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Personal story of getting to, through, and beyond PA school

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I came to college as a 58 year-old physician assistant student in a class of people less than half my age. The career change from engineering had been gradual, starting when I first blundered into medicine in my late 30s as a hospital volunteer. Later, after a 4 month night EMT course, I began volunteering with a local rescue squad. I eventually realized that I enjoyed medicine more than engineering.


One day, a young member of our squad asked me to write a letter of recommendation in support of his PA school application. Up until then, I hadn’t known that the profession even existed, but I eventually decided to follow in his footsteps. For the next seven years, while my children finished their own college degrees, I was a management consultant by day and a community college student by night.


Within my first few days on campus, I came to realize that I actually had three goals. The first was to honor the years of preparation by becoming a physician assistant. The second was to stay connected with my family and our friends back home. And the third was to re-experience the life of a college student, at least to the extent that someone my age could go back in time. From the beginning, I knew that this would be a magical time in my life. I started keeping notes so that one day I could write a book about my experiences, which is how Old Man on Campus (available through Amazon) got its start.


I learned important lessons along the way. First, you can start something new without abandoning your primary job. Second, seeing what it feels like to try something new can help you find your way. And third, having a supportive family means everything.


Since graduating, I have been a practicing PA at Ohio Heart Group, a cardiology practice in Columbus. My wife and I celebrated our 45th anniversary this year, along with the birth of our sixth grandchild. I come back to campus periodically, to help select applicants for the PA program and to deliver guest lectures.


I will never forget Marietta College, the city, and all the wonderful people I met there. I hope that my book conveys my appreciation for the gift I was able to experience and also encourages others to follow their own dreams.

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Thank you Mr. B / UGoLong for writing your book.  I'm one of the people you have inspired.


I'm 36, 15 years out of college and as a lab scientist.  Healthcare encounters from having three daughters prompted me to consider a career change. Your book tipped the scales for physician assistant and shadowing sold me on making the leap through EMT.  Today, I registered at the local community college.  There was an unbelievable excitement as I read my schedule for next semester: I'm an EMT major with my first prerequisite for PA school (statistics, which I've taken before but need to update and improve) all set for next semester. I plan to apply for PA school in Spring 2017 and my goal is to enter by or at age 40.  Here's to the long road!


By the way, my dad earned his master's degree at 71.  :)  Going back to school runs in the family.

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Epangerl (and Krissten27),


You are on your way!  It is exciting to start out and each step will either reinforce your initial decision or lead you in a new direction. Congratulations and best wishes. 


As far as the long road goes, Epangerl, you'll be 4 years older in 2017 either way. At least this way, you are following a dream and that can be the best part of living your life.


Best of luck to both of you and please stay in touch.



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