luke587

5+ Year Member
Jun 7, 2010
208
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Pre-Medical
Hey everyone,

So I'm considering going back to school and the question of PA vs MD/DO keeps crossing my mind. So I wanted to give a little background about myself. I graduated 2.5 years ago from a fairly good university. I started off strong (3.5+ GPA) until about my junior year of college. Fell off the tracts and didn't do as well, mainly in my physics/elective courses. I attribute some of it to being very immature and not being focused and some of it came from a diagnosis of anxiety/clinical depression. Regardless, I have accepted that some of it was in my control, some of it maybe not so much along with losing some family members to illness, it was a really hard time for me.

Fast forward, I graduated just fine in 4 years but not with a GPA that I really wanted (3.3 overall, 3.1 science). Really, the killer is two physics courses (both C- and C+ ) along with a few electives that ended in Cs. So I sort of thought maybe medicine wasn't for me or maybe I wasn't cut out for it. So I decided to take some time off and luckily landed a very good heatlh care job that pays extremely well.

I've been in this position since graduation and have accumulated 5000+ hours of clinical experience working 50 hour weeks and have got to see a lot of really cool things within healthcare, mainly all OR/anesthesia related. The pay is fantastic but that initial "making money" excitement wore off quick and I'm finding myself wanting more.

I work directly with PAs a lot of days and they seem so happy and I talk with them and many have encouraged me to go to PA school. Sometimes I wonder if I would be cutting myself short though and regret not going to medical school. With that said, I don't really have an ego per se and I work with physicians everyday as is and sort of enjoy their guidance and teaching I receive. I think I could be a good PA candidate as I recently took the GRE and scored very well and took a few classes (genetics/microbio) and got A's in both. I feel like I could re-take a few of my not so hot undergrad courses as well and pursue the DO route. I guess I'm feeling lost and I worry that if I become a PA I might not be satisfied 40 years from now but I also am 24 and don't know what sort of timeline I'm looking at should I chose the DO/MD route. Please throw me some suggestions of anyone who has been in similar shoes!
 

Eccesignum

I Narcanned Your Honor Student
7+ Year Member
Oct 13, 2011
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This is not a question a bunch of strangers on the internet can answer for you. I'm 36 and medical school was worth it for me. I know people older than I am for whom it was also worth it, and people 10 years younger for whom it wasn't -- and for quite varied reasons. It depends what you want from your life and your practice, and that's something only you can decide.

You say you don't know the timeline for DO/MD. Assuming you retake classes and concentrate on DO (which, with your current GPA that's likely what you'll need to do), that's however long you spend in UG, then four years in medical school, and about 3-7 of residency depending on your specialty. It's not a short road but again, it depends what you want from your life.

You work with PAs, but have you shadowed any? I would strongly suggest this if you haven't, and then also shadow a few MDs and/or DOs (you'll need a LOR from a DO anyway if you apply). Actually get in there and see for yourself what the difference is between what they do, and then ask yourself which fits you better. Try to shadow a decent range of people in different specialties and settings. Make a pros and cons list.

In the end only you can decide this for you. Good luck to you.
 
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luke587

5+ Year Member
Jun 7, 2010
208
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Thanks for your reply. I understand the length of programs I guess what I'm trying to convey is that I'm having a hard time deciding. I have plenty of exposure in both areas - PA and MD/DOs. I work in surgery/OR and honestly can say I have no desire to be a surgeon, anesthesiologist, etc. I truly appreciate what they do but its not an environment I'm comfortable in I guess. I visualize myself working more so in family medicine or an clinic ("office") setting if you will. If I'm really envisioning myself just within a family practice setting I think being a PA would be sufficient for me and allow the lifestyle I want. I know doctors can control their lifestyles to an extent but most of the MDAs and surgeons I'm around are quite bitter compared to PAs and I honestly think it can be attributed to the intensely long hours and stress. I take call now at my job and it can be really crappy getting a page at 2 am and going into the hospital or spending weekends there. I enjoy the atmosphere but not enough that I want to live there 60+ hours a week.

I'm enrolled currently to re-take my bad classes/grades this quarter which will be intense with a 40 hour work week but my I'll have 2 off days plus weekends to focus on classes. I'm still young (just turned 24) so I feel like I have time but I also don't want to delay this any further than I have to. I've traveled a ton the past few years, done a lot of things I wanted to do, bought a new car, etc.
 

Darth Doc

5+ Year Member
Jun 22, 2013
543
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Resident [Any Field]
I know doctors can control their lifestyles to an extent but most of the MDAs and surgeons I'm around are quite bitter compared to PAs and I honestly think it can be attributed to the intensely long hours and stress. I take call now at my job and it can be really crappy getting a page at 2 am and going into the hospital or spending weekends there. I enjoy the atmosphere but not enough that I want to live there 60+ hours a week.
I'm a PA who is back in medical school. I enjoyed being a PA, but I love going back and learning so much more. Not all docs are burnt out and not all PAs are happy. It's more important for you to figure out which path is better for you.

I'm back in school because I realized I had gone as far as I could as a PA and needed a new challenge, needed to be in more of a leadership role, and was dissatisfied with my knowledge of diseases. Most PAs I talk to are happy to be PAs, but others wish they had the chance to go back to school but can't because of family responsibilities.

Yes, you could be perfectly happy as a PA in a family practice office, but your only experience is hospital and surgery life. Go and shadow a PA in family practice and get them to talk honestly about pros and cons. Also talk to an MD and ask the same questions.

PM me and I'll answer any questions you may have from my perspective. I've worked in family practice, internal medicine (clinical), and internal medicine (hospital).
 
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