"Why PA and not MD?"
“Why PA and not MD?” - the most frequent question I’m asked in my inbox daily.
And my answer is quite simple: I never wanted to be a doctor!
However, this answer is so vital to sort through if you ARE having this question…you have to consider the undergrad pre-requisites you need to take to prevent wasting time/money, precious years of young adulthood stuck in your books, and most of all – you don’t want to end up on “the wrong path” or "take forever getting there"- right? Before deciding which route to take I’m sure there’s an overlap of questions you may be asking yourself while sorting through this journey of which destination you want to choose.
So, instead of mapping out the pros and cons of each career choice
here are my reasons WHY I’M STOKED I PICKED THE PA ROUTE:
1. LATERAL MOBILITY- this means when I complete my schooling and decide to enter a specific field/specialty I won’t be confined to that specialty if I decided that it wasn’t a perfect fit. Though I don’t anticipate switching specialties throughout my career, it’s extremely comforting to know that I’m not confined to a decision I’m making in my 20’s that I may want to change in my 40’s. Knowing this is such a relief and takes off the pressure of choosing where I want to begin my career. As we grow throughout life, our passions may not change but our perspectives and priorities will- and the flexibility this provides is comforting to know. However, if PA’s want to switch specialties it’s certainly not like one can go from working in Orthopedics and begin a job in Cardiology the next day- it will require on the job training in addition to gaining more experience in the field before having that autonomy of practice. This flexibility is very unique and differs from the requirements expected of physicians; requiring training in medical school + testing/match process that places them in a field of interest and competence + additional training for about 3 plus years in that specialty + their fellowships which all require different
2. PATIENT-PROVIDER CONNECTIONS: While all providers have the opportunity to connect with patients, it’s the beauty of the Physician Assistant profession to assure the gap between patient provider relationships are bridged. As mid-level providers, we serve to facilitate high quality patient care, cost effective medical services, & a schedule that allows added opportunity to develop a relationship with patients in a world of high demand than previously before. I love this concept and I love that now I can be a part of that.
3. COLLABORATION: Working as a team with each individual having autonomy is the essence of beauty the PA career consists of. This is definitely a top concept many PA’s who chose the field cling to – and I don’t blame them. When team work is encouraged, less mistakes are made, more individuals are dedicated to the patient’s care; all efficiently working together for the patient’s best interest. Though the physician has just as much of an opportunity to collaborate with his/her staff or mid-level providers, the PA profession revolves around this model and are even taught throughout schooling how to effectively use this team practice approach to medicine.
Please note that it is important to keep in mind that this ‘autonomy’ I’ve been referring to throughout the post involves both time, trust, and experience between the Physician-PA team. When both sides of the team are operating at their best, this is the desired practice we consider working in "collaboration". Some practices operate with multiple Physicians and multiple PA’s who choose to manage patients both independently and others jointly – but regardless of the scope of practice the providers choose, it is evident that the PA profession allows for this flexibility & continuity in patient care.
At the end of the day it comes down to preference, what do YOU value most? What does balance look like in your life? Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? This isn't an easy answer to figure out just by reading a blog post...it's going to take a lot of thought and heart to fully commit regardless of your decision. But whichever you choose, know that you'll never be on "the wrong path" and that finding out what career you want to choose in life may not always be easy or attainable in the next 5 years- but I'm here to remind you to never stop chasing your goals! You got this.