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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Medical Careers

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Medical Career - Stressful Aspects of
Question: What is the most stressful aspect of your career?

Answer: Insurance companies that worry about bottom lines and not what is best for an individual patient. Patients with no resources to afford quality care/medications. The rest is relatively easy.

Pharmacist Profession
Question: What are the pros and cons of the Pharmacist profession?

Answer: Like most medical professions, this profession is in flux. Mail pharmacy and mega-drug stores have almost eliminated the independent pharmacist. As a consequence, you will usually work for a hospital or large organization. Some pharmacists do research primarily in Universities and for Drug companies. The profession teaches excellent thought processes to understand drugs and their interactions. It is intellectually challenging and has fairly predictable hours, but also tends to involve weekends and occasional holidays (especially in a hospital setting). I still think it is an excellent profession with a good salary and strong intellectual challenge. It is being pressured by managed care and mail pharmacies from some of its traditional base advantages.

Physician Assistants
Question: Do you see a growing need for Physicians Assistants? What is the difference between a nurse and PA. Why are doctors hiring or not hiring PAs? I am considering PA school and want to know what the job outlook is like.

Answer: PAs are licensed in most states to act without a doctor being present. Nurses are usually limited to being under the supervision of a physician. I expect the demand for PAs to rise steadily. Try contacting the American Academy of PAs at 703-836-2272.

Question: How much money do you make a month?

Answer: A pharmacist will start at about 30,000 a year depending on experience, job site and hours worked. Salaries after starting vary tremendously.

Question: Can you tell me which schools are the best for Pharmacy in the New York-New Jersey area? If not, where should I look?

Answer: Like most other things you will get the best advice from talking to people in the Pharmacy world. Discuss this with your local pharmacist and any other pharmacist you can find. Discuss it with drug representatives. Talk to students at each institution. Many institutions are famous for research and obtain a good name, but teach poorly. It is important that you decide your future course. Famous institutions will allow research and open doors, but they may not produce the best clinical pharmacists.

Question: I have just started college at UTA at Arlington, and I have always wanted to be a doctor. However, now that I am in college I am struggling in regualar Biology and can't seem to grasp any of the concepts. I also realized I dislike chemistry. Should I still try even though I'm not sure anymore? Also, how long did it take for you to become a doctor?

Answer: Fortunately, liking chemistry is not a requisite for medical school, but getting a good grade is. I really never found that basic chemistry was very important in medical school. Your studies will be easier if you understand organic chemistry, which is a very different subject. One important lesson that I retained from undergraduate studies is this: Always use the best. Find the teacher in chemistry that has the best reputation among chemistry majors and graduate students for being a good chemistry teacher. Then wait until that person is teaching the course. Often, the dislike for a subject has to do with the teacher, and not the subject. A good teacher can make anything come alive. I think that many of the basic science courses are relatively boring compared to medicine. Most medical students find practicing medicine to be fascinating, but studying the first two years is not. Medical school doesn't get to be "fun" for most students until third year.

Career as Doctor
Question: education requirements, anticipated salary, and time spent

Answer: You'd be better off discussing this with a career counselor. Curiously, one doesn't need to be a college graduate to be accepted in medical school. However, each school has minimum requirements centered around science, biology, and mathematics. Medical school is usually four years-although some schools offer a slower five year pace for selected students. Residency in a medical field follows medical school. This varies depending on the speciality and if one desires to sub-specialize. For example, General Medicine is three years and sub-speciality in pulmonary, nephrology, or cardiology can be two or three years. General Surgery is usually five years-six in some research oriented universities. This can be followed by a surgical sub-speciality of one, two or three years. In general, incomes for highly specialized physicians is higher than for general physicians. Incomes vary greatly depending on field and how much is research, teaching, charity work etc. Incomes also vary greatly with location-rural areas usually less and cities more. My advice to students considering medicine has nothing to do with time or money. Like most professions enter it because you have a passion or desire to be in that field. These students are always the most successful. Enter for the money and you'll earn every nickel.

Question:What are the benefits of being an anestheologist? In what ways do you find what you do to be stressful? What current issues are affecting this career area? I will soon be writing a term paper on the topic of anesthesiology. I would greatly appreciate any information you could give.

Answer: Probably the best way to research your paper is to contact your county medical society. I'm sure they would he able to put you in contact with an anestheologist. I'm not specifically trained in this area, although, I have had contact in medical school. This is an area of medicine which is growing very rapidly. They have been branching into critical care and the care of respirator patients in the intensive care unit and it has been one of the more dynamic areas of medicine in the last 5-10 years.

Nurse/Nurse Practitioner
Question: Hello, my name is Mindy Fischer. I'm planing on becoming a nurse or nurse practitioner. I would like to know what some of the other jobs are. In January I will be writing a term paper about my career cluster. Could you please explain to me what is and has been going on the past five years that might provide an interesting topic to write on.

Answer: Since I'm not a nurse, I would only be giving physician bias concerning this profession. I would recommend contacting the nursing office at your local hospital. I'm sure they could put you in contact with a nurse and probably go around with him/her during their day. A nurse practitioner is a completly different field. It is much more like being a physician. The difference is in the amount and type of schooling.

Nursing and Physician Assistants
Question: I am going to be graduating from high school in May of 97. I know that I want to go into the medical field. I don't want to become a doctor, though. I am seriously debating the professions of nursing and physician assistant studies. I was wondering if someone could inform me on the two professions. Thanks!

Answer: There are so many types of medical professions that describing them would be extremely difficult. Also, within nursing there are probably 50-75 major categories of nursing ranging from Intensive care nursing to Home or School Nursing. It might be very useful to volunteer in a hospital where you can participate in several areas. This will give you a better idea of areas that you might like. Nursing has different degree programs ranging from two year registered nurse programs to four year college bachelors programs. It primarily is hands on with the patient. This can include areas like bedpans, etc. that strike some people wrong. If you decide on a nursing program ensure that you have early hospital floor experience. Physician assistants have more defined programs these are usually two to four year programs depending on your experience. Most programs put a premium on prior experience as a nurse, EMT, etc. In most states, Pas can treat and prescribe as a physician. The major difference is in the ability to perform advanced care and surgery. Good luck with your decision.

Nursing Information
Question:I am a student interested in the nursing field,I have several questions, First How many years of schooling do you have to take to be a R.N.? What are some of the advantages of the job? What are some "downs" about the job? How much do you usually get paid? What is it like to be one?

Answer: Nursing degrees vary widely in terms of time and effort. There are still a few two year programs; however, most degree programs are three year programs. These programs focus on clinical experience and are usually offered through community colleges or local hospitals. Four years degrees(B.A.) has an advantage if you stay in nursing in later promotions and acceptance into nurse practioner or nurse anesthesia. The four year programs focus more on basic science and theory-but, do have lots of clinical experience. Like most health professions, the "up" is doing things for people. The "down" is doing things for people. I'm sure any nursing program would let you talk to or follow a nurse around to get an idea of the job. Salaries depend on the part of the country, hours worked and type of nursing. Generally, they range from 18,000 to 45,000-depending on your type of degree and special skills.

Career as a Physician Assistant
Question: My son is considering a career as a physician assistant. I would like to know the number of years of school and the duties of a physician assistant. I would also like to know the typical starting salary.

Answer: Physicians Assistants have similar, but shorter educational experiences compared to physicians. There are several types of programs ranging from 4-6 year programs right out of high school, to four year programs during or after college/or equivalent. Starting salaries depend a lot on the state since duties and responsibilities are very state dependent. However, they run $35,000-$55,000 depending on experience and whether the individual has specialized training. Surgical Physician Assistants tend to be paid more, especially if they participate in surgery. More information can be obtained from the American Association of Physician Assistants. Their phone number is: 703-836- 2272.

MD vs. DO
Question: I would like to know what the difference is between a DO and MD? I'm looking for a doctor for my family and I want to know the difference.

Answer: An MD goes to a medical college and is instructed in this school. A DO goes to an osteopathic college and is instructed in similar subjects to an MD with the addition of osteopathic manipulation. Depending on the amount of time spent on manipulation, the academic core is very similar. DO students tend to spend their third year at more community based teaching programs, MDs at academic based Universities. DO tend to not have long residencies and DO subspecialty residencies are very uncommon. Many DO students will do residencies at MD institutions as well as follow up fellowships. The DOs that I have worked with are every bit as competent as the MDs, I would check their training credentials and go with that-as well as person to person information from other patients.

Medical Profession
Question: How did you get into the medical proffession? What medicine do you use ,yourself for congestion?

Answer: I got interested in medicine after saving a shipmates life in the Navy with mouth to mouth that I had learned in Boy Scouts. Prior to that, I had never considered it as a profession. I usually don't take anything for congestion since I doubt that anything works-except possibly hot, steamy, showers.

Time Length
Question: How long did it take you to get your degree in Medical?

Answer: Four years of college, four years of medical school, three years of residency. You are a practicing physician after 8 years of training and competent after 12 years of training.

MD vs. DO vs. Specialist
Question: What is the difference between a MD, DO and a specialist? (education required, and types of services performed)

Answer: There is little difference any more between a D.O. and an M.D. The D. O. still has classes in manipulation ;but, the basic science curriculum is very similar as is the clinical experience. The M.D. schools tend to be more basic research and sub-specialist oriented which gives a different slant-but, not major difference. Specialists can be either D.O. or M.D. In general, there are more M.D. specialists and training programs available than for the D.O. and some D.O.s elect to train in M.D. programs due to this relative deficiency. The training required and the services given are nearly the same-the D.O. can perform manipulation that the M.D. is not trained for.
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