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Unique applicant background-Chances of getting accepted.


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Hello everyone, and thank you for peeking in. 

 

I will start by saying that--in my opinion--I am not an ideal cadidate for PA school in terms of academics. 

 

I was a Hospital Corpsman for 5 years, deployed to Afghanistan, aquired my EMT, ACLS, and was a CPR instructor--however, all of these are expired now. 

 

I got out and went to school to become a Medical Lab Tech (MLT) and recieved my AAS. 

 

All together I have probably about 9,500 hours of direct patient contact, and about 2,000 of laboratory specific health experience. 

 

Right now, I am just finishing up my Bachelors of Science in Health sciences from NAU (Its online, but regionally accredited). 

 

My pre-reqs, were mainly completed for my pre-reqs in the MLT program at my CC. 

 

A&P I&II

Chem (general) I&II

MIcro

BIO I

Stats and Medical terminology (Taking this summer)

 

I also have tons of cool BIO courses for the MLT program 

* All of these however are 200 level community college level classes. 

VIrology

Immunology

paristology

serology

clinical chemistry

clinical microbiology

urinalysis

blood bank

phlebotomy

 

I have pretty a pretty good GPA, graduated with honors for my AAS and looking to do the same with my BS. 

 

Now, here is where I am not comfortable. 

 

First, I am not technically done with all my pre-reqs (Stats, and med term, as well as some upper level BIO classes that I will be taking for my last semester at NAU in the fall. 

 

I also dont have organic chemistry or biochemistry

 

Second, I have nealry no meaningful volunteer work. 

 

I have not taken my GRE yet, and have not studied. CASPA opens April 27th, am I too late to begin studying and have a chance of an OK GRE? 

 

Let me know what you guys think, according to many of the PA programs I only qualify for about 10 programs nationwide due to lack of orgo/biochem, BIO II. 

 

Thanks

-Greg

 

 

 

 

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You may not be an ideal candidate in academics..... yet. You are ahead of the game in HCE and by being a corpsman. Many schools require orgo/biochem and bio II so you're limiting yourself by trying to apply to only 10 programs. If I were you I would wait till 2017 and have those pre-reqs completed. In the meantime you could study and take the GRE or narrow down a list to those that don't require the GRE.

 

From my experience some schools look at military medical experience favorably (did 4 years as an Army medic and 2 tours to Iraq). CASPA can be pretty expensive and exhausting so it's best if you have everything in order to have the best chances in being accepted.

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My only worry with waiting is that I took A&PII, Chem I &II, and Micro all in 2013, so the clock is ticking before the relevence of these courses runs out and I have to retake, which I DO NOT want to do. Will it hurt to apply this cycle? Besides the money of course.

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I think the shortest time frame that courses are good for is 5 years for some schools. Some go as far as 10 years. It all depends on the school.So if you apply by 2017 you should be good there. It wont hurt applying aside from money and rejections. Just keep in mind that every time you apply you will need to redo your letters of recommendation and if you're like me contacting people you served with can be cumbersome. Many deploy, change duty station, or leave the service, I tried to bother them as little as possible.

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As one former HM to another: wait. Get the prerequisites with good grades and a good gre score. Do it right the first time and get a good admission the first time.

 

Don't stress the volunteer time. If you think hard enough, I guarantee you some will come to mind. MWR fundraisers all count.

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I am taking classes full time to finish my BS and will graduate this Fall. However, yes, I plan on taking Organic chemistry in the Spring 2017. So you are saying that some programs that I apply to THIS cycle will accept me even though I am not due to take Organic Chem until the spring of 2017? I also plan on taking Biochem at the U of A as a non-degree seeking student and hoping they will waive the requirements for having orgo I & II before I take the class. To be honest, I think I will still apply this year. I have been peeking on the stat section that shows students stats that were accepted, and I fell I may have a chance. 

 

At University of Utah I am basically good to go, so why should I not apply this cycle?

 

I guess I udnerstand though, it will be difficult (if I dont get in this cycle) to write a new PS, and aquire all new LOR from the same people. Two of which are currently serving and difficult to locate. 

 

-Greg

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Another question: 

 

I took Clinical Chemistry during my MLT program (200 level class at CC). I noticed on CASPA that Biological Chemistry is listed as Biochemistry, same thing with physiological chemistry. 

 

Will CASPA list my Clinical chemistry class as Biochemistry? That would change the game. 

 

I have also heard the same thing about Clinical Chemistry counting as Organic Chemistry. 

 

What do you guys say? 

 

-Greg

 

p.s. thanks for everyones input thus far!

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As an MT, I'll add that some of your 'cool' bio classes may not carry as much weight as you think.  I didn't list any of my MT coursework (it was a post-bac 4+1 type program) because it was SO specific.  

 

Don't get me wrong, a lab background is great for PA and I've encountered a lot of us.  The coursework for it just isn't as widely useful as say, a virology or immunology class that is intended for a B.S. bio major (usually 300-400 level courses).

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Good info MT2PA, and thank you, always nice to meet a fellow laboratory professional. 

 

I did call Oregon Health & Science University and they said that CASPA ultimitally determines whether the class can be counted towards science or not. Im sure you all know this already. 

 

So for OHSU they require 30 credits for the BIO/CHEM/PHYS departments, I called and they said that if my classes state something like paristology (even if the class is MLT260) They will take it and count it as science courses so it would help fulfill that course. 

 

My big question is whether Clinical Chemistry (MLT299) will be counted towards biochem at some school???

 

-Greg

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I'm not sure if they would accept your clinical chemistry as biochemistry. I don't have any MLT experience, so I'm not sure what the content is in that course. That is definitely something you would have to ask the individual schools. This is merely my opinion, but I doubt they would. I understand wanting to use as many courses as possible from what you have already completed, but I think taking biochemistry would be beneficial. Although challenging, it is a good course in understanding processes happening inside the body. Many schools have biochemistry incorporated into the curriculum, so having a good foundation would be a great benefit to yourself. 

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I hear yah, and I would love to take biochemistry. I will add however, that I attend NAU online (its regionally accredited) so I cannot attend Biochemistry at this school and would have to take either:

 

A) Orgo I & II then take Biochem at the U of A as a non degree seeking student

 

B) Ask the U of A if I can be waived for not having Orgo I and II to take biochem.

 

Either way this wont take place until the spring of 2017 and if I have to do option A I will have to wait probably another cycle. until I have biochem.

 

The PA who I shadow says just apply and see, it cant hurt, and the money paid to apply will be totally worth it if you happen to get in.

Probably the biggest set back will be the fact that I will have to ask for LORs again, and rewrite a PS.

 

-Greg

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Good info MT2PA, and thank you, always nice to meet a fellow laboratory professional. 

 

I did call Oregon Health & Science University and they said that CASPA ultimitally determines whether the class can be counted towards science or not. Im sure you all know this already. 

 

So for OHSU they require 30 credits for the BIO/CHEM/PHYS departments, I called and they said that if my classes state something like paristology (even if the class is MLT260) They will take it and count it as science courses so it would help fulfill that course. 

 

My big question is whether Clinical Chemistry (MLT299) will be counted towards biochem at some school???

 

-Greg

 

Of course your MLT courses count as science!  No question. Just when comparing your coursework to other applicants...it won't inherently give you an advantage.

 

And clin chem probably won't count for biochem (and it shouldn't).  My undergrad biochem course was night and day from clinical chemistry.

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I have not taken my GRE yet, and have not studied. CASPA opens April 27th, am I too late to begin studying and have a chance of an OK GRE? 

 

Not at all. I studied for (if I recall correctly) about three weeks using Magoosh and did pretty well. 

 

B) Ask the U of A if I can be waived for not having Orgo I and II to take biochem.

 

I wouldn't recommend taking biochemistry without first taking organic. But if you're set on it, UC Berkeley offers online biochemistry...and only "recommends" organic as a prerequisite. 

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I am taking classes full time to finish my BS and will graduate this Fall. However, yes, I plan on taking Organic chemistry in the Spring 2017. So you are saying that some programs that I apply to THIS cycle will accept me even though I am not due to take Organic Chem until the spring of 2017? I also plan on taking Biochem at the U of A as a non-degree seeking student and hoping they will waive the requirements for having orgo I & II before I take the class. To be honest, I think I will still apply this year. I have been peeking on the stat section that shows students stats that were accepted, and I fell I may have a chance. 

 

At University of Utah I am basically good to go, so why should I not apply this cycle?

 

I guess I udnerstand though, it will be difficult (if I dont get in this cycle) to write a new PS, and aquire all new LOR from the same people. Two of which are currently serving and difficult to locate. 

 

-Greg

I applied to 3 schools (wasn't able to move) and only one of them required all prerequisites to be completed BEFORE applying. They just have to be done before ENROLLING. So yes, I am taking O Chem now and literally finishing 2 weeks before starting PA school. The one that required all prereqs before applying didn't require O Chem luckily. It sounds like you are set on applying this year, and I think that's great. Even if you don't get in, you'll only be out a little money and some time.

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I think I am set on applying this year. I am ready and at the very least I may gain some experience using CASPA and going through the motions. I worry about my current pre-reqs becoming irrelevent due to time. Almost all pre-reqs were taken in 2013, and Biology I was teken in 2011? So I am pushing the limits on that class especially. 

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So, after some further research I narrowed down quite a bit of programs that I am actually eligible to apply to, here they are:

 

Midwestern University-AZ (still need O Chem , but they allow pre-reqs to be taken up until Matriculation)

 

MEDEX- WA

 

Oregon Health and Sciences University- OR

 

U of Utah

 

U of FLorida

 

Franklin Pierce- NH

 

U of South Alabama -(need O Chem I still before matric)

 

U of Charleston- WV

 

Desales University-PENN (need O Chem I before matric)

 

Duke- NC

 

Mississippi College -(need O Chem I before matric)

 

TNU- TN

 

Marshal B. Katchum- CA ( Need O Chem I, Gen Psych? by matric)

 

Elon University- NC (Need O Chem I by matric)

 

I don't think I would apply to all of these, but it makes me feel better than I can apply to at least more than one.

 

Any thoughts on these programs listed above?

 

-Greg

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Check the program for matriculating student stats and compare your GPA/experience to see how you stack up.

 

Some of those are VERY competitive schools as they are regularly 'ranked' high and draw a lot of applications.  Just make sure you fit what they are looking for (besides just pre-reqs) before shelling out money.  Also make sure those are places you would want to attend (not just bc you meet the pre-reqs).

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That makes sense.

 

I honestly think I stack up pretty good, but I may just be naïve.

 

I don't have CASPA calcs yet (Obviously) But they should be somewhat like this:

 

cGPA: 3.60

sGPA: 3.60

 

HCE: Corpsman 10,000 (deployed to Afghanistan as a mentor to Afghan national army, worked Primary care, EM, CPR instructor, ACLS certified, EMT certified) Med Lab Tech: about 2,000 hours.

 

LORs: PA, Work supervisor, MLT program director, Fellow Marine Capt I deployed with

 

Some minor volunteering when I was in the Military, approx. 100 hours

 

Deans list every since I have been in school.

 

I have not taken the GRE yet, currently studying.

 

I am definitely a unique applicant, and have a lot of different experiences in medicine.

 

-Greg

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So how was your process with Midwestern? Are they a challenging school to be accepted into? Do you mind sharing your stats?

 

-Greg

It is #20 I think, so a really good school. I was offered an interview and accepted right away after the interview, so I can't really comment on the challenging part. I have an extensive research background and I have heard that Midwestern values that, so I think that helped me out. I am 29, research coordinator for 6+ years, some shadowing and some direct patient care (~500 hrs), 3 papers published, prior master's degree, 326 GRE, 3.6 GPA. It's hard to know what some schools are looking for though. I actually tailored my application to another school and didn't even get an interview there...

 

Good luck!

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Yeah, see I dont think I have much standing with Midwestern. I am non-academic focused applicant I guess you could say. I have more HCE than most other applicants, and I have veried HCE ranging from Combat medicine, EM, Primary Care, to Laboratory science. My GPA is good: Aprrox 3.7. However, I havent taken the GRE yet, and I lack (as noted earlier) many of the high level sciences courses. We will see. 

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Yeah, see I dont think I have much standing with Midwestern. I am non-academic focused applicant I guess you could say. I have more HCE than most other applicants, and I have veried HCE ranging from Combat medicine, EM, Primary Care, to Laboratory science. My GPA is good: Aprrox 3.7. However, I havent taken the GRE yet, and I lack (as noted earlier) many of the high level sciences courses. We will see. 

That was just my experience. I wouldn't not apply there just because of that, but I would also add some schools that are known to value experience.

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