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Jul 29, 2016
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Hey y'all!

I know this question has been asked a hundred times on these forums (because I've read them all!) but I felt like I need some answers that aligned more with my situation. So here it goes...

A little background about myself: I just recently graduated from college, biology degree, extensive shadowing, a little research experience, 3.5 GPA, low MCAT (496). Currently retaking Organic Chem II this summer for a higher grade (made a C in it the first time), and using NextStep test prep to study for MCAT to retake in September. This is my second round of applying to medical school. I've been working on secondaries so far.

But here's the thing...

I don't know how much more of this I can take. I'm the kind of person that takes schoolwork and studying and achieving goals extremely seriously (as we all do on here!) and now that I've graduated and was not accepted to medical school, it feels like so much of my hard work and sacrifices I made in college went to waste. I honestly feel like I missed out on so much of that "college fun" you are supposed to have because I sacrificed going out for studying or was too exhausted to be social from studying and doing schoolwork. Don't get me wrong--I want to work in healthcare, and I have no doubt that medicine is for me. But my question is: to what extent? The stress and anxiety of undergrad has taken a serious toll on me emotionally, mentally, physically--I just don't know how I would handle the level of stress I would be under in medical school for as long as medical school is. I know PA school is no joke, and that it comes with its own set of challenges, but the idea of only being in that high stress environment for three more years (max) in PA school versus the four years of med school plus more for residency is very scary to me. And once school is done, is the life of a physician as stressful as I've heard? Do PA's have a better work/life balance or is it possible to climb out of med school debt as a physician while working normal hours? ... I don't think I can stay under these levels of stress for that much longer, although regardless of which path I choose, I know I need to work on my coping skills with stress and anxiety.

That being said--have any of you had these same fears/thoughts? What made you choose your path? From my more experienced readers--is medical school as terrible as it sounds like it could be? Is the life of a resident really as full of 80 hour work weeks as I've heard? Is PA school just a better deal for the schooling, or is the career less-stressful as well? Do any physicians or PA's regret their decision?

I am so lost in this. I know I want to work in primary care--family practice, to be exact. I want to develop and maintain long term relationships with my patients and help them take care of themselves in an overall, broad sense rather than being in a specialized area of medicine.

Any and all advice is welcomed! Thank you so much!
 

DeezNutzonUrChin

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Im not a medical student or a physician so I can only answer your question based on my own opinion and experiences shadowing.

1. Your stats are good, if your MCAT goes up then youre golden for getting into a DO school. Im probably going to get flamed for this but my friends at DO programs comparing with my friends at MD programs seem to like the curriculum better and find it "easier" since they emphasize less on biochem etc, subjects that many American medical students do poorly in, but they have much better knowledge in anatomy, physio etc.

2. PA is pretty much perfect for family medicine, you earn well, there's lots of options, you could technically join the FBI or CIA as well as a PA. I do think they have a better work/life balance, and youre done soon, but you have to be prepared to constantly answer to a higher power. From the 2 PA's I shadowed on opposite ends of the country they would constantly have to mention Im just the PA, lets wait for Dr. ____ to review your case.

3. This is something going through my own mind, consider where you want to end up physically. Personally I love being in major cities and I cannot live somewhere rural as hell, even if you paid me 1 million bucks a year. I hate my current engineering job in California because of all the desk sitting I have to do, but I would sure as hell do it because of the job prospects out here vs move to some random rural town for the rest of my life. Earlier I was in the thought process I wouldnt mind moving to some random place in alaska or somewhere if thats what it takes to become and be a doctor. for medical school maybe, for the rest of life, no.

4. Hours are rough during residency, most of my shadowing opportunities were in full week long bursts where I followed the residents around alot. But it varies. sometimes they would work 60, some weeks 90, etc.
 

Alienman52

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Not to sound mean or anything, but you should be absolutely 100% sure that you want to pursue medicine, and will do anything to achieve that goal of practicing. If it meant applying four times, grueling nights in residency, etc. then you should be willing to do that without question. If you're having second thoughts then I would caution your advance into medicine.
I'm sorry to hear it didn't work out last cycle. Your gpa is fantastic! Your MCAT is definitely going to hold you back this cycle though as it is around a 22-23 on the old scale. Wish you the best of luck. Study your butt off for that next MCAT and update schools with the new scores when you get them.


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DeezNutzonUrChin

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Jul 16, 2016
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Not to sound mean or anything, but you should be absolutely 100% sure that you want to pursue medicine, and will do anything to achieve that goal of practicing. If it meant applying four times, grueling nights in residency, etc. then you should be willing to do that without question. If you're having second thoughts then I would caution your advance into medicine.
I'm sorry to hear it didn't work out last cycle. Your gpa is fantastic! Your MCAT is definitely going to hold you back this cycle though as it is around a 22-23 on the old scale. Wish you the best of luck. Study your butt off for that next MCAT and update schools with the new scores when you get them.


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This is true, but it seems he knows he wants to he is just deciding between the physician vs PA route.
Its unfortunate it is so in this country, alot of other nations don't have this harsh problem. But then again the pay isnt as good.
 
Feb 19, 2016
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I was considering PA school and found shadowing to really help me make my decision- i recommend that you do the same! i realized very quickly that i would not be satisfied as a PA and it made the work to apply to med school feel "worth it". i am a non trad and had the same concerns you do about work/life balance but decided that i wanted to go for medical school and have the support of my husband.

i think you sound like you're really burnt out. i was right after finishing undergrad as well (i had also been pre-med and was so exhausted that i didn't apply to med school and ended up regretting it for years before working up the strength to go for it). i recommend taking a year off to explore your options, work/strengthen your app, and then go for it if you feel ready. good luck!
 
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ecpresso

5+ Year Member
Mar 19, 2014
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The cliche you'll hear again and again is, "If you can see yourself doing anything other than medicine, then don't do medicine." It's completely true.

The path to MD/DO is ridiculously work-intensive for the payoff. I'm non-traditional and have been in the work force for a few years now, but my SO is a 3rd year resident; his friends and roommates are all residents in differing specialties. When they heard that I was pursuing medicine, literally every single one told me not to do it. All the horror stories are true, the 70-100 hour work weeks, the ****ty pay, the length of time you have to commit and the feeling that they wasted their 20s. The amount of hours you work depends on your specialty, but all of them are just burned out; a roommate literally tried to quit with a year left in her residency this year. If you're not ready to commit to an additional 7+ (MINIMUM) years of putting your life on hold, then don't do it.

PA is a great alternative. You have a lot of autonomy, you can specialize, and you work a set number of hours. You can even perform surgeries! The base pay is good, but gets even better as you gain experience and specialize. I would really talk to PAs to get their insight, but to me it's a smart idea.
 
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