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Over 40 and becoming a PA? Wise or not...


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Hello everyone,

I would really like your opinion on being over 40 and considering PA school. I want to respect the forum rules of not duplicating posts, but wasn't sure if this or the "PA Professional General Discussion" forum area was the right place to post given that I want feed back from those in school now and those who are already working as a PA. So, I posted in the professional area and and am providing the link to it below. I hope this is appropriate and that you'll share your experiences. Thank you for any help you can provide!!

 

http://www.physicianassistantforum.com/forums/showthread.php/41246-Over-40-amp-becoming-a-PA-Wise-or-not

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I'm 42 and halfway through school. No regrets so far. The toughest part for me is to try to balance family life and school. School usually wins (necessary for success); but it's only for a couple of years. Being older does make for some interesting dynamics. Age wise, your professors are your peers, but professionally they are not. Professionally, your classmates are your peers, but age and life experience wise, they are not. It's an interesting dynamic. Biggest hassle: commuting. Live close to campus if feasible.

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I'm 42 and halfway through school. No regrets so far. The toughest part for me is to try to balance family life and school. School usually wins (necessary for success); but it's only for a couple of years. Being older does make for some interesting dynamics. Age wise, your professors are your peers, but professionally they are not. Professionally, your classmates are your peers, but age and life experience wise, they are not. It's an interesting dynamic. Biggest hassle: commuting. Live close to campus if feasible.

 

Yep.....that right there in a nutshell.

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My experience was that upon finishing, the older students and those with more/better HCE had their jobs first. I had my job all ready to go (offer signed), 8 weeks before graduation, and was completely licensed (PANCE, state license, DEA) and seeing patients five weeks after graduation. I know peers who didn't start work until four months after graduation, and some probably took longer than that.

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@ Rev Ronin … Thanks. Not to worried about getting a job, just thinking of the other factors I mentioned.

 

@uscbigdawg… Thanks for sharing. It sounds like you’ve set yourself up pretty well for success. If I might ask, what did you do for your HCE? And I’m not concerned about my age, but rather the specific points I mentioned in the post linked to above, such as stress. I’m not considering med school or just seeing being a PA as cool, but am seriously considering the career as I noted and just want to make a realistic, well informed decision. Thanks again for your input.

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:smile:Hello, I think its a great idea. I myself am 36y/o and returnend to school to follow my passion and dream to become a PA. Never give up and fight for what you love. Yes it's demanding but rewarding in the end. Miami Dade College offers a great PA program. One of my close friends Suijin, will be graduating from there this December. I will be turning in my application some time this month. If its what you love, don't worry about your age. The PA program is two years that will continue to be a bleessing for a life time. The passion and motivation to become a PA is what makes me wanna learn more about being a PA. I am eagerly waiting to start the MDC PA program. BE POSITIVE and THINK POSITIVE! If you have the same drive as I do, then age has nothing to do it.

 

Best of luck!

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Ok, Now I feel really old!!!! I just graduated last June and I am 50!!!! Memory is perfect, energy is great, plenty of job offers, kids are in college and now the whole salary will be for me!!!! is a perfect start of the next half of my life.

My philosophy? You will get old anyways.

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I really wanted to thank you all for responding to the thread. When I went in for interviews, i felt older than the other applicants. I just got my first acceptance and will be starting school when im 31. My gf parents think I'm a bit old to be going back to school and should be working in a career instead. I feel much better now knowing that I'm not the only few out there.

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Everyone of us has different life circumstances and personality dynamics- making it such a personal decision. I am 43 years old and will graduate in August of 2014. I made a good decision to go back to school and was so very fortunate that I  decided to pursue this and the opportunity was there. I am a wife and a mother of two small children so despite the fantastic support I get from my husband, I have a hard time walking away from the family to dedicate time to school. I still have managed to excel through a year of didactics and am faring well in clinicals. I admit, most of the time I am completely stressed out. I don't feel like a good mother although I do spend time with my children and enjoy them. I don't feel like a good wife, even though I am trying. I don't feel like I am as good of a student as I could be. I guess I want to be the very best at everything and maybe that is not possible. Despite my declarations of mediocrity, I am happy and believe I will be a good P.A. I was a radiographer before going back to school, so although I had a medical background I don't believe I was ahead of the game. There are probably plenty of people who have medical experience that did prepare them for this career.

The important thing is to know yourself and try to really decide if it's what you want. It's hard, and I can't imagine going through this difficult time to only be unhappy in the end.  Good luck to you.

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I graduated in June, my daughter is graduating in May from College as well as my younger one from High school. There are books all around my house and dinning room table is our study area. Is fun and I love it. I have shed 30 years!

Age is nothing but a number.

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I know these are old posts, but I’m 46 in 2018 with no relevant background and I’m trying to see if I can also be one of those oldest students mentioned above. Wouldn’t I need at least a year of undergrad prerequisite first?  I don’t know any anatomy or science at this point. I’ve been doing insurance and I hate it. I don’t know how to look for a potential school either.  I’m guessing some are more competitive than others and I don’t want go after the ones I have little chance of getting into. Do I not be concerned about whether it’s in some list of the best schools?  Also, would I want to pretty much just pick one near either home of my mother because I can live for free with her?  I’ve been living with her in western Long Island, so I’m accessible to NYC.  But she also has a place in Boynton Beach FL. Not sure if any schools close enough to there if it’s popular place for retirees.  Does anyone know the average cost of the whole thing?  Would I want to spend my life’s savings or try for a loan?

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15 minutes ago, Jenfromzen said:

I know these are old posts, but I’m 46 in 2018 with no relevant background and I’m trying to see if I can also be one of those oldest students mentioned above. Wouldn’t I need at least a year of undergrad prerequisite first?  I don’t know any anatomy or science at this point. I’ve been doing insurance and I hate it. I don’t know how to look for a potential school either.  I’m guessing some are more competitive than others and I don’t want go after the ones I have little chance of getting into. Do I not be concerned about whether it’s in some list of the best schools?  Also, would I want to pretty much just pick one near either home of my mother because I can live for free with her?  I’ve been living with her in western Long Island, so I’m accessible to NYC.  But she also has a place in Boynton Beach FL. Not sure if any schools close enough to there if it’s popular place for retirees.  Does anyone know the average cost of the whole thing?  Would I want to spend my life’s savings or try for a loan?

To start, I would research schools that are close to the areas you want to live in. The link below allows you to view programs in each state. 

https://www.mypatraining.com/physician-assistant-programs-by-state/

I would pick 10-15 schools you could realistically see yourself going to based on location, and then I would visit each school's website and do some heavy researching on each program to knock your list down to maybe 8-11 schools that interest you most based on their mission statement, program goals, PANCE pass rate (the board exam to be come a certified PA once your done with schooling), and location. You will also need to take note of each program's prerequisite courses and admissions requirements (minimum health care/patient care experience hours, minimum GRE, or minimum shadowing hours..I would make an Excel spreadsheet of this). These will need to be met prior to applying and pretty much all programs differ a little bit on what exactly they require. I would also check out their tuition rates. Typically if you're an in-state student, its a ton cheaper. You can expect anywhere from 35-85k depending on the school. 

You will probably need to do 1.5-2 years of prerequisite courses. These typically include anatomy and physiology I and II, then microbiology, genetics, and possibly a few more upper level biology courses. Then chemistry I and II, sometimes organic I, and biochemistry. Stats and 1-2 psychology courses are also commonly required. If you took courses during the summer, you could reasonably expect to complete this in 1.5-2 years depending on how many courses you can handle at once. 

In terms of competitiveness, most programs post stats of their accepted students that will give you an idea of what their "average accepted student" looks like for reference. Since you haven't started taking classes or started gaining experience, the sky is the limit on which programs you can apply to. If you start taking classes and end up finishing with a 3.1 GPA, I would discourage you from applying to schools whose average accepted student has a 3.75. Do you have a bachelor's degree? I think every PA program requires a bachelor's degree (can be in literally study..Dance, Art, Political Science...anything). Most programs also require a 3.0 minimum overall GPA. 

I wouldn't worry too much about the "status" of a school. Look at their PANCE pass rate and if they're accredited. I think as long as you pass your PANCE, no one really cares where you went to PA school mostly. 

Have you shadowed a PA or anyone in medicine at this point (MD, NP). Honestly before you do all this, that's the very very first thing I would do. Sometimes something sounds good on paper and then when you go experience it for yourself, you find you really don't like it at all. Regardless of your age, becoming a PA is possible. I would just encourage you to make sure as best as you can that this is the road you want to go down. 

 

 

 

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Thanks, that I'm sure will help others searching this topic online.  Yes, I was thinking to try to talk to people in different careers and try to get a better idea of what it's like.  I've always been interested in medical subjects, health news and researching my own ailments, but I guess that is nowhere the same as working as a physician's assistant.  I just have an uphill battle of not having my full health and wellness.  I have been needing surgery for years for laryngeal reflux so I don't know how much longer I can keep that on hold to pursue what will feel like endless education with no time to earn an income.  I don't see how one can go to work while doing this kind of full time schooling and also upkeep one's health, physical and mental wellbeing.

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2 hours ago, Jenfromzen said:

Thanks, that I'm sure will help others searching this topic online.  Yes, I was thinking to try to talk to people in different careers and try to get a better idea of what it's like.  I've always been interested in medical subjects, health news and researching my own ailments, but I guess that is nowhere the same as working as a physician's assistant.  I just have an uphill battle of not having my full health and wellness.  I have been needing surgery for years for laryngeal reflux so I don't know how much longer I can keep that on hold to pursue what will feel like endless education with no time to earn an income.  I don't see how one can go to work while doing this kind of full time schooling and also upkeep one's health, physical and mental wellbeing.

Well a lot of people do work part-time or full-time while taking their prerequisites. This is actually a must for PA school. Most applicants have over 1000 hours of healthcare/patient care experience prior to applying, and some schools require more hours/don’t view 1000 as being very competitive. That’s only 6 months full time to put that in perspective. Everyone is different though, and every program is different. (I’m only applying with 400 hours, but I’m hoping a good GPA and some of extra-curriculars will offset that. Otherwise, I’m working this year and will reapply with +1000 hours). These hours are typically obtained by being a PT aide, CNA, EMT, and several other avenues. 

I would try not to view it as an uphill battle. You’d just be taking an untraditional route, but many people do that and are able to be successful. Just depends on what you’re willing to give up. I’m 23 and a first time applicant this cycle. I was a college athlete practicing and devoting 30+ hours a week to my college volleyball team, worked extremely hard in my science courses, and volunteered at a hospital for three years among other volunteering, shadowing, and extra-curriculars. It all took a lot out of me, but hopefully the stress of juggling all of that will have helped prepare me to enter PA school one day. It’s not easy for anyone no matter who you are and it’s not supposed to be. I am confident that it will be worth it one day though. 

Having an interest in medicine is the first step. I would really encourage you to shadow and utilize this website. The “Pre-Pa” section is very helpful. Feel free to reach out if you need any other help or info and I’ll do my best to help you out! 

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