6 answers

How do I know which healthcare field to choose (MD vs. NP vs. PA, etc.)

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6 answers

Robby’s Answer

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These three professions have a lot of overlap, so researching into their job responsibilities or scope of practice would be ideal. You could also see differences between the professions if you shadow them, which means that you follow them through a day on the job. Factors to consider in this decision would be years of additional schooling (4 years of medical schools + >3 years of residency vs. 2 years of PA school), cost of education, job autonomy, salary, difficulty of getting into these careers, and work-life balance. PA/NPs typically practice more in primary care settings. They do not specialize as much as doctors and are able to do many of the same things as a doctor in a primary care setting. A PA/NP may not have as high a salary as a MD/DO, but they have less years of schooling and the schools are typically easier to get accepted to than a medical school. All three are great options if you want to practice medicine, with many similar responsibilities and clinical settings.

Robby recommends the following next steps:

  • Shadow a MD/DO
  • Shadow a PA
  • Shadow a NP
  • Research medical school vs. PA school vs. NP school
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Hwal’s Answer

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Jeff,

I'm a current PA student, so let me know if I can help answer specific questions about PA education. To clarify, PAs practice medicine in all medical specialties and in all clinical settings, and about 1/4 of certified PAs practice in primary care. A simple search using the current professions should get you helpful information, including comparison charts which is useful. Shadowing could definitely be the next step, to get an idea of what it's like to work as a PA vs physician vs NP. I hope this helps.

Good luck!

Hwal
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Blake’s Answer

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Hey Jeff,

When I was in high school I took a class where I shadowed different fields in the medical profession. I would highly recommend this because you will get an idea of what a day of work usually looks like.

Thanks,
Blake
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Damon’s Answer

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Take into account:
Glory
Level of responsibility
Length of time in debt
Available free time
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Philomena’s Answer

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The professions you have stated overlap and are interconnected, so i suggest you do more research work on these individual professions. Get to know the duration of study, the pass mark used to study this course, their duties , salaries and specialization. after doing this you will able to know which one suits you best.
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Richard’s Answer

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MD requires more school than NP or PA. It also requires a residency. As an MD you will have more autonomy with more responsibility.

PAs and NPs have a little more flexibility with regards to changing specialty. Several PAs that I have worked with in radiology have gone on to change to ortho, rheumatology or emergency medicine. An MD would have to complete a new residency to change specialties
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