The Difference Between PA and MD

If you are thinking of going into health care, there are numerous different routes you can take. The two most popular occupations in healthcare are a medical doctor (MD) and physician assistant (PA). We will help distinguish the difference between the two so you have a better understanding of them.

Becoming an MD

Becoming a doctor is not easy, it requires years of education and practice. You start off by getting a degree of 4 years from an undergraduate school and then spend another 2 years to get your MD. Your learning doesn’t stop there, you have to invest another 3 to 7 years to gain experience as a residency, training so you can get your license to surgery or medicine.

Becoming a PA

Becoming a PA is not easy but doesn’t require as many years of education as a doctor. You need to get an undergraduate degree of 4 years and then complete a Physician Assistant program which usually lasts 25 months. Then you need a year of practice in a clinical rotation before you get your license.

When it comes to education as both an MD and PA, learning never stops. You need to constantly take classes even after you have obtained your license.

How the two differ in functions

While both PA and MD share the responsibility of providing care for to the patient, a PA works under the supervision of the doctor. The duties of a PA include:

  • Examination of patient
  • Diagnoses
  • Getting patient’s history
  • Carrying out treatment
  • Counseling patients as far as healthcare plans go
  • Suturing wounds

A PA and doctors job may overlap but when it comes to surgery and providing more intensive care to patients, the doctor takes care of those. Doctors work completely autonomous unlike PA’s which work under the doctor’s supervision.

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