I really don't want to feel limited in my practice and not able to preform procedures because they are more suited for a doctor. Having a ceiling professionally is a big fear of mine, especially in a career I could work in for 30+ years. How much autonomy do PA's really have in emergency medicine, from your experience?
 
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Eccesignum

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As a first step, I would strongly suggest setting up some shadowing with multiple MDs and PAs working in different departments (even if you currently have no interest in other departments). Try and get shadowing at a different hospital as well if possible, and in a smaller environment like a clinic or an office.

What you're seeing as a tech won't give you as much insight into their day as spending an entire shift following them around, as there's a lot going on that you aren't privy to. During downtime, if they're in the mood for it, talk to them about what they do and don't like about what they do.
 
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futuremdforme

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At this age, kids aren't really a concern. I know you might prefer kids young but your age doesn't put you anywhere near where it would be difficult to have kids based on age.

I'd try to talk to some doctors, and ask them what kind of teaching they do to see if it's in line with what you do. How do you feel about the paperwork doctors have to do? What do doctors say about your aptitude for the profession? What is your GPA like? How do you do on standardized tests? All of these things will affect your ability to get into med school, to thrive in med school, to get the residency you want, etc.
 

sandstone

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Hello,

I'm a newly graduated DO with two small kids (5 & 2 years old), enjoying tons of free time to just chill before I start my ortho residency in a few weeks. I matched my number one choice residency, and have been done with rotations since mid-April, so life has been really good! It sounds like you may be more interested in procedural specialties, in which case I think med school is the way to go. You can be a surgeon (big difference between surgical PA), Interventional Radiologist, EM physician, all of which are very cool specialties. I actually went into med school thinking EM, but fell in love with orthopedic surgery along the way. You're still pretty young, so it seems to me that you have plenty of time to complete med school and residency. I can't comment on having kids in residency since I haven't started residency yet. You will have to have a good GPA/MCAT etc to even get into med school, MD or DO. As someone said above, you have to be good at tests to do well on boards to even have a chance at the more competitive specialties. Med school is really hard, brutal, and long. Residency might be even more rough, but I'm hoping it won't be too bad. Life after med school can be awesome as an attending. I know EM, ortho, anesthesia, FM docs who have amazing lifestyles, lots of time for family and travel, and great money to do so. I'm happy I chose med school over PA, but not everyone is. Med school is not for everyone. PA is a great option for some. I don't have the time to type too much, so I've copied and pasted my responses from some previous threads. Both of the links below have some great thoughts from other folks as well. Good luck!


http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/md-vs-mid–levels-nontraditional-students.1193307/#post-17634660

"At what age did you matriculate?

30

What was your background going in?


Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Backpacking guide for 10 years prior to matriculation. Guide and save money during the summers, travel to warm climates and climb all winter.

What motivated you to make a switch into medicine?

I always knew I wanted to go back to school and enter a more meaningful profession at some point. Never considered any medical field until my mid-twenties when I was rock climbing in Southern Thailand a few weeks after the 2004 tsunami. I was inspired by orthopedic surgeons and other medical providers who volunteered to help tsunami victims. After that, enrolled in my state university and completed my bachelors in physiology in four years and jumped through all the hoops (volunteering, research, etc). Did very well and opted for DO school in part so I could stay in my home state (the one MD school here is ridiculously hard to get into).

Did you go for an MD or Mid–Level credential (such as NP, PA, CRNA)? How did you weigh the trade-offs for those roles/credentials given age, financial, and other considerations?

For my thoughts on MD/DO vs midlevel, I've written on this extensively in another thread, so I'm just going to copy and paste my two posts from that thread:

http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/p-a-vs-m-d-job-satisfaction.1103672/#post-16337689

"I was a climbing guide and have been into wilderness medicine and stuff for a long time. I went through the intense internal debate of med school vs. PA school for a while. I'm now in my mid-30s, have two small kids, and am in my third year of medical school. It definitely sucks sometimes, and having to handle two huge life challenges (med school and parenting) is extremely difficult at times. As said above, it totally sucks to be at the bottom of the totem pole.

However, I am so happy I chose medical school. I want to be an orthopedic surgeon now and I'm SO happy that I have that option! I think being an ortho PA would not cut it for me and I would be quite regretful if I hadn't gone to med school to become an actual surgeon.

Med school doesn't have to be that bad for non-trads. I've done well in school and spent tons of time with my family over these past three years. While having a family can make school harder because of the time commitment, in some ways it's really helped me. I have been forced to become ultra efficient and to not constantly think about and stress about school all the time. This has helped me substantially and I think it's partly why I've been able to do better than most of my younger, single classmates who spend way more time studying than I do.

Even if I don't make it into ortho, I'll still be happy in whatever backup specialty I choose (FM or EM probably). I'll know that I went as far as I could and tried my hardest and didn't limit myself. While the schooling is hard, I find it overall enjoyable to learn so much interesting material, much of which I wouldn't have gotten in PA school. As someone above said, being a non-trad gives you good perspective. While guiding was awesome, I also worked plenty of ****ty manual labor jobs. I'll tell you I think some of my younger classmates are a bunch of whiners and have no idea how much more ****ty than med school it is to work 50 hours/week of landscaping or something like that.

Sure I've met some unhappy docs. However, most of the docs I've worked with so far are super happy in their jobs. It really comes down to personality. Some would be unhappy no matter what they were doing while others appreciate how great their job and pay is compared to what most people in the world have.

Taking the PA path would be awesome in many ways, but I've always kind of been a "go big or go home" type of person and PA school would not have worked for me. For some, it's an excellent option. You'll just have to figure out if you'd be okay being a PA or if you want to have the option to go as far as you can in your training and become the true expert in your field who's calling the shots."

"Someone sent me a PM with some followup questions and I realized that my response may be helpful for others. So here it is.

It is a really tough call that's for sure. As I said, I went through the PA vs med debate for quite a while. In the end, I decided go to med school. It's kind of leap of faith that's for sure, and technically I can't say if it's worth it since I'm not even in residency yet. Med school is really hard and sometimes very stressful. My wife and I both have had our moments where we're not happy with the choice. I've had moments where I wish I chose PA school for the reasons you mentioned. Overall it's gone well though and we are happy that I'm in med school. I've met lots of really happy docs who love their jobs, which makes me pretty confident that I'll continue to love it.

I get the whole entering the workforce sooner thing, I still sometimes consider just doing three years of FM instead of ortho just so I can get working and have a more normal life again sooner. Although, I am definitely still planning on ortho because it's awesome and when I keep the big picture in mind, I think ortho will be better in the long run for job satisfaction and earning potential. I'll be 39 or 40 by the time I finish ortho residency, but I don't at all worry about stamina issues. Most practicing ortho docs I've worked with so far are that age or older and do just fine. At my age now, I feel more energetic, do better, and complain less than many of my younger and single classmates. It's all about taking care of yourself and keeping a good attitude. I go for two big trail runs a week and have a power tower at home to workout on. I try not to worry about my huge $400,000 debt, especially with ortho since I'll make an excellent salary. A lot of docs get themselves in trouble when as soon as they start making an attending salary they buy a mansion and sports car. I'm not worried about this and know my wife and I can continue to live modestly and just pay off the debt within five years.

You do have to have an understanding and hard-working wife. She will have to step it up a lot in terms of childcare and household responsibilities at times. The difficulty of med school comes in waves. This month on peds GI I worked 9-3 most days and was given a whole week off by my preceptor. Last month on ortho I worked 5-7 most days and sometimes wouldn't see my kids for days (this was at a residency program that was not lifestyle friendly). During the first two years its similar, some days I didn't have that much to do, other days I'd have to study for 15 hours straight. She'll also have to be flexible and willing to handle the lack of routine since the schedule changes so much depending on what year you're in and what rotation you're on.

It really has helped us to have my parents 20 minutes away. Having some support is super important, both for childcare help and finances. We live in an expensive area and have had to borrow some additional money from my folks since the cost of attendance is calculated for single people with roommates. We probably could have made it financially without this if we moved into a much smaller place in a worse part of town and drastically changed our lifetyle. We are thankful to have some extra financial help so that we can maintain a pretty nice life in a nice house in a good neighborhood. My wife worked as a teacher for the first two years, but now she stays at home, which is great. Paying for daycare would be super expensive for two kids (we had our second kid recently) and logistically challenging since my schedule changes drastically each month this year depending on which rotation I'm on.

Overall my wife has been happy and doing well with it all. I think she sees the big picture as well and knows that it will all be worth it in the end.

You have to go to a school that has non-required lectures. This was so important in terms of spending time with my family during the first two years. I only showed up to campus when absolutely required. This opened up lots of time to spend quality time with my wife and kids. You also have to really prioritize your family. I don't really rock climb these days, which is what I used to live for. It's okay though, I'm perfectly happy putting my personal hobbies on hold for now to get to spend time with my family. I know that one day I'll have time for that stuff again. Again, it's all about keeping a good attitude and accepting and enjoying the fact that your life revolves around nothing but kids and studying.

So overall I'm VERY happy I chose med school and not PA school. If you think you may want to do a specialty, especially surgical or other procedural, go for med school since this will keep open the most options. It seems like ortho PA's are stuck forever doing things that 4th year med students do and there's a big difference between PA and ortho physician salaries, even if you start making that bigger number later. I'm so glad I have the option to be a surgeon (hopefully I'll match ortho!)"
 
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mountaingirl23

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As a first step, I would strongly suggest setting up some shadowing with multiple MDs and PAs working in different departments (even if you currently have no interest in other departments). Try and get shadowing at a different hospital as well if possible, and in a smaller environment like a clinic or an office.

What you're seeing as a tech won't give you as much insight into their day as spending an entire shift following them around, as there's a lot going on that you aren't privy to. During downtime, if they're in the mood for it, talk to them about what they do and don't like about what they do.

Very true. As I mentioned I have done some shadowing but I think I will continue to do so. Thanks!
 

mountaingirl23

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At this age, kids aren't really a concern. I know you might prefer kids young but your age doesn't put you anywhere near where it would be difficult to have kids based on age.

I'd try to talk to some doctors, and ask them what kind of teaching they do to see if it's in line with what you do. How do you feel about the paperwork doctors have to do? What do doctors say about your aptitude for the profession? What is your GPA like? How do you do on standardized tests? All of these things will affect your ability to get into med school, to thrive in med school, to get the residency you want, etc.


Thanks for your input! The doctors I work closely with have felt that I would be a good fit. My GPA is competitive, but not extremely strong. It took about the first year of college to figure out that grades matter, but since then I've been doing well. I would put my target GPA somewhere between 3.3-3.6 by the time I apply. I do well on standardized tests, however, I'm more of a critical thinker. I do better in scenario based situations than tests. With that said, I do well on standardized tests but in order to be in the top 10% I would need to study extremely hard as test taking does not come naturally as it does for some. I will need to do more shadowing to get a better understanding of the paperwork load that doctors have. I have the jist of it, but should probably figure that out more in depth.

I have read a good amount on getting matched into residencies that you want... does a good portion of that come with how well you do on your boards and how strong your med school GPA is? Or is interviewing a bigger part?

Thanks again!
 

mountaingirl23

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Hello,

I'm a newly graduated DO with two small kids (5 & 2 years old), enjoying tons of free time to just chill before I start my ortho residency in a few weeks. I matched my number one choice residency, and have been done with rotations since mid-April, so life has been really good! It sounds like you may be more interested in procedural specialties, in which case I think med school is the way to go. You can be a surgeon (big difference between surgical PA), Interventional Radiologist, EM physician, all of which are very cool specialties. I actually went into med school thinking EM, but fell in love with orthopedic surgery along the way. You're still pretty young, so it seems to me that you have plenty of time to complete med school and residency. I can't comment on having kids in residency since I haven't started residency yet. You will have to have a good GPA/MCAT etc to even get into med school, MD or DO. As someone said above, you have to be good at tests to do well on boards to even have a chance at the more competitive specialties. Med school is really hard, brutal, and long. Residency might be even more rough, but I'm hoping it won't be too bad. Life after med school can be awesome as an attending. I know EM, ortho, anesthesia, FM docs who have amazing lifestyles, lots of time for family and travel, and great money to do so. I'm happy I chose med school over PA, but not everyone is. Med school is not for everyone. PA is a great option for some. I don't have the time to type too much, so I've copied and pasted my responses from some previous threads. Both of the links below have some great thoughts from other folks as well. Good luck!


http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/md-vs-mid–levels-nontraditional-students.1193307/#post-17634660

"At what age did you matriculate?

30

What was your background going in?


Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Backpacking guide for 10 years prior to matriculation. Guide and save money during the summers, travel to warm climates and climb all winter.

What motivated you to make a switch into medicine?

I always knew I wanted to go back to school and enter a more meaningful profession at some point. Never considered any medical field until my mid-twenties when I was rock climbing in Southern Thailand a few weeks after the 2004 tsunami. I was inspired by orthopedic surgeons and other medical providers who volunteered to help tsunami victims. After that, enrolled in my state university and completed my bachelors in physiology in four years and jumped through all the hoops (volunteering, research, etc). Did very well and opted for DO school in part so I could stay in my home state (the one MD school here is ridiculously hard to get into).

Did you go for an MD or Mid–Level credential (such as NP, PA, CRNA)? How did you weigh the trade-offs for those roles/credentials given age, financial, and other considerations?

For my thoughts on MD/DO vs midlevel, I've written on this extensively in another thread, so I'm just going to copy and paste my two posts from that thread:

http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/p-a-vs-m-d-job-satisfaction.1103672/#post-16337689

"I was a climbing guide and have been into wilderness medicine and stuff for a long time. I went through the intense internal debate of med school vs. PA school for a while. I'm now in my mid-30s, have two small kids, and am in my third year of medical school. It definitely sucks sometimes, and having to handle two huge life challenges (med school and parenting) is extremely difficult at times. As said above, it totally sucks to be at the bottom of the totem pole.

However, I am so happy I chose medical school. I want to be an orthopedic surgeon now and I'm SO happy that I have that option! I think being an ortho PA would not cut it for me and I would be quite regretful if I hadn't gone to med school to become an actual surgeon.

Med school doesn't have to be that bad for non-trads. I've done well in school and spent tons of time with my family over these past three years. While having a family can make school harder because of the time commitment, in some ways it's really helped me. I have been forced to become ultra efficient and to not constantly think about and stress about school all the time. This has helped me substantially and I think it's partly why I've been able to do better than most of my younger, single classmates who spend way more time studying than I do.

Even if I don't make it into ortho, I'll still be happy in whatever backup specialty I choose (FM or EM probably). I'll know that I went as far as I could and tried my hardest and didn't limit myself. While the schooling is hard, I find it overall enjoyable to learn so much interesting material, much of which I wouldn't have gotten in PA school. As someone above said, being a non-trad gives you good perspective. While guiding was awesome, I also worked plenty of ****ty manual labor jobs. I'll tell you I think some of my younger classmates are a bunch of whiners and have no idea how much more ****ty than med school it is to work 50 hours/week of landscaping or something like that.

Sure I've met some unhappy docs. However, most of the docs I've worked with so far are super happy in their jobs. It really comes down to personality. Some would be unhappy no matter what they were doing while others appreciate how great their job and pay is compared to what most people in the world have.

Taking the PA path would be awesome in many ways, but I've always kind of been a "go big or go home" type of person and PA school would not have worked for me. For some, it's an excellent option. You'll just have to figure out if you'd be okay being a PA or if you want to have the option to go as far as you can in your training and become the true expert in your field who's calling the shots."

"Someone sent me a PM with some followup questions and I realized that my response may be helpful for others. So here it is.

It is a really tough call that's for sure. As I said, I went through the PA vs med debate for quite a while. In the end, I decided go to med school. It's kind of leap of faith that's for sure, and technically I can't say if it's worth it since I'm not even in residency yet. Med school is really hard and sometimes very stressful. My wife and I both have had our moments where we're not happy with the choice. I've had moments where I wish I chose PA school for the reasons you mentioned. Overall it's gone well though and we are happy that I'm in med school. I've met lots of really happy docs who love their jobs, which makes me pretty confident that I'll continue to love it.

I get the whole entering the workforce sooner thing, I still sometimes consider just doing three years of FM instead of ortho just so I can get working and have a more normal life again sooner. Although, I am definitely still planning on ortho because it's awesome and when I keep the big picture in mind, I think ortho will be better in the long run for job satisfaction and earning potential. I'll be 39 or 40 by the time I finish ortho residency, but I don't at all worry about stamina issues. Most practicing ortho docs I've worked with so far are that age or older and do just fine. At my age now, I feel more energetic, do better, and complain less than many of my younger and single classmates. It's all about taking care of yourself and keeping a good attitude. I go for two big trail runs a week and have a power tower at home to workout on. I try not to worry about my huge $400,000 debt, especially with ortho since I'll make an excellent salary. A lot of docs get themselves in trouble when as soon as they start making an attending salary they buy a mansion and sports car. I'm not worried about this and know my wife and I can continue to live modestly and just pay off the debt within five years.

You do have to have an understanding and hard-working wife. She will have to step it up a lot in terms of childcare and household responsibilities at times. The difficulty of med school comes in waves. This month on peds GI I worked 9-3 most days and was given a whole week off by my preceptor. Last month on ortho I worked 5-7 most days and sometimes wouldn't see my kids for days (this was at a residency program that was not lifestyle friendly). During the first two years its similar, some days I didn't have that much to do, other days I'd have to study for 15 hours straight. She'll also have to be flexible and willing to handle the lack of routine since the schedule changes so much depending on what year you're in and what rotation you're on.

It really has helped us to have my parents 20 minutes away. Having some support is super important, both for childcare help and finances. We live in an expensive area and have had to borrow some additional money from my folks since the cost of attendance is calculated for single people with roommates. We probably could have made it financially without this if we moved into a much smaller place in a worse part of town and drastically changed our lifetyle. We are thankful to have some extra financial help so that we can maintain a pretty nice life in a nice house in a good neighborhood. My wife worked as a teacher for the first two years, but now she stays at home, which is great. Paying for daycare would be super expensive for two kids (we had our second kid recently) and logistically challenging since my schedule changes drastically each month this year depending on which rotation I'm on.

Overall my wife has been happy and doing well with it all. I think she sees the big picture as well and knows that it will all be worth it in the end.

You have to go to a school that has non-required lectures. This was so important in terms of spending time with my family during the first two years. I only showed up to campus when absolutely required. This opened up lots of time to spend quality time with my wife and kids. You also have to really prioritize your family. I don't really rock climb these days, which is what I used to live for. It's okay though, I'm perfectly happy putting my personal hobbies on hold for now to get to spend time with my family. I know that one day I'll have time for that stuff again. Again, it's all about keeping a good attitude and accepting and enjoying the fact that your life revolves around nothing but kids and studying.

So overall I'm VERY happy I chose med school and not PA school. If you think you may want to do a specialty, especially surgical or other procedural, go for med school since this will keep open the most options. It seems like ortho PA's are stuck forever doing things that 4th year med students do and there's a big difference between PA and ortho physician salaries, even if you start making that bigger number later. I'm so glad I have the option to be a surgeon (hopefully I'll match ortho!)"


Thank you for all of this great insight! These are great points for me to consider. I always thought of med school/residency as this hole where your life stops for years until you're out. That has been one of the biggest turn offs for me, and I'm beginning to realize this might not be the case.
Question for you...you mentioned you got paired with your number one pick for residency. What do you think played the biggest part in the getting the residency that you wanted?

Also, congrats on the family and graduating med school! :)
 

DrMikeP

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Consider this, as a physician your opportunities in the medical profession are more than those of a PA. With that so are your responsibilities and time commitment. The physician route will bite into family more than PA, but I know many docs with great family lives. PA is truly the easier route. So professionally you have to decide if you would be happy in the more limited role. Only you can answer that. As mentioned above shadow a doc (especially a DO) and PA.

The other side of the coin is the assumption that you can get into a med school. That is a huge assumption, as around 60% don't make it in. So beyond shadowing why not finish off the premed courses you'd need including biochem and take the MCAT. (I stopped reading so assume you haven't done such.) Your GPA suggests you are more likely to get into a DO than MD, if in at all. Your decision may get made for you and you won't always be second guessing what if.

Best of luck

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk
 
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mountaingirl23

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Consider this, as a physician your opportunities in the medical profession are more than those of a PA. With that so are your responsibilities and time commitment. The physician route will bite into family more than PA, but I know many docs with great family lives. PA is truly the easier route. So professionally you have to decide if you would be happy in the more limited role. Only you can answer that. As mentioned above shadow a doc (especially a DO) and PA.

The other side of the coin is the assumption that you can get into a med school. That is a huge assumption, as around 60% don't make it in. So beyond shadowing why not finish off the premed courses you'd need including biochem and take the MCAT. (I stopped reading so assume you haven't done such.) Your GPA suggests you are more likely to get into a DO than MD, if in at all. Your decision may get made for you and you won't always be second guessing what if.

Best of luck

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Thanks for the advice! I am thinking that the thought of hitting a ceiling professionally is something deterring me from PA. I am a very ambitious person and don't ever want to feel limited or that I am not able to do my job to the full extent.

That is a huge assumption, but I am going to plan as though I will get in, and have a back up plan in case I don't. I have finished most of my pre reqs but do still need to take the MCAT.
 

DrMikeP

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Thanks for the advice! I am thinking that the thought of hitting a ceiling professionally is something deterring me from PA. I am a very ambitious person and don't ever want to feel limited or that I am not able to do my job to the full extent.

That is a huge assumption, but I am going to plan as though I will get in, and have a back up plan in case I don't. I have finished most of my pre reqs but do still need to take the MCAT.

If you are ambitious then don't aim low and go PA without at least trying. Good luck on the MCAT. A 504+ would set you up well for DO. To have any shot at MD with your gpa you probably need around a 515+ and hope that your sgpa is closer to 3.6.
 

mountaingirl23

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If you are ambitious then don't aim low and go PA without at least trying. Good luck on the MCAT. A 504+ would set you up well for DO. To have any shot at MD with your gpa you probably need around a 515+ and hope that your sgpa is closer to 3.6.

I have never been interested in DO over MD, so that is a little disheartening, but I understand. I think my science GPA may be 3.5-3.7, but even with all A's here on out, with having so many credits already (130+ with 65ish more) the cumulative will only average so high.

Thanks for the input!
 

sandstone

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Thank you for all of this great insight! These are great points for me to consider. I always thought of med school/residency as this hole where your life stops for years until you're out. That has been one of the biggest turn offs for me, and I'm beginning to realize this might not be the case.
Question for you...you mentioned you got paired with your number one pick for residency. What do you think played the biggest part in the getting the residency that you wanted?

Also, congrats on the family and graduating med school! :)

I always heard that too about life stopping during med school. Sometimes that was true and sometimes not. Overall my experience was really good though and I mostly had plenty of time with family. For some though, it does take up their whole life and I guess the problem is that you won't know how well you'll be able to find balance until you're in med school. I sort of lucked out in that I was able to get by with spending less time studying than some and still do really well. I will say that it seemed that the majority of my classmates were able to spend time with family or go skiing, etc a lot of weekends.

Keeping a postitve attitude and finding balance are really the key. I feel that some of my classmates who spent every single moment studying or freaking out about school actually negatively affected their performance by doing so. While I had plenty of times involving constant studying and frekaing out, I made it a point to remain connected to my family and exercise regularly, which I think helped me do as well as I did.

As for matching your top choice, that's a long ways off for you but I can share a couple tips. First and foremost during the first two years you have to focus on really learning the material so you can get good grades and a high board score. That is the key to getting your foot in the door. All extracurriculars come secondary to this, I saw some spread themselves too thin by getting too involved in every club and leadership position available (and this stuff really doesn't matter to residency programs) and then letting their grades suffer. After that, work hard on every single rotation and make a good impression everywhere. Get good letters of recommendations from physicians in the specialty you're going for. For ortho and other competitive specialties in the DO world, the fourth year audition rotation is super important. Spend a month at the program and work really hard, study a lot to sound smart about the specialty, be friendly and respectful but don't get overbearing and annoying. Then learn to be good at interviewing. I read a good book during my third year called "The Successful Match" which had great advice for residency personal statement and interviewing, and the whole process in general. What helped me also was being able to relate with attendings on things outside of medicine. That's where being a non-trad student definitely helped me. My past experience with travelling and guiding, etc gave me some good things to talk about during interviews and with attendings. If you can develop unique experiences outside of academics, that can definitely help set you apart.

For you now, first focus on GRADES AND MCAT! Any other extracurriculars, research, volunteering etc can come later if needed. You need a good GPA and MCAT to even get an interview, especially for MD. Once you get interview invites, be sure to practice interviewing! Utilize your school's committe letter interview as practice, read books on it, it helps to be well spoken and focused on your interview day. Write a good personal statement, highlight any leadership experience you've gained in the military or elsewhere. Of course you can find all the standard advice for getting into med school on this site.

MD can make it a bit easier to get competitive specialties, but I will say I was really happy with my DO school and it definitely got me where I wanted to be: excellent residency program in an awesome specialty in a great location. Almost half of my class matched into cool specialties (anesthesia, various surgical specialties, EM) in both AOA and ACGME programs (although soon they'll all be ACGME). Almost everyone else matched into good peds, FM, or IM programs that they really wanted. Most were really happy with the match this year.

As stated above, if you're an ambitious person and don't want to be limited, you should definitely go to med school. Work hard, stay focused on your goal, be nice to people along the way, be humble, be flexible, keep a positive attitude, and remain confident that you will get in. If you do all of this and get good grades and stuff, you will get in. And if for whatever reason it doesn't work out, then you can go PA or something. Good luck!
 
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jl lin

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IDK, for me, I'd take DO over PA any day.
 
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