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Inspiration and advice Needed - Want to be PA but Need to Start Career From Scratch

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Hi everyone!


So happy I discovered this site. This is all very very great information.


I am very unhappy and unfulfilled in my career (sitting behind a desk and not helping people) and have been shadowing PA's and Nurse Practitioners and have decided I want to go back to school to be a PA. Unfortunately I was an Econ major 8 years ago, and I had almost perfect grades but would need to go back to school to get all the science pre-reqs. I had been thinking about going back to school for PA years ago but shied away as a result of not having any of the pre-reqs required. At the time I was 27 and felt 'too old' to go back to school. Now I am 30 and am still nervous to take this plunge but it is so inspiring to see other people who switched careers to a PA later in life..  


Anyway, I was wondering what everyone would recommend should be my next course of action... I have virtually no medical experience and no science courses. I have no doubt if I go to a community college I could get straight A's but should I also start working in the medical field? Or do I do a formal post bacc for PA? I


I volunteer and go on global mission trips with my church but a bit overwhelmed as to where I should concentrate my first step efforts as there are so many ways I can go. I know some schools I have been looking at in California do not require medical experience so I may try to apply to those first, as I will not be able to apply till next year for the schools that require medical expereince. 


Any and all advise would be GREATLY appreciated. 


Thanks so much!!!

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Since you have your bachelors degree already, you can do post bad courses– no need to get another bachelor degree. A couple positive things are: 1) Being an Economics major... you are different and stand out. 2) You can still obtain post bachelor courses online. HERE is the link to another topic for online courses. 


You should 100% do something in the medical field: scribe, CNA, EMT, etc. Look at what schools you are interested, because some will not accept scribes as a PCE. Some programs will analyze what you do as an EMT and how many hours of hands on experience you actually have verse driving or waiting for a call. There is a ton of information on this forum, but you have to search for it. 


Good luck and have fun!

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Guest HanSolo

You seem confident in your ability to get As in your pre-reqs, so I would suggest you take the pre-reqs and obtain some HCE during that time. If you begin this Fall (or summer), you'd likely be ready to apply in about two years. You can probably work part-time and get around 1,000 hours HCE. Don't underestimate the value you bring in by having another career before this one. Many career lessons can translate over. Looking back at my life two years ago, your situation sounds similar to mine. I enrolled in a formal post-bacc program but I don't think it was necessary. The only reason I did it was because the school near me had that option. I wouldn't go out of your way for one unless it comes with distinct advantages (i.e. program linkages). 

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I'll echo the above.  I did this exact thing, only about 8 years later in life and my undergrad degree is even less relevant than yours, ha ha.  


It's not difficult to figure out what to do, but you are going to have to really want it.  It took me 6 years, start to finish, which is about average for those who may need to work or have other responsibilities.  


1. take the "magic 8" classes to get you into most programs (GenChem 1/2, A+P 1/2, Bio 1/2, OChem1 and BioChem).  maybe genetics too

2.  Accrue some quality HCE, ~1000 hours (this means treating patients so CNA, EMT, MA).  Scribe is great but debatable as HCE.  (I did it).

3.  Start applying


How you do those things is up to you and your situation.  If you have a spouse or other financial support or want to take loans to feed yourself, you can go full time post-bacc with part-time HCE work and get done faster.  


A quick scan of the Pre-PA boards shows your competition to be right around the 3.5 science GPAs, so good grades are paramount.  Many science classes are more difficult than you might think.  Good luck!  

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Take one prereq at your local college (many programs accept community college courses) and see what it feels like. One of the best moments of personal insight you'll get.


You can also do a little networking there and find out about HCE opportunities in your area.


I took my first prereq when I was 51; you can do this if you want to. Good luck!



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While the last poster has some legitimate concerns, he has more or less been spewing total pessimism across this forum.


I recommend you do your own research.



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Agree with two of two of his points. First, I am pessimistic but with good reason. Search for my many posts on this subject under my Forum name. Just because someone with a minority view is pessimistic doesn't render them erroneous. When there is a bubble, everyone wants to believe that the future is rosy and secure. I'm afraid the future is grim. To his second point, do the research. Get balanced inputs. Look carefully at Nurse Practitioner programs. You'll get there sooner, with less competition, with higher admission rates, with lower tuition, with far less debt because you can easily work while studying and when you're done, you'll be an independent practitioner in 23 states while the PA will be a dependent practitioner in 50 states. Look in your own home town for direct primary care practices and the owners of these practices are all NPs. We aren't able to operate a profitable practice because we have a physician anchor dragging us down. Don't just look at primary care though. NPs own practices in cardiology, dermatology, ob/gyn. PAs are being left behind because we aren't represented by forward thinking leadership in the AAPA and because we waste time and money on unnecessary reboarding to fill the pockets of the NCCPA. Nobody ever posts the salary of the president of the NCCPA. Ask someone that question and see what response you get. I am only saying that many of the posters here are actually connected to the PA schools you want to attend so they are in effect salesman. Some are representatives of the NCCPA and AAPA. Again, you aren't getting objective advice here because people won't state "I have no affiliation with any PA program or the AAPA or the NCCPA." 

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So anyone who disagrees with over must be biased and acting as a salesman for his or her profession?


Interesting bias. Why does someone who thinks the profession is in a death spiral spend so much time on this forum? Kind of like standing on the deck if the Titanic telling the other passengers are doomed...


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UGoLong, I can believe that you may actually believe the things to put forth here. However, if you or EMED or any of the many other "clinical adjunct professors" here were to spout critical views of the profession or the PA education process, just how long do you think you would continue enjoying the prestigious title "adjunct clinical professor?" I'm sorry but nobody should call themselves professor unless and until they have earned a PhD in a field of original research and defended their dissertation. Again, I say this is all a lot of hype to sell unsuspecting kids that PA programs are legitimate educational institutions. For the most part, they are scams. 

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I think the flaw in your arguments is your assignment of motives to the rest of us. I also am not invested at all in your opinion of who should hold what titles.


I teach part time because I enjoy it and I enjoy being around enthusiastic students. I am 70 years old and the only titles I want to hang onto are son, husband, father, and grandfather.


I do not intend to respond to any more of your posts. I hope you find some more positive things to do than this. I know I will.



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Go for gold! Make a list of your course work, figure out a plan, and make it happen if your 100% about becoming a PA. I'm making the transition with two degrees in mental health and am needing 1 solid year of ore-reqs at 36. Overall, life is too short to sit behind a desk and wonder "if only." Also, I personally believe with the current shortage of MD's and DO's, somewhere near -150,000 here in the states, that the medical profession will have to open a new realm of possibilities for scope and practice.

Shoot for the moon, because if you miss you'll still hit the stars! LBrown..

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I agree with most of what people wrote above. I think you're in a good spot to work towards PA school- although not for this coming cycle, but the next. There are a lot of people your age who come to this forum for advice with similar stories as yourself, but they have unimpressive grades.


No need to get another degree. I say work to get some HCE full time and take some night classes at a community college. You seem pretty confident in academics but please don't try to take like 4 courses while working full time. And don't underestimate the difficulty of these classes because they're in community college. You can really dig yourself into a ditch as bad grades will follow you.


I don't think NP is a bad option either. You just need to do a lot of research and decide whether you want a better education or better lobbying. Obviously, there are other differences between NP vs. PA but you can find all that out in time.

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