Shannon Christian

In this weekly blog, staff reporter Shannon Christian writes about the myths of healthcare and how it impacts students.

Dr. Germ: nuances in title d

Physicians carry a lot of weight. When one thinks of the medical field, their mind immediately goes to doctors, used interchangeably with physicians. Young kids want to become a doctor when they grow up. Doctor, on the other hand, is a title that many strive for, but may not achieve. Eight years of medical school, with an additional four years of a specialty fellowship are carried within the title of doctor. Many drawbacks have caused future medical professionals to shift their career goals away from the title of doctor. 

In a hospital setting, doctors can be the hardest people to find. Patients fill almost every bed, nurses and technicians are spread out amongst each hall, but physicians hop from room to room only to resign to their office for analytical work. Distinctively from nurses and technicians, physicians do not see patients multiple times within the hour, and may only see them once during the visit to provide a diagnosis and a plan of treatment. 

The hours of a physician may seem appealing to many, as the role requires one to be on call for eight hours, meaning that a shift can be worked 9 to 5, just as many jobs are. The demands of a physician are also different from those of many clinical workers, doing less of the hands-on work like taking vitals and collecting samples from the patient, really only observations for symptoms are done to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. This can be a drawback for many aspiring medical professionals, as hands-on clinical work is important for many. 

The fusion of hands-on clinical work that many nurses and technicians complete, and the roles of diagnosis the physician completes is found in the job description of the physician assistant. The physician assistant’s career is one that has been greatly sought after in recent years, with a projected growth of physician assistants being 31 percent within the next decade. 

Physician assistants are given the title of PA, which is achieved through two to three years of physician assistant’s school, as compared to the 8 years of medical school. The significant difference in years of education draws in more students as it can allow for a better work-life balance in which a professional may begin working when they are younger, around 25 years of age rather than 30 years of age, like many doctors. This is incredibly important to students who are eager to begin a career, or for students who wish to start a family earlier in life, such as many classmates I know who are pursuing the physician assistant career. 

The physician assistant role may not be given as much notoriety as physicians themselves, but when on the floor, they are able to communicate with patients more often and complete clinical work, in addition to aiding the doctor in creating the treatment plans of patients. For many students who are looking to complete more clinical work, and not spend as much time in school, the physician assistant role is an important and fulfilling part of the medical field to pursue. 

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