Saturday, December 20, 2008


So there is an interesting and timely post (for me at least) on Scapel & Sword, one of my favorite medical blogs, about the utility (or lack thereof) of Phys. Assts.  A commenter brought up the question of 'why not go to medical school?' Why not indeed.

In truth, with the pre-requisite load I have for PA school, I would just need a smidge more of classes to qualify for medical school. But I don't want to go. I have no interest in the debt, the years or hours it would take, or the sleepless residency. Further, I think becoming a doctor at this juncture in social policy could be risky as all it would take is a well timed policy change or two to ruin you financially. I am all for universal health care, but it's a problem if it lowers salaries to a point where doctors can't survive, let alone justify, several $100k in student loans. Even saving lives has a cost-benefit analysis and many doctors already struggle with that analysis, which I do not take as a good sign.

I am attracted to the PA field because it is a nice balance of return on time and money invested. I earn a Master's degree along with my certificate. I gain entry to a field that fascinates me and grants me access to needed health care.  Our employer has cut the knees out from under employee health insurance making it clear that I (along with every other American) need to do something else in order to guarantee ongoing access to quality health care. It seems as if the medical field is the best place to be if you want good insurance, plus you get to know who the good docs are. Further,we will likely never be able to retire and I need a field that will keep me employed at a decent income for the long haul.

It also helps that my original field (international logistics of hazardous materials i.e. making sure the plane you fly on does not explode) is dying with the economy. I need to retrain in something, so this is a good time to make a clean break.

Okay, so that's why I'm going for PA, but why Primary Care? Primary Care is not where the money is for anyone, which is strange as demand is stronger than supply in that field. Most doctors and PAs make more money specializing in surgical specialties. Eh. I have zero interest in surgery anything and a lot of interest in managing chronic health conditions (since I seem to be slowly collecting a full set for myself). If I were to specialize I would probably go for Respiratory or Endocrinology,which are not big on surgery type interventions.

So that's the story of why I am not going to be a doctor.

PS: The chemistry class count is now up to seven. Egads. I might as well be a chemist.

PPS: I don't want to go for Nurse Practitioner either. I am not interested in the RN working experience that is required prior to application. God bless nurses, they are saints and I am...not.

PPPS: I know I have some comments and emails I have not gotten to. My apologies. I will get back to everyone asap.


Hot Belly Mama - easing into it said...

I am getting ready to go back to school. I am really interested in becoming a sonographer. I had my first ultrasound done when I was 17and have been hooked ever since. But the PA field is a great one. I have a friend who does that and loves it. Good luck!

Lyndsay said...

Oh, I'd love to go into the PA field ... I wish you luck! I've always been slightly-obsessed with doing something in the medical field, but my inability to handle all things body-fluid related or using needles has sort of prohibited that.

Perhaps I'll live vicariously through you!