Yadster101

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Recently, I was surprised to learn that PA students use some of the same textbooks used in most med schools like medium robbins, Gray's, katzung for pharm, etc. Obviously a PA student will know less than a med student because med students have 2 years in the classroom while PAs only get 1, but do they go at the same pace as med students in their classes? Is the first year of PA school the same as M1/M2 in terms of the speed with which content needs to be understood?

Heres a list of books for the Yale PA program:

https://medicine.yale.edu/pa/curriculum/didactic/Class_of_2017_Required_Textbooks_131992_284_781.pdf

EDIT: I should be more clear. Im not saying a PA will know the same amount as an MD/DO. Like I said med students get 2 years. Im trying to compare the pace...thats it.
 
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chipwhitley

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A PA student told me they get the same amount of education as MDs because they also go to school in the summer, and they have to learn stuff like physio and anatomy before they start.
 
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Yadster101

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What's a textbook
Tru. Everyone just memorizes from lecture slides. My point was the content of those lecture slides comes from textbooks and PA schools seem to be using the same texts??

My point is would an M1 have to endure the same brutal pace if they were in PA school?
 

sloop

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Tru. Everyone just memorizes from lecture slides. My point was the content of those lecture slides comes from textbooks and PA schools seem to be using the same texts??

My point is would an M1 have to endure the same brutal pace if they were in PA school?
Everyone thinks a fast pace is the brutal part until they get to third year and experience 4 hrs in the corner of an operating room staring at the backs of their attending, fellow, resident and intern.
 

NontradCA

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A PA student told me they get the same amount of education as MDs because they also go to school in the summer, and they have to learn stuff like physio and anatomy before they start.
+pissed+
 
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zeppelinpage4

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A PA student told me they get the same amount of education as MDs because they also go to school in the summer, and they have to learn stuff like physio and anatomy before they start.
That seems reasonable.
I always assumed they had to take relevant classes before applying to PA school to make up the difference. But I could be very wrong. If it's true, I wouldn't be too surprised if our pre-clinical education was comparable.

I'm only speculating but I think the real difference in training comes from MD/DOs doing residency, not the preclinical years. Once a PA finishes school, I assume they go right to work and just do PA level stuff from that point on. A med student will do years of residency doing more and more advanced stuff, more so than what the PAs are likely doing, as they progress in their training before they're full working attendings.

My entire post is speculation though, don't actually listen to me lol. I have no idea how PA schools work or how it compares. I just know that when all is said and done, and training is finished, the physicians are in charge.

Also, if it means anything, our clerkship director told us that our expected level of understanding is higher than what the PAs know.
 
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sinombre

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Everyone thinks a fast pace is the brutal part until they get to third year and experience 4 hrs in the corner of an operating room staring at the backs of their attending, fellow, resident and intern.
My first 2 surgeries of 3rd year were both >12 hours. It was a terrific hazing experience. I mean I was scrubbed in, but I retracted for maybe 11.5 hours and then was rewarded by getting to help close at the very end.
 

cbrons

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That seems reasonable.
I always assumed they had to take relevant classes before applying to PA school to make up the difference. But I could be very wrong. If it's true, I wouldn't be too surprised if our pre-clinical education was comparable.

I'm only speculating but I think the real difference in training comes from MD/DOs doing residency, not the preclinical years. Once a PA finishes school, I assume they go right to work and just do PA level stuff from that point on. A med student will do years of residency doing more and more advanced stuff, more so than what the PAs are likely doing, as they progress in their training before they're full working attendings.

My entire post is speculation though, don't actually listen to me lol. I have no idea how PA schools work or how it compares. I just know that when all is said and done, and training is finished, the physicians are in charge.

Also, if it means anything, our clerkship director told us that our expected level of understanding is higher than what the PAs know.
The preclinical education is not compatable at all. Lol. Ever heard of Step 1? Do you think most PA students could pass that exam after their "grueling" 1 year of accelerated preclinical classes? I bet not.
 
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Yadster101

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The preclinical education is not compatable at all. Lol. Ever heard of Step 1? Do you think most PA students could pass that exam after their "grueling" 1 year of accelerated preclinical classes? I bet not.
Like I said med students get 2 years. Do you think that PA students go at the same pace as med students? If given an additional year of class work could they take step1?
 

PL198

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Yeah and the "chemistry for nursing" class is totally just as hard as the gen Chem everyone else takes. Keep drinking the kool aid
 

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Like I said med students get 2 years. Do you think that PA students go at the same pace as med students? If given an additional year of class work could they take step1?
No
They focus on common things. They dont go as in depth into pathophysiology and their education leavesmany things out by necessity. There is no comparison, not even if they spent more time doing it
 

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My medical school has 2 or 3 preclinical courses where the PA class goes to the same lectures. Prior to each exam they run down a list of all the things from lecture they don't need to know. This isn't to say they aren't bright- they go to the same undergrads and have the same majors as the med students. However, they just don't go as deep or as long with the preclinical material.
 

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My medical school has 2 or 3 preclinical courses where the PA class goes to the same lectures. Prior to each exam they run down a list of all the things from lecture they don't need to know. This isn't to say they aren't bright- they go to the same undergrads and have the same majors as the med students. However, they just don't go as deep or as long with the preclinical material.
What are these courses?
 

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A PA student told me they get the same amount of education as MDs because they also go to school in the summer, and they have to learn stuff like physio and anatomy before they start.
lol, undergrad anatomy and physiology is babby level compared to physician level anatomy and physiology.
 

alpinism

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A PA student told me they get the same amount of education as MDs because they also go to school in the summer, and they have to learn stuff like physio and anatomy before they start.
Lol

The difference is not in the reference text but in the expected depth of understanding of the required material.
Bingo

That seems reasonable.
I always assumed they had to take relevant classes before applying to PA school to make up the difference. But I could be very wrong. If it's true, I wouldn't be too surprised if our pre-clinical education was comparable.

I'm only speculating but I think the real difference in training comes from MD/DOs doing residency, not the preclinical years. Once a PA finishes school, I assume they go right to work and just do PA level stuff from that point on. A med student will do years of residency doing more and more advanced stuff, more so than what the PAs are likely doing, as they progress in their training before they're full working attendings.

My entire post is speculation though, don't actually listen to me lol. I have no idea how PA schools work or how it compares. I just know that when all is said and done, and training is finished, the physicians are in charge.

Also, if it means anything, our clerkship director told us that our expected level of understanding is higher than what the PAs know.
Nowadays most PA students take the exact same pre-req's as med students.

As for pre-clinical courses, they're not comparable at all. PA courses cover the same material, but in significantly less depth. They're basically watered down versions of medical school classes. They're able to fit everything in 1 year because they only cover half the material, not the same material at a faster pace.

As a general example, lets say your learning about hyponatremia.

PAs might go over normal Na levels, signs/symptoms of low Na, common causes, diagnostic tests, treatments, and complications.

MDs go over everything in more depth including hypotonic, isotonic, and hypertonic hyponatremia then also hypervolemic, euvolemic, and hypovolemic hypotonic hyponatremia. In addition, you have to know every possible cause and which causes lead to each type of hyponatremia and the treatments for each specific type.
 

lmn

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Depends on the school, my friend's school has PA students take their entire second year curriculum with them (minus their doctoring type "courses"). Although I do believe they had an abbreviated 1st year. That's the first time I've heard of that kind of setup though.
 

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@W19 Pharm/Gross Anatomy/Micro
If some of these PA/NP will be treating patient just like FM physicians, why it is ok for them to skip some stuff that might be critical? Maybe they should create a new path (3 year undergrad + 3 med school + 2 residency) for FM physicians and put these PA/NP out of work...
 
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PL198

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If some of these PA/NP will be treating patient just like FM physicians, why it is ok for them to skip some stuff that might be critical? Maybe they should create a new path (3 year undergrad + 3 med school + 2 residency) for FM physicians and put these PA/NP out of work...
why would that put them out of work if it takes a PA 6 years to go from high school grad to practicing
 

primadonna22274

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I don't know why you are surprised the PAs use the same texts as medical students. Medicine is medicine.
Now, when I was in PA school in 1998-2000, my faculty was fond of the Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment series that's updated annually. I liked it...succinct, but not thorough. It wasn't supposed to be. It was a very good review for the PANCE-type questions we had on our exams--more of the what and what to do, less of the how and why. Of course we still had Cecil's and Harrison's and Big Robbins for reference, and we used Katzung Pharmacology. We learned a broad swath of medicine in a very intense didactic year then honed our skills in an equally intense clinical year, but we did not learn pathophysiology quite to the depth it's taught in medical school years 1 and 2.
I went back to med school 15 years later because I wanted to know the rest of the story and I had outgrown my PA role. I wanted to do what I could not do because I was "just a PA". Not very many PAs are dumb enough to go back to med school and most who want to do so cannot, but I don't have kids so I could afford to be selfish. The learning was different in med school in some ways but not always harder than PA school. I felt we had MORE time to understand a subject in depth in med school rather than the gross memorization and regurgitation of facts in PA school which gave me great scores but not a lot of confidence that I "knew" it.
USMLE and COMLEX step 1 are very different board exams from the PANCE, although steps 2 and 3 are much more similar. PANCE addresses primarily diagnosis and management with far less pathophysiology and basic science mechanisms compared to the physician licensing exams. This is a function of how PAs are taught compared to how physicians are taught.
It finally clicked for me about halfway through M1--the main difference in curriculum between PA school and medical school is step 1 knowledge. This is how I explain it: PAs learn the what and what to do, and some of the how and why. MD/DOs learn the how and why, and then the what and much later what to do. We have a lot in common, but we approach medical problems from a somewhat different vantage point because our training is different.
PA training is much more procedural than medical school because we don't have expected residencies (many think that will change in the next decade). For the most part, a PA is considermmed a "finished product" after 27 mos average training. The vast majority of new PA grads go right to work--these days, physicians can't do that.
The paths are different. The jobs are different. But the medicine is the same.

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why would that put them out of work if it takes a PA 6 years to go from high school grad to practicing
I thought most PA programs were over 2 years. In addition, many schools require 1,000+ hours HCE... I believe many PA students would choose to go to med school instead of PA if the time it takes to become a FM doc was only 8 years...
 

cbrons

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Depends on the school, my friend's school has PA students take their entire second year curriculum with them (minus their doctoring type "courses"). Although I do believe they had an abbreviated 1st year. That's the first time I've heard of that kind of setup though.
Lol so they take full pathology? I highly doubt that.
 

cbrons

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I can't speak to the rest of your post, but I specifically remember several of my pre-PA classmates being required to take a year-long A&P course and micro+lab as PA prereqs, as well as a few taking classes like genetics, some upper level psych courses, and medical terminology as prereqs for specific schools they were interested in. I'm checking out websites for a few different PA programs and it seems consistent. So pre-PA students actually take more prereqs than pre-meds -as one of my former prehealth advisors put it, in essence "pushing down" some of the curriculum to undergrad. I can't provide any meaningful commentary on whether that's comparable to an MD/DO curriculum or not.
I took all of those classes (didn't take medical terminology). A&P undergrad is nothing even remotely like medical physiology and gross anatomy in medical school. So your pre-health advisor is completely incorrect about the curriculum being made-up by undergrad classes.
 
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I took all of those classes (didn't take medical terminology). A&P undergrad is nothing even remotely like medical physiology and gross anatomy in medical school. So your pre-health advisor is completely incorrect about the curriculum being made-up by undergrad classes.
Yep. I took a full year of A&P in undergrad as well and it was a total joke compared to med school. Barely put in any time at all and was an easy "A". I got to med school thinking I was so well prepared (hey I already know anatomy!) and by about the second hour of anatomy lectures I realized I didn't know squat.
 

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In PA school I took MS2 pathophysiology with the medical students, but we had different tests. There was no question in anyone's mind that our tests were easier. (There were also NPs in our class and they had their own tests too.)

I had a year of A&P undergrad, then another semester in PA school that was more comprehensive, but still significantly less than what I learned in med school.

I had genetics undergrad where I learned in a semester what we learned in a few weeks in medical school.

Basically, PAs don't learn in school as much as they would in MD school. Most PAs could do well in medical school (IMO they have the intelligence), but they, even with experience, won't have the same knowledge base and will never be equivalent to MDs (why I'm in med school now).
 
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As a medical student who was an anatomy TA for the PA summer gross anatomy and fall physio at my school I can say that they were responsible for about 75% of what we were but had to do it in half the time. So it is tough, and I have no clue how anybody retains anything.
 
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Yadster101

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In PA school I took MS2 pathophysiology with the medical students, but we had different tests. There was no question in anyone's mind that our tests were easier. (There were also NPs in our class and they had their own tests too.)

I had a year of A&P undergrad, then another semester in PA school that was more comprehensive, but still significantly less than what I learned in med school.

I had genetics undergrad where I learned in a semester what we learned in a few weeks in medical school.

Basically, PAs don't learn in school as much as they would in MD school. Most PAs could do well in medical school (IMO they have the intelligence), but they, even with experience, won't have the same knowledge base and will never be equivalent to MDs (why I'm in med school now).
But was the pace as fast as or slower compared to med school? Are you studying a lot more now in M1/M2 then you did daily as a PA student? Obvs you will end up studying for more hours overall cuz the med school didactic is longer. Im just trying to compare pace.
 

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But was the pace as fast as or slower compared to med school? Are you studying a lot more now in M1/M2 then you did daily as a PA student? Obvs you will end up studying for more hours overall cuz the med school didactic is longer. Im just trying to compare pace.
PA school was much more information than undergrad, but med school is more than that. I've always worked hard and always felt I was working as hard as I could. In PA school I spent all day studying. The funny thing is that in med school, with more to learn, I'm doing more and working harder than I think I've ever worked before. I spend the same number of hours studying now that I did then, so I have to be more focused during my study time, use more study tricks and mnemonics, study hours a day with a classmate, and in every way maximize every moment. It's interesting how the brain stretches and adapts to the increased quantity the more you stretch it.

In PA school it feels like a faster pace, because you change topics so frequently: 2 wk micro, 1 wk of X-rays, 4 months of pharm. But really the amount of information is more in med school. In PA school, I had to learn that immunoglobulins and antibodies existed and what they did and that they were made by B cells. In med school, you learn the names of the parts of the heavy and light Ig chains, the names of the parts within the DNA that rearrange to increase variation, the RAG molecules that bind to the DNA to make that happen, and the names of all the molecules and enzymes in the signaling pathway that start and stop that process...

Bottom line, I would say the number of hours I spent studying in PA school and MD school are the same, but in MD school the quantity of information I learn in that same amount of time is much greater and the stress much higher.
 
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Yadster101

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PA school was much more information than undergrad, but med school is more than that. I've always worked hard and always felt I was working as hard as I could. In PA school I spent all day studying. The funny thing is that in med school, with more to learn, I'm doing more and working harder than I think I've ever worked before. I spend the same number of hours studying now that I did then, so I have to be more focused during my study time, use more study tricks and mnemonics, study hours a day with a classmate, and in every way maximize every moment. It's interesting how the brain stretches and adapts to the increased quantity the more you stretch it.

In PA school it feels like a faster pace, because you change topics so frequently: 2 wk micro, 1 wk of X-rays, 4 months of pharm. But really the amount of information is more in med school. In PA school, I had to learn that immunoglobulins and antibodies existed and what they did and that they were made by B cells. In med school, you learn the names of the parts of the heavy and light Ig chains, the names of the parts within the DNA that rearrange to increase variation, the RAG molecules that bind to the DNA to make that happen, and the names of all the molecules and enzymes in the signaling pathway that start and stop that process...

Bottom line, I would say the number of hours I spent studying in PA school and MD school are the same, but in MD school the quantity of information I learn in that same amount of time is much greater and the stress much higher.
That pretty much answers my question. So what led you back to med school? Being a PA can be a pretty sweet job in terms of hours, salary, and even autonomy depending on where you work. Did you enjoy being a PA?
 

alpinism

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Sure, but those classes aren't requirements for medical school matriculation, which the post I quoted was referring to. We were talking specifically about the prerequisite courses for PA school vs. medical school, which do, in fact, differ, regardless of what pre-health students actually choose to take. There are plenty of people in my class who haven't taken the classes I listed.

Also, (this part is to @Mr. Hat as well) I never said that undergrad A&P is equivalent to medical school phys and anatomy, and that's not what my former advisor said either. What he/I meant was that less time spent in the classroom during PA school is to an extent accommodated by having more prerequisites, not that it was "made up for" by the prerequisites. It was an offhand comment about the tradeoffs in timing for the MD/PA routes, and he/I certainly didn't mean to say that the coursework is equivalent. I can see that my last post was unclear about that point, so sorry about the confusion.

TL;DR I was simply correcting the misconception that the prerequisites for medical and PA school are identical...objectively speaking, they're not. I said nothing about the difficulty of the courses compared to medical school. You guys read a bit more into my post, so I apologize for any lack of clarity on my part.
I'll admit that it does vary by school but here's an example from Iowa's PA program (widely considered to be one of the best in the country)

PA pre-requisites:

- 2 years of Biology (1 intro and 3 upper division biology courses) (1 course must be animal, human, or exercise physiology)(anatomy not required)
- General chemistry 1 and 2
- Organic chemistry 1
- Introductory Biochemistry
- Statistics

That's it. Now you've also got to have over 1,000hrs of patient care experience, but that should be the standard for any PA program.

MD pre-requisites:

- 1.5 years of Biology (2 intro and 1 upper division course)
- General Chemistry 1 and 2
- Organic Chemistry 1 and 2
- Introductory Biochemistry
- Statistics
- General Physics 1 and 2
- 1 year of English
- 2 years of social or behavioral sciences (psychology, sociology, anthropology, foreign languages)

The only real difference is that PAs take 2 extra upper division biology courses while MDs take an extra intro to biology course, organic chemistry 2, general physics 1 and 2, 1 year of english, and 2 years of social/behavioral science.

Overall the MD students have more hard science prereqs. In any event, taking an extra 1 semester basic physiology course then another upper division biology course (anatomy, cell biology, or microbiology) doesn't really give you any significant medical knowledge or allow you to condense or shorten the curriculum. Not to mention that most MD students are Biology/Biochemistry majors which require way more upper division courses than either of the prereqs stated above. That being said, so are PA students. In the end, both students have similar science backgrounds.

Now, if PA students were required to take a full year of upper division anatomy and physiology, plus genetics, immunology, microbiology, virology, histology, cell biology, and epidemiology (similar to M1 courses but in significantly less depth) then it might be a different story.
 

Darth Doc

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That pretty much answers my question. So what led you back to med school? Being a PA can be a pretty sweet job in terms of hours, salary, and even autonomy depending on where you work. Did you enjoy being a PA?
I loved being a PA, but I love medicine more. I wanted to do more of it, have more autonomy, and know that I was doing the best I could do for my patients. I hated that I had to ask doctors questions that I could have learned myself if I'd gone to med school. I felt I knew a little about a whole lot and wanted more depth of knowledge. I thought about it for a while, because I have a family, had a good job, and was respected where I worked. But in the end, I decided one day that the sacrifice would be worth it.

I don't regret it. I really enjoy medical school. What I'm learning is everything I'd hoped.

(I don't think I could have made a bad choice. Staying a PA or going to med school? Both are excellent careers. But I'm glad I made the one i did. I would regret not trying.)
 
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lmn

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Lol so they take full pathology? I highly doubt that.
According to my friend they are with them for the entire M2 year and take the same tests with them for every system which includes the path. Pretty impressive, but I really doubt it is anywhere near the norm of PA programs.
 

zeppelinpage4

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The preclinical education is not compatable at all. Lol. Ever heard of Step 1? Do you think most PA students could pass that exam after their "grueling" 1 year of accelerated preclinical classes? I bet not.
Lol, I'm gonna be completely honest. I didn't even think about step 1 when I wrote my first post. I think my mind suppressed all the step 1 memories...and for good reason.

I was writing in the context of type of courses only, but you are right. I can't imagine many people, if any passing step 1 with a 1 year curriculum...even if they covered the same material. I still think the real difference in abilities comes out with the extra years of residency training we get. But yes, to addend my first post, I believe pre-clinical topics are comparable, but no way to the depth that it takes to pass step 1 (at least no in a 1 year PA curriculum).
The exception being PA programs that may require students to take a lot of courses beforehand, allowing them to focus on fewer courses, so they can go as in depth as we do during that one year. Or lengthier PA programs if such exist. But I'm just speculating.
 

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"It's actually harder than medical school because you learn all the same stuff but in half the time."
 

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to addend my first post
I wish it were different as I've the same mistake many times before, but 'addend' is not a verb.

Hmm, though Wiktionary disagrees with me now. It certainly did not 5 years ago. Other reputable online dictionaries maintain it's still just a noun.
 

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According to my friend they are with them for the entire M2 year and take the same tests with them for every system which includes the path. Pretty impressive, but I really doubt it is anywhere near the norm of PA programs.
They do not take the same tests, guaranteed. Most schools where med students take courses side-by-side with other health care professionals, the others get a watered down version of the test. Like, our dental and PA programs get anatomy taught by our faculty using our dissections, but have tests that only cover 70% of what we learn.
 
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Pace is hard to define. If you could quantify "pace" and then survey med students at the same school, you'd get drastically different answers. Some will be overwhelmed and study all the time just to pass. Some will be more efficient and not have such a hard time.

One way to define pace is number of lecture hours per week. PA schools have class 8-5 most days of the week, similar to med schools. Now, is there the same amount of material covered per lecture? Do you need to study as much outside of lecture? Even if you don't need to study as much, you might still find yourself studying that much just because it's stressful and hard to decide when enough studying is enough.

Bottom line: not sure why this matters. Both curricula are difficult and fast paced. The reason to chose PA is not because it'll be easier to pass classes or because you have more free time during your didactic curriculum.
 
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lmn

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They do not take the same tests, guaranteed. Most schools where med students take courses side-by-side with other health care professionals, the others get a watered down version of the test. Like, our dental and PA programs get anatomy taught by our faculty using our dissections, but have tests that only cover 70% of what we learn.
Possibly, I really don't know anything more about the program than they are in class together and take the tests at the same time as them.
 

Mad Jack

Critically Caring
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Jul 27, 2013
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Possibly, I really don't know anything more about the program than they are in class together and take the tests at the same time as them.
Ask the professors that offer the test. They aren't the same tests.
 

Mad Jack

Critically Caring
5+ Year Member
Jul 27, 2013
35,552
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Why does it matter? Even if they learned the same pathophys, their training remains far from physicians given the lack of residency.
My point is that what is expected of them is much lower than what is expected of a physician, so even if they are taking the same classes, they often aren't learning as much of the material. 1 month in PA school is in no way equivalent to 1 month in MD/DO school. That, combined with a lack of residency, makes them a far less competent provider than their physician counterparts, and is exactly why they are midlevels.
 
Mar 15, 2015
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I can't speak to the rest of your post, but I specifically remember several of my pre-PA classmates being required to take a year-long A&P course and micro+lab as PA prereqs, as well as a few taking classes like genetics, some upper level psych courses, and medical terminology as prereqs for specific schools they were interested in. I'm checking out websites for a few different PA programs and it seems consistent. So pre-PA students actually take more prereqs than pre-meds -as one of my former prehealth advisors put it, in essence "pushing down" some of the curriculum to undergrad. I can't provide any meaningful commentary on whether that's comparable to an MD/DO curriculum or not.
That's garbage. It isn't pushing down. It's just giving people a rough intro into things they'll see later. Those classes in no way prepare you for the depth, pace or sheer volume of material.

Most pre PA/Med students take the same courses. Some PA programs do not require any chemistry beyond organic 1. But. Once it hits the graduate work. Their depth of understanding falls off quickly.

They get lots of training on HOW to do things but they're very lacking in an understanding of pathophysiology and management. That's why they're "assistants."
 
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