Can a Physician Assistant Become a Doctor?

PA Coaching • May 25, 2023

There’s a common misconception that physician assistants (PAs) are lower-level doctors. But the truth is, PAs are highly trained medical professionals who provide a wide range of care to patients. So, can a physician assistant become a doctor? While the short answer is yes, being a PA doesn’t give you any shortcuts to becoming an MD/DO. You will still have to complete a 4 year medical degree program, followed by a residency.

Can a Physician Assistant Become a Doctor?

Physician Assistants (PAs) play a crucial role in the healthcare system, providing quality care to patients under the supervision of physicians. However, some PAs may contemplate the possibility of becoming medical doctors themselves. In this article, we will explore whether a PA can transition to a career as a medical doctor and discuss the considerations involved.

Job Satisfaction and the PA Profession

PAs generally experience high levels of job satisfaction and enter the profession with a genuine passion for making a positive impact on patients’ lives through medicine. It’s important to note that choosing to become a PA is not seen as a backup plan or a stepping stone to becoming a doctor. The PA profession is a distinct and rewarding career path.

Is it Possible for a PA to Become a Medical Doctor?

So, can a physician assistant become a doctor? The short answer is yes, it is possible for a PA to become a medical doctor. However, it’s essential to understand the extensive time, financial resources, and effort required to make this transition. Being a certified PA does not grant any advantages when applying to medical school, and there are no shortcuts for PAs seeking to become physicians.

can a physician assistant become a doctor 1

The Path to Becoming a Medical Doctor

If a PA decides to pursue a career as a medical doctor, they must go through the same rigorous process as any other applicant. This process includes applying to medical school, completing a medical degree program, and undertaking a residency. Additionally, some individuals may choose to pursue a fellowship to specialize further. It is crucial to recognize that being a PA does not reduce the time or requirements needed to become a physician. The entire journey must be undertaken from the start.

Why Might a PA Want to Become a Medical Doctor?

While personal motivations can vary, some PAs may aspire to become medical doctors to gain a more extensive level of expertise, autonomy, and a higher level of medical education. As PAs, they work as part of a healthcare team, representing the physician, and transitioning to a medical career may provide them with a broader scope of practice and a deeper understanding of medicine. However, it’s important to emphasize that this decision is entirely personal, and each individual should carefully consider their reasons and aspirations.

Different Professions, Different Paths

Physician Assistant and medical doctor are two distinct professions with separate training paths. Choosing one does not inherently help in obtaining the other. It is crucial to understand that if a PA decides to pursue medical school, they must go through the entire application and training process, just like any other applicant. Similarly, if a medical student decides to become a PA, they must apply to PA school and complete the necessary training.


Can a physician assistant become a doctor? In summary, it is possible for a Physician Assistant to become a medical doctor, but it requires careful consideration of the substantial time, financial resources, and effort involved in making such a transition. Both professions offer fulfilling and impactful careers in healthcare, and the decision to switch should be made thoughtfully, taking into account personal and professional goals. Whether one chooses to be a PA or a medical doctor, it’s important to recognize that there are no shortcuts in the admissions process or the training required.

Also read: Can a Nurse Become a Physician Assistant?

About me:

I’m Michele Neskey, aka The Posh PA. Welcome to my YouTube channel! My mission is to provide personalized guidance, education, and motivation to build confidence and promote wellness for aspiring physician assistants and beyond.   

Having been a PA for 17+ years and helped hundreds of students gain acceptance into PA school,  I understand the admissions process. I know what they are looking for, and I can help you tailor every component to make you shine, giving you the BEST chance of getting accepted to a program.  But it doesn’t end there. I create personalized plans for PA students and practicing PAs including test-taking strategy for the PANCE, contract negotiations, and tools to overcome and prevent provider burnout. 

My goal is to get you into a physician assistant (PA) school & survive the rigorous program, help you prevent burnout as a practicing PA, and help you take care of yourself so you can be the best version of YOU for your patients, family, and most importantly YOU!