There is no yes or no clear cut answer to this question, but I get asked this a lot. By prospective students, current students, other medical professionals and patients.
My honest to God answer is “I’m not sure”. So, I stumbled upon my desire to join the medical field a teeny bit later than most people at the age of 25 or 26. Someone brought me a brochure about who PA’s and and what they do–and I was like this fits me (and I still think it does). I never considered becoming a physician at that point. I didn’t want to embark on 10 years before my career was in full swing (shit I would have been 35). Not that there is anything wrong with that (Seinfeld reference anyone??). Also, for me I already had two degrees and a shit ton of debt.
I think being 18 and introduced into the medical field early and having different life circumstances (read about my journey here if you wanna hear about it) I would have explored the route of becoming a physician. I’m competitive, mostly type A and strong-willed. That being said, with all of the schooling and residency and lack of work life balance I’m not sure it would have been the right end point for me anyways. That being said there are certain aspects of being a PA that do frustrate me. No one knowing what we can do, everyone thinking you just take blood pressure, disagreeing with your supervising MD and people either expect you to know nothing or everything (both of which are frustrating). I also think I would have found aspects of being a physician frustrating. Being forever held in one specialty, duration of training, even more demanding work hours, etc.
Overall, I do think that I came out with the best option for me–regardless of minor day-to-day frustrations. Plus who the hell wants to take physics and the MCAT? I look forward to my next however many years of working, and that to me is a huge success!