question for PT's who have gone on to MD/DO

Discussion in 'Physical Therapy' started by dubpt, May 7, 2007.

  1. dubpt

    dubpt Junior Member
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    I am a PT here looking to go into medicine as a PA, but really do not want to close the door on medical school.

    I have been involved in and read numerous threads on PT and medical school and would like advice or comments from those therapist who have gone into medicine. Specifically did any of you consider PA school instead of medical school. If you decided against PA what were your reasons for choosing medical school vs. PA school.

    I am currently preparing to apply to PA school, but have been considering the possiblity of regretting this decision to forego the medical school route.

    Any insight would be helpful.
     
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  3. DocWagner

    DocWagner Senior Member
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    If you are currently a PT and decide to go to PA school, there is a 99% chance you will not go on to medical school. I just don't see it, primarily because at some point you will want to start making a living and work...support the family etc.
    I really had a negative impression of PAs prior to medical school, so it was never an option, I really like my PA's now.
    I specifically chose a DO program because I wanted to be a physiatrist and I felt strongly I needed to learn manipulation.
    Well, I am an Emergency Medicine attending, because I changed my mind and NEEDED the rush of life an death.
    At this stage you need to decide if you really want to be a physician. It is a long trek, but certainly worth it.
    If you choose to be a PA, that is a rewarding career as well.
     
  4. delicatefade

    delicatefade ASA Member
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    It depends on what you want. If you are getting out of PT because you want to do something different and enjoy medicine rather than therapy, PA can be a great way to go. You'll be out there working in a shorter period of time and you'll have some but not complete autonomy.

    If, however you are getting out of PT because you dislike being an ancillary service and want to be calling the shots, I would not recommend PA school because you may find yourself having those same feelings when you're out there working but still being "supervised" by a physician.
     
  5. dubpt

    dubpt Junior Member
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    Thanks for the comments so far. I am really trying to see which path will I be happiest with when I reach my 40's, as I am 29 currently. Working as a PA with 6-7 years experience or becoming a freshly minted attending physician. Knowing myself I enjoy being the person that has the answers and I really would like to fully develop my educational acumen in the area I choose to practice within.

    I am also factoring in my wife's wishes and the prospects of where having kids fits into this plan.
     
  6. DocWagner

    DocWagner Senior Member
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    Let me add this...Medical School is the hardest thing I had ever hoped to tackle...it "smoked" PT school re:hungover:ifficulty and competetiveness...it was like the marines. But once you make it, it is the most rewarding feeling in the world. It is beautiful. It is all about "making it through".
    Being a PA is a job, being a Physician is a "life".
     
  7. Skialta

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    As a former PT who is graduating with an MD next week, I had similar ideas as you before I applied to medical school. I thought about PA but ultimately knew that after a few years of being a PA I would be like "I can do this job just as well as these guys", but not be the one calling the shots. I think if you feel like you need to call the shots then it has to be DO or MD.

    Another factor to take in account is what you think you want to do. If it is something surgical then I really think being the MD/DO is the only way to go. If you are interested in primary care and just want the patient contact and don't care about being the go to guy/girl then PA is great. There are days that being a PA sounds good, but on the majority of days I am perfectly satisfied with my decision.

    Skialta
     
  8. freddydpt

    Physician 10+ Year Member

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    So here's my take... I'm a PT who went straight to med school. I found PT school the hardest things I've gone through (by far worse than medical school). At the end of the day (or school) I was only able to manage a small part of the patient and never saw a bigger picture in terms of other organ systems (certainly PT sees a bigger picture with function), didn't know pathophysiology or medications and as much as PT is screaming for direct access, I didn't know how to screen medically for the life of me.

    However, during medical school I discovered that interests are in outpatient orthopedic management. The fact is, any PA with the skills of a PT will make a tremendous amount of money and have just as much respect as an orthopedic PA, having NOT gone through the torture of a surgical residency and having the independence of being able to manage ALL nonoperative care independently, assist in surgeries, and manage MOST post-operative care independently. Now, I say independently but really it is under the direction of another physician, however, residency is under the direction of an attending anyway so there is no difference in the first 5 years of practice. If you develop a good relationship with your supervising physician, he/she will give you as much independence as he/she feels fit, essentially becoming independent in what you are comfortable with.

    PA is an awesome, quicker path to medicine, better lifestyle (because you can negotiate so much because PA's are in high demand) and certainly better money than PT (in most cases). The first year of school for PA is MUCH harder than medical school or PT school but after that, rotations and life is better/same (depending on what you do).

    Just my thoughts. Best of luck in your decision.
     
  9. DocWagner

    DocWagner Senior Member
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    To the above poster...that is interesting. Can't say that is my experience in the least. I think you are a bit young to be be jaded, but perhaps you are on a difficult rotation.

    I can tell you my "life" outside of work is pretty easy. I work 7 days on, 7 days off...8 hour shifts. I make 200k. Sound hard? My wife loves that I am home, she doesn't have to work, and my kids see me all of the time.

    I love my job...I love being a physician. it was without a doubt the best thing I ever did professionally.

    As for a PA first year being more difficult...not sure where that is coming from and seems to go directly against what my PAs have told me personally.

    But this is not a thread about "he said she said"...it is about original posters question.
    CHoose what best fits your life, while at the same time attains your goals. Being a PA and being a Physician are two different choices. Sure, when things sucked in school or residency, I would have LOVED an easier way...but when the LONG TERM goals are achieved...it really is fantastic.

    BEST OF LUCK IN YOUR GOALS!
    You may PM me if you wish.
     
  10. dubpt

    dubpt Junior Member
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    Thanks for the continued responses to my situation.

    Here is some further factors into my decision. I am 30 and graduated with my DPT and over 100K in debt. My wife has a good career, which pays better than PT and has some outstanding upside income potentials. Her opinion/preference to go the PA route vs. MD/DO involves the debt we currently have, the potential negative effect on having children and her career, and her preference to avoid living like a student well into our 30's. My wife's current stance is likely the largest negative to not choosing the physician route at this time.

    Do you guys think that it would be financially risky to substantially add to my educational loan indebtness, even with a physicians salary, to complete medical training in my late 30's? I would classify as a URM and would actively seek out all scholarship opportunities available to me.

    Would I be better seved to become a physician for specialties such as PM&R, EM, and IM subspecialties, or would I be afforded some level of autonomy as a PA. I have decided that if I were to become a physician I would not choose a surgical career as I would like a less family obtrusive lifestyle, but I would conisder it as a PA.

    Any further advice would be appreciated.
     
  11. DocWagner

    DocWagner Senior Member
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    Once again, my beef with PT...huge debt compared to when I was a PT...I graduated with 5k in debt...thats it...that was in 1995!

    Off the soapbox.

    I appreciate your wife's point of view. But for her to be happy...you have to be happy. Regret is powerful...and so is contempt.

    PA is a wonderful field...it provides about 60-70k initially, we pay our PAs $45/hr. Is this a money issue or a "goal in life" issue?
     
  12. freddydpt

    Physician 10+ Year Member

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    Wow, DocWagner, I hope to have those hours someday... maybe I should consider Emed a little more. What region are you practicing in?

    I'm actually on a really easy rotation but my opinion comes from the fact that I've had 6.5 years of grad school and yet to see a penny or even plan a vacation without my sig other going... well what is that going to do our debt (she's a first year med student). The graduating PA's, who I met when I was beginning 2nd year are planning on buying a house and a car and having kids etc. I think living life is important and enjoying it while your young, as well. I really want to see the light at the end of the tunnel but with it being a minimum of 5 years away its a challenging feat to accomplish. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE medicine and couldn't see myself doing anything else. However, in terms of day to day practice, in some settings, there is not much of a difference in what a PA does vs MD.

    However, I think the decision to become a PA is something you should be COMPLETELY comfortable with if you decide to go that route. Before med school I wasn't comfortable with the idea of being someone's "assistant." However, now that I've seen the various fields of medicine and all the practice settings I've seen PA's in, they've been very happy in practicing medicine in just the way they want.

    But DocWagner, I'll PM you later cause I've been looking for some career advice (that's of course if you don't mind)

    Best!
     
  13. DocWagner

    DocWagner Senior Member
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    Sure you can PM me.

    I can sense your frustration, hence my response. But don't...because there is an end in sight. Most young PA's are really just kids, and PA programs have become less selective and the PAs are becoming younger. (military PAs...essentially the first PAs, were older and far more mature).

    But these same young guys get frustrated 10 years later...I know this because I have spoken with so many. They move from field to field to field to deal with the frustration.
     

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