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  1. Hello, everyone. I know it may seem like this would be a bit of a biased place to ask for an opinion on this, but this forum seems really open-minded and overall really respectful with people asking these sort of questions compared to *cough* SDN *cough* other websites. I'm in a bit of a dilemma and I know ultimately this is only a choice I can make myself, but I'd like to get some opinions from others who are ahead of me on their medical journies as a little guidance. I'm 29 years old and a graduate of Arizona State University, where I majored in Biological Sciences with a minor in Psychology. I always wanted to go the PA route, but the closer I am to finishing my undergrad, the more I'm concerned about possibly regretting the decision to not go ahead and commit to becoming a doctor. One of my biggest concerns with med schools is that I completed my degree online, although I did all my science labs in-person by flying out to the ASU campus. Long story short, I still think I have a good chance at med schools that accept online credits, but I'm unsure if it's what I should do. A quick rundown of my stats: - Non-traditional, white male, 29 years old - 3.91 GPA, 3.85 sGPA - 510 MCAT - 650+ hours volunteering for a suicidal hotline company. 200+ volunteer hours as a phlebotomist (mostly school blood donating events), and donated $2,000+ in crowd-funded scholarships to students throughout the state with a small company I started in 2015. - 3,000+ hours as a Certified Surgical Technician at an orthopedic surgery center - Strong LOR's from 2 orthopedic surgeons, a CRNA, a very well-respected professor, and 2 more from my volunteer coaches - 40 hours shadowing an Anesthesiologist and CRNA I feel as if I'm a strong candidate for med school and PA programs, but I'm older. I'm 29 now. I used to work in construction, then aviation, and even ended up leaving a Fortune 500 company (that paid extremely well) to pursue a career in medicine. I made a lot of sacrifices, but it was all worth it. I love my patients and couldn't imagine myself doing anything else in life. I also want to marry my long-time girlfriend. She's 25, so by the time I'm actually a doctor, she would be around 33. I graduated high school with a 2.3 GPA, suffered from depression for years, considered suicide many times, etc. I went through a lot (as I'm sure a lot of people have) and another one of my main goals is to write books about my experiences and to help motivate others. If I can graduate high school with a 2.3 and go on to become a doctor, I think it would be an awesome story in terms of my writings and would help a lot of people, outside from my patients. With all this being said, I think the career of being a PA will still satisfy my wants to help people in medicine. My biggest concern so far is that I'd regret not going to med school, but I hear a lot of horror stories about divorces, not being able to see your kids as much when they're younger, residency stories, and etc. The debt is also a big concern, because I would be 37-ish before I could really start paying my loans off. I don't know if it's worth it for me and my age, although I'm not that old. I just want to ask openly - if you were in my shoes, what would you do personally? I know everyone is different, but I'm just looking for some insights from different perspectives. Thanks for the read and sorry to type out so much.
  2. Hello Everyone! Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I’m new to the PA Forum, but I desperately need some advice! I am fortunate enough to have been accepted to the dual PA/MPH (Master’s of Public Health) program at Yale and the PA program (MPH is pending) at Emory. However, I’m having a very difficult time deciding between the two so if you have any advice, have gone to either school, or have even been in this position before, I’d love to hear what you have to say! Brief summary: My goal is to be a PA, but my interests are currently in infectious disease and the prevention of such, education of underserved populations, the effects of a booming population on healthcare, and global health. I am extremely interested in working for the CDC or WHO and love international medicine. Eventually, I may get into health policy. I love travel, have lived in a sunny, dry state with lots of things to do outdoors, and enjoy smart, successful, but REAL people. Here are my impressions of the schools (please correct me if I'm mistaken!) Yale (New Haven, CT): THE GOOD • The prestigious name – it’s not everything, but it certainly gives me a sense of pride, make my family proud, and it could unlock a lot of doors for me in my future. • Yale has a “Master’s of Public Health: Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases” program that has a large laboratory component – this is exactly what I want. I love being in the lab and this is my exact interest in public health. • Medical Spanish – Yale offers its students this class as a supplemental learning experience for PAs. Awesome, as I used to be fluent in Spanish and would love to travel internationally. • Global Health Concentration – this is a great bonus and would help me expand my global experience/education. • Amenities – Yale boasts great museums and coffee shops that are sprinkled through New Haven, it’s also a plus that you can walk around the entire town in a matter of hours. • Downs Fellowship – this funds a 6 week international work/research experience over the summer. If I play my cards right, this could count for my thesis and summer practicum. • Networking – it’s Yale, correct me if I’m mistaken by assuming that I would meet some of the best and brightest people in their fields. • Clinical rotations seem limited – I don’t believe you have a say in anywhere you go and I didn’t get the impression that the school affiliations were too wide-spread. I don’t want to do all of my rotations at the same hospital. They do, however, offer an international rotation, which is super cool. THE NOT SO GOOD • Safety – I’ve heard that the area has a decent amount of crime and, being a petite female, this is a big concern on mine. • Campus – while the undergraduate campus is beautiful, the medical campus seems removed and a bit undesirable. To be fair, it was snowing the day that I went for my interview, so I probably didn’t get to see as much as I could’ve. • The atmosphere – the few people I met there (like less than 10) didn’t seem very happy to be there. In fact, I got the feeling that many of them where there for the name. That’s fine and all, but I like to have a supportive community of REAL people who are smart but also care about things other than school. • Cost – It’s about $15,000 more expensive than Emory. • Weather – I hear it’s gloomy and cold up there. I’m not sure how humid it gets though. I have lived my entire life in a sunny, dry place and NEED sunshine. • There aren’t a lot of volunteer/student involvement opportunities there (besides the Free Clinic). Emory (Atlanta, Georgia): THE GOOD: • Close proximity to the CDC – As someone who would really love to work for the CDC, the fact that the CDC Headquarters is on Emory campus is HUGE. Not only would it allow me internship and networking opportunities, but many of my public health classes would be taught by CDC employees. • Farm Worker’s Project – A two week medical trip where students and faculty bring medical care to Southern farm workers. I did a trip to Ecuador like this a few years back and loved it. So rewarding. • The enclosed campus – while the campus itself is open to the public, when you are on campus, you are ON CAMPUS. The buildings are beautiful and the area feel clean and welcoming. • The people – the people I met seemed genuinely happy to be there and were more easy-going. • Opportunities – While Emory is not in downtown Atlanta (another plus), the area boasts great clinical rotations, restaurants, and social activities. • Great hospital affiliations – this makes for great rotation opportunities. THE NOT SO GOOD: • Humidity – I’m not a fan. But it might be just as humid in Connecticut? • It’s not as widely known – Again, the name isn’t the biggest deal, but it certainly makes things easier! • No concentration in infectious disease – I would be going for Global Epidemiology, but would have to use electives (I would probably only have time for 3 or so?) that are based on infectious diseases to make my “concentration”. This is a huge negative for me. Technically, they still haven’t accepted me (although, I’m not too concerned). Yale was willing to expedite review of the public health portion of my application so that I knew whether or not I was accepted to both programs within ONE WEEK. I submitted my public health application to Emory nearly 3 months ago now (and have also known that I was accepted to the PA program for 3 months as well). The Emory lag just makes me feel a bit like they don’t care. **These are just a few of the things that I have considered. I actually looked at 77 total characteristics of each, but the schools ended up being very similar in the end. If I am wrong about ANYTHING I have said above, PLEASE let me know! These are just the impressions I have gotten and would love to hear the opinions of real students or teachers! Thank you so much for reading this all!
  3. I'm trying to decide whether or not to pursue PA school (I know, I know), and I'm having a hard time. Let me explain... I graduated from dental hygiene school in 2011 after which I worked as a public health dental hygienist for 1 year. I knew during dental hygiene school that it wasn't necessarily for me, but I needed a trade and I'd already given up scholarships, etc to transfer to dental hygiene school. After working for a year, I moved to Ecuador to live and work in Quito and learn Spanish. It was great. After that year, I moved back to the US and got my masters in health sciences while I taught as a TA at a local university and continued to temp dental hygiene full time. I'd decided that the master's would help me because I knew I really didn't want to do dental hygiene and I'd started developing issues with my wrists that made it painful to work full time as a hygienist. Fast-forward 2 years and I'm extremely unsatisfied with my career in public health partially due to the horrible pay and partially because I miss the patient contact. I currently work in Health Literacy and while I get to spend a lot of time training providers it's really not the same as being a provider. Also, job availability in public health in my area consists of the state health department and a medical science university. Dental hygiene jobs are non-existent with a new class graduating each year, but I'm working on getting my wrists rehabilitated through occupational therapy. I have a couple of dental hygiene friends who've made the switch to PA and it seems like a good career for getting back into patient contact and making a living for me and my family. I actually love the idea of being a middle level provider, and have considered the NP route, but it's too long. I'm not able to move because my husband and I own an electrical business here. After that bit of history, my question is two-fold. Is PA a good investment? Cost of PA school - 55k Current salary - 40k Salary in full time hygiene (if I can find a job) - 50k-65k/4 day work week and...I'm nervous that my personality won't fit being a PA. I love my patients, but I chose dental hygiene originally because I wasn't sure how I'd do with large amount of blood and other parts of the body. Also because you really can't do a person great amounts of harm in their mouth like you can in other areas. Has any one made the switch from dental to medical? Also, has any become a PA know you wanted to go into one of the "non-clinical" sectors like psychiatry/mental health, derm, radiology, etc. Sorry, so long. Just looking for different perspectives.
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