I know someone posted a similar thread earlier, but I'd like to start a discussion about the pros and cons of a PA vs MD in general, as opposed to PA as a backup to becoming an MD.
A quick background about myself - I'm a 3rd year Northeastern University (UG) Health Science student with a GPA of about 3.8. I'm an EMT-B getting moderate amounts of experience working with a private Ambulance company (including 911 not just dialysis transfers). I also have some phlebotomy and research experience.
My dilemma is really in deciding what would be the best route for me. I'm truly torn as whether to pursue PA or MD/DO. Some aspects of the decision would be personal to me, but as the PA position becomes more prominent, I feel like both fields are changing significantly. This is what I've laid out so far in terms of Pros and Cons - Other opinions or ideas appreciated!
Pt. contact: PA's can spend more time with patients than MD's while MD's tend to have too many patients, and are too busy with billing matters to have significant pt contact.
Independance: PA's must work under a doctor's license. This isn't going to change, but in most states PA's are able to prescribe and diagnose quite liberally. MD's of course can operate under their own license and have much more flexibility in career choice.
Mobility: PA's can switch fields more easily than MD's - they can learn on the job while MD's would have to complete additional residencies. The MD is more widely recognized though.
Cost & Length of School: PA: about 2 years and $30,000. MD: about 4 years + residency and $100,000+
Salary: PA's make a comfortable salary (70k-100k roughly), while MD's make a comfortable to extremely comfortable salary
Liability: less for PA's, more for MD's
Recognition: We can't deny this as a factor..it's nicer to have MD at the end of your name than PA
Education: PA school focuses more on the practical "nuts & bolts" of medicine whereas Medical school will give you a lot more background info (some useful some useless) including histology and more laboratory science.
Personal/Professional Satisfaction: PA's seem to be happy with their job and I have only heard of several that went back to medical school after being a PA. However, and this is my biggest worry, I don't know if I would ultimately be satisfied without "being all that I could be" and going for the MD.
To sum it all up, I feel like PA would make the most sense economically and even in terms of lifestyle, but it also might nag at me for the rest of my life that I didn't go for med school. Any thoughts?