Each one of us has our dreams and goals to achieve. We grew up being asked, “what do you want to be in the future?” And surprisingly, the majority of children say they want to be a doctor and help the poor. Since then, they start chasing their dreams. At that age, we cannot differentiate between a Physician Assistant (PA) and a Medical Doctor (MD). The more we grow up, the more we get to know and finally understand why a Physician Assistant is different from a Medical Doctor. In this journey of achieving goals, those children with an ambition to serve society being health workers determine what they want to be, a PA or an MD. But sometimes, a change of mind can be seen. It’s mostly seen in the PAs. In the midway, some of them come up with this question, “Can a PA become a Doctor?” And the answer is YES, a PA Can be an MD. I know you are glad to see a yes. I mean, who wants to hear no? Okay. So, we are here to help you out and to boost your career.
Who is a PA?
PA is a Physical Assistant, a social worker who works under a doctor but more or less works like a doctor. Physician assistants can check up on their patients, can prescribe medicines and tests like USG, ECG, blood test, stool test, etc. In addition, they can guide a patient and give some tips on how to make a lifestyle healthy.
Who is a Doctor?
A doctor is also a social worker who keeps their eyes on patients, treats them, writes prescriptions, operates patients if needed, asks patients to go through tests, instructs a Physician Assistant.
Here you can ask, except for their degrees, everything is the same, then why would a PA opt for an MD? We will clarify your doubts.
Difference Between a PA and an MD
Key differences between a PA and MD are:
Both of these careers need a four-year graduation degree, and you have to be someone from a science background because, in this field, you are expected to know the science and healthcare-related subjects. A student from a science background satisfies the basic conditions to be a PA or an MD.
PA Training: After getting the graduation degree, a PA aspirant needs to go through a PA program of two-three years. During this time, they get training and gather experiences through clinical rotations. After completing this course, they need to sit for an exam, PANCE(Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam). Once they pass this exam, they become able to work officially under the supervision of doctors. You can appear in this exam three times a year if you have failed to clear it on the very first attempt. You know what? It is okay if you fail because failure is the key to success. Believe in yourself and work hard until you make it to this.
MD Training: After completing the bachelor’s degree, an aspiring MD candidate takes admission to medical school, which is a four-year course. For taking admission, they need to appear in MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). There these students gather knowledge about medicines, focus on clinical rotations. After this course, an MD aspirant needs to complete a residency. Then, they can consider a fellowship to earn a specialty certificate. Finally, after passing all these, they apply for a state license to practice.
- Job Duties
The responsibilities and duties of a PA and a doctor are more or less the same. Most of the time, their duties overlap. But there is a minute difference between the duties of a PA and an MD. A PA works under the supervision of a doctor, which means they get assisted and guided by doctors. At the same time, an MD is independent in his workplace, doesn’t need to discuss anything with anyone, handles things by themself.
Doctors usually earn more than PAs. For example, the national average wage in the US is $108,430 when a doctor earns $201,879 per year. So, you can see there is a huge difference in their salaries.
Ways To Be An MD From A PA
This part is the most important part of a PA working hard out there to attain his dreams. Don’t panic. We know how ambitious you are. You have made it this far, what do you think? Will all your efforts go in vain? Just sit tight and stay positive. You will earn this position, and we are here to cheer you up and show you support.
The human mind is not static. So, changes in desires, aims, goals are quite natural. If someone wants to try something new, then we should let them. Society will always forbid you to take any risk. But you know what, if we don’t take the risk to follow our dreams, we will end up being puppets and will be left with a monotonous life. I believe no one of us wants to lead our life to this.
So, go for what you want. Once you touch the peak of desire, you can shout for yourself, and that sound will be sent back as an echo. By this, if you are PA and want to excel, become an MD, don’t settle for any less. Don’t think whatever you are earning is enough. Because it’s more important to focus on How you would like to see yourself in future days if the answer is a PA, then it’s totally fine, and if the answer is MD or something else, then I would suggest you go for it.
How would you like to see yourself in the future?
Ask yourself what you truly desire. If you get to know what it is that you want, you can work on that properly. When it is about a career, we should listen to ourselves only. During my UG course, once, my professor said you should never listen to anyone but yourself regarding your studies, career, and relationship. This is the key to success. Being a doctor and maintaining the position is challenging. This is sometimes stressful, and you barely get holidays. If you think you are ready to take these responsibilities, then you should go for it. Otherwise, you should drop the plan. Before applying, make sure you are hard-working enough. Doctors are worshipped as God, so be it.
- Selection of medical school. As you are a PA, your chances are better to get admission to a medical school than a fresher one. Usually, the medical school program is for four-year. Now some medical schools like Texas Tech Health Center, Mercer University have a three-year medical school program which is beneficial for a PA. They have to invest less time to see themselves as they want to see. So, you are suggested here to select your medical school wisely. If you don’t have any idea, take time, do your research or take the help of someone experienced.
- Get a handle on your budget. Higher studies are a bit costly. So, before you apply, just calculate how much you can spend on this course. Select your education center according to the budget. Also, there are a bunch of scholarships to help a student financially. Apply for those. Educational loans are another option to go with. But in this case, you have to pay your debt after you get settled.
- Complete your prerequisites. Prerequisites mean a set of requirements that you need to match to take part in the medical school program. In most cases, a PA satisfies all these requirements. But it is safer to check once if there is anything left or not.
- Prepare for MCAT. An MD aspirant needs to sit for an exam, that is MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). You have to crack this exam to get admission to a medical school. And for this, you need to study hard. Make a schedule. Follow that routine. One more thing, while you make the schedule don’t forget you need adequate rest and sleep to focus on your studies properly.
- Complete medical school program. Once you clear your admission test with a great score, you can take admission to any medical school that you have selected earlier. This program is a four years program in most cases. Though some institutions have come up with a three years program, that is preferred by PAs. This four-year course is divided into two parts. The first part is a two-year course in which medical students focus on classes, given in labs and lectures. In the second half, they need to focus on the clinical rotation where they gain experience. As you are a PA, you have already experienced. So, this is an advantage for you.
- Complete residency. An MD aspirant needs to complete a residency as well. While you are completing the three or four-years course in medical school, you should apply for a residency program. You need to go through three to seven years of postgraduate residency training.
- Get a medical license. This is a known part to you. You had taken a license to be a PA. To be an MD you need to do the same. To get this license you have to appear in the United States Medical Licensing Examination. Once you clear this exam, you are eligible to apply to your state licensing board.
- Clear board exam. To become an MD, you need to clear a board exam and get certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties.
- Fellowship. You can consider a fellowship if you want to get certified in a specialty area like neurology, cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology, oncology.
- Apply for Jobs. After completing all these steps, you need to apply for jobs. You need to make a CV that reflects your qualifications and your abilities very well. You should add in your CV your past career as a PA. That increases your chance of getting hired.
I think you will find this article helpful. So, again, all the best to all of you, and we will be glad to see you achieving your goals.