I'm brand new to this forum. I graduated with a degree in biology and a gpa of 3.52, and was planning to go to medical school the whole way through, while also thinking a lot about PA school. I was ready to apply to med school while I was finishing college, but decided to take some time away from the academic environment to make sure I really wanted to do med school. After almost a year of soul-searching, researching and deliberation (in addition to the last 4 years), I have finally decided that PA is a more appropriate career path for me. I had a great mcat score (93%) and I had all of the volunteer and leadership experience to make me a competitive applicant for med school. Now that I'm looking at PA schools, I need to get my direct patient care hours, take anatomy and physiology (I didn't do the whole series since medical schools don't require it), possibly take statistics, and possibly take the GRE.
I have 400 hours of MA experience (not certified). I know the doctor personally and worked there for 4 months, I learned a lot but it was a very disorganized clinic. I have about 200 hours working as an EMT-B. I'm wondering if I should keep working as an EMT for a year and apply for the 2021 cycle once I take anatomy and physiology at my community college. I've looked at a lot of threads on the internet and from what I've found, paramedic is the best prep for being a PA; things like, "they were a head and shoulders above the rest of their class," and "they were very experienced with patient assessments and had great clinical presence." I've also heard that it's unnecessary and a distraction if your end goal is PA. I want to be a paramedic and get real experience doing more advanced patient assessments, but it would push PA school at least 2 years back since I'd want to work for at least a year to make it worth it. Being an EMT entails a lot of driving and sitting around the station, and when I do get patient contacts, I'm not in charge unless it's a stable (BLS) patient.
Should I take the time to become a paramedic and get really good experience or should I get as many EMT hours as possible in a year and then apply?
Also, do schools look at how many hours I've worked or do they need to know how much time I spent doing patient care, versus driving and sitting around the station, and how do I record that?
My other main question is whether I should take the GRE or just rely on my MCAT score and not apply to "GRE required" schools. I live in CA and would like to stay in California, or at least in the west (CA, OR, WA, CO, AZ, NV, NM). This might be a question for a separate thread.
I know this is a lot, but it's pretty much everything on my mind right now, please feel free to only answer a portion of it if you want.
Thanks so much for the help!