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RN before/with PA? Is it worth it?


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I've seen a few discussions about PA+EMT-P and PA+NP, but what the benefits of having both your PA-C and regular RN? The hospital I work at will pay for a 15 month non-nursing Bachelor's-to-BSN program, which is enticing for several reasons if I don't make it into a program this round. The 2 weakest parts of my application are my overall GPA (from my first time through school) and my limited amount of upper level science classes. This program would get me 55 hours of credits which would (assuming I do as well as I have in my prereqs) significantly boost my GPA. Also, as an RN, I could get a better paying job (right now I'm a PCT/EMT-B) while I take classes/wait for a program to start/PRN over holidays/etc. The down side is doing this could delay taking additional prereqs that would allow me to apply to other schools.

So, I would ask you: 1) is it worth it to delay/limit my application? 2) what value would having an RN license afford me in combination with my PA-C 3) is it realistic to maintain both PA-C and RN? 4) How would an Adcom view this decision?

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1. Would you like to be a nurse in the event that you never get into PA school? If so, then it may be a good idea to do the program. Your experience in your current position is fine for getting into a program so only you can decide whether it's worth it.

 

2. None

 

3. Sure

 

4. Adcoms like HCE and good grades. It's up to you to choose what route you want to take.

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I agree with above posters, wouldn't "use" the RN just to get into a PA program. There are many RNs who end up going to PA school and I'm sure most do very well due to their experiences (just as they would in an NP program). Searching this site can give you the pros and cons of both professions - RN/NP and PA. Usually comes down to personal needs and goals (family, money, being able to continue work, etc). Primary care vs surgical specialty? Wish to get into admin. some day? Just questions to ponder before making a decision. As mentioned above with the oversaturation of RN grads in some areas, be prepared to possibly have a hard time landing an RN job upon graduation.

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We have an RN in my first-year DO class. That's not unusual, except she NEVER worked as an RN, went straight to postbac then med school. I think she realized in nursing school that she wanted to know more and be the physician--so I can certainly sympathize. I do feel like it was a bit of a wasted spot for her (RN) but not my call. Agreed that if you are willing to work as a nurse for a while it would be a solid foundation for PA school. I will warn you that most nursing programs I know of are notorious for harsh grading so you can't expect to improve your GPA without working for it.

Good luck!

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If your age and finances permit, becoming an RN might be the way to go. My family practice doc (not who I work for) attended a two year associate degree program first, then transferred to a 4 year BSN program, then medical school. The issues are time (age) and money. Unless you go into management, an associate degree RN makes pretty much the same as a BSN, especially if your ultimate goal is PA school. Also be a good opportunity to get medical experience and save some money.

 

I always regretted getting an associate degree as a Paramedic instead of spending the same time becoming an RN. Fifty percent of our classes were together with future RNs. They went to the hospital and we went to the fire tower, mountains for rescue training, and junk yards working on extrication. I already had a BS in psychology. Being single, and an adrenalin junky, conspired against common sense.

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Also consider that if you get your RN... you can work per-diem as a RN during holidays for extra cash and/or as a RN in between PA jobs instead of starving to death on miniscule unemployment checks... as it is not uncommon for there to be a several month gap between PA jobs should one go away unexpectantly.

 

As for maintaining the RN license... its as simple as sending them the $100 every two yrs here because the CMEs count as CEUs.

 

YMMV

 

Contrarian

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Thank you all for your input. This has been very helpful. At this point in my life, I don't see myself ever moving into administration, and I definitely want to be a PA.

 

PAMAC - thanks for the insight into the classes. I wondered about this because I heard from several people that they were hard, but I haven't had any trouble with the prereqs (micro, A&P, etc) where some nursing students have. That A/B borderline makes sense. Also, I looked and the Patho and Pharm courses are (while upper level) not under a science department, they are under the nursing department, so some Adcoms may not consider them upper level sciences. Looks like the original plan of knocking out a few more BIO classes while keeping my job will work best.

 

DM123 - Time isn't as free a luxury as it would have been a few years ago. Right now, the BSN program as a little shorter than the ADN program b/c it uses credits from my other degree. But still, not that quick. Getting the money from my hospital means more time working for them too.

 

 

Thanks again!

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Yeah I'd have to agree. To be honest, I considered the same thing because I wasn't sure if I was going to get into PA school or not, so I dabbled with the idea of being an RN first. It is true, most places that offer to pay for it for you require you to work for them for a specified period of time. I was lucky enough to have my employer pay for my CNA which they only wanted a year out of me, but gave me great patient contact. I think you're on the right path, if your GPA is low, taking those pre-reqs and doing well in them can help boost your GPA, especially if they're higher level science courses. Which pre-reqs are you missing? It does sound like you're better off keeping your job now and working on the specific requirements for each of your programs. That is also what I did, I worked full time and took microbiology, A&P I and II. It's hard work but if you really want to be a PA I think going the RN route may be a waste of time or "stall" in your achievement of that. Also, one last bit of advice, I saw that you were a PCA which is great, what area of health care are you working in? I have been a CNA in a nursing home for quite some time and I would suggest trying to get experience in different areas such as ED, ER, OR, etc... It may look like a lot of job jumping but you can explain that as a broad experience in all areas of healthcare :) Best of luck to you! :)

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Also consider that if you get your RN... you can work per-diem as a RN during holidays for extra cash and/or as a RN in between PA jobs instead of starving to death on miniscule unemployment checks... as it is not uncommon for there to be a several month gap between PA jobs should one go away unexpectantly.

 

As for maintaining the RN license... its as simple as sending them the $100 every two yrs here because the CMEs count as CEUs.

 

YMMV

 

Contrarian

 

Probably best advice of all.

 

Example, A close friend and PA had a good paying steady job working for a plastic surgeon. My PA friend was married with two kids under 10 and his wife was wheelchair bound. His SP/employer was an avid private pilot who lied on his FAA flight H&P about a seizure disorder his was self medicating (disqualifying for any pilot). He augured in his Bonanza at full power.

 

Never hurts to have a backup plan.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Good advice, thanks all!

 

PAMAC - I worked full time night shift and took micro, A&P, and other and it was good so far. Except for OCHEM, which I took right when I started nights and took every test after a shift and got detroyed.

 

adjk1229 - I've applied this year. Next year I'll take Genetics, Biochem, another Psyc, and maybe Immuno. So far I've had all A's (except OCHEM) and plan to keep that up. I work in the ICU and an occassional shift in the ER. I'm also going to take an EKG class and work in our telemetry monitoring unit. This hospital has been great to me so far and school is going well. My science GPA is a 3.8 and my last 30 hours is also a 3.8. I just have to dig myself out of a big hole from my first time through.

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