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Proceed with pre-req's and HCU at 39, to apply to PA any/all PA schools? What if I do not get in? Help -

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Hello all,


I am 39 years old. I have been thinking about proceeding through two years of fulfilling requirements, and health care experience- to apply to all and any PA schools - preferably New York or Southern California, Northern California. Although i have worked in health and wellness fields for six years in New York, it was primarily management. I have an undergraduate degree in Painting, and a 3.8 gpa. once to teach at the college level, but did not pursue masters as turn in economy and job market. After many turns in the economy and changes to job market with the mass flood of technology, I am originally from the Bay Area, California (SF) - Ive turned and twisted many times. Finding a happy place in New York in health and wellness, clubs, etc - led me to healthcare, and to discover PA. 


I would be beginning pre-reqs a new, as well as HCE. I have family support at this time, while I myself do not have a family, and would be able to focus all of my attention on my pre-requisites and HCE without major stressors in life as rent and full time job. But! .... 


I have hesitated, I am hesitating, for fear of taking two years (or less) to focus and pursue - to not be accepted to any school at 41, or 42 - as the two year process is a huge commitment, undertaking, stress, and life adjustment - while definitely worth it if accepted into PA school. 


It would be very hard to have taken two years unemployed in many ways, to change career paths, only to find I have to begin somewhere else, at a later age.


Lets say hypothetically I receive 3.8-4.0 through all course work/ pre-requisites, and load up ample amount of HCU in those two years. 


My hold back, my nervousness, MY FEAR - is that at 39 years old I begin, and apply at 41 - to be turned down by every school, possibly two years in a row - I have heard this happen to a younger student, whom had a 4.0 and HCU. He applied to all PA schools and was turned down two years in a row.


I cannot afford to put two years of solid hard work and, cover the cost of pre-req's, nor lose two years where I could be focusing two years on something else, as the job market is age discriminatory.


I am nervous!! I wish the economy and world was such that I could choose a solid career I am truly interested in, and not have to research around a field so much.


I would love to hear anyones thoughts, experience in applying, experience with acceptance rates -


And if they thought this was a risk not worth taking? 


All the best, Laura 

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I was past 40 when I decided to try for PA school. Had to take 2 missing prerequisite courses, had to apply 2 years in a row before getting in. Then two years of school. Now working happily.


I had the advantage of family support, so financially it was do-able. I also had pretty solid academic background in science (but no clinical work). And, I had a fall-back plan if I was unable to go to PA school (go back to former career).


So my advice would be, think hard if being a PA is really something you want enough, to put your life on hold for, for at least 4 years. I assume you have had enough exposure to what PA's do on a day-to-day basis, to know that is what you want for yourself. Also, if you don't get in on the first round, think what you would do? what could you afford to do financially? what can you afford spiritually?


Getting into PA school is competitive. You will need to have high marks in the science pre-requisites - have you taken college level science courses in the past? (you mention your degree is in art).


I can understand you are anxious, but if you consider the issues carefully and listen to your 'gut', that is a way forward.


If you have not taken many college level science courses in the past I would suggest signing up for a couple, and see how that goes. It's not necessarily a 2 year commitment, at first.


wish you all the best

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I am nervous!! I wish the economy and world was such that I could choose a solid career I am truly interested in, and not have to research around a field so much.



Does this mean that PA is not a career you are interested in and are pursuing instead due to the paycheck and availability of jobs?


If that is the case, then I would say do NOT put the time, effort, and money into 2 years - schools will notice if your heart just isn't in it and you're searching for a paycheck.


If I misread/misunderstood that sentence then let me say that age is not a hindrance for you.  Is it possible that you spend 2 years working your butt off and don't get in?  Yea, it is.  Getting into PA school is incredibly competitive.  Just having the grades and stats (HCE hours, shadowing, etc) does not guarantee that you get in or even get interviews.  Not everyone has the right personality, demeanor, or people skills to get past the interviews.  Not everyone stands out on paper to just GET an interview.  I'm telling you this so that you are realistic in your endeavor.


Have you shadowed any PAs?  Do you understand the career your are pursuing?  Before you invest any time and money into this, do that first.  Also, if you are currently employed, maybe you'd want to consider getting a part time HCE job first to really make sure you want to work in healthcare and take pre-reqs slowly.  Yes, it will take longer but you might find it a safer alternative if you are already having doubts.  Like I said, your age will not hurt you.  PA school will still be there when you are ready to apply (in fact, there will probably be even more).


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@MT2PA Thank you for responding. The sentence you quoted and then responded too: I can see how the interpretation form 'truly interested' can be taken. i did not in fact intend in to be read that way. 


i have been caught in a generation that has the coupling of an economic downfall, combined with technology bloom that has led to somewhat of (slight joke) ptsd about all education programs, and new endeavors. i began a serious trek towards professorship, studying in foreign countries and attaining my ba first in painting, then to go to columbia university in new york to receive my mfa, to teach. how was i led to physicians assistant now? the economy fell hard while i was in Italy, unknowing it would steer my ship in alternate directions. When I arrived in New York, I began working immediately the year before my program began. I was the 18th person hired with a company called Soul Cycle, a modern positive indoor cycling studio that has expanded immensely. I loved it, and it felt perfect actually. I love working with people, I love helping people, I can easily work in very chaotic environments, or more peaceful. I have an innate need to help others, I love working on my feet. I have always been passionate about health and wellness. Over the course of five plus years working with this company, I began looking into Physical Therapy. After talking to Physical Therapists, many dear friends said if they could do it all over again they would have gone for Physicians Assistant. Another good friend, an artist in new york, introduced me to his roommate and dear friend - who absolutely loves her job in new york as a PA. I am in a highly creative individual, but science, as well as math, I also very much enjoyed. 


I subscribed to PA podcasts. I see medicine in the same light, in a sense, as painting - in the sense that it is the study of man, or spirit, or a higher energy. I pursued painting, and professorship because I was interested in the creative spirit. Medicine also is a study of service and - with PA - it is a continual education, and life of learning - on the human body, and service to others. I am a thinker and I am attracted to the idea of continued learning over my lifetime in a career of helping others. I love interacting with people, and do well on a team. 


I am in the process of locating PA's to job shadow, hopefully in the emergency room.


Coming from New York, to the Bay Area, I can't tell you how much I have shifted due to economy, technology, and here - a  severe housing crisis and astronomical rents. This is where the PTSD comes in ;) and where my comment comes in. I am fearful of failing, after failing already. 


Anyhow, It is a consideration, and I am relieved to know age is one worry I can wipe off the list. 


All of the things you have mentioned, I appreciate - and have thought early on. I will be looking into and connecting with as many people I can - to answer all of the obvious. 


Thank you. Very great to respond. I appreciate as well anymore willing to give feedback.


Happy New Year. 





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I just turned 39 in November.  Two weeks later I graduated with my Bachelors, and have been accepted to PA school starting the summer of 2016.  Age is not a factor.  In fact, I believe that anything that makes you stand out to adcoms will cause them to spend a second or two longer on your application compared to an applicant who is the 'norm'.  So, a degree in art, being over the age of 30, I see these as things that make you stand out, not things that hinder you.  And it is standing out that can get you an interview invitation.


That being said, you also have to show them grades (so far you're in good shape), the ability to handle the rigors of PA programs (high grades in prereqs/ GRE score help that), and knowledge of the PA and medical fields (HCE and shadowing show that).  Do these and you'll be in good shape.  Going down this path can also show you it's not for you (disliking/ failing prereq courses, not liking HCE, not liking shadowing) and help inform you of what's involved before even applying to programs.


Good luck to you and, once again, age is not a detracting factor. (Where is UGoLong on this board?)

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