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From MD to MA – an alternate medical career

From MD To MA

Being a doctor is an emotionally and mentally draining career with unmatched satisfaction when it comes to caring for others and making a difference. Being a medical professional is a dangerous condition, as studies have shown.

It’s possible to practice medicine without the help of any ancillary staff but the whole experience would be grueling, the days would be tedious and burnout inevitable.

I was thinking of other paths in medicine which I could pursue to still get my dose of caring for the ill, helping those who are scared and still making a decent income.

A part of me also wants to pursue another career altogether though admittedly I am a bit afraid of making the leap. I figure this would be a wonderful step in the direction I’m envisioning.

So I’ve thought about the various fields in medicine which don’t require a whole lot of debt or a whole lot of work to complete. I have come up with being a medical assistant as the most desirable option.

Becoming an RN is time-consuming and expensive. The work would be similar to being a doctor because I would interact very closely with patients – in which case I’d rather just practice as a doctor.

A licensed nurse, LPN/LVN, would also require a bit more training and my scope of practice again would be more than I care for.

As a medical assistant I could check patients in, get a pertinent HPI, order appropriate tests ahead of time for the doctor, get the patient prepped for whatever is about to happen to them and very efficiently explain to them the patient instructions they will be provided.

I won’t be able to do standbys due to my lack of female genitalia which is fine. I could instead improve my Spanish and translate in the room for the provider.

I would think the doctors would be a tad intimidated by having an MA who is or was a doctor but after a while they likely will appreciate what I can do for them.

The upside is that I can slack off, do a shoddy job, and be a little slow without major repercussions. I would likely just get more admin time to take courses to help me be faster and interact with patients better. The union will make sure that I am not ‘discriminated’ against since I still am able to complete the minimum tasks demanded of me.

The pay may not be impressive, it’s in the $18-30 range per hour. But, as I said, the job will be rewarding and easier than anything else I can think of.

If I accept a part-time position I would get benefits though would be required to work in the 30 hours a week range which might suck. A float position would allow me to pick up as I please.

Without the worry of lawsuits or patients who want to manipulate me in order to get narcotics or imaging, I simply have to show up and have a pulse and leave with $180 per day for a 10-hr shift.

Working just 5 days would net me close to $800 which is decent money in my opinion. Probably not enough to save anything but certainly enough to pay for my housing and food.

I think the appeal for me is that I would just be transitioning out of clinical practice. I have no intention right now to give up my privilege to practice medicine but I am looking to expand my horizon.

I would need to get an MA license which is apparently a 4-8 month course. Depending on where I do it, it might cost me up to $20k. So the next part is to see if my own medical group would hire me, how weird.


4 replies on “From MD to MA – an alternate medical career”

I’ve enjoyed your blog and casually, over the last week, have read nearly every post. I’m sensing burnout in your recent posts and I feel you owe it to yourself to take an extended break or sabbatical. Do NOT become an MA! If you must work then perhaps reconsider that telemedicine job in the Philippines? You’d save a boatload of money living there and it’s the ultimate gateway to SE Asia.

I hear ya. I can’t argue with it because you’re not the first person to point this out. I appreciate you mentioning it though. I gotta think how I would engineer a period of time off. Hopefully this week I can come up with some ideas and run it by friends. I’ll post about it too.

You’re FI so half the battle is done already. Since you’re FM, you could pick up locum tenens anywhere in the country right now. So, you could get back into it fairly quickly after taking some time off if it’s for the money. I think you need some travel and relaxation which would give you a good period of rest. Get out of the country for awhile and do a year in Chiang Mai, Thailand. When you come back, transition to your own lean direct primary care practice in Portland and put yourself back in control of your destiny.

Telemedicine sounds more appealing than being an MA. Taking a sabbatical would be great for you dude. Plan out what you’d do for 6 months off. Move to Germany?

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