Does anyone else get bummed by all the “Don’t do it! Be a PA or an NP if you MUST be in medicine!” talk? I find it quite disheartening, but I try to ignore it, and then wonder if I’m stupid for ignoring what SO MANY PEOPLE say. Anyone else get that feeling?

When a few nurses and a PA whom I worked with found out about my plan to apply to med school, they discouraged me and told me that I should apply to nursing school instead. They felt that I have no chance to be accepted by med schools. I have much respect towards nurses, but I felt that their comments were silly. How can I know if I will get in or not without at least try first? Ironically, way before I made my decision to apply, some physicians at work had been trying to convince me to go to med school. At the end, through much hard work, I received several offers of admission including my top choice school and scholarship offers.

My point is to listen to your heart, if medicine is what you want, just ignore those disheartening comments.

Just ignore it. Depending on the physician and where they are in their career they might also recommend the PA or NP route. Understand that everyone’s perspective is their own because while two people may go down the same road what they experience and how will be vastly different. A physician who is undergoing a major lawsuit where the hospital has essentially thrown them under the bus and they have to get their own lawyer will not have the greatest viewpoint of medicine.

My two biggest cheerleaders for medicine, my mentor and my mentee, BOTH have recommended that I NOT go to med school. During med school they told me I might rethink it, and then during residency they told me to forget about medicine because it sucks and if I have to go into medicine just go to PA school. Now that my mentor is an attending he recommends I get the prereqs done so that I can become a physician. He doesn’t even remember telling me not to become a physician. Stress during med school, then the added stress of being responsible during residency changes their perspective and then it changes again once an attending. So don’t listen to them if PA or NP is not what you want to do. Trust me I wasted years by flipping back & forth and even gotten accepted to PA school. If you do not want to be a PA or NP then don’t. They are not the same as being a physician. No matter how badly some administrators try to make them all equal.

For me, going to get a bit philosophical here, it’s the issue with our postmodern, relatavistic culture where we are indoctrinated to the ridiculous notion that everything and everyone is equal. That is NOT the case. Everyone is equally human and deserves to be respected however everyone’s education, training, and experiences are not equal. So while it’s very politically correct to paint everyone in medicine and nursing with a broad brush in the end we all know that is not the case. Being part of a team is one thing, claiming that everyone is the captain is idiocy and in our culture we like to claim the latter and award trophies to everyone because “everyone’s a winner…everyone’s special.” As my boy Dash said in The Incredibles, “If everyone’s special, then nobody is.” If you want to be someone special then you know what you have to do…just don’t talk about your specialty. See what I did there?!

Thanks, guys! I have to say that I agree with what both of you are saying. Having very young kids seems to be the thing that makes people tell me to go the PA or NP route instead, but I wonder if they would say that to my husband, you know? I value my time with my children, of course, but I don’t feel like I’m turning them into some sacrificial lamb to the medicine gods in my attempts to become a doctor, which is what I want to be. I don’t WANT to be an NP or a PA; I want to be a doctor. My kids come first, but I honestly feel like they are at the age where they are better off in daycare than they are at home with me all day. I honestly believe that their lives will be better in ALL areas (including their relationship with me just b/c I am NOT cut out for SAHM-hood) if I become a doctor. My husband agrees and is fully supportive. It becomes hard to ignore all the naysayers, though, especially when I have absolutely zero yaysayers (?!) within the medical field. The two doctors I know on a personal level are sort of like, “Do whatever you want. I don’t care, I’m busy.” The doctors I’ve interviewed and/or shadowed have all been very much, “I love what I do, but I don’t know that I would do it again, especially with kids.” It’d be nice to have find a mentor of my own. My husband is a great cheerleader for me, but someone in the medical field would be nice, too! It’s one of the many reasons I’m so glad I found this website!

I’m happy a yaysayer from the medical field. I’ve been a PA for 7, almost 8, years. croooz is right… PA is NOT the same thing as MD!! Last year, I quit my full-time ER PA job and went back full time to a postbac program. I took the MCAT in May and submitted my AMCAS application yesterday!!! (Bring on the secondaries!!)

You are actually in a very fortunate situation for multiple reasons. You know what you want to do; you’re not floundering between MD versus PA. You have a supportive spouse. And, from my experience, that is incredibly important! You have done enough reflection to know that being a stay-at-home mom is not the right fit for you. Believe it or not, even as a PA, I have attendings that tell me I’m crazy for wanting to go to med school! But hey, that’s my problem… and I’m okay with it! Don’t let their negativity and naysaying deter you. Go for it!

Watch the first part of my talk from this years OPM conference where I talk specifically about the naysayers -

OP I certainly share your pain with this problem. It seems that every medic and nurse I talk to tells me I should definitely not apply to med school. The popular opinion of the people I work with is that, at my age, it would be crazy for me to apply and certainly not worth it.

It appears from what I am told that being a nurse or PA is like spending everyday at Disney Land and in comparison being a physicians somewhat akin to being in a Victorian work house (with a little less gruel).

It’s gotten to the point where when I’m asked why am I studying Organic Chemistry, I just tell people it is for PA school. Instead of another lecture on my foolishness I get a thumbs up and told I’m making a smart move.

I hear quite the opposite. I’ve heard a lot of PA’s that wish they would have spent the time in medical school rather than their program for twice the pay to do almost the same thing.

Every male PA that I have talked to or know says go the MED school route. They all say that they wished that they hadn’t gone the PA route. But this is what I’m hearing from men.

The (2) women PA’s that I know are exactly opposite. But that is because they wanted a family and kids, and the PA route offered them just what they were looking for.

Again as everyone has said, you are going to get different perspectives from didnt folks at different stages. You do what is best for you and your family or whatever, but I caution you on where your hearing this sort of talk. Have to validate the source then put stock into it or kick it to the curb.

Keep your eye on the prize. Focus, zone in on what you have to do to get from point A to B. Take no prisoners along the way. Good luck to you.

JMW…I know exactly where you are coming from. I’ve done it both ways. I’ve told classmates I am looking to go to PA school (just for the fun of saying it) and I get smiles and nods and ‘good for yous’…and other people I’ve told I’m back in school to go to medical school and I get the ‘are you nuts?’ look.

One fellow in my Orgo class said he thought about going to med school, but considering his advanced age, he is looking to go to PA school (he’s 33)

Always…always remember this…other people’s excuses do not apply to you.

Had my Orgo and Bio professors tell me to look into PA. Not because of my grades but because of what I would have to sacrifice. I said “I’m not comfortable talking about religion.” and smiled. It took them a minute, heck it took one of them almost five minutes till it clicked.

Sacrifice is the giving of something precious to a deity or whatever your current idol is. I don’t believe this is a sacrifice but what I and many here have been called to do. Call it fate, destiny, predestination, or not…if it’s what you are supposed to be doing then what are you sacrificing for it? Sacrifice also gives the impression of martyrdom or whatever. Delayed gratification is not sacrifice…it’s just being smart. I was dumb all these years and now I’m finally being smart.

Do not listen to anyone else because their blueprint for their lives is not the same as yours. You can find physicians who love their jobs and others who wished they had become plumbers. It all boils down to what their blueprint is for their lives and whether or not they are progressing or have stalled. Keep progressing toward your goals and remember they are your goals. Have an emotional reason as to why you want it, review this desire at least every night before going to bed, act on it daily with massive action (studying), and we’ll all get there.

Hey Croooz,

One must feed Ogun and Elegua every once in a while!


  • VickiV Said:
Hey Croooz,

One must feed Ogun and Elegua every once in a while!


Oh my! Reprenda ese demonio!!!

I looked into the PA route and discovered that I would a) have to take more classes to be eligible because I wasn’t a bio/chem major and b) have to RE-take some classes because I didn’t take them within the last few years (graduated 2004). The PA schools I looked into also required/requested a ton of patient-related experience which I don’t have the time to accumulate. I heard on NPR that PA schools have time-limited prereqs because some of the courses are considered vital to the licensing process. Never did follow up to see if that was true…

I think I’d rather be a physician regardless, but the above solidified that idea. However all the PAs I did talk to while shadowing seemed to really love it, both men and women.

My new concern about the PA profession in general, is the advent and popularity of DNP or Doctor of Nurse Practitioner programs.

Where’s a PA going to “fit in” in that scheme?

Good point, path. My guess is a diminished role. The nursing profession has some strong professional organizations with a lot of lobbying power. I believe NP can practice independently already whereas a PA has to have a physician in house.

I would also suggest signing up on some PA forums and just lurk. It is a good way to see how PAs see themselves as well. I remember seeing a push to change the A to Associate (from Assistant).

It seems that some really like their role and others lament their mid-level status.

I think the level of autonomy for NPs is dependent on the state. The path to DNP theoretically takes longer since you have to go through nursing school, masters of nursing, and doctor of nursing. You can technically go to PA school right after undergrad and start practicing with supervision in what, 2 yrs?

It’ll be interesting to see how things actually change when the patient flood gates open. I saw an article that had an NP poll saying that upwards of 90% were satisfied with their jobs and did not think they had the real ability to take on a much larger patient load in the near future.

  • kennymac Said:
You can technically go to PA school right after undergrad and start practicing with supervision in what, 2 yrs?

I seriously doubt a PA is going to supervise DNP's no matter the state.

As I see it, the DNP just creates another "level" of authority between the PA and MD.

pathdr2b - practicing “with supervision” doesn’t mean with supervision responsibilities, as your post seemed to imply, but with being supervised by a physician.

If that wasn’t what you meant, sorry! Ignore!


  • Kate429 Said:
pathdr2b - practicing "with supervision" doesn't mean with supervision responsibilities, as your post seemed to imply, but with being supervised by a physician.

No problem, we can feel free to debate and agree to disagree around here!

So to clarify, it's not outside my realm of reality to imagine that DNP's WILL oversee/supervise/instruc t/Boss around, PA's because they have the "Dr" title, especially in non emergent cases.

And I think the importance of saving money over providing quality healthcare will be the reason why.