Has anybody tried both a medical degree and a physician's associate degree? Watch

Bekkk
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I recently found out that I had failed my first year of graduate entry medicine. It was only by two marks, so I wasn't way, way off, but I found the whole year a struggle with the pace, intensity and anxiety of it all and had started to have second thoughts about becoming a doctor. Now that I've had a bit of space to think and reflect on what went wrong last year, I've started to wonder whether becoming a physician's associate might be the best balance between the things that drew me to medicine, but might suit my personality more, and I'm wishing I had thought of it sooner but I had never really heard of it until recently. However, I am wary of how I struggled with the intensity of last year.
Has anybody on here moved from graduate medicine to physician's associate? If so, how have you found the courses compared? I've heard that doing a PA degree is very intense and fast paced, but if it was even slightly less intense than graduate medicine I am wondering if I would cope with it a bit better, especially going in with my eyes open this time.
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j_vicente
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(Original post by Bekkk)
I recently found out that I had failed my first year of graduate entry medicine. It was only by two marks, so I wasn't way, way off, but I found the whole year a struggle with the pace, intensity and anxiety of it all and had started to have second thoughts about becoming a doctor. Now that I've had a bit of space to think and reflect on what went wrong last year, I've started to wonder whether becoming a physician's associate might be the best balance between the things that drew me to medicine, but might suit my personality more, and I'm wishing I had thought of it sooner but I had never really heard of it until recently. However, I am wary of how I struggled with the intensity of last year.
Has anybody on here moved from graduate medicine to physician's associate? If so, how have you found the courses compared? I've heard that doing a PA degree is very intense and fast paced, but if it was even slightly less intense than graduate medicine I am wondering if I would cope with it a bit better, especially going in with my eyes open this time.
Hum...that is a really hard advice to give. I usually advocate for people not to apply for a PA course as a consolation prize for not getting into medicine (since is another profession altogether) but I do understand where you come from. I also considered the GEM route but I didn't want to have to choose between practising medicine and having a life. Americans usually say that the PA profession is the "sweet spot" between the two and I hope they are right.
I haven't done a medical degree before starting my PA, but I did do Masters degree (after my BSc) before applying and although I was used to the post grad life, the course still left me shell shocked for a few months. It is incredibly fast paced and we do not have holidays (6 weeks during the whole year), so you might not feel a great improvement from the GEM intensity.
However, it is only 2 years instead of 4 and the work life can be better managed than that of a Junior Doctor, so maybe something to keep in mind..
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Ghotay
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I would argue that, OVERALL, GEM is probably easier than PA.

The reason I say this is because first year GEM is hell on earth. But once you've passed that, the remaining 3 years are reasonably easy in comparison. And you get pretty long holidays, and then at the end you're a doctor

The PA degree on the other hand, is 2 full years of hectic studying. My friend is a recently graduated PA and she worked damn hard. Certainly harder and more consistently than I feel like I have to (probably not harder than medical students in general, I'm just chill).

I would think carefully about which career you want to have to be honest. If you want to be a doctor, and think you can pass GEM1 second time around, I think you're likely to find the rest of the degree a breeze. If you DON'T want to be a doctor, or DON'T think you can pass, that's a different matter and I suppose it's up to you to figure out what you do want.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Ghotay)
I would argue that, OVERALL, GEM is probably easier than PA.

The reason I say this is because first year GEM is hell on earth. But once you've passed that, the remaining 3 years are reasonably easy in comparison. And you get pretty long holidays, and then at the end you're a doctor

The PA degree on the other hand, is 2 full years of hectic studying. My friend is a recently graduated PA and she worked damn hard. Certainly harder and more consistently than I feel like I have to (probably not harder than medical students in general, I'm just chill).

I would think carefully about which career you want to have to be honest. If you want to be a doctor, and think you can pass GEM1 second time around, I think you're likely to find the rest of the degree a breeze. If you DON'T want to be a doctor, or DON'T think you can pass, that's a different matter and I suppose it's up to you to figure out what you do want.
Did you do GEM then, which has resulted in this advice that it is an easier degree that PA?
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Democracy
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(Original post by Ghotay)
I would argue that, OVERALL, GEM is probably easier than PA.

The reason I say this is because first year GEM is hell on earth. But once you've passed that, the remaining 3 years are reasonably easy in comparison. And you get pretty long holidays, and then at the end you're a doctor

The PA degree on the other hand, is 2 full years of hectic studying. My friend is a recently graduated PA and she worked damn hard. Certainly harder and more consistently than I feel like I have to (probably not harder than medical students in general, I'm just chill).

I would think carefully about which career you want to have to be honest. If you want to be a doctor, and think you can pass GEM1 second time around, I think you're likely to find the rest of the degree a breeze. If you DON'T want to be a doctor, or DON'T think you can pass, that's a different matter and I suppose it's up to you to figure out what you do want.
Sorry but I couldn't disagree with you more here. GEP clinical years were not a walk in the park. I got four weeks of holiday all year - two weeks at Christmas and two weeks in the summer i.e. no Easter and no study leave.

"Then at the end you're a doctor" - yeah just like that! Not like you have to pass finals or anything.

What do you think it is that PA students are doing in their clinical year (singular), that we didn't during our three years? I'm genuinely interested to know.
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Ghotay
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Whoa whoa whoa ok I obviously didn't put my point across well here

(Original post by Reality Check)
Did you do GEM then, which has resulted in this advice that it is an easier degree that PA?
I did not do GEM, but at least at my uni (and I assumed all other unis?), GEMs join the 5 year course students for the last 3 years, so they are identical. So I feel equally qualified to comment on the difficulty of clinical years. Again I reiterate: I completely recognise that first first year of GEM is totally insane and I commend OP for getting through it at all.

(Original post by Democracy)
Sorry but I couldn't disagree with you more here. GEP clinical years were not a walk in the park. I got four weeks of holiday all year - two weeks at Christmas and two weeks in the summer i.e. no Easter and no study leave.

"Then at the end you're a doctor" - yeah just like that! Not like you have to pass finals or anything.

What do you think it is that PA students are doing in their clinical year (singular), that we didn't during our three years? I'm genuinely interested to know.
I am not suggesting that clinical medicine is easy, nor that PAs do anything extra that we don't do. I recognise that they learn a shortened version of medicine with much less depth and breadth than a medical degree. I helped a group of PAs with exam revision - while their knowledge on some subjects is impressive, their knowledge of many subjects that would be expected of a medical graduate is limited or entirely absent.

I should say though that the PA course at my uni is pretty heavily clinically integrated. They don't do one clinical year, more like 18months, and that starts from pretty early on. But I digress.

I guess I am using a different meaning of the word 'difficulty' here. Of course medicine is a longer degree, with much more knowledge required, and in that sense it is more 'difficult'. But OP specifically said that they were struggling with the "pace, intensity and anxiety of it all". And it is my feeling that GEM is one year of absolute hell, followed by 3 years of not so bad (not easy, but not so bad), whereas PA is 2 years at a fairly fast clip.

Clinical medicine isn't easy, but it's certainly doable, and my experience with GEM students is they typically find it even easier because they usually have previous relevant degrees, benefits of age and experience etc. My advice was geared quite specifically to OP in that I think if they can manage to get through GEM1, they almost certainly have what it takes to manage clinical medicine, and are likely to find it much easier, and PA school is not necessarily an 'easy' alternative that will come without 'pace and intensity'.
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Democracy
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(Original post by Ghotay)
I guess I am using a different meaning of the word 'difficulty' here. Of course medicine is a longer degree, with much more knowledge required, and in that sense it is more 'difficult'. But OP specifically said that they were struggling with the "pace, intensity and anxiety of it all". And it is my feeling that GEM is one year of absolute hell, followed by 3 years of not so bad (not easy, but not so bad), whereas PA is 2 years at a fairly fast clip.
Yeah this is what I'm curious about - what is it that you think happens on PA clinical placements which makes them faster or more intense or whatever compared to med school placements?

Because to my thinking: if the level of knowledge you go into a placement with is less (true for PAs) and the breadth and depth of knowledge which you're expected to come out with is less (again true), then how exactly are you having a harder time?

Clinical medicine isn't easy, but it's certainly doable, and my experience with GEM students is they typically find it even easier because they usually have previous relevant degrees, benefits of age and experience etc. My advice was geared quite specifically to OP in that I think if they can manage to get through GEM1, they almost certainly have what it takes to manage clinical medicine, and are likely to find it much easier, and PA school is not necessarily an 'easy' alternative that will come without 'pace and intensity'.
I should think all of the above (if true) would equally apply to PA students since they're graduates too...
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