Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Questions from the masses

Hey everyone! Psych is going really well. Love it so much. Would definitely consider a job in it, but since there aren't many PA jobs in psych I'm not going to be holding out for psych specifically. Actually, lately I've been thinking about moving to a different city after graduation, but that's for another post.

Below are some responses to an email I got today. Feel free to send me your own questions at GregoryHousePA@gmail.com

1) the fact that MD's really don’t have the horizontal movement PA's do between
specialties (so if you ever get burnt out doing EM for example, you could
switch to ortho, GI, or whatever)
There is no comparison to PAs in terms of horizontal mobility. This is one of the biggest things to bring up when comparing NP to PA. NPs are trained in a specific area of medicine, whereas PA are trained in all aspect of medicine. We're trained to be able to adapt to new specialties making us the most versatile members in health care. Granted if you do find one area of medicine that you truly love and only want to work in then you may feel slighted that you're not the MD and hesitate to go back to medical school. I know myself I'm not going to find one area of medicine that I'll want to stay in forever. I need change.

2) the ridiculous amount of time you spend in med school, and insane amount of
debt you rack up (especially considering how physicians salaries are likely to
go down in the future even though demand for health care is going up...seems
the golden age of doctors and medicine is over)

The golden age of medicine for doctors is over. These are the exact words that physicians have said to me when I asked them if they would go to medical school if they could make the decision all over again. You do spend a crazy amount of time in school and residency. I'm sure that when you're all done with your training it may be worth it. I had one PA tell me to go to medical school because I have time on my hands, since I'm so young (24). No other PA has ever said this. I didn't want to sacrifice my 20's for a career that isn't going to be the center of my life. Medicine is a job for me, not a life's passion. I enjoy the work and that's why I'm going into it.

As for the debt, I'm going to be 100K in debt for a Master's and looking at a starting salary around 80K. You can be more economical going to medical school depending on whether it's an instate tuition and such, but there are cheaper PA schools also. Mine is one of the more expensive.
3) the difference between the two in terms of LIFE balance (IE not working like
a dog for the rest of your life, having decent hours, being able to enjoy your
life outside of medicine, have a easier time meeting a partner/starting a
family, etc. This is probably the most important factor for me personally. What
is the point of the prestige and money of being a doctor, if you can’t enjoy it
like you should?)

I kind of touched on this previously. I chose PA partly because medicine isn't my life, it's my job. Being a PA means that I have a ton of job opportunities. Varying types of atmospheres (hospital vs private practice), schedules (shift work jobs vs 9-5), getting per diem jobs on the side to make a little extra cash. It's a profession that allows me the greatest flexibility when designing my lifestyle. If I want to work a ton, I can. If I don't want to work crazy hours, then I simply don't take one of those jobs. But remember, you can't always get the job that pays what you want, is located where you want, and is in the specialty that you want. You need to compromise something somewhere probably.
So far browsing through the PA forums there have been a few people who say PA's
really don't have that great of a schedule compared to MD/DO's and sometimes
work even more (for less $$ too), but it seems like the greater majority of
PA's and PA students seem to agree that PA's do have better scheduling and more
time to enjoy outside interests (things like playing an instrument, family time,
training for triathlons, or whatever you have as a hobby). Has this been your
experience as a PA, with other PA’s you know, and the things you have seen so
far? I just don't want to go to PA school with some false ideas being the basis
for it. I guess the overall point of this letter was to ask you if any of the
reasons I have for wanting to be a PA are unfounded or untrue, and ask you why
you personally decided to be a PA as opposed to an MD, DO, NP, or any other
health care provider. If you could do anything over again, such as going the MD
route would you, or are you very happy as a PA?

Bottom line: I'm very happy with my decision. That being said I'm not a working PA yet. I haven't had to find a job. Some PAs complain about their hours and there pay. Those PAs should switch their jobs. There are lots of job opportunities. You can find a job that works for you. But this can be very dependent on where you live. The city I currently live in has lots of PA jobs, but not very well paying. I'm probably going to move to a different city because there are more opportunities and better pay. This works for me because I love that city and have always wanted to live there. This plan wouldn't work out for you if the city you want to live in has a shitty PA situation. I can't say that because you're a PA you're guaranteed to "have a life." But you should have the opportunities to, assuming the life you want doesn't require a 200K+ income. (You would have to work multiple jobs to make 200K as a PA)

I would have to apply for the 2012 PA class since I would first
have to take anatomy/physiology and the GRE this year then do the whole
interview process again next year if I got any (I think I am a decent
candidate, I have 3.9 GPA, worked on a collegiate student run rescue squad as
an EMT-B for 2.5 years, was a nurses assistant for 2 summers, have lots of
volunteer work and shadowing, etc). I would also need to find a job for next
year as well. I still have a lot of time though to sit on my acceptance/deferral
to med school and don’t have to tell VCU no until August/September of next year,
so until then I will definitely pursue this. Thanks again.

There are plenty of schools that don't require the GRE. I didn't apply to any schools that required it, mainly on the east coast. (18) As long as you get A+P done by the start of PA school then there isn't a reason you can't apply now, but late October is really late in the application process. You may not want to apply this cycle. I personally LOVED my year off between college and PA school. I got a job as a medical assistant in derm and it was fun. I learned how to act with patients and was well prepared for school because of it. Also that job definitely helped a lot getting into PA school, so having a job would offer you more school options.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Passive Aggressive

Since being on rotations I seem to have developed a rather passive aggressive behavior. It's one that my faculty told me to adopt whilst being on rotations, but I almost feel it's getting out of hand. When ever a preceptor tells me something blatantly wrong I never correct them. I'll tell them what I think, but if they say I'm wrong I don't fight it at all. I mean this is overall a good thing I guess. It makes me seem non-confrontational, but shouldn't the right answer prevail? I don't have an issue continuing like this, but I feel like I'm getting borderline aggressive with this tactic. I'm actually getting a kick out of people telling me the wrong thing. Internally I know that I'm right and they're wrong. That's all that matters to me.

I know this sounds terribly arrogant, but trust me this isn't occurring a hundred times a day. It may only be 1 occurrence a day, if even. And it's not even always about medical facts. It might just be about how I heard the healthy miner's were getting brought up first, then followed by the more frail miners. People disagreed about it with me, but I had literally heard that on the morning news an hour earlier. But whatever. Should it even matter?

PS - I'm currently on Psych and I'm loving it. I also think I take to it exceptionally well. I really want a job offer from this site. I don't think it's going to happen though, but only because there isn't a job opening.