geniequeen48
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Hi,

I don't know whether I want to become a physician associate or a doctor.
My aims are:
To work in a surgical field
To have a good work life balance
To work abroad
To work for charities

I was thinking with a physician associate I could always move to canada if i wanted to live elsewhere, I could become a first assistant surgeon or go into any field with supervision of a doc and learning new skills and roles simultaneously, and charities are happy to take PAs to undertake a medical role(not exactly as a doctor) but still help in treating people across the world.

Is this all true? I'm a female btw so I do feel like i'm gonna have to be a mother someday (I don't wanna be old and barren). I feel like I can get the same satisfaction and pursue the same ambitions. Is the training for surgery that bad? I always hear it's intense but surely you have like days off per week? I have undertaken work experience btw.
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j_vicente
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If you want to be the lead surgeon, doing the whole surgery yourself, I would say go for being a Doctor. There are a lot of great things about being a PA, but PAs cannot do surgeries by themselves (they are not surgeons) and thats just how the profession is.

That being said, PAs DO MEDICINE. If you are a PA you will be doing medicine, you will be practicine medicine, PAs work to the medical model and many of the daily tasks of a PA are the same of a Doctor. Please don't think that becoming a PA means not studying medicine, it absolutelly does.

Regarding the working abroad, it might be a bit more difficult as a PA, at least right now. I am interested in doing volunteer work abroad as well and so far they dont take PAs since there are not many countries who recognise the profession. Hopefully this will change in the future
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geniequeen48
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(Original post by j_vicente)
If you want to be the lead surgeon, doing the whole surgery yourself, I would say go for being a Doctor. There are a lot of great things about being a PA, but PAs cannot do surgeries by themselves (they are not surgeons) and thats just how the profession is.

That being said, PAs DO MEDICINE. If you are a PA you will be doing medicine, you will be practicine medicine, PAs work to the medical model and many of the daily tasks of a PA are the same of a Doctor. Please don't think that becoming a PA means not studying medicine, it absolutelly does.

Regarding the working abroad, it might be a bit more difficult as a PA, at least right now. I am interested in doing volunteer work abroad as well and so far they dont take PAs since there are not many countries who recognise the profession. Hopefully this will change in the future
Hmm okay thanks for the tip.
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Democracy
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(Original post by geniequeen48)
Hi, I don't know whether I want to become a physician associate or a doctor. My aims are: To work in a surgical field To have a good work life balance To work abroad To work for charities I was thinking with a physician associate I could always move to canada if i wanted to live elsewhere, I could become a first assistant surgeon or go into any field with supervision of a doc and learning new skills and roles simultaneously, and charities are happy to take PAs to undertake a medical role(not exactly as a doctor) but still help in treating people across the world. Is this all true? I'm a female btw so I do feel like i'm gonna have to be a mother someday (I don't wanna be old and barren). I feel like I can get the same satisfaction and pursue the same ambitions. Is the training for surgery that bad? I always hear it's intense but surely you have like days off per week? I have undertaken work experience btw.
What do you mean by "first assistant surgeon"? That's not an official job title in the UK. In the operating theatre, depending on their seniority, the lead surgeon often has another surgeon assisting them (either a registrar or a senior house officer). These junior doctors are being trained in surgery, and should not be expected to give up their theatre time to a PA.

The PA role is still quite new and no one really knows how far it could extend so it is a fairly unknown quantity to be basing your life plan on. It might lead to the kind of job you'd like to do, but it also might not.

Other people who assist in the operating theatre include scrub nurses, theatre nurses and operating department practitioners. Have you considered these roles at all?

(Original post by j_vicente)
If you want to be the lead surgeon, doing the whole surgery yourself, I would say go for being a Doctor. There are a lot of great things about being a PA, but PAs cannot do surgeries by themselves (they are not surgeons) and thats just how the profession is.

That being said, PAs DO MEDICINE. If you are a PA you will be doing medicine, you will be practicine medicine, PAs work to the medical model and many of the daily tasks of a PA are the same of a Doctor. Please don't think that becoming a PA means not studying medicine, it absolutelly does.

Regarding the working abroad, it might be a bit more difficult as a PA, at least right now. I am interested in doing volunteer work abroad as well and so far they dont take PAs since there are not many countries who recognise the profession. Hopefully this will change in the future
Mate, you need to stop spereading this misinformation around. There's only one way to study medicine, and that's going to medical school and qualifying as a doctor. Convincing yourself otherwise is a delusion.

Also, "we learn on the medical model" is beginning to sound like the PA equivalent of "strong and stable". Give it a rest.
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artful_lounger
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Ignore Democracy; he's a rabid opponent of anyone in the medical profession that isn't a physician or surgeon, despite the medical profession necessarily requiring those other roles in order to continue to function and develop into the future.

If you're interested in surgery operating department practice may be more relevant. Both ODPs and Physician Associates, as well as Nurse Practitioners as I understand, can continue to train into the role of Surgical Care Practitioner. SCPs perform minor surgical procedures (e.g. carpal tunnel release) under the auspices of a surgeon. The surgeon need not necessarily be in the room for this, although they need to be available if complications arise.

However these roles are a distinct and complementary form of medical practice, in relation to the role of physicians and surgeons. If you want to become a surgeon formally then you should focus on continuing into medicine, and avoid going into these roles as a "second best" option. It demeans those roles place within the NHS as well as those who work in those roles and aspire to them.

However if you feel the different nature of those roles to "traditional" medical graduate roles appeals to you, for whatever reason (enjoying doing more procedural work under supervision, direct or indirect, for example, or working as part of a team to coordinate and carry out a surgery rather than leading that team) then certainly you should look into them. UCLan has recently introduced a 4 year undergraduate MPAS course which is seeking accreditation, which may provide a more direct route into the PA profession if that's of interest; even if not it would be a suitable biological science degree for continuing to the usual graduate PA courses and going that route.

It also apparently has a high emphasis on clinical attachments through the last two years which can give you useful insight into the profession. It may be suitable for a number of GEM programmes if you find during the clinical phase PA is not for you and you wish to continue to medicine itself instead. ODP is done normally as an undergraduate course and nurse practitioners I'm not as familiar with but I believe it's a longer route based on working in the role for an extended period of time.

But I wouldn't recommend applying to that (or any similar programmes e.g. ODP) with the sole intent of continuing to GEM.
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j_vicente
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(Original post by Democracy)
What do you mean by "first assistant surgeon"? That's not an official job title in the UK. In the operating theatre, depending on their seniority, the lead surgeon often has another surgeon assisting them (either a registrar or a senior house officer). These junior doctors are being trained in surgery, and should not be expected to give up their theatre time to a PA.

The PA role is still quite new and no one really knows how far it could extend so it is a fairly unknown quantity to be basing your life plan on. It might lead to the kind of job you'd like to do, but it also might not.

Other people who assist in the operating theatre include scrub nurses, theatre nurses and operating department practitioners. Have you considered these roles at all?



Mate, you need to stop spereading this misinformation around. There's only one way to study medicine, and that's going to medical school and qualifying as a doctor. Convincing yourself otherwise is a delusion.

Also, "we learn on the medical model" is beginning to sound like the PA equivalent of "strong and stable". Give it a rest.
Uhh ouch! Someone made a poor political comparison to my argument online! How will I ever survive?
Keep telling yourself that "mate", Im sure it will become true at any second now. Let me guess, insecure/scared Med student? I can only assume since real Doctors don't feel threatened by the presence of PAs, on the contrary, the are very welcoming of new MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS in the force.
Why don't you go read some FPA documentation and put some more sustance on your "stop moaning" style of argumentation?
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geniequeen48
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(Original post by Democracy)
What do you mean by "first assistant surgeon"? That's not an official job title in the UK. In the operating theatre, depending on their seniority, the lead surgeon often has another surgeon assisting them (either a registrar or a senior house officer). These junior doctors are being trained in surgery, and should not be expected to give up their theatre time to a PA.

The PA role is still quite new and no one really knows how far it could extend so it is a fairly unknown quantity to be basing your life plan on. It might lead to the kind of job you'd like to do, but it also might not.

Other people who assist in the operating theatre include scrub nurses, theatre nurses and operating department practitioners. Have you considered these roles at all?
Hi Democracy,

Thanks for the response. I have just undertaken work experience at a hospital and during my time there they gave me a sheet showing the list of staff involved in the operating theatre. The sheet and a white board in the operating theatre says "Surgeon" then "First assistant" and then "Nurse" in a column. I was observing a scrub practitioner assisting a surgeon in orthopaedic surgery - she was doing 50% of the work and her name was placed next to the "First assistant" role during the operation. Simultaneously there was another scrub practitioner in charge of the equipment. I have done research on ODPs but I am not fond of the idea of passing equipment without being able to operate. I have also spoken to a consultant anaesthetists and visited an open day at St George's university and they both said that Physician Associates can first assist in surgery and be taught by the surgeon new skills. To make sure I have searched on the NHS jobs website and they are offering first assistant roles in surgery for Physician Associates.

Moreover I have looked into the nursing and shadowed nurses but I wasn't fond of the job at all and don't see myself becoming a nurse.
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