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Why did you choose to be a PA rather than go on to medical school (or whatever other thing you had a choice in). I am interested in honest answers, and am not looking for the "I want to save humanity and change the world" stuff I've heard while interviewing students.

What do you hope to gain from being a PA?
Who first introduced you to the concept? How did you find out about this career?


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I will be the first to jump on this question. This is clearly MY reason and in no way is it meant to offend any PAs, RNs, MDs, or DOs. Thought I should toss in a disclaimer while I still could.

I wanted to practice medicine in a small town but the thought of not getting through with school til I was 30 terrified me. After shadowing RNs I found that the role they played was a crutial one, but not for me. I needed a more active role in the diagnosis of patients. So I shadowed a phyisician (MD or DO does not matter) for quite some time to realize that he was a magnificent doctor but that he had so litte time for his patients and was always left feeling like he rushed them out the door. He said if he could do it over, he would have been a PA so that he could enjoy patient interactions for a longer time period. I found the two main lifestyle differences in MD/DO vs PA was money and prestige (of course limitations, practices, etc) of which neither means jack squat to me. My goal was to treat the sick and still have time for a life outside of work. Being female I want children and feel that IN MY OPINION I would have more time to have/raise them as a PA.

I also love the versatility a PA has over a DO/MD. My personality requires that I have the option to change my mind in the future without years of residencies, internships, and hassles. As a PA I could work FP, Ortho, Forensics, etc. and hopefully find a job almost anywhere. Since I prefer small town/rural life, the job market is perfect for my plans.

I am competely aware of the role of a PA and its function in society, as I was raised by a wondrful PA. As long as I am helping a few people every day and am able to afford a house, car, 4 dogs, a cat, and maybe a few kids, I am ok with that. I don't know what I would do with $170,000 or more a year, other than worry about it.

Course, maybe I chose PA because my career as a rock star fell through....

OK, babble session is done....Anyone else?


I would have to say that Stayce spelled it out fairly well for me. I might add a little later.
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OK, here are my own reasons for choosing to become a PA versus an MD/DO/Whatever:

1: I'm an older student and did not want to spend that much time going through school to get a second career.

2: I was exposed to PAs while I was in the military and I liked the attitude and the way they performed their jobs, it seemed that they were less "burnt out" and really seemed to enjoy their jobs and were very casual about stuff.

3: Many of my relatives live in a small town in Iowa where the "town doctor" is a PA. I like the idea of serving in an underserved area where you can be part of the community and change peoples lives. Not saving the world, but as PAs we have a bit more time to explain things and educate the patient, and this may sound strange, but I think that our education and training allows for that a bit more than a typical MD. (My program is huge on PT education and prevention, so just my $.02)

4: I like the idea of being able to change what I do, where I do it, and for whom I do it really about as many times as I would like in my career. It is very flexible and less stressful and I make more than enough money to make me happy. More important, I have the time to enjoy it.

These are my opinions only, but I have seen others voice similar and I'm willing to bet that these are reasons that many of us have chosen the path we have. I have spoken to several doctors that have told me that if they had it to do all over again they would be PAs.

Feel free to ask any questions you like


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I chose the PA route after being exposed to excellent PA's in the Navy. Before that, I had never heard of a PA. I knew that I was a bit older than the people who were beginning medical school, so I made the mistake of thinking I was too old to become a physician (I was 24 then). Now 30, and having been a PA for four years, I now know that age is relative, and that I could have gone to medical school at age 25 and still fit in. Now though, I have a vast amount of medical knowledge to take with me as I start medical school, which will make me that much better of a doctor than my counterparts. As any of you in medicine know, when you hear things the second time (after seeing them in practice), it makes learning much easier.

I think PA's should primarily work in underserved areas, and not in big cities where there are plenty of physicians. The profession has sort of gone away from that though, and I like the fact that Stayce wants to do just that. As a PA though, you have to be prepared to face discrimination and ignorance, which is largely nonexistent for our physician colleagues. Salary being the same, and lifestyle being the same, there is still a world of difference between the life of a physician and that of a PA. Society has a reference frame for defining status, and a physician is at the top of the food chain unarguably. Although a PA can also acheive similar status, especially in small town America, it is still not the same. Anyone who cannot handle being in the unique position that often limits social circles should nto become a PA. In general, a physician and a PA are not in the same social circle, yet a PA is certainly not in the circle of the other people in medicine that work for providers. This creates a lonely environment at times, but one that I think most PA's overcome and thrive within. I simply am not strong enough (or whatever you call it) to stay a PA lifelong, and am retracing some of my steps to become a physician.

I think though that it is largely a myth that PA's have all this extra time to spend with patients as many of you say. To remain profitable (and hired!), a PA must make it worth the physician's dollar to remain on staff. In today's world of medicine, there is rarely any difference between the time a PA has to see a patient and the time a physician has to see a patient.

Good luck to anyone considering our profession, and rest assured that you could do much worse in chosing a profession. The money is great, the life is great, and the satisfaction is stellar.



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Matt - just curious - where did you go for PA school? I haven't seen anyone else with a MPAS degree except from Iowa. Where are you going to med school? Did you feel like the application process was worth it?


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hawkeyes-university of nebraska college of medicine offers an MPAS degree, both entry level and as a postgrad degree with specialization-e
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