PA School or MD school?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Matrix207, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. Matrix207

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    I know this thread has probably been made countless times; however, I want to know which option is better suited for me and would like input from others on this forum.

    First, I love medicine. I would love to become a Physician. If I were to become a Physician, I could look back on life and think, "I am completely fulfilled," and I would credit myself for not have taken an alternative route. However, I fear a career as a Physician would take over my life. I would love to have a family one day, but I do not want to be a father who may be known as always working or was mostly absent from his family. If there are any doctors currently on here who refute anything I fear or stated, please respond. I read a lot on these forums how attendings advise pre-medical students to reconsider a career in medicine due to its overwhelming sacrifices, and how they missed out on many events in life that others have not. However, if this is the case, would there not be any Doctors out there if this is as true as they say? Due to for these reasons only, it influences met to pursue a career as a Physician's Assistant rather than as a Doctor. I would feel fulfilled as a P.A., but less fulfilled knowing how my biggest dream to become a Doctor was something I had not attempted to pursue. I can visually see myself counseling patients, devising care plans, involving myself in solving complex problems, as well as involving myself in research and staying up to date on current advances in medical science. One advantage to pursuing a career as a P.A. is I know that it is less demanding than as a Doctor, and how a P.A. can have the leniency to 'have a life.'

    Anyone else feel the same way?

    TLDR: I want to be a Physician, but reading threads on SDN and other websites on how demanding the responsibilities are make me rather want to pursue a career as a P.A. than M.D./D.O. route. I want to have a life outside of medicine (which ever route I decide to go into) but fear a career as an M.D./D.O. route I will miss out on many events in life, and will be regretful how I was not able to have the leniency to be there for my family, etc. because I was too preoccupied with the demands associated with being a Physician.

    Hopefully this makes sense to everyone. Being a Doctor is a huge dream of mine, I realize the demands and responsibilities they face; however, I am just fearful that I will not have any sort of life outside the career itself (such as family, other interests, etc).
     
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  3. 21Rush12

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    So much is what you make of it. I know attendings that work 80 hour weeks and I know attendings that work 3.5 days a week. The choices you make along the way are what will dictate how much you work, and you can keep lifestyle in mind (like all Med students do) when choosing specialty.

    Maybe @HomeSkool can provide more of a picture for us?
     
  4. Gilakend

    Gilakend SDN Bronze Donor
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    Being a doctor won't make you have an awful family life, being a PA won't make you have a great one. This is much more based on personal choices than the career you're in.
     
  5. siliso

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    Do you in your heart of hearts prefer to be a physician or an assistant to a physician? Of course physicians have lives and families, look around.
     
  6. Matrix207

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    I'd rather be a Physician. I guess pursuing medical school is a viable option, despite the sacrifices and challenges they may face, it should be absolutely worth it.
     
  7. HuskyMD85

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    There are few careers that are easy, especially if you want to live comfortably in today's expensive world. Bankers (not tellers), engineers, all work long hours. Many of my colleagues do amazing things outside of medicine, from rebuilding vintage cars, to climbing Mt. Everest. I think the best proof of doctors having a life outside of medicine is the number of medical students who come from families of physicians.
     
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  8. Matrix207

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    I never thought of that!! Thank you so much
     
  9. DubbiDoctor

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    Physician assistants perform a vital role. But I view the profession as more suited to people who are foremost concerned with having a decent job that doesn't require too much sacrifice and who also have an interest in medicine. It's a great choice for people pursuing a second career or who already have a family, so are less inclined to invest as many years and dollars on their professional education. But if you're passionate about medicine, and are still relatively young, I would recommend pursuing an MD/DO. As much as the role of midlevel providers may expand in the future (many NPs practice primary care independently, and it's likely that mid levels will continue to take on responsibilities once exclusive to physicians), physicians will always be considered the experts, obtaining the greatest level of knowledge and training. As a midlevel it is less likely that you will treat the most acute and interesting cases. For example, a CRNA may manage the anesthesia of a basic or a fairly complex surgery, but most likely will not be managing a highly complex cardiothoracic surgery, requiring fellowship training in TEE and advanced hemodynamics and cardiac physiology. And if you're interested in surgery, no midlevel can perform surgery independently - and that's not likely to change. I think if you pursued a PA route, in your 20s and with a strong passion for medicine, in your 50s you may resent your physician colleagues, many of whom would be younger than you and entrusted with caring for the most complex patients.
     
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  10. Matrix207

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    Your are absolutely right. Thank you so much!
     
  11. Matrix207

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    I am unsure if others had done this as well, but I plan to take a few years off after I graduate from College before applying to medical school. The reason why is because I want to make sure if I absolutely want to pursue an MD/DO track rather than P.A. school. This is sort of stressful within itself because since it may take anywhere between 8-12 years to become an attending, it sort of rushes my decision making because I don't want to be too old before I start to work as a Doctor.
     
  12. 21Rush12

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    I can assure you you’re not the first person to take time off after college.

    Take your time and figure out what you want to do, and don’t let your age stop you. You’ll get older anyway, the difference is you’ll be a doctor in one scenario and not in the other.
     
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  13. Matrix207

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    Thank you for your words of encouragement. Seriously it means a lot!!
     
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  14. HomeSkool

    HomeSkool Excelsior! ASA Member!
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    Sorry I'm late to the party.

    The road to becoming an attending sucks and demands some pretty significant sacrifices. Often -- particularly during residency -- you have no control over your schedule and just have to power through. Several times during residency, I had four-week blocks during which I worked 30 hours every fourth day and had only four days off all month. Those were rough months, and I didn't see my kids much. But I had other months during which I averaged a 60-hour work week, getting home in time for dinner at least three times each week and only covering one or two weekend shifts. Those months gave me a lot more family time. Now that I'm an attending, I've found a terrific job that averages about 50-55 hours each week. Some weeks are still intense, but I have much more control over my schedule and the flexibility to make sure I attend most recitals, concerts, sports games, etc. that my kids are in.

    The key to your happiness with this loss of scheduling autonomy is expectation management. If I'd expected to work 40-hour weeks during residency (@streampaw, wherever you are, I love you and hope you found that $250K 30-hour-per-week dermatology job you were looking for), I'd have been angry, frustrated, and depressed. If my wife had expected me to be home to help with dinner and the kids' bedtime every night, she'd have fared no better. By accepting that I would work a lot and be stressed a lot of the time during training, we both soldiered through the tough times. Now we get to enjoy the wonderful payoff of all our hard work and sacrifice: greater scheduling flexibility, professional fulfillment, and one hell of a paycheck.

    As I've said in other threads, after residency you can make your life what you want it to be. I have a partner who works half-time so she can have more time to be a mom for her kids. She also gets paid half salary, but that's worth it to her: she's doing a job she loves and balancing it with her family life. I have other partners who are always on the prowl looking to pick up extra shifts. This week, I've voluntarily elected to work seven consecutive 12-hour overnight shifts in exchange for extra money and all of next week off work.

    No matter what career path you choose, you'll always wish the day had just one more hour.

    TL;DR: Becoming a doctor requires sacrifice and a lack of control over your schedule. After residency, you can make your career and life what you want them to be. You're the only one who can decide what you'll be happy doing. If you become a PA because you want to be a PA, you'll be happy and fulfilled. If you become a PA out of fear, you'll always look back and say "what if?"
     
  15. Matrix207

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    Hey man, thank you so much for this post! I wanted to be an M.D. in the worst way, and many people online claim that a career in Medicine is not worth it due to the demands. But as you said in your post and others have stated, what job is perfect? Others may say I will be 'wasting my life' studying, stressing, etc. But that the end of the day that's their opinion, while I would feel completely fulfilled doing that. Likewise, other careers possess similar stresses and commitments. For example, a soldier may be deployed for a year and a half, facing battle, while a construction worker may be working 12+ hours with low pay.

    I guess to sum it all up: there is no perfect job that will provide low stress, excellent benefits and pay. It's all about what you are passionate for and what will make you richer in terms of fulfillment, rather than external factors (money, social status, etc).

    Thank you for everyone on here.

    Lastly @HomeSkool I have one question regards to your lifestyle as an attending. Is it still difficult to at least relax and pursue your own interests, or is this a challenge as well? I realize this will vary depending on the days because the events that transpire in a healthcare setting are not linear, but in general can you best estimate this?

    Thank you so much though!!
     
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  17. Matrix207

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    May I also ask, what speciality are you in??
     
  18. DrRiker

    DrRiker SDN Bronze Donor
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    He's in anesthesia and has a pretty insightful blog. Worth the read. He's not paying me to say that either.
     
  19. bahdahboom

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    I’m so tried of hearing “I want a life outside of medicine.” Everyone does, even attendings. You can and will have a life outside of Medicine that’s what you want. Unless you’re the associate dean of a Med school, while practicing and doing missions on the side, your life will not be all medicine.
     
  20. HomeSkool

    HomeSkool Excelsior! ASA Member!
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    I missed a lot of stuff while I was in training, but I still found time to take my kids to the park occasionally, catch a movie with my wife, go to a Spurs game (I did my residency in San Antonio), etc. The things I missed out on the most were scheduled social events, usually because they were scheduled weeks after my work schedule had been released. I can't tell you how many times my wife said "Hey, there's a church social this Thursday night at 7" and I replied "Hey, I'm late shift so have fun without me."

    Now that I'm an attending, I have much greater flexibility and control over my schedule. My autonomy is still somewhat limited by my department's needs, but I can usually get the free time I want when I want it. I have ample time to do my hobbies, relax, exercise, etc. Not as much time as if I were working a 9-5, but ample time nonetheless.

    You're absolutely right about value being in the eye of the beholder. Some people will say you're wasting your life studying; you can reply that they're wasting their lives letting their brains atrophy.

    Thanks! That's very kind of you to say. I'll send the check to your accountant.

    The blog is at Gas Words.
     
    #18 HomeSkool, Apr 17, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
  21. HuskyMD85

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    It's not just your specialty, but your colleagues in your group. I have been quite fortunate that I am part of a group that understand the importance of family and life outside of medicine. We cover for each other, adjust our schedules to accommodate each others needs. So much so that I was able to attend most of my daughters' recitals and competitions.
     
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  22. DrRiker

    DrRiker SDN Bronze Donor
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    Is this not something that holds true for every career field as well? For instance, Tesla and Ernst and Young are both notorious for grueling work hours, especially for new employees. After residency, it seems medicine can be just like any field: it's what you make of it.
     
  23. Mad Jack

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    Survey: Many doctors looking to leave profession amid burnout, low morale

    Almost half of physicians would discourage their children from entering medicine. I think the great number of doctor's kids entering the field is more a function of being accustomed to the perks of a certain income than satisfaction.
     
  24. DrRiker

    DrRiker SDN Bronze Donor
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    I'd like to see data on these doctors. Where were they educated, were they academic or with private groups, etc.
     
  25. Mad Jack

    Mad Jack Critically Caring
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    It was over 17,000 physicians, so it's a sample size large enough to be representative of the profession as a whole but not individual specialities.
     

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