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MS and More Patient Care Experience - Helpful?


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Hello, new member here. 

 

Before I ask anything, here is some background on me. 

 

Undergraduate program: Wheaton College (B.A., Neuroscience and psychology, Class of 2016)

 

Overall GPA: 3.4

 

Science GPA: 3.2

 

Undergraduate internship: Neurology Department, Massachusetts General Hospital

 

Current job position: Clinical research assistant and study coordinator, Neurology Department, Rhode Island Hospital

 

2 publications during undergrad. 

 

GRE score was average, not a bad score but not extremely stellar. 

 

I've been exploring my graduate school options, and am very interested in going the PA route. As you can see from my past and current experiences, I would like to specialize in neurology/neuroscience. I had initially wanted to get my PhD and applied directly out of undergrad and got rejected from all the programs I applied to, but it turned out to maybe be for the better because after I started working full time in the clinical/hospital setting I discovered that while I still like research, I really enjoy working directly with patients and I'm not sure the PhD is the best way to be able to do that, which got me looking into PA programs. I wanted to perhaps get some advice or feedback on how I could improve my application. While my overall GPA is 3.4, I must admit I did not do very well in chemistry or organic chemistry during undergrad (both Cs) despite the rest of my science grades ranging from B+ to A+ (biology, anatomy and physiology, statistics, neurobiology, etc). Because I would like to get more specialization in neuro specifically, I'm looking into neuroscience MS programs and then while I do that getting some additional direct patient care experience in preparation for a PA program. My current job does involve direct patient interaction but it is less frequent than other study-related activities such as consenting and conducting scales (which it is my understanding that things like that do not count as patient care for PA programs). Because the chemistry grades really are my big weak spot on my application, my thought was that graduate school experience combined with additional patient care experience would enhance my PA application. Additionally, any suggestions as to gain more patient care experience that could best serve my needs based on my current experience and goals would be great. 

 

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. 

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Guest HanSolo

Your whole resume sounds very...specialized. While you certainly could have a PA career in neuro, I am cautious about recommending a career that focuses on producing generalists rather than specialists. I'm sure others will disagree, but that's just my thought at the moment.

 

The chemistry grades aren't your only weak spot. Science GPAs is below average, and overall GPA is average at best. It's hard to tell, but it also seems like you have zero or very little PCE. You can do it, but it's going to require a bit of work (and time). Get that GPA up, gain some PCE (outside of neuro), and work on generally diversifying your experience. 

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Agree with above but I'll add this:  why not skip the MS and apply to med school instead?  You're more likely to find a path into neuro that way and your app is already prepped for that (research oriented) save for taking the MCAT.

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Agree with above but I'll add this:  why not skip the MS and apply to med school instead?  You're more likely to find a path into neuro that way and your app is already prepped for that (research oriented) save for taking the MCAT.

If OP does this, they need to take it under consideration that they won't get into an allopathic program (MD) with their current stats. DO may be (probably will be) their only option if they want to go the medical school route. There were only 31 spots for DO students for neurology in 2016. That's not a lot of spots for DO's in neurology. Neurosurgery only had 13 spots for DO's, so definitely don't bank on that.

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If OP does this, they need to take it under consideration that they won't get into an allopathic program (MD) with their current stats. DO may be (probably will be) their only option if they want to go the medical school route. There were only 31 spots for DO students for neurology in 2016. That's not a lot of spots for DO's in neurology. Neurosurgery only had 13 spots for DO's, so definitely don't bank on that.

 

PA and MD programs have pretty similar GPA averages for accepted students so it's not like PA is really a guarantee with those stats either, especially with weak/no PCE.

 

I get what you're saying but there's also no guarantee of getting a job in neuro as a PA.  Lots of things to consider.  If I were OP I'd really consider what were must haves in my career and what I was willing to compromise on - as well as researching HOW PAs work in neuro compared to how an MD functions, as far as scope of practice.  

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PA and MD programs have pretty similar GPA averages for accepted students so it's not like PA is really a guarantee with those stats either, especially with weak/no PCE.

 

I get what you're saying but there's also no guarantee of getting a job in neuro as a PA.  Lots of things to consider.  If I were OP I'd really consider what were must haves in my career and what I was willing to compromise on - as well as researching HOW PAs work in neuro compared to how an MD functions, as far as scope of practice.  

Oh I agree. If OP doesn't start accruing HCE/PCE they have little to no chance at getting in. However, I think PA and DO school have similar acceptance rates based on stats. I'd say allopathic schools are much more difficult to gain entry to than either of DO or PA though. I feel good about my own chances of getting into PA for example, but I know for certain I probably couldn't even get an interview for a MD program.

 

You're right though. There's no guarantee they'll get a job as a neuro PA. However, winning over an employer in an interview is much easier than scoring high enough on Step 1 of the USMLE. 

 

Based on OP's history, they're probably better off pursuing a traditional masters in neurology, and then applying to PhD programs. They had no shot at getting into a PhD program to begin with with a 3.4 oGPA and 3.2 sGPA straight out of undergrad. The applicants that get in straight out of undergrad have tons of research, publishings, volunteer work, and stats near a 4.0. If they are dead set on studying neurology in an academic aspect they'd be better off going that route, as they won't be getting into a PhD program without a masters. I agree with you though -- they should shadow PAs and do a lot more research on their own time before jumping into this as a career since their interest is such a niche.

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