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Physician Assistant

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Beau Geste

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I agree that money isn't everything but it would be difficult to give up so much time, miss out on things with the kids, not be able to afford things I can now, etc if I wasn't going to make more and have a better lifestyle after additional training. I could conceiveably become a rural fp doc with huge responsibility doing c-sections and following my own inpts, etc and make 20k/yr less than I make now and spend 1 million dollars to do so.....not acceptable.....now if education were free and someone would pay all my bills while in school I would go tomorrrow for the added job satisfaction but no one has offered to foot that 1 million dollar bill for me yet......

I don't have kids, so that's not a factor for me. But for others that's up to them.

I can definitely see where you're coming from on the FP front. My mother is a rural FP that used to do OB until she and the hospital were losing money year after year and her malpractice was insane. Now the hospital's OB unit is gone, she stopped delivering, and the closest OB unit for a person living in her town is about 45 minutes to an hour away. Lots of women in her town schedule C-sections for that reason. She also lives in Southern Illinois and is 2 counties removed from Madison County - the OB lawsuit capital of the world :rolleyes:.
 

dubpt

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I am a physical therapist here with my DPT degree and over 100k in educational debt. Over the past few years I have contemplated going to medical school, but it is very daunting with my debt, loss income, affect on soon to be family, and the prospects of being an attending at the age of 40.

I have looked at my opportunity cost and I would be 600-700k in the deficit with only a 3-year residency.

After much research I have decided to go in the direction of PA school because I like the lateral mobility and most importantly I want to practice medicine, even if it is with a supervising physician.

I have actually found a few PA schools with very inexpensive tuitions, less than 5k per year.

Just wanted to share another opinion on the reasons for choosing the PA route.
 

core0

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I am a physical therapist here with my DPT degree and over 100k in educational debt. Over the past few years I have contemplated going to medical school, but it is very daunting with my debt, loss income, affect on soon to be family, and the prospects of being an attending at the age of 40.
snip

I have actually found a few PA schools with very inexpensive tuitions, less than 5k per year.

Just wanted to share another opinion on the reasons for choosing the PA route.
You have to remember that you have to add living expenses to PA school since it is unlikely that you will be able to work. That will add another 12-20k per year to your expenses. Fortunately there are loans for this sort of thing.

David Carpenter, PA-C
 

dubpt

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my wife will be supporting the two of us while I am in PA school.
 

Sonja

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I would have to agree with this. The time to go would be early in your career. Once you have good income it is hard to give that up for a minimum of seven years to get your MD. I think EMEDPA did a look at this and the opportunity cost was over $1 million. So in the rest of your career you would have to make up that amount over what you made as a PA just to break even. This is for a well paying specialty like EM. If you were looking at IM or FP it would take longer to make up. If you were going from a specialty like CT surg to FP it makes even less sense.

That being said I think the phenomenon of PA's going to med school is increasing. I can personally think of three PA's that have gone to med school recently. Now that is a small percentage (3 of 900 in the state) but it is up from 0. This may be a consequence of the younger age of PA students. Either they have not been around medicine long enough to know that PA school was going to be right for them or they are young enough to go to med school and make it pay off.

I made that decision 8 years ago. I got into PA school and med school at the same time. I was 35 at the time. I have been a PA for six year now. If I went to med school I would have finished a three year residency last year and as a FP physician for example I would be making about what I am making now. Now a physician has an opportunity for partnership and a greater income, but I really don't want to run a business.

I decided early on that mobility and quality of life were important. I work less than the physicians that I work for and dont take call. They make five times my salary and they earn it. The other thing that I appreciate is that the buck stops with them. If I cannot figure something out or am unsure then I get ahold of them and its their decision. On the other hand they don't have that luxury. The other part is that they are very good at their jobs, but that is what they will do for the rest of their careers. I have already made one change and may make others. The thing that I like best about being a PA is the lateral mobility. I went from Peds GI to adult GI. To do that in the MD world would require going back to school for a three year residency and three year fellowship. Probably why you don't see many physicians changing specialties.

David Carpenter, PA-C

David Carpenter, I am inspired by the fact that you went back at age 35...because that's what I am doing and I have to admit it's a little intimidating. I want to be a PA and have been taking taking science courses for the past year and a half. I was a Theatre major in college and left just shy of my degree over 10 years ago to work in the music industry. I am far from fullfilled and burnt out with the superficiality of that world and I am absolutely passionate about pursing this career. I thought about just going full out and pursuing an MD but I also want to have a family and I think had I started that path 10 years earlier it might be a little different. I have to finish up my degree and start applying to PA schools. Did you have previous health care experience before you got into PA school? I know a lot of schools I've looked into require previous experience (direct patient care). I am starting to volunteer at Cedars Sinai (a local hospital) but will that be enough or the right kind of experience?
 

core0

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David Carpenter, I am inspired by the fact that you went back at age 35...because that's what I am doing and I have to admit it's a little intimidating. I want to be a PA and have been taking taking science courses for the past year and a half. I was a Theatre major in college and left just shy of my degree over 10 years ago to work in the music industry. I am far from fullfilled and burnt out with the superficiality of that world and I am absolutely passionate about pursing this career. I thought about just going full out and pursuing an MD but I also want to have a family and I think had I started that path 10 years earlier it might be a little different. I have to finish up my degree and start applying to PA schools. Did you have previous health care experience before you got into PA school? I know a lot of schools I've looked into require previous experience (direct patient care). I am starting to volunteer at Cedars Sinai (a local hospital) but will that be enough or the right kind of experience?

I was a medic in the army, paramedic. critical care tech and CST before PA school. So I had about 10 years of experience before I went to PA school. As far as experience the type of experience needed depends on the school. Some require paid experience some accept volunteer experience. Volunteer work is good but I would look at getting some sort of certification (EMT and CNA are pretty easy to get). For more information on PA studiesn and getting into PA school take a look at the PA forum:
http://www.physicianassistantforum.com/forums/

I'll also recommend this book which was very helpful to me 8 years ago:
http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Physician-Assistant-School-Choice/dp/0071421858

David Carpenter, PA-C
 

Sonja

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Thank you for the recommendations. I will check them out. Most the schools I've looked into do strongly recommend paid experience. I have even been toying with the idea of finishing up my undergrad as a BSN and getting my RN, working, then applying to a PA program. Although that will add 2 more years onto my schooling before I can even apply to a PA program. I will look into EMT and CNA. That's a path I have not checked out yet. Thanks again for the advice and recommendations!


I was a medic in the army, paramedic. critical care tech and CST before PA school. So I had about 10 years of experience before I went to PA school. As far as experience the type of experience needed depends on the school. Some require paid experience some accept volunteer experience. Volunteer work is good but I would look at getting some sort of certification (EMT and CNA are pretty easy to get). For more information on PA studiesn and getting into PA school take a look at the PA forum:
http://www.physicianassistantforum.com/forums/

I'll also recommend this book which was very helpful to me 8 years ago:
http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Physician-Assistant-School-Choice/dp/0071421858

David Carpenter, PA-C
 

primadonna22274

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HA HA....me too.
Not so ha ha now. One of the big drawbacks keeping me from returning to med school...more student loan debt, and giving up a comfortable income.
I have to say, whoever thought the PA cert exam was extremely difficult, probably hasn't taken it. Sure, there's pressure, because you have to pass it, and everybody wants to pass it with a comfortable margin on the first try, but it wasn't that bad. I took my first recert March 06 (out 7 yr now) and it was cake. I stressed about that one because I hadn't taken an exam in, oh, six years, but working in primary care helped me bigtime.
But come on, any cheap PA program is extremely unusual. PA programs are practically seen as moneymakers for universities and med schools now...ugh.
Not that it's cheap to train us--hardly.
And yes, the big reason to suffer through med school is to be the team leader, not always at the whim of the attending....
Lisa

not sure where you got this but I have $80k of student loans that say otherwise.

David Carpenter, PA-C
 

etjaipleure

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First of all, I'm not a guy, as someone thought before, lol. Also, I am just going to go to med school. Seems like I would like that more anyway. Thanks for all the info :)
 

smrtmom1

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it didn't involve any biochemistry.

they did no call, did not stay late, and did not, on a regular basis work on weekends.

Please. You can be an intelligent, reasonably motivated nurse or Paramedic and make it into and through PA school with ease but you would have your lunch eaten, your ass handed to you, and your clocks cleaned in medical school.
:eek:

Well, first off...I had to have biochem before PA school, and it was taught by a PhD that used to teach it at med schools, so he taught it at that level. And in PA school, we had biochem imbedded in our disease/basic human science class.;)

Second...I know SEVERAL PA's that do call. Family med, Internal med, surgery, cv sx, ortho sx, neuro sx to name a few. And yes, they do the Friday-Sundays as well. They stay late a LOT, and work weekends. My experience has shown me that I know MORE PA's that do the late hours/weekend call FOR their MD/DO. As midlevels, they do the grunt work, they work the crappy hours, and take the call. They also get well paid for it, as the MD/DO's who work like this so as well.:cool:

Third...my PA program happens to be part of the med school. We have the same profs, use the same texts, and take the same tests they do. What we don't have to do, is disecet (we did prosection). We also don't have to go quite as indepth on the immunology, biochem, or pathology because we had to have it as a pre-req to get into our program. We also have a few students who got into MD/DO and PA school, and said it was much easier getting into PA, and they liked the profession better. :D

That being said -- Medical school is not easy, and it is not for everyone. I am a 32 year old single mom, so going through 4 years with no $$$, followed by 4-5 more years of little $$ and no time with my son were simply not for me. But please...PLEASE do not think for a second that PA students would not survive medical school. Many of us actually laugh at the medical students we know, because of the way they perform on clinical skills tests, and the way that they spend their lives in the library studying info we already tested over 2 months before they did. Just keep in mind that PA programs are not what they used to be, and that they often are in fact very similar in their 1st 2 years as the MD/DO 1st 2 years. Mine is a 3 year program, so my 1st 2 years are modeled after the MD/DO didactic. Only difference is my rotations are 4 and 8 weeks, instead of 8 and 16.

Please just don't make assumptions about PA programs and PA's in general.:thumbup:
 

PhysioMan

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Keep in mind that not everyone does it for the money.


I think you misunderstood. You must not have any kids (cats don't count.) Going back to school and enduring the lost income and decreased family life would not be worth it unless there is a bridge to close the education gap. PAs are taught in the medical model and it is conceivable to develop a transition. This is not comparable to a nurse or ___therapist who is going MD/DO. No bridge would be logical in this scenario due to he vast differences in education style and breadth. You do realize that in some parts of the country Primary Care PAs make more than Family Docs...(that wasn't a question.) PAs are not doing this to them, it is the health care system and the decreased reimbursement rates and malprac costs. You alluded to this but didn't connect the dots. This is actually a draw for most people toward becoming a PA. Not everyone has that egocentric need to be on top. You can find a happy medium as a PA/NP/Nurse and becoming an MD/DO is not "finishing your education." It is advancing your education to fill a different role in the team. Humble pie...

P.S. I know you already answered the kids question. I just think that you didn't take time to think about what it actually means...
 

Beau Geste

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"Not everyone does it for the money" - how can anyone possibly take that other than how it's stated?

I was merely pointing out that job satisfaction means more to some people than a paycheck. Be it going back to school to be a PA or a physician or a dentist or a nurse or whatever. My personal example is of leaving a rather high-paying job because I'm not satisfied. Yeah, I'm going to be owing a lot of money at the end, but I'll be a lot happier. I'm sure career-changers that want to be a PA/NP feel the same way about the new career switch. It seems you're implying that I'm a bad person for wanting to be a physician rather than a PA or NP.

Sure, the PA position fulfills the needs of people who want that job. Others want to be a physician. Others want to be Nurses (NP, CRNA, etc). Whatever. My point was that money is not everything (at least for me). Being a physician is not about being "in charge" - according to the rest of the PAs and NPs good physicians work WITH NPs/PAs rather than OVER them. I personally enjoy what the DO/MD world has to offer. That doesn't mean I would discourage anyone else from becoming a PA/NP.

What I don't understand is why you had to dredge up a post that's over a month and a half old and berate me, rather than PM me. Not sure why you had to post about salaries of PA vs. rural MDs. I alluded to my mother (a rural FP) having to shut down her OB practice because of malpractice, but I NEVER said it was because of PAs she had to shut down. She just wasn't getting reimbursed by the state or insurance companies enough to even cover her malpractice. That is an issue that is separate and I'm sure felt by the PA's that work in OB-GYN in Illinois. It affects all delivery providers. Plus, I'm really not interested in how much I'll get paid as a physician right now. I'd rather worry about getting IN to med school that worry about salary at this point. And are you referring to "Humble pie" because I prefer to go the MD/DO route rather than the NP/PA route as a non-trad in an allied health field? I don't understand why you put that in your post, except to sneak another jab at me.

How about if you have a question or concern about a specific post, just ask. Do away with the jabs at my expense. Also, did you miss the post where I said having kids is a factor for others?
 

PhysioMan

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You have very "slinky" conversations where you say something and then redirect when challenged. The reason I dredged it up is because this is a public forum and others may see the "Advisor" tab underneath your name and take it that you actually know what you are talking about. I am a PA-S so I post in this thread. Why do you persist in posting here only using anecdotal references to others? That is why I posted this. It is dangerous to use logical fallacies in such an authoritative manner when you are using the experiences of others as your own. Notice that I only talk about my experiences here, here in a PA thread.

I will never PM you, especially not to discuss a topic that was begun in an open forum.

You say I imply things, but I do not. I actually say them. This is what I meant by "slinky" conversations. I use the "Find other posts" feature and go back and read what the poster has said in the past. Then I respond.

Having said this, I will tell you that I feel you probably have a good heart. Every Speech Therapy professional I have ever worked has been a compassionate clinician. It is a prereq in my opinion to working in that field where patience and perseverance is a must.

We can agree to disagree. Even in public.;)
 

Beau Geste

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I'm sorry, I never announced that I am not an advisor in this forum anymore. Now that there is a separate forum for SLPs and Audiologists, I requested to be an advisor in that forum instead. Previously, SLPs and Audiologists did not have a separate forum and were directed to post in this forum, which is why I became an advisor in this forum in the first place. It was not necessary anymore after the new forum was created, so I asked to be switched over. The advisor label stays with you regardless of the forum you're posting in. Once the switch happened, I stopped posting in here, well, until now when you called me out directly.

I typically only refer to my immediate family and myself when using examples. I'm close enough to my family that I can use their examples in confidence.

Thank you for the kind words about SLPs. I hear positive feedback from my clients and have more referrals than I can handle so I feel I must be doing something right in the clinical realm.

So forgive me, but this will probably be my last post in this forum. If you need to bring something to my attention, it would be best to PM me, or I will not see it.
 

PAJenn

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well said smrtmom!!! took the words right out of my mouth! :thumbup: :)
 

guetzow

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More money in Derm or Ortho anyways.
 
K

Kajukenbo

Op:

If your desire is to become a physician, than I would not apply to PA school. Just work toward getting into medical school.

oh, just realized that i am replying to an old thread.
 

nontradstud

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See, what will actually happen is this: You'll go to PA school, you'll get a job, then you'll never go back to med school because you don't want to give up the income. It happens all the time, and probably 3/4 of the PAs I've ever talked to at some point say, "I thought about going to med school, but . . . "
Very few docs finish a residency only to start another one later, and very few professionals (RN, PA, NP) give up the income to pursue medicine.


Out of curiosity; I'm not sure about NP but I've read somewhere that PAs are trained on the same medical model as Med. students. Correct me if I'm wrong.
 
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