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Medical Laboratory Scientist to PA: Should I get EMT to get Patient Care Hours?

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I am a Medical Laboratory Scientist, currently working in a large hospital laboratory, and I am very interested in becoming a PA and I would appreciate any advice given!  I am a generalist, so I work in all of the labs (Hematology, Chemistry, Blood Bank, UA/Coag and some Micro) on any given day.  Over the last year, I have become more and more interested in the PA profession and it looks like something that I would love to do.  I am now 36 years old, so a little late to the game, but I also know it's not too late.  However, I am a little worried that some of my prereq classes are a little too old.  I graduated with a Biology Degree in 2004.  Will schools still accept older classes or should I retake some of them?  

Also, as I work in the lab, I do not get any patient interaction, should I look into getting a part-time job to get patient contact experience or should my experience in the lab be enough for HCEs?  I thought about getting an EMT certification and trying to get a part-time job as an ER tech.  

Also, finally my GPA wasn't all that great as an Undergrad.  My BCP GPA is 3.04, however my Post Baccalaureate Science GPA is 3.54.  I'm hoping that since I did well in a very rigorous MLS program (3.75), while also working full time, that it could offshoot my undergrad GPA.  Am I correct in this assumption?  

So, I guess my main question is, should I get my EMT to try to gain my patient care experience or focus more on retaking prerequisite classes?  

Thanks for any advice that can be given!

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Short answer is YES! I was an mlt before I took a research job to give me more time to complete pre reqs. My biggest mistake was not taking an emt class before anything else to allow myself to gain pce. I was waitlisted this year and am currently finishing an emt program. Learn from my mistake and take it asap!

 

Good luck!

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EMT is a great way to gain more direct patient care experience, but I would caution you to keep your work expectations as an EMT in check. In most areas, ER-Tech jobs are highly sought after and hard to come by. Are there 911 volunteer squads in your area? Often a good way to get a foot into the emergency medicine world, you'll still see a lot, and schedules can be quite flexible. Often you can use your EMT license to finagle your way into some other job at a hospital, too, so keep your eyes peeled for things that aren't explicitly a part of EM. Since you already work for a large hospital, it might be possible to meet with an HR recruiter to see how you can transfer. 

 

You'll have to research each individual school you are applying to in terms of prerequisites. Usually, most places just want A&P to be within the last 5-7 years. Your GPA is just one metric of many. Apply strategically. Look into places that emphasize the last 45-60 credit hours like Pacific in Oregon.  

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Here's the deal.  I was an MT/MLS prior to PA school.  A few things:

 

1 - your pre-reqs are likely too old.  Some schools don't have requirements and if retaking them isn't an option, you can TRY to find programs that will accept them.  Best advice - start working on retaking the pre-reqs.  Just do it.  You'll be glad you did once you're IN PA school.

 

2 - lab work is great HCE and will count (most) everywhere as HCE.  Some programs WILL count it as PCE but you have to hunt for them.  I also had about a year of phlebotomy experience and was able to use that as my PCE.  It wouldn't hurt to find something hands on.

 

3 - If your MLS wasn't part of a degree (i.e a B.S in CLS or MLS) - your grades basically don't count for anything in your app.  If you did a certificate program (I did) then it's just a cert and I didn't even list those courses ( I also did quite well and it would have bolstered my GPA but it just wasn't relevant).

 

4 - I had stellar ungergrad grades and I genuinely think that helped me override my, let's say, less than hands on PCE.  You kind of need to figure out what your overall GPA is as well as your science GPA.  Those are better predictors of how you'll stack up to other applicants.

 

Bottom line - you likely need to get your EMT cert (and USE IT) as well as retake pre-reqs.  There are other ways to get hands on experience if you need more options than just EMT.  It could be several years before you are ready to apply but your age certainly won't be a drawback.   Take your time, make a good app, and you'll be fine.

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Thank you everyone for the advice!  I think I will be looking more into the EMT for now, though I will have to keep an eye for other positions that may help, like a job where I have to draw patients (though I haven't done any phlebotomy since I was in School!).  And I will retake a few pre-req courses.  I don't plan on applying for another couple of years anyway, so I have time.  

 

I do have a question for MT2PA, though;  why wouldn't your certificate program courses count?  You still took the courses, why would it matter if it was a degree program or not?  It would seem to me to be analogous to to taking stand alone pre-req courses, as they are still high level science courses.  It might not necessarily count towards undergraduate GPA, but it should count towards Science GPA or at least be listed as a post-baccalaureate GPA, which could show an upward trend (at least in my case).  

 

Again, Thanks for the replies, I really appreciate the advice.   

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Thank you everyone for the advice!  I think I will be looking more into the EMT for now, though I will have to keep an eye for other positions that may help, like a job where I have to draw patients (though I haven't done any phlebotomy since I was in School!).  And I will retake a few pre-req courses.  I don't plan on applying for another couple of years anyway, so I have time.  

 

I do have a question for MT2PA, though;  why wouldn't your certificate program courses count?  You still took the courses, why would it matter if it was a degree program or not?  It would seem to me to be analogous to to taking stand alone pre-req courses, as they are still high level science courses.  It might not necessarily count towards undergraduate GPA, but it should count towards Science GPA or at least be listed as a post-baccalaureate GPA, which could show an upward trend (at least in my case).  

 

Again, Thanks for the replies, I really appreciate the advice.   

 

It's been a while since I've applied and it was before CASPA changed so maybe it's different.  But I remember thinking those courses weren't applicable.  It's also been nearly a decade since I did my MT program but mine was through a hospital, not a university/college (which is totally fine for MT and getting ASCP) - courses in CASPA need to be from regionally accredited schools.  I have no idea if my MT courses fit that bill or not but it wasn't worth looking into for me.  

 

So for me that's how MT courses are NOT the same as taking post-bacc pre-reqs (which I also did and had no problem listing).  If I remember correctly they also have weird course titles and credit values and I don't think they necessarily had course levels.  If you did yours through a school vs a hospital you might be able to get away with it.  I'm not an expert in CASPA by any means.

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It's been a while since I've applied and it was before CASPA changed so maybe it's different.  But I remember thinking those courses weren't applicable.  It's also been nearly a decade since I did my MT program but mine was through a hospital, not a university/college (which is totally fine for MT and getting ASCP) - courses in CASPA need to be from regionally accredited schools.  I have no idea if my MT courses fit that bill or not but it wasn't worth looking into for me.  

 

So for me that's how MT courses are NOT the same as taking post-bacc pre-reqs (which I also did and had no problem listing).  If I remember correctly they also have weird course titles and credit values and I don't think they necessarily had course levels.  If you did yours through a school vs a hospital you might be able to get away with it.  I'm not an expert in CASPA by any means.

 

Oh ok, I understand.  I guess it's a little different for me, as I got my certification through a regionally accredited University.  They had normal course title and credit values, so I think I am ok with using those courses as post-baccalaureate Pre-reqs.  Thanks for the clarification!    

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