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Should post-bacc pre-PA students pursue more classes than just program prerequisites?


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I am a non-degree seeking post-bacc pre-PA student.  In May, I completed the last prerequisites for my wish list of PA programs.  Their prereq's were not extensive, their lists ended with Organic Chemistry I.  I scored an A in O-chem I, I'm particularly proud of that grade. 

Should I continue to take more science courses, such as Organic Chemistry II? 

What do PA programs look for specifically on transcripts of post-bacc students? 

I contacted the admissions departments of the programs.  They both verbally stated in general terms any courses additional to the prereq's are not needed and don't necessarily make a candidate stand out.  I'm having a really hard time believing this as I am surrounded daily by traditional pre-PA undergrads who are incessantly stressed about how many cross-leveled grad science courses they can score prior to applying.

 

So....decision point:

I'm nearly finished with my summer CNA certification program, and I'm registered to begin the next wave of science courses back at the university in the fall (O-chem II, Human Pathophysiology, Stat, etc).  Should I drop these classes, save months of my GI bill, and begin a full-time HCE job?  I have approximately 60 hours of shadowing, 100 hours of hospital volunteering (ER, OR/PACU, L&D), and 70 hours of volunteering at the local free clinic.

I was offered a full-time CNA job in the medsurg unit of our local hospital.  They are not flexible for students.  I am applying to PA schools during next year's application cycle.

 

Thank you for any constructive advice you can send my way!

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I am a non-degree seeking post-bacc pre-PA student. 

"I continue to take classes as a pre-PA student" would be a better way to put that.  A post-bacc is a specific sort of degree program with its roots in preparation for med school.  You just called yourself a "non-degree seeking post-bacc", which is pretty self-contradictory.

 

Now, to helpfully answer your question: Yes.  Take all the classes you can, that will demonstrate your aptitude and enthusiasm for graduate medical studies, as well as your dedication to do what it takes to get into PA school.  Good programs get 25 applicants per seat, so you need to beat out a roomful of people to get one of those slots--the odds aren't exactly that bad, because many of the best students will be offered seats at multiple programs, all but one of them they cannot take.

 

However, you do also need to get paid HCE, and a hospital based-CNA job is MUCH better experience than a nursing-home based one.  It doesn't sound like you can do both at once.

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How many months of gi bill money do you have left, what's your cGPA and sGPA?

Personally, I've been cramming as many classes as I can to get the biggest bang for my gi bill buck and will have about 16 months of gi bill money left. That's free money that I will not have to take out as student loans and have to pay back.

 

If you have more than a few months of gi bill money, a decent GPA you don't need to focus on raising, and a low number of HCE hours, I say work and build up hours. 

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You are correct in your terminology, OP.  Post-bac programs are not unique to pre-med students, and only describes that you are taking courses, often undergrad level, between a bachelor's and graduate.  It's only a degree status.

 

You should expose yourself to higher level coursework because the bar for PA school admission is high, just like nearly every other medical professional school out there.

 

You could work and pursue more classes; agree mainly with above posters that you need to get HCE under your belt.  The only way to know if you want to treat patients for a living is to actually treat patients.

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FWIW, while continuing to work full-time, I chose to take more classes than the minimum pre-reqs, for many of the reasons already shared by others, as well as to improve my cGPA.  It's hard to say how much it influenced the programs that chose to interview me and offered me a seat in their program, but it was asked about in one of my interviews, and I made reference to the additional course work in my personal statement.  

 

I agree that you should focus on getting more HCE.  Even programs that don't require it, will consider it positively in your favor.  

 

As far as taking more coursework, finances are a big consideration (PA programs aren't cheap! or very few are, even relatively speaking).  Have you looked into additional course work offered by a community college, possibly online so that you can complete them more flexibly given your work schedule? e.g., I was able to take pathophysiology and pharmacology through that path.  

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