I’ve seen a lot of debate lately from pre-PA and pre-med students about which career is right for them, and how they should go about choosing it. There’s entire forums and threads devoted to it, and often times, the discussion can get very heated. I wanted to share how I came to chose the PA route over MD, but remember that ultimately the only person who can make this decision is you!
I’m going to preface the rest of this post by saying both careers are amazing!
I have nothing but respect and gratitude for physicians, and I am not saying that being a PA is better than being a doctor. Only when providers work together to provide team-based healthcare does the patient truly get the best treatment. There wouldn’t be PAs without Physicians, and I know many doctors (including the one I am rotating with currently) who say that they wouldn’t be able to provide as excellent of care without the help of PAs.
The reason I chose to become a PA is because, ultimately, I felt like it was the right path for what I wanted out of life. I felt like I would get the most amount of happiness out of having this career. So how did I come to this realization?
A lot of self reflection. I asked myself what I wanted out of life, who I wanted to become, how I wanted to be able to interact with patients. I made a list of my goals and dreams / aspirations.
Then I did research. I looked up legislation surrounding PAs. I educated myself on how the profession started and how it has grown since that first class at Duke. I followed state groups (go FAPA!) to see what problems they felt like the profession faced, and how they were fighting to overcome them. I shadowed MDs and PAs in different specialties to learn about what their role in medicine looked like. I talked to others in the field (**take everything they say with a grain of salt. Their opinion might be a complete 180 on how you would feel in their shoes**). I got involved in medicine to learn if I actually liked patients or not!
One thing I didn’t (tried not to) do was get lost reading forums about PA vs. MD. I didn’t feel like it was healthy or helpful to read some of the things that people were saying online. Reading posts that said if I was young and driven and applying to PA school, I was wasting my intelligence infuriated me. I had already come to my decision to go to PA school when I got lost in this thread one day, and it made me doubt every single thing I had decided. No one has time for that.
So what about the PAs you talk to who say if they could go back, they would go to Medical School? Well, I can promise you there are MDs who wish that they had gone to PA School. Or NPs who wish that they had gone to PA school or Med school. A lot of this is the idea that “the grass is always greener on the other side”. Part of being a human is wondering what if. And getting caught up in what ifs means you’re going to lose out on some of the experiences of life.
Now that you know how I decided to chose the PA route, what did I consider some of the most important influencers?
Back during #PAWeek in November, I discussed the 7 major reasons why I decided to go to PA school. But honestly, if you’re on the fence, before you read my reasons, sit down and think about what you want from life! Then head over and check them out.
I can also tell you that I am SO happy I decided to go to PA school. Sure, there are moments when I’ve explained to 10 patients what a PA is that I’m a little frustrated I wasn’t a med student. But then I remind myself that I am rockin’ clinical year and happy in the knowledge and experiences I’ve gained. And that it can only go up from here!
I would love to hear how you came to the decision on whether PA or MD was the right route for you. Also feel free to subscribe to the blog or follow along on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) as I try to survive life with a stethoscope and some sparkle!