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

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10 years 7 months ago #15857 by Doc201X
Isn't this Mommd, because I'd swear based on the posts on this page that there's a dude here, one of those Docs that requires their kids school teachers and the meat cutter in the grocery store call this person Doc. Or maybe I need a chromosome check.

My Scientist/Physician Journey
www.Doc201X.blogspot.com

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10 years 7 months ago #15858 by Sweet

Originally posted 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!! [/b]

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. [/QB]

Wow... I am a bit speechless. According to the above post there are 2 types of people - those who care about achieving the highest level of medical education and being called "Doctor", and those who just could not care less (sorry to be grammar police here for a moment, but the logically and grammatically correct phrase is "could NOT care less" not "could care less"). The latter people are those who do not end up in medicine.

What about those of us who chose medicine because it is a meaningful way for us to apply our talents to the betterment of the world around us? What about those of us who could not care less about being called "doctor" but do care about improving the human condition by doing something that is interesting and stimulating to us?

My answer to the OP's question: While working as a PA can undoubtedly bring great satisfaction to many people and make a tangible difference in the lives of innumerable patients, both the level of understanding of medicine and the complexity of decisions are not as rigorous. I have to balance my altruism (equally served by being a PA or a physician) with my selfish desire not to be bored (likely to be better served by being a physician).

Snowflake, from your post, quoted above, I draw the conclusion that you are seeking external validation. It is an issue of self-confidence, which is somewhat different from what you are describing as "ego". You appear to be tying your self-worth and your ability to assert your intelligence to external factors such as the school you attended or the job you hold. Furthermore, you are looking for an ultimate "badge" of superiority (and I do not mean this in a negative way), which you perceive to be the title "Medical Doctor" after your name. In my humble opinion, what you will find at the end of the arduous road that is medical training, is the same sense of emptiness and the same constant need for validation, unless you decouple your self-esteem from any and all external factors. Just like "Doctor" seems to be proof of intelligence in society at large, certain specialties have superior status within medicine, then within those specialties there are particular institutions which are most coveted and prestigious, and within those prestigious institutions there are groups that are the elite. What I am trying to say is that there will always be people who are more intelligent than you, with AND without having the title "Doctor", just as there will be people who are less intelligent than you, again with and without the title "Doctor".

If I were in your shoes, I would look for the root causes of why I need to have a permanent title to validate my intelligence. I believe I would discover a lot of wonderful things about myself and probably find the professional path that would be truly fulfilling, regardless of the title(s) that came (or didn't come) with it.

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10 years 7 months ago #15859 by snowflake

Originally posted by Sweet:

Originally posted by happytobealive:
[qb]



Snowflake, from your post, quoted above, I draw the conclusion that you are seeking external validation. It is an issue of self-confidence, which is somewhat different from what you are describing as "ego". You appear to be tying your self-worth and your ability to assert your intelligence to external factors such as the school you attended or the job you hold. Furthermore, you are looking for an ultimate "badge" of superiority (and I do not mean this in a negative way), which you perceive to be the title "Medical Doctor" after your name. In my humble opinion, what you will find at the end of the arduous road that is medical training, is the same sense of emptiness and the same constant need for validation, unless you decouple your self-esteem from any and all external factors. Just like "Doctor" seems to be proof of intelligence in society at large, certain specialties have superior status within medicine, then within those specialties there are particular institutions which are most coveted and prestigious, and within those prestigious institutions there are groups that are the elite. What I am trying to say is that there will always be people who are more intelligent than you, with AND without having the title "Doctor", just as there will be people who are less intelligent than you, again with and without the title "Doctor".

If I were in your shoes, I would look for the root causes of why I need to have a permanent title to validate my intelligence. I believe I would discover a lot of wonderful things about myself and probably find the professional path that would be truly fulfilling, regardless of the title(s) that came (or didn't come) with it. [/b]

Thanks for this, Sweet. I think what I would be dealing with by going to PA school would be an identity shift, and this is why it's difficult for me. I've always been a bit of a type A personality--I went to the most competitive college I was accepted to and worked really hard to be near the top of my class, and this would be the first time that I've made a conscious choice to take the less competitive, less rigorous option. So I think for me the fact that I'm even questioning whether I need to be "at the top" is a big step for me. I'm slowly adjusting to the idea that I need to do what will make me the most happy, and not what "looks best on paper." Although it's difficult, particularly as many of my family members (both parents, grandfather, brother, future sister-in-law) are doctors. Although I'm sure you're right--I'm sure becoming a doctor won't make me feel instantly validated, and this is a good point I've been thinking about a lot lately.

With regards to this quote:
While working as a PA can undoubtedly bring great satisfaction to many people and make a tangible difference in the lives of innumerable patients, both the level of understanding of medicine and the complexity of decisions are not as rigorous. I have to balance my altruism (equally served by being a PA or a physician) with my selfish desire not to be bored (likely to be better served by being a physician).

do you really think this is true that you're less likely to be bored as a physician than as a PA? Of course PA education is less thorough and comprehensive than MD education, but my impression (based on talking to and shadwoing PAs and docs) is that primary care PAs work very similarly to primary care docs. At least in the family practice clinics I shadowed in, the PAs saw the same undifferentiated patients and out of the hundreds of patients that came in the door, there were only a handful of times that the PA asked the doc for help, and in each of those instances the doc didn't know what to do either and referred to a specialist.
I realize that PAs might work very differently to docs in other fields (surgery is an obvious example), but I would never enter these fields as a doc anyway, so in a way I see that being a PA might open up more doors for me, not fewer (doing most of what a doc does in primary care, and having the option to work in other fields that I wouldn't have as a doc).

Any thoughts on this?

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