Anyone know anything about being a Physician Assistant?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 07, 2011 1:59 AM GMT
    I'm thinking of taking the pre-reqs to get into PA school. Anyone wanna give me some insight on the job, whether you do it yourself or know someone who does?

    I've done my research, but I like to hear from other people.
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    Aug 07, 2011 4:15 AM GMT
    I've worked with a lot of PAs. Some good.....some really bad. But the same goes for physicians.

    Cons

    I guess for me the biggest thing is can you see yourself working under a supervising physician? PAs in almost all states are not licensed independent practitioners. You will always have someone over you.

    The other thing is the status thing. I've met so many unhappy PAs because they really want to be physicians. If you can't handle the downgrade in status and just focus on your patients I don't recommend it. I find that by and large a good PA does earn the respect of their patients, even though they don't get the boost of calling themselves "Doctor."

    Pros

    The plus side is you do always have someone else to confer with for your decisions, decreased responsibility and a more flexible schedule (in some places).

    It also depends greatly on what type of PA you want to be. Most of my experience is with ER PAs, but I have worked with many different specialties. I think it is really a balance of finding a supervising physician/group you work well with and a specialty you enjoy. Its not hard to find a job as a PA, but some specialties are very difficult to get into. A lot of your training will be "on the job" and it will take a few years for the group to get their monies worth from you. I know a group of neurosurgeons and they have one PA and they were extremely rigorous about hiring him. With that kind of limited availability if you have your eyes set on a field like that it might not be worth it.

    A big pro is that if you don't like the specialty you are in, you can switch! A physician would have to essentially be retrained in a new specialty, which is not usually worth it.

    ------

    The last thing and I want to say this with as little pretension as possible... but for me being a PA and working the "mid-level" cases is very dull and boring. For instance, if I was in the ER I would much rather be managing critical cases than treating sore throats, flus, abscesses, etc., Are all PAs like that? No. Each group is different. But for myself, I want the best for my patient and in my eyes that will be maximizing my education with an MD/DO after my Phd/PsyD.


    The type of medicine I am interested in is not as concrete (neurology/psychiatry) and there is a lot of room for interpretation. I couldn't handle the interpretation of my supervising physician being different from my own because of their theoretical orientation. Neuro* is one of the last bastions of actual critical thinking that I can see because we have so much to learn. The other professions are steeped in a lot of research that has yielded algorithms and statistics to use. They remove the element of thought. You just sort through facts and reach a calculated decision.

    Now lets see how many RJ Doctors I just pissed off icon_biggrin.gif
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    Aug 07, 2011 4:34 AM GMT
    adam228 said

    The type of medicine I am interested in is not as concrete (neurology/psychiatry) and there is a lot of room for interpretation. I couldn't handle the interpretation of my supervising physician being different from my own because of their theoretical orientation. Neuro* is one of the last bastions of actual critical thinking that I can see because we have so much to learn. The other professions are steeped in a lot of research that has yielded algorithms and statistics to use. They remove the element of thought. You just sort through facts and reach a calculated decision.

    Now lets see how many RJ Doctors I just pissed off icon_biggrin.gif


    Huh? Im not really seeing what you're saying here
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    Aug 07, 2011 5:02 AM GMT
    PA-C in Internal & HIV Medicine here.... I work independently, have my own schedule each day, do everything my supervising MD does... LPs, high resolution anoscopies & biopsies, minor surgery, prescribe all meds, order whatever labs/tests i see fit, do referrals, consult, round on hospital patients, etc. Currently seeing about 60-70 patients a week of which 18-20 are new patient intakes. You are allowed to do whatever your supervising MD is comfortable with you doing as long as it isn't forbidden by state law. A PA degree is a terminal degree... an end in and of itself. If a PA is 'unhappy' because he/she isn't an MD, he/she can go to MD school... or avoid becoming a PA in the first place. Contrary to what adam insinuates above, I don't think people who choose to become a PA accidentally do it and wish they were an MD later or choose it as a backup plan, they choose to become a PA because it's a great career. You'll earn a good salary but life quality is only fair given the amount of work and responsibility you'll have. School is a bitch, so get ready. oh... and my patients get 'the best'... whether they see me or my supervising MD. you don't have to be an MD or DO to provide great care. in fact, I have patients who insist on seeing me because of the time and effort I put in with them. More often than not, it's the PAs and NPs who do that more than the MDs and DOs... it's part of our charter and mission. Ask someone who likes his/her PA and he/she will tell you the same thing... 'I don't want to see the doctor'.

    Be happy to answer any questions you have off thread.
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    Aug 07, 2011 7:31 AM GMT
    Annnnnd that's why I said it depends on your supervising physician. If you are lucky enough to find someone who is wiling to train you and allow you to do everything, great. But, that is the exception rather than the rule in my experience. I can't honestly say you'd be able to provide better or worse care without going to the additional years of medical school. That is why I said its my interpretation.

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    Aug 07, 2011 4:12 PM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle said
    What are the prerequisites for PA school? I don't think I'm cut out for it but I am curious.

    Thanks.


    I know the school I am going to requires a minimum of 20 hours shadowing a PA, and 200 hours minimum of direct patient care.

    And of course 1 year of Biology, 1 year of Chemistry, 1 year of Anatomy & Physiology, and some other science/math courses.
  • commoncoll

    Posts: 1222

    Aug 07, 2011 5:53 PM GMT
    Go to www.studentdoctor.net

    Near the end of the page you can find information on midlevel providers. You can get answers to all your questions.