MD vs. PA: Part II

I don’t pretend to be someone that only dreamt of white coat days in an MD haze. For myself and many others, the question between MD vs. PA school manifests itself. But to what extent and when is anyone’s guess. The last summer after year one and calls to 4 PA friends doesn’t seem ideal, but neither is regret over staying simply because you are capable/smart/expected to etc.

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You Don’t Have to Be a Doctor

Says my mom. This during another lengthy debate concerning the pros and cons of becoming one. And since registration for second year isn’t a declaration of marriage, I’ve flirted a bit with various career options in the medical field.

My first go around was this spring. Lilacs a’ bloomin’ and sun a’ shinin’ and a PhD a’ smilin’. What’s so alluring about the whole gig? I pictured falling in love with…

-No STEP or shelf exams

-Making science happen

-Finding the cure for cancer

-Analyzing data from home (it’s a no-no to bring your patients home)

-Writing Dr. on checks and what not

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Flexibility as a Female Physician

Seems [oxy-]moronic, but whether you’re into jet setting or maybe something quaint, oh, say like having a family, you should meet a few of the new friends I’ve made this summer:

Miss Mix-It-Up

This pediatrician grew up and attended medical school in Kenya. After residency and a mandatory year in something akin to the Peace Corps, Michigan seemed like the place to be. Her clinical work became so boring that she went for an MPH and ended up researching pediatric obesity. Currently, two days are spent running a healthy weight clinic at a major hospital while the other three days with data analysis, papers, lectures.

Miss E.R.

She chooses to work 3 twelve hour shifts. At night. Supposedly, never misses a bit of her children’s lives.

Miss Job Share

1 opening, 2 applicants. 1 patient, 2 doctors. It’s like when you signed up to bring snacks after your high school volleyball game. Everybody wants cookies so badly that they won’t turn you away if you can only bake one weekend in October. The same team gets fed. Different girls sign up. Think about it. (At least that’s the line I’m going to feed future employers.)

Miss Part Time

Anesthesiologist, internist, plastic surgeon, gynecologist all come to mind. They’ve not bought the 70-hour-work-week-lie to repay the investment that is medical education. (Oh yeah, lenders forget that we go hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt just to earn the little “m” and “d”.) For a pay cut, one can work mornings or three days or evenings etc. Endless possibilities.

Miss Consult

Turns out that you don’t have to enter residency after medical school (think teaching or medical admin–desperately needed as hospitals buildings rise higher than skyscrapers in our economy.) You don’t even have to practice after residency (think insurance claim consultation or research or nursing home management or really anything.)

Mixed messages from Mattel… should I be a mommy? A doctor? A mommies’ doctor!?

Whether guy or girl doc, these are all wonderful options to love what you do. But if there’s one common theme between those I shadowed, it was the presence of an awesome, supportive partner in crime!

How to Skip Ahead

Getting past my schedule for the next 6 years of med school life is pretty hard to do. But, this weekend, I’ve managed to beat the lines, get the DL, and seize the day. I hope you take time to:

1. Get your patients early.

There are physicians that fly through their same-day surgeries. Once I have people to the holding room in an appropriately early fashion, I can kick back. It’s a trend that’s worth keeping for my second year studies. Get things done before they’re due!

2. Read book 3 before you’ve started book 2.

At work, Hunger Games was the big topic. And so I asked why the second book had this disjointed approach. How was there some explosion left unexplained? What was so bad that they going after President Snow?

That’s when the awsomest, sweetest holding room nurse ever interjected, “Stop reading!” I had nearly finished the third part of the series!!! All by piecing together much of the second book’s plot… which I hadn’t read. But hey, if you’re a smart cookie, sometimes reading ahead will help understand what you missed.

3. Eat ice cream for lunch.

While in ATL visiting the long distance BF, I came across an ad for this ice cream fun day in a park along with family-oriented physical activities. Three of my favorite things–running around, SigO, frozen deliciousness. In one place.



Dearest medical school friends, last year, I would take mini-vacations and skip class to visit people in Detroit or Boston or wherever. (Online lecture studying occurred for sure.) But have a wonderful break before med schools say you should.

P.S. unless you’re enrolled in a compressed medical school program, there’s no true skipping ahead. And, like one wise OB/GYN told me, you wouldn’t want to. Our conversation began as his last case finished:

Doc: what year are you in school?

Me: just finished my first year… unfortunately.

Doc: You mean fortunately!?! The further you go along the more responsibilities you have. 

Me: [frowny face]

Doc: Your excuse this past case and for a long time will be “I’m a second year.”

Me: [Mind blown because I had forgotten where the cervix was and everything else down there during the surgery] So true. 

That’s why I am pumped to be going into and staying in my second year for as long as the system has me scheduled.

Let the Medicine Games Begin

What if medicine was like the Hunger Games? I just devoured the first book yesterday and can’t stop imagining all the sub specialties as tributes within hospital battle grounds.

You’d have the Careers–the cardiologists, orthopods, and neurosurgeons–all with the latest gadgets and training. (They’re making fistfuls of money like the Careers taking over the food stock.) That clever Foxface would be the dermatologist with her sneaky reimbursement ways. Next comes dear, little Rue. She’d be your soft-spoken psychiatrist friend, applying tonics and tinctures against burn out and depression. But then she’d get speared… forcing you to retaliate by killing that hoity-toity surgeon.

And you’re the riffraff from district 12. Yeah, you’re in primary care sharing the few, precious resources with the patients you love. Sometimes not even enough for yourself. To survive, you hunt down wild, rabid insurance companies through the forest of employee-covered health insurance while praying for medical supply company sponsorship. And every file-note-click step is tracked by the all-seeing Gamemakers. But who are they to make up new rules and healthcare overhauls?

That’s when you realize that the only way to come out alive is to love what you do. It’s not enough to wear the latest gear or eat all alone like a king or please the crowds. You grab that bow and arrow and rise up to your primary care calling. You take no lives and keep your own. Bring it on, you say to the juggernaut that is healthcare. You’re a girl on fire.

Me when I tell people that I am really considering pediatrics.