Hello all, good to see an encouraging forum like this!

Thought I’d introduce myself and see what the collective pool of knowledge here thought about my situation. I’m 24, graduated cum laude (3.86 gpa) with a double major B.S. in Psychology and History a year ago, and have been working as a physical therapy aide in an urban hospital for a year now. I started out interested in OT/PT, but after being exposed to such a wide myriad of disciplines and medical cases I am thinking that MD/PA is the right route for me. Growing up around my mother who is an RN, I’ve realized that I’ve always wanted to work in a helping profession, however I just didn’t know in what capacity. I’ve considered social work, counseling, PT/OT, teaching, etc., and nothing has felt as fulfilling as being involved in medicine (as indirect as my job is right now). I have a very diverse background, I’ve fought wildland fire, grew up on a ranch, worked for the forest service, volunteered in alot of different settings, did historical research… I’ve shadowed a PA for about 40 hours or so in fam med and love it so far. I have taken Biology, stats. 1 sem of physics and a ton of psych courses but that’s about it for prereqs. I’m anxious to get going on my career as I feel that I have definitely outgrown my current position. I’m considering PA school still as I’m nervous about the long committment to medical school, loans, residencies,etc. However, my significant other and coworkers have recently suggested I look at becoming an MD instead, and I thought to myself, “I shouldn’t limit myself.” Anyway, just curious what your thoughts are…should I look at going back to school full time to take my prereqs and get it over with, or should I look at taking prereqs while still working full time? Or perhaps I fit the mold for PA better? SO much to think about…

Welcome to OPM! A lot of things figure in to whether to go to school full-time or part-time. However, take a look at prereqs for PA and MD. You will need the same core courses, plus possible some others for PA. So you could begin your prereqs without having decided. Meanwhile, shadow a physician (MD or DO)as well to get an idea of what is different. It sounds with your psych background that you might enjoy the pt. interaction of primary care. However, you may discover a previously unsuspected love of, oh say, radiology. More time in hospital with a physician can at least give you a feel for quality of life and scope of practice. You might shadow a DO who uses manipulative medicine in their practice if you have a strong PT/OT interest (say for example, a specialist in sports medicine).

Those are my suggestions for heading towards clarity, while getting the prereqs for either track under your belt.


I took several upper division bio classes with a lady who chose to go the PA route based on time in school. But she also feels it gives her the same challenges as a doctor without the responsibility or costs, and lets her have the freedom to spend time with her family.

We had very similar pre-req requirements. I had to take the MCAT, she had to take the GRE (but only for a few schools).

I’d say try to shadow both a doctor and a PA to see which appeals more.

Good luck!