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Help: Low GPA and EMT Work


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Hey everyone; I'm brand new to this site, and I've been doing some research into the other Pre-Pa topics available, but I wanted to see if I could get some customized feedback from the rest of the community. c:

A bit of background: I'm a sixth-year undergrad, with a ton of credits under my belt; this is because over the course of my college career, I was unsure of what I wanted to go into, other than that I wanted to do something in the sciences. I originally started out with the intention of going to med school, then I played with the idea of doing a Bioengineering degree (which resulted in me taking upper level math and physics courses which I didn't do well on). Some time ago, I finally realized with substantial clarity that I wanted to go into the PA profession, after I was exposed to it by a coworker of mine. My poor grades were due to a variety of factors, from family issues, to finances, to not having a reliable advisor -- BUT, of course, my grades were my responsibility, so in the past several years I really changed my behavior to grind out good grades; since then, I've had all A's, with a few B+ and maybe a B. I've exhibited that upward curve, so that's good.

However, I'm still at a 2.7 overall GPA (not sure about my science GPA), with at least two semesters left, because I have to take Anatomy & Physiology 1 + 2 (with labs). 

So, the first question is: What are some thoughts on how much I can increase my GPA within those two semesters? Should I take more time in school, taking more upper level science courses to boost the GPA (I've been getting A's in my upper level science courses btw). 

The second question relates to the process of working as an EMT to accumulate PCE/HCE for PA programs. I know the PCE hours differ between PA Programs, but what are some recommendations on how many PCE/HCE hours I should look into accumulating as an EMT-B, considering the low GPA? Do EMT-Bs work 40 hours per week? I don't mind taking extra time off before applying to PA school to accumulate the hours (that is, more than the average applicant with better GPA).

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Based off how you're talking about EMT-B's, I'm assuming that you are currently not one. I'm also a senior undergrad, and about to graduate after this semester (early) and have been an EMT-B for the past 2 years. I've shifted, depending on the severity of my courses, from anywhere between 12-36 hours a week. Now those, in my area, are 12-hour shifts so anywhere approximately from 1-3 shifts per week. This is a voluntary part-time PCE however, and you shouldn't postpone you graduating just to get PCE. I would do as many hours as you can without jeopardizing your grades in any type of PCE, and if you after you graduate, you feel as though you haven't accumulated enough hours, only then would I jump to a more full-time schedule, like a consistent 40+ hours a week. 

 

The times I fit in 3 shifts a week while also being a full-time student were usually lax times in the semester (before/after breaks, beginning/end of semester, etc.). It's extremely extremely hard to fit in a ton of shifts while also being a full-time student striving for straight A's, especially if you're in a station like mine that runs nonstop.

 

As tons of people have said on this forum, don't get too hung up on your current GPA. As long as you have reasoning for it and have shown upward trend (like you have) and also are strong in other areas, there is always a chance.

 

Best of luck.

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58 minutes ago, mmchick said:

Based off how you're talking about EMT-B's, I'm assuming that you are currently not one. I'm also a senior undergrad, and about to graduate after this semester (early) and have been an EMT-B for the past 2 years. I've shifted, depending on the severity of my courses, from anywhere between 12-36 hours a week. Now those, in my area, are 12-hour shifts so anywhere approximately from 1-3 shifts per week. This is a voluntary part-time PCE however, and you shouldn't postpone you graduating just to get PCE. I would do as many hours as you can without jeopardizing your grades in any type of PCE, and if you after you graduate, you feel as though you haven't accumulated enough hours, only then would I jump to a more full-time schedule, like a consistent 40+ hours a week. 

 

The times I fit in 3 shifts a week while also being a full-time student were usually lax times in the semester (before/after breaks, beginning/end of semester, etc.). It's extremely extremely hard to fit in a ton of shifts while also being a full-time student striving for straight A's, especially if you're in a station like mine that runs nonstop.

 

As tons of people have said on this forum, don't get too hung up on your current GPA. As long as you have reasoning for it and have shown upward trend (like you have) and also are strong in other areas, there is always a chance.

 

Best of luck.

Thanks for the quick reply! You're right, I'm not an EMT-B yet, and it's been consistently regarded as one of the best ways to get paid PCE to meet the PA Program requirements. It's good to hear that, at least in your case, they allow for lots of flexibility, which is good. 

I'm glad to hear the reinforcement about the low GPA; I am indeed putting in lots of effort to get great grades now, and I connect well with professors and got one of my favorites to write me a LOR, which I used to get into an emergency room volunteer program at a hospital near me. I get lots of patient contact, and while it's only a 100-hour program, it's a start.

Thanks again, that really helped me out.

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10 minutes ago, ilygurlie said:

From my experience applying this cycle, I highly suggest you look into programs that specifically say they look at last 45-60 credits when you do apply. The only interviews I've gotten are from schools who look at trends and my stats are below mediocre. 

That's interesting, I didn't even know that some programs do that. I will put that down in my notes... Thanks!

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To further clarify also on my part-time EMT-B and full-time student gig, it's extremely hard to get a position as a paid EMT-B if you're not willing to have available hours mimicking a full-time job. Now this may just be my area, but it is especially true for my station as paid EMTs can only run during the days (0600-1800) and are scheduled on random days usually without little wiggle room. My point is, I wouldn't rely on EMS as a way to get high quality PCE while also getting paid - it usually doesn't work like that. Working at a hospital as an ER tech might be a better job more attuned to a full-time student's schedule.

Again, just my two cents, and your area and EMS station might be entirely different.

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9 hours ago, jes766 said:

Is the GPA you reported the one on your transcripts or did you calculate your CASPA GPA?

If you haven't calculated your CASPA GPA I would highly recommend doing that

 

I haven't checked the CASPA GPA, I should do that!

Also, @mmchick, how are you able to work part time during school if your job wants you for full time availability? I may have missed something, since I'm checking this on the phone...

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33 minutes ago, SDZayas said:

I haven't checked the CASPA GPA, I should do that!

Also, @mmchick, how are you able to work part time during school if your job wants you for full time availability? I may have missed something, since I'm checking this on the phone...

Like I mentioned in my first reply, I'm a volunteer part-time EMT. So my point was that being a volunteer EMT and a full-time student is completely feasible, but you're probably going to have a tough time trying to get paid as an EMT while also being a full-time student. That's just my impression about the EMS field, it's not very flexible scheduling-wise.

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How much can you increase your GPA in two semesters? Assuming you're going to school full time (16 credits), and get a 4.0 both semesters, if you've taken 120 credits already it would boost your GPA from a 2.7 to ~2.97. If you're willing to take a little extra time and get your cGPA above 3.00, it'll open up a lot more options for you. If you've already taken more than 120 credits, it'll raise your GPA by a smaller amount, but upward trend can count for a lot in PA program applications.

What are some recommendations on how many PCE/HCE hours I should look into accumulating as an EMT-B, considering the low GPA? This is going to be entirely dependent on the school and what they place their emphasis on. Schools like University of Washington MEDEX place a huge (I repeat, HUGE) emphasis on PCE with applicants averaging more than 10,000 hours, but they also look specifically at the 60 most recent credits and have a low minimum cGPA requirement of 2.75. I've heard of people getting into schools like Rush University in Chicago with under 1,000 hours but needing a stellar GPA.

Do EMT-Bs work 40 hours per week? First, let me say this: I do not recommend doing what I did even though it worked for me. I have my EMT-B license, and when I worked for a private ambulance company in Chicago doing interfacility transport for dialysis patients, I worked 45-60 hours per week. It was rough, but thankfully I was able to find a job working in a level I trauma center as an ER tech. For the last three years, I've worked full time overnight and gone to school full time during the day. It was hard, but I now have more than 6,000 hours of PCE and my last 100 credits including all of my prerequisites were a 4.00. This brought my 2.07 cGPA up to a 2.78, and along with the strong upward trend, high-ish PCE, and an sGPA of 3.86 has secured me two interviews so far this cycle (no rejection letters yet!).

Take your time, make yourself look good for the adcoms, and you can definitely make it happen!

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