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Physician's assistant career.

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
There has to be a few among us. I am interested in pursuing this career path, can anyone share what education they had, certification they received and general overview of what their job is like as a PA? Any insight is appreciated, thanks.
post #2 of 30
Not one but am very familiar with them. Generally, an undergrad degree in just about anything (I know a guy that works on an organ transplant team as a PA and was a banker prior) and then a PA program. Think they generally run two years. Tons of choices of practice, good pay, can have good to great (if you don't take an oncall position) quality of life.
post #3 of 30
I've never really understood this job. Why not just be a doctor? Or a Nurse Practitioner?
post #4 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rambo View Post

I've never really understood this job. Why not just be a doctor? Or a Nurse Practitioner?

Less schooling (though PA school is getting to be incredibly competitive) and much more patient/professional interaction. PAs do most of the shit that doctors do, and spend most of the time with the patients. AFAIK, the only thing they can't do that a GP would normally do is prescribe meds.
post #5 of 30
Ugh, set an appointment with a new local doc, came in, get taken care of by a PA instead... After a 20 minute interaction politely ask her to leave and bring in the real doctor who then proceeds to actually address the issues and requests I had instead of the BS that the PA was giving me.



So I don't really like PAs right now.
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by HgaleK View Post

Less schooling (though PA school is getting to be incredibly competitive) and much more patient/professional interaction. PAs do most of the shit that doctors do, and spend most of the time with the patients. AFAIK, the only thing they can't do that a GP would normally do is prescribe meds.

Just like NPs, PAs can prescribe. PAs are basically starting to muscle in on what NPs have been doing for years. You are correct though, much easier to be a PA vs. getting your NP.
post #7 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by HgaleK View Post

Less schooling (though PA school is getting to be incredibly competitive) and much more patient/professional interaction. PAs do most of the shit that doctors do, and spend most of the time with the patients. AFAIK, the only thing they can't do that a GP would normally do is prescribe meds.

PA's can prescribe under their own license. But on the same hand, are tied to the physicians license that they work under, as you might suspect given the name. It's not fair to paint all PA's equally.

PA's education and backgrounds are somewhat variable, though most** (hence asterisk) have worked in the healthcare field traditionally in another healthcare profession before making the jump to PA school.

Historically, a large amount have stemmed from backgrounds as military medics with a great amount of direct patient healthcare experience before making the jump to schooling for PA. Many were medics, EMT's, nurses, respiratory therapists, ect. for at least a few years before making the move to PA school. The scope of practice is generally as wide as the physicians whom the work under and the competency of their skill level. Some have been in the trenches as PA's for > 20 years and are just as capable to diagnose as the physicians they work under. It's not fair to paint all PA's under the same brush. You'll find PA's working in most any healthcare setting that a physician would from Emergency Medicine to Neurosurgery. However, you won't find (and likely never) find PA's actually doing surgery. You will find PA's who first assist in surgery however.

Most good PA schools will absolutely require great amount of direct healthcare experience before requiring entry to the the schools and profession. The schooling is a very rigorous 2 years round master's in addition to bachelor's beforehand. The schooling is taught akin to the first 1 & 2 years of those in actual medical schools.

What PA's lack primarily is the 3-8 year residency and fellowship training that physicians undergo for their chosen specialty. Many will refer to PA's as perpetual medical residency students. Though the delineation is more complex and nuanced.

Many experienced PA's in non-surgical settings will be found doing similar work as the physicians next to them, but at roughly half the salary as fully licensed physcians. But, given physician's annual salaries this is still somewhat handsome. PA's CAN be sued for malpractice, but the line of fire still usually hits the overseeing physician.

One thing to know is that the amount of PA schools offers has grown rather tremendously in the last decade or so. This has arguably lead to a trending of less and less healthcare experienced students being admitted to lower tier programs. Anecdotally, I know of a peer in the midwest whos only previous healthcare experience was a summer patient research experience at a children's hospital (NOT direct patient care) being admitted into the local state school. She was from my alma mater thus, my anecdote. She had high grades sure (>3.7). However, she did not have the realworld healthcare experience that would have traditionally been required of say a military medic of 10 years, who decided to go back to school to be a PA to further his career and knowledge base.

The thought of new PA student right out of undergrad with only a science undergrad degree and a simple hospital internship is somewhat troubling to hear. This is a more recent phenomena from interviewing PA family members I know.

Overall, PA schooling is still not a walk in the park, and expect 60- 70 hour weeks of studying/clincals to do well those years. Many PA's will do the grunt work physician's don't want to do to save $$$ for their practice. Some gigs depending on setting are naturally cushier than others. One thing PA's can do that physians canNOT is to switch practice specialties during their career. This is a somewhat of a benefit for the PA's, whereas physicians would usually require another residency of >3 years to do otherwise.

Story short, some of those long standing PA's may be quite competent despite Flambeur's remarks, without knowing background it's hard to but them all into the same box.

If Pio wants to correct I'd be happy to hear. biggrin.gif
I've only described what I've shadowed/ picked up from family members, and familial acquantances here in the U.S. Utlimately, the last word is still with the physicians and their scope of practice will be always tied to this relationship. Hope, you enjoy who you work under. satisfied.gif

BTW, no I'm not a PA, but merely a healthcare student of another profession. Still, the field is interlinked somewhat, so I've been sure to research for my own sake and future reference.

Remember, a Quack is a Quack, despite their potential to bark 'woof'. They'll be found riddled throughout the healthcare field whether they be PA, MD (physician), or otherwise.
post #8 of 30
Yeah, nothing personal against the PA people, I've met some docs who were total quacks, and some NPs who knew more than the docs they were working with..
post #9 of 30
Thanks for the clarification, yall.
post #10 of 30
What's the % of females in the PA field? My mom is going back to school for nursing and it's damn near all women, and has a particular culture because of that.
post #11 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rambo View Post

I've never really understood this job. Why not just be a doctor? Or a Nurse Practitioner?

There appears to be a lot less schooling to be a PA, and doesn't carry the stigma of being a "male nurse" ie Gaylord Focker status. (8)

From what I've read, in the future demand will grow for PAs as it is cheaper to have 1 Dr. overlook 4 PAs than have 5 Dr.s in a clinic etc.

I'm in the process of joining the AF, can't go to Meps yet so I don't know when or for what yet exactly, but I'm going to try to do something in the medical field. And while I'm in it I'll get my associate's degree in an applied science. So basically I'm looking at earning a Bachelor's after that then a 2 year PA course?

And thanks for the comments. I was sort of wondering how likely it was for PA's to get sued for malpractice.
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Pun View Post

There appears to be a lot less schooling to be a PA, and doesn't carry the stigma of being a "male nurse" ie Gaylord Focker status. (8)
Lol, life's not always like the movies..
I know you're young, but this statement is rathe naive and out of touch. [Not NP either]

The culture aspect of nursing can be there I'm sure, but it'll vary setting to setting..
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Pun 
I was sort of wondering how likely it was for PA's to get sued for malpractice.

Less likely, as hinted at above. Smaller malpractice insurance to carry.
However, this does not give the PA free-reign from being an incompetent nitwit, and doing thing with serious laps in judgement. IE messing with potential lives on the line.
post #13 of 30
My girlfriend just started nursing school, which so far seems pretty crazy. Maybe she should go with PA?
post #14 of 30
My wife has a four or five friends who all finished PA school in the last couple of years and none of them had an issue finding a relatively well paying job (all started in the $65k+ and that was here in Metro Detroit at the height of the recession). After working here for a year, one of them decided to pick up and move to Seattle because she liked the scenery better. She had no connections and no job prospects out there but planned to get a short-term rental and rough it for a few months before giving up. She ended up with two job offers before she was even out there a week and out of her hotel that she was in waiting for her apartment to be repainted. It's stories like hers that make me realize I went into the wrong profession (not that I have any desire to work with blood or shit or broken bones or old people).
post #15 of 30
Thread Starter 
^That's what I like to hear.

And erdawe, the (8) at the end of my sentence is from the sarcasm meter, (10) being most sarcastic lol.

Man I cannot wait for the future.
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