Medicine vs Physician Associate


New Member
I am 24 and I just finished my degree last year andI am considering applying for either medicine or physician associate Msc and I am not sure which to apply for.

I think part of the reason I am hesitating about medicine is because it took me longer than normal to get me degree as I had to interrupt my UG studies for 18 months during for mental and physical health reasons. I did get quite stressed at certain points of my degree and suffered from anxiety and depression especially around exam time. Furthermore, whilst that experience taught me a lot and showed me that I can get through tough times it also makes me worry whether I can cope with medicine esp. as a 4 year course is more intense. However I don't want to let me lack of self-belief hold me back either but equally I don't want to keep pushing myself to the point that my mental health declines or that I have to quit studying medicine and then can't get onto a PA course as many programmes state you can't apply if you have started a PA or medicine course elsewhere. However, I have also heard that PA is a super intensive course also.

Also I think I am worried about regretting doing one over the other, for example I don't want to do PA and then realise that I wish I had done medicine.

However, at the age I am, I also realise that my career is important but I also want to have a family and enjoy hobbies etc. So I worry that if I do medicine I don't know how easy it would be to have a work life balance especially as you state that training pathway is life a treadmill. Or I have to make the choice of training to be a GP in order to have that work/life balance whereas if I did PA I could maybe work in a hospital speciality as the hours not as bad. However, on the other hand by that time PA's may be required to work similar hours to junior doctors. And as the PA role is a sort of unknown at the moment, who knows what the role will be like in the future? So I am finding it hard to make a decision when there is so much uncertainty.

Also I am quite indecisive and I think I would rather be more of a generalist medic that super specialised, but who knows? So the fact that PA's can change specialities is really appealing even though in practise I am not sure how easy or possible this is? Yet on the other hand medicine has a longer training period in which I would be exposed for longer periods to different specialities which might help me make a decision about what to specialise in.

These are the pro's and con's that I have thought of, what do you think have I missed anything?

Pro's medicine -
- More structured career pathway
- Specialise
- More career opportunities
- Possible to do global health work
- Higher salary
- Ability/afford to work LTFT??
- Can work abroad

Con's medicine -
- Longer hours/nights and weekends etc.
- More stressful
- Nomadic Life
- Can't (easily) change specialties
- Longer uni course

Pro's PA -
- Better work/life balance
- Change specialities
- Opportunities to define role e.g. lecture etc
- Settled/don't have to move
- Shorter course
- Less stressful

Con's PA -
- Job availability
- Unknown entity
- Lower salary/can't afford to work part time
- Can't do Global health work at all/as easily (would require a MSc/PHD in global/public health)
- Can't work abroad
- Unsatisfied?? Will I want to be the doctor (is that just ego??)

Any advice would be really appreciated!


Hello x
Having completed the medical degree and worked alongside PA, I sincerely worry theybare getting short-changed and put into a vulnerable position. They are an attempt to provide a GP/A&E triage service on the cheap... the corners cut are in the time spent training. Already, on a 5yr degree, there isn't the time to squeze everything in, there isn't much you could safely remove. I sincerely have a concern for PA's and their future. They are being asked to diagnose and triage with a huge amount of unknown unknowns in their knowledge.

One con you didn't mention is the insurance costs they have, steep! There is a reason they are so high too......
The government may not care if there are PA's filling the gaps with the odd horror story or avoidable outcome. But what about the poor PA that has had to experience that risk and consequence.