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Why would anyone become a doctor when you can become a PA?

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10 years 9 months ago #15851 by asunshine

Originally posted by snowflake:
I often feel that I'm going to have some regret whatever I decide!

But the funny thing is, I don't really care about that per se. I don't have to be the best. I want to go into medicine because I want help people, and I want the intellectual stimulation, but not because I need to know everything. I do want to be challenged and have the independence to do what I'm capable of doing, and to learn as much as I want to learn, but to be honest I'd rather spend a night at home with my family than work through the night wondering what to do about a very complex case. So it's not that I "need to be in charge"--in fact, I can think I'd rather go home and leave someone else in charge!

Snowflake, your posts have helped me a lot! Reading your reasons to maybe not pursue medicine made me realize that it was right for me TO pursue medicine. I'm more of the type that wants to learn everything, and I'd go home mulling over a case anyway, even if I had signed out to someone else! Ever since I started in health care, I've always had that "troubled mind"--always, always thinking over cases (even simple ones) even when not on the clock. So far med school has been very validating since I feel at least that my mind-churnings are being put to good use.

So, that really didn't answer your question. I guess my point is that it's nice to see so many opinions and mentalities regarding health care. There can be a fit for anyone.

ps-Allison is so right about having regret no matter what!

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10 years 9 months ago #15852 by snowflake

Originally posted by zola:
I guess this seems really obvious that now that I wrote it but I think that people often put themselves or other down by comparing apples to oranges.

Thanks for this, Zola. Of course you're right that I would be training to be a PA, not a doctor, and the education would be appropriate for a PA and not a doctor. But I'm not sure about apples vs. oranges--you could say that a PA's (or an NP's) job description is to treat cases that would otherwise require a Dr. I think this is why the issue can get kind of touchy--in that sense, they're not apples and oranges--you can either see a PA or you can see a Dr. for your ER visit, or your check-up, etc. (Of course the theory is the PAs are supposed to refer to a doc if they need to, but I think one argument against PAs is that if you don't have full training you don't always know when you can't handle something--although I think it's an issue largely avoided during the PA/doc debates because it could come across as elitist). And so I think this is when the "gold standard" idea comes into play--people (rightly or wrongly) think they're getting better care from a doc, and worse from a PA, because the doc has better training. It does kind of make sense. I guess this is why I see it as sub-optimal training (as opposed to say, if I wanted to be a dentist, where that really would be apples vs. oranges). I don't know yet whether that would be a sacrifice worth making for a better lifestyle....

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10 years 9 months ago #15853 by alkatz
I hope you didnt mis-interpret my reply about not knowing when to refer that I posted earlier. I did not mean it as a derogatory or elitist remark. I am only speaking from personal experiences that I have had from being treated by 4 different NPs over the span of 10 years. I did not receive standard of care. I have become especially aware of this since I am in medical school. Not to hijack the thread or anything, I think that there probably are NPs & PAs that are great, I am only speaking from personal experience and reasoning through that regarding this topic.

The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority. - Ralph W. Sockman

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10 years 9 months ago #15854 by snowflake

Originally posted by alkatz:
I hope you didnt mis-interpret my reply about not knowing when to refer that I posted earlier.

Sorry, alkatz, this wasn't directed towards you, at all! My point was actually that maybe this idea is right--maybe PAs/NPs DON'T know when to refer all the time if they don't have all the education of an MD. I think this could be a valid point--what I meant about it being "elitist" is that although I think it's worth acknowledging that this might be the case, I think some people don't want to because it sounds like they're being insulting (rather than just looking at it objectively--i.e. the fact is that PAs/NPs don't have all the medical knowledge that an MD does)

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10 years 8 months ago #15855 by happytobealive
Oh please! Be a doc. You'll regret it the rest of your life if you don't.

There are plenty of specialities where you can have it all: money, prestige, "doc" title, help people AND have time for a family.

for example: dermatology (try 300K/ 35 hours a week, no nights, no weekends), pathology (roughly 180-220K, 40 hrs/week,little or no call), radiology, anesthesia (both make too much, like 350+). The list goes on and on. Even ER does quite well for relatively benign hours (after residency).
Psychiatry, PM&R...nice lifestyle as well.

I used to be worried that I wouldn't be able to balance my life as an M.D but now I don't really anymore because I've chosen a lifestyle specialty. Going to med school was the best decision I ever made!

Its feel soooooo good to be an M.D. There is nothing sweeter than accomplishing your dreams. Yes its harder but nothing worth very much is every easy.

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10 years 8 months ago #15856 by happytobealive


I was realizing the other day that I would not have a second thought about going to PA school if I would be called "Dr." That title still means a lot to me. I've always been a high achiever and at the top of my class--I would be lying if I said it wouldn't bother me not to be called doctor. Maybe this is silly, but I don't want to regret this 10 years down the road. And it would really bother me if I thought people judged my intelligence based on whether I was a PA instead of a Dr. (maybe because being smart has always been a big part of my identity). But then I think of the other achievements in my life (going to the college I did, and my current job), and when I meet someone and they're impressed by this, it actually bothers me a little bit (my gut reaction is, "you really wouldn't be that impressed if you knew what I did--you could do it too!") If anything the ego strokes make me uncomfortable. So then I think maybe I put too much importance on titles, and overestimate the degree to which being called "Dr" would make me feel good.

Any comments on any of that? Thank you everyone for your great posts!! [/QB]

oh, poor poor snowflake. There is nothing wrong with feeling this way. You are destined for medical school if you feel this way. You want to hear the words, "doctor". You want the patient to look to you without reservation. You want to be the leader of the healthcare team. You want to tell your friends and family and acquaintances that you are a doctor. You want to prove to yourself that you are smart. You want to feel proud of yourself and want to achive the highest level that you can achieve. If you don't follow your dreams you will live with regret.
Everybody who dreams of med school has to have some sort of an ego because its takes a big head to think you can make decisions for other people. If you went to PA school you would feel like crap everyday that the doc pulled rank on you. You would be constantly reminded every single day of how you didn't go through with it. Frankly, If I didn't go to medical school I would have chosen a different sector of the workforce completely to avoid all of medicine just so i wouldn't be constantly reminded of it. I totally understand your feelings and I am the same way. I don't know what to call it: type A, overachiever, ambitious. There is nothing wrong with it. Its an asset. Now as a disclaimer, this does not apply to everybody. Some people could care less about being a doc and achieving the highest level of medical education. This does not sound like you, however.
On the other hand, I understand the desire for family and to have a work-life-balance. Hence why I mentioned the family friendly specialties in the previous post. I personally went into derm, which is very conducive to having balance in life. If you want to be doctor, you want to be a doctor. Its that easy. Don't let all these worries and anxieties about perceived difficulty of medicine dissuade you. Its goes by faster than you can imagine and next thing you know, you are done and are a doc and are enjoying the fruits of your hard work. And guess what, you'll feel great about yourself and your accomplishments.

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