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What did you do on your year off?

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Hey guys,

 

Any advice on this would be much appreciated :-)

I'm a senior this year, graduating in May with my bachelors degree, prereqs are completed for PA school. I didn't apply this cycle since I didn't think I had enough hours working as a CNA (I think I'm up to ~900 now, most in assisted living, now I work in a hospital on an inpatient medical unit).

 

Anyways, I feel like I've done a decent amount of research regarding PA admissions...and it seems like my best bet would be to keep working as a CNA after I graduate while I apply to PA schools this coming summer? It seems kind of ridiculous to graduate college and work as a cna, but if PA is my ultimate goal- would that be the best route, as oppose to say, a masters program or something? Does anyone have any suggestions for the gap year? If you didn't go straight to PA schoool, what did you do in between?

 

Thanks for your time - this thread has been so helpful!

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I would suggest doing some kind of volunteer work, especially if you can find something health-related. I've been working for a group that does blood lead screenings for children. I do the finger sticks and process the blood in the machine that tests for lead. It's health care experience and volunteer work all in one :)

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continue your work as a cna, volunteer a bit on the side( I recommend free clinics), and take a community college class that interests you and might be of later value like nutrition or pathobio. good luck.

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i do not think continuing to work as a cna after you graduate college is ridiculous, especially considering that this is exactly what i intend to do haha. I think it is a great idea, I would try to become full time...that way you can gain way more hours.

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You could look into going on a medical volunteering trip. I did one through international services and it was AMAZING and hands on medical experience. Some are more expensive than others, but so worth it!

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I took 3 years after I graduated, but they definitely didn't feel like 3 years off. I worked as a CNA on a med-surg unit, volunteered, shadowed, and continued to take classes. I would suggest doing as much as you can! Good luck!

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I am partway through a "year off" after graduating in May. I work full time as a CNA, volunteer with Therapeutic Horseback Riding and the American Red Cross, shadow PAs whenever I can, and also took Genetics from June-Aug, Spanish I and Pathophys this fall semester, and am taking Spanish II and maybe pharmacology this winter. I also went to 5 interviews this fall and was accepted to PA school. Doing CASPA during May/June and getting everything else together for supplemental applications was also time-consuming. It's weird in the sense that my friends are in a PT doctorate program, working for a consulting firm in NYC, and engineering for an auto company while I'm kind of doing the "same thing" but I am busier than ever and very happy. Hopefully you'll end up feeling the same. To sum it up, my advice is to keep working as a CNA, maybe take more classes, and keep shadowing/volunteering. Talk to the people you will be having write LORs before CASPA even opens, and give them access to the CASPA LoR form as soon as CASPA opens so you can apply as early in the cycle as possible. Good luck!

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Sounds like mackjack and I are on a similar path. My gap year is only at the midpoint, too.

 

In the summer, I worked on my CASPA app, traveled for interviews and volunteered at the library. Once school started in August, I got two part-time jobs, one that was medically related and one in education. The rest of the time I've spent doing what I want: I've read 104 books so far this year, caught up on all my fave TV shows on hulu, and I played ice hockey with the same team I've played with the last two years. Additionally, I've worked on several projects that needed to be done but didn't have the time for while I was in school. In short, I'm having a grand ole time. :) I think there's a balance to be struck between work and play. PA school is going to be intense; no need to start half-burnt out.

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Wow- thanks everyone!! I know what you mean about doing the "same thing" but enjoying it. Personally, I would love continuing to work as a CNA, get a break from being a full time student, and having ample time to work on CAPSA. Its just a wierd feeling b/c all of my friends are getting jobs, getting into med school, etc, and I feel like I am sort of hanging out but I think it will be good for me! Those of you in the middle of your gap year seem really happy and enjoying your time before the chaos of PA school starts. Thanks for the reassurance :-)

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I feel the same way about doing CNA with a bachelors, especially when the educational requirement for the class I took was an 8th grade education! But between working as a CNA in a hospital, taking classes, shadowing, volunteering, and going on a medical mission trip to Uganda since graduating in May, I know I'm actively working towards my goal of being a PA. I'm definitely not making the salary that my friends with fancy consulting jobs are, but I've got the end goal in mind :) Good luck to you! And enjoy your last semester!

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Thanks everyone!! I can't get over how genuinley helpful and awesome everyone is here... it's so nice to know other people are having similar plans/goals as me and are helping eachother out with advice and whatnot. I feel like the year off probably goes super quick anyways- with applying to PA schools right at graduation time and hopefully an acceptance sometime in fall....it's got to fly by!

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I was in the same position as you. I graduated in May and had been working at a skilled nursing facility during my senior year. After graduation, I got a new CNA job at a hospital on a brain injury rehab unit because I was interested in neuro. If working another year at your same facility doesn't interest you, I suggest applying for full time CNA positions in an area of medicine you are more interested in!

 

I began feeling the same way when all my friends were getting "real" jobs, but when you start getting interviews/acceptances you won't care about that. I just got accepted to my 1st choice and I couldn't he happier about my decisions! Enjoy your "time off"!

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I agree with ehanson about going to work somewhere that interests you. I also wanted to add that I *made sure* I would be busy this year, because I am the sort of person who gets into a funk if I am not active. My best friends from college all moved to different states for their jobs/grad schools and I am at home with the parents in a fairly uneducated, boring suburb where the only people my age are kind of burnouts. If I were not always busy I'd probably get depressed, so I don't want to make it sound like the "year off" is necessarily all great. I did at times feel like my life was stagnant and if only I had started getting HCE earlier in the game I'd be in PA school right now. That's why I decided to take extra classes and throw myself into volunteering more (which helped me meet more motivated people my age and make some friends). I've also been training to run a half-marathon. I leave the house at 6:30 AM and often don't return until 9 PM or later-but I am enjoying it and it's good practice for long PA clinical days or if I end up doing a residency :)

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Other good things: living with the parents means I am saving lots to pay for personal expenses and hopefully part of rent during PA school, I've been visiting my friends in cool cities without having to pay for a hotel, and planning to go to Europe the cheap way and stay in hostels for a month or so before PA school. Only problem is all those friends with new jobs don't have enough vacation to join me so I need a travel buddy-anyone want to go??

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mackjacks- definitely am about to be in the exact same position!! Trying to decide whether to stay in my college town after I graduate in May and keep working at this hospital here as a CNA b/c I LOVEEE the people I work with and the job (but will have to pay rent...) OR move back home and save some $$$ while living with the rents and working at a hospital back home... decisions decisions..

Also- I am literally DYING to wander around europe and crash in cheap hostels before PA school starts... that would be so epic/awesome

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If you are seriously considering going abroad, I couldn't recommend it enough. I studied in Spain for a semester (and traveled during breaks!), then did a 5 week backpacking tour across Europe. I learned a ton (about food, culture and landmarks) and met so many nice people. My friend and I set up a profile on couchsurfing.com, so about half the time we stayed with local residents (for free). The other half we stayed in hostels, where you can meet great people, too, but they are tourists as you are.

 

Europe is expensive, but I really think it's worth it. And when else are you going to have this sort of free time, esp if you are single and don't have small kiddos? You don't want to look back and think, "Oh, I wish I would have!"

 

I encouraged my brother to travel and he went to South America, rather than Europe. He had a great time, but his trip was a ton cheaper. For example, you can buy a cheeseburger at McDonald's in Switzerland for $8. In Peru, about 40 cents. (And if you're wondering why the heck you'd go to those places abroad, well, stay anywhere long enough and you want something from home. Plus, it's neat to see how they're different.) My next major trip will be to Machu Picchu.

 

If you have any questions about traveling in Europe, I'd love to answer them. TRAVEL!!! It's one of the best things you can do for yourself!!

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Mackjacks and Melanie, I totally feel you guys too! I am living at home hoping to get an acceptance from my recent interviews, and crossing my fingers I can have the next six months to travel around and visit friends who are all set up in the "real world". I have definitely had moments of feeling in a rut, but I know that it will be worth it in the long run! I've been trying to keep busy with extra classes, working out, cooking, pretty much anything I (hopefully) won't have time for next year! It's so nice to hear that others feel the same way :)

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Nothing wrong with working as a CNA after graduation, I did it for a year and a half. I wouldn't suggest looking for a new job now, because you would probably only work there less than a year. I agree with EMEDPA's suggestions, and would also suggest maybe an international medical mission trip type thing. If I could have afforded it, I definitely would have done that! My other suggestions: spend tons of time with family and friends, make a scrapbook/photobook of your undergrad memories, read for fun, exercise, take a vacation, watch all your fave tv shows, etc.

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mackjacks- definitely am about to be in the exact same position!! Trying to decide whether to stay in my college town after I graduate in May and keep working at this hospital here as a CNA b/c I LOVEEE the people I work with and the job (but will have to pay rent...) OR move back home and save some $$$ while living with the rents and working at a hospital back home... decisions decisions..

Also- I am literally DYING to wander around europe and crash in cheap hostels before PA school starts... that would be so epic/awesome

 

I'm totally in the same position as you! I'll be graduating this May too and I'm not sure whether to stay in my campus town or live at home with my parents for a year or two before I apply for the next CASPA cycle this coming SPRING! I'm ALSO looking to get a job as a ER Tech (which requires my EMT license) and stack up some hours just before I apply.

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The second I get accepted (hopefully) to PA school next year, I am jumping on a plane to Europe. who's with me!?

 

i felt the same way before i got accepted into a pa program this year. im still debating whether i should go or not now because tuition is oh so expensive and i should probably save the money for that. On the other hand, ive spent 3 months in europe during college and had the best time of my life...decisions, decisions.

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That's so cool that you are a EMT. If I could go back, I might have done EMT over CNA. Everytime I go down the ED in our hospital, I get a total rush and want to work there! Good luck!! Let me know what you end up doing, Definitely going to be weird living at home with rents again, but will also be weird being a non-college student on campus...guess either way it's going to be an adjustment.

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