Is this profession right for me?
This is a question I get asked ALL. THE. TIME.
My answer is simple, do you want to?
I honestly can’t tell you if applying to PA school is the right choice for you. However, I can tell you that applying, and choosing, to go to Physician Assistant school was definitely the right decision for me. I wanted to be involved in medicine-something I felt was magical-and I wanted to be able to give back to others in my community. My mom gave my brothers and I every opportunity in life and always encouraged us to give the same opportunities to others. When choosing to apply to PA school, I liked the form of learning that was used, the length of time it would take me, how young I would be when I started my career, and that I wanted the option of being able to switch my specialty fields if I wanted to.
PA school uses the medical model of learning-which is what Medical school uses. While there are many different approaches to this model, you can learn by system (cardiology or endocrine or nervous system all at once) or the school can teach a section of the body, lets say the head, and you learn all about the different systems that interact here and what they do. However, all schools are going to teach medicine-based learning. This is very different than getting your Master’s in Nursing, in which case you would have a lot of extra “nursing” classes. I have often met recent NP graduates who have told me that they don’t feel as well prepared for the clinical aspect of diagnosing their patients (Obviously this is not the case with everyone and I’m not dissing NP students. I LOVE them!)
Two to three years. No residency (unless you want to, but its not required in most states). Need I say more?
I’m choosing to go straight from my undergraduate degree to PA school. This means I’m going to be out in the “real” world and practicing at the ripe old age of 24. This was a HUGE selling point for me. I’ve always known I wanted to do medicine and I’ve known I wanted to be a PA since 16, so I choose to run full steam ahead with that dream!
Perhaps the coolest thing about being a PA is the ability to switch fields. Coming out of school (unless you go to certain programs such as UAB that specialize more), you will be a generalist. Say you loved your pediatric rotation-go find a job in that field. Most of the time they understand you’re trained as a generalist and will provide on-site training to help you be able to treat patients. Five years later and you’re burnt out on Peds? Switch to something else and do more on-site training. It’s a wonderful thing to not be locked in to a specialty for life.
Alright friends, hopefully that’ll give some insight on whether PA school is right for you. CASPA opens this month (YAY) so next week I’m going to give you some pointers on deciding if you want to apply this cycle and some general advice before getting started on the process!
Comment below on your thoughts about choosing to go to PA school, and your own experience.
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