PA to MD: How to Transform Your Healthcare Career in 11 Steps

PA to MD: Physician Assistant to Medical Doctor | BeMo Academic Consulting

What is a doctor?

A doctor is a health care provider who treats patients, makes medical diagnoses, and issues prescriptions. A doctor can treat patients independently. Additionally, if necessary, they might be able to perform some surgical procedures. Many medical professionals have areas of expertise and are regarded as fully qualified to diagnose and treat patients.

What is a PA?

While under the direction of physicians, physician assistants (PAs) have the ability to examine patients, write prescriptions, and order tests. They can recommend lifestyle changes to patients, stitch wounds, set bones, administer immunizations, and keep patient records, just like doctors. To practice, physician assistants must obtain a master’s degree and pass a licensing test.

The differences between a PA and an MD

The following are some key distinctions between a PA and a MD:


Even though a PA’s and MD’s jobs often overlap, there are some important differences between them. The first difference is their level of education. Both professions call for a four-year college degree, typically with a major in a science or healthcare field.

A future physician assistant enrolls in a two- to three-year PA program after receiving their bachelor’s degree. An aspiring doctor attends medical school for four years. In the latter stages of their curriculums, both programs put a strong emphasis on clinical rotations. However, medical school gives students a deeper knowledge of medicine. Typically, applicants for both educational paths must meet a set of requirements and gain medical experience in order to be admitted.

An aspirant PA must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) after completing their program. Then they can officially begin working. Doctors must complete a residency and occasionally a fellowship after graduating from medical school before applying for a state license to practice.

Job duties

Despite the fact that doctors and PAs both perform many of the same duties, a doctor is always in charge of a PA’s work. They could help with surgery, patient examination, diagnosis, and treatment planning, among other things. Compared to PAs, doctors work more independently and complete more complex tasks, like performing procedures.


How to go from a PA to an MD

One of the many reasons PAs might decide to become doctors is to increase their income, gain more freedom, or take on new responsibilities. The actions you can take to change from a PA to an MD are as follows:

1. Reflect on your career path

Do you really want to become a doctor before you even consider applying to medical school? You might be ready for this exciting career change if you want to take on more responsibility and work in administration. Like becoming a PA, becoming a doctor also takes time, effort, and commitment.

Think about whether you want to practice as a general practitioner or a specialist in a particular field of medicine. Specialty doctors go through an additional fellowship after their residency.

2. Research medical schools

Research medical schools that will fit your requirements. For instance, some medical schools offer accelerated programs that allow students to complete their medical education in three rather than four years. Although the programs can be more intensive, this is a good option for those who want to complete less education and become a doctor as soon as possible.

3. Calculate your student debt

It’s crucial to estimate your total student debt after graduating from medical school, in addition to any existing debt. By doing so, you can plan your spending and lifestyle while attending school.

4. Complete your prerequisites

You might need to finish a set of prerequisites in order to be accepted to medical school. These will vary by school, and in some cases, your prior training as a PA or education will suffice to meet these admission requirements. Check the requirements for the schools you’re interested in attending to make sure you meet them.

5. Take the MCAT

Candidates for medical schools must take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Although what you learned while working as a PA will be helpful, it is crucial to study diligently to obtain the highest possible score.

You’ll also need to write a personal statement and obtain recommendation letters in addition to taking the MCAT.

6. Complete medical school

Most medical school programs last four years. They are divided into two sections: instruction and clinical rotations. During instruction, you will learn from classroom lectures and labs. You will work in a real medical setting and gain experience by helping patients during your rotations. As a PA, you might have an advantage because you frequently interact with patients.

7. Get a medical license

You must obtain an MD license in a manner similar to how you must obtain a PA license. You need to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination. You will take the exam in three stages throughout medical school and occasionally into your residency. Typically, you pass step one during your third year of school after taking step one between your second and third years of school. You usually complete the final portion after you graduate. Depending on where you are, you can use it a different number of times.

You can submit an application to your state’s medical licensing board after passing the USMLE. Typically, you must provide evidence that you passed the USMLE and an accredited medical school. Some states have extra specifications, like passing a background check. According to your state’s most recent regulations, you need to renew your license.

8. Complete a residency

You must submit an application for a residency program while in medical school. During this time, you decide which programs you prefer. A postgraduate residency program lasting three to seven years is required for aspiring doctors. Now is the time to settle in as a doctor and put all of your skills and education to use.

9. Pass a board exam

Earning at least one certification from the American Board of Medical Specialties allows nearly all physicians to become board certified. Depending on your field of expertise, such as surgery or internal medicine, you must finish the exam. As long as you meet the requirements, you can obtain board certification in as many different fields as you like.

10. Consider a fellowship to specialize

This step is completely optional. Those who wish to specialize must obtain a certificate in their chosen field. Examples include cardiology, neurology, oncology and radiology. You must complete a fellowship, depending on your area of specialization, in order to receive a specialty certification. Some fellowships can last three years.

11. Apply for jobs

Apply for jobs as your residency or fellowship draws to a close. Make a CV or resume that details your training, credentials, accomplishments, and publications. Since it gives you additional experience, mentioning your experience as a PA can make you stand out from other applicants.


Can you go from a PA to a MD?

However, some healthcare professionals are interested in transitioning from their current position as a physician assistant (PA) to a Doctor of Medicine (MD). You must apply to medical schools, enroll in an MD program, and complete residency training in order to change your status from PA to MD.

Is there a path from PA to MD?

Unfortunately, no. Whether you’ve held a position as a physician assistant or not, the road to becoming a doctor of medicine is the same for everyone. However, if you have prior experience in this area, some process steps will be simpler for you.

Is PA easier than MD?

The same year, the accepted PA students’ average GPA was a 3. 5 science and 3. 6 overall. So, based solely on GPA, you could say that PA programs are easier to get into than MD programs, but only by the tiniest of margins.

Is a PA higher than a doctor?

The primary distinction between physician assistant and doctor medical training is time. Normally, medical school lasts four years, followed by an internship and residency. PAs, however, finish their training in just two years.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *