Should I Become A Doctor Or A Physician Assistant?
A career as physician assistant or medical doctor will put you in a position to provide medical care to patients. Both professionals can examine, diagnose and prescribe treatment to patients suffering from various health conditions. However, both professionals have fundamental differences that can make it confusing for you to decide which career path to take. If this describes you, consider the following reasons for becoming a doctor or physician assistant below.
You can consider becoming a medical doctor if:
- You don’t mind spending at least eleven years in school—4 years to obtain your bachelor’s degree, 4 years in formal medical school and anywhere from 3 to 8 years to complete your residency.
- You want to practice your profession independently and not have to be supervised by anyone.
- You want to specialize in a particular aspect of medicine. You may opt to become a pediatrician, a cardiologist or obstetrics and gynecology, just to name a few specializations, depending on your field of interest.
- You want to become a surgeon.
- You want to receive much higher pay.
You can consider becoming a physician assistant if:
- You want to a shorter educational path towards a medical career. You only need to complete your bachelor’s degree and then take up a master’s degree in a physician assistant program which lasts for at least two years or only a total of six years in school.
- You are looking for a more affordable medical training.
- You don’t mind being under the supervision of a medical doctor and reporting to him.
- You have no plans of becoming a surgeon. You may be asked to assist surgical procedures, though, but you cannot perform one yourself.
- You want to have flexibility if you want to shift from a medical specialty to another. After obtaining your physician assistant license, you can shift from being an internist to pediatrician without the need for additional training.
Hopefully, the points given above should give you a good idea if you should become a physician assistant or a medical doctor. In addition to these, you may be interested to know that the career outlook for physician assistants is projected to burgeon in the next few years. While there is also demand for physicians and surgeons, the need for physician assistants is set to be much higher than the national average. The opportunities are especially good if you don’t mind working in rural areas where the need for healthcare professionals is great.
Of course, there is always that matter of prestige. In addition to the limitations of the physician assistant career but without downgrading this profession, it cannot be denied that people put doctors in high esteem when it comes to the authority they hold over their health. This is understandable considering that this career has been around for a long time and the fact that their medical training is considerably longer and more comprehensive than what physician assistants undergo. If this is important to you, then medical school will be the best option for you.