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Switch from Dental to PA

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Hi guys,

I want to give you a little background. I graduated college and I was pre-dental track. During my year off I've been working for a healthcare company and discovered I want to pursue a career as PA. However, my GPA is low (2.7) so I applied to a masters in Biomedical Sciences degree in Rutgers and got into the dental scholars track. 

I have great extracurriculars, good GRE score, and working on HCE hours. 

I spoke with the guidance counselor about switching my track, they told me they cannot so late in the game but if I'm doing well by the end of my first semester they would consider it. I've also spoken to some students who say the dental/medical(for me it would be PA) track are very similar aside from few courses and the counseling. 

What should I do in this situation to get into PA school. 

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I was pursuing acceptance into dental school for the past four years up until this past November. I decided to switch because the schools I was going to have to choose from were going to be out of state or private and I'd end up owing around or more than $400K after interest over those four years was factored in. Debt wise it wasn't worth it for me. 

Most of the SMPs like Rutgers are all the same regardless of their "focus". You're taking courses similar to what you'd be taking in the first year of dental, medical, pharmacy, vet school to show that you're able to handle the course load and material when you actually get into your targeted program. My advice would be just to finish out what you're currently doing and do well, as you can't really afford any slip ups with your GPA.

Secondly, once you get through there may or may not be some post-bacc courses you need to take in order to hit all the PA prereqs. I know that when I switched over I had to take abnormal psych, medical terminology, and a couple of other classes that PA schools require that I didn't have from undergrad. 

Additionally you're going to need upwards of 1,000 hours of PCE, not HCE. HCE is just healthcare experience (which is good in addition to PCE, but you want PCE at the minimum), whereas PCE is patient care experience. You need to rack up direct patient contact hours which you can do by being an EMT, CNA, medical assistant, etc. I would look at whatever specific PA programs you plan to apply to and see what they do and don't accept as PCE and go from there.

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Guest HanSolo

Don't want to come off sounding rude, Olli, but if you switched from dental to PA because of debt, then I think you may want to rethink your career strategy. You'd have a much higher ROI as a dentist in the long run. 



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5 hours ago, HanSolo said:

Don't want to come off sounding rude, Olli, but if you switched from dental to PA because of debt, then I think you may want to rethink your career strategy. You'd have a much higher ROI as a dentist in the long run. 



You didn't come off as rude at all. Most people have that same sort of school of thought when comparing the ROI of dentistry versus PA. However, I was comparing out-of-state/private dental schools versus my in-state PA schools.

I wouldn't have approached a breakeven point until my 50's where dentistry yielded a greater return. I had accounted for working as an associate for a couple of years and then buying out a practice. Sure the ROI would have been much greater if I had gotten into a state dental school, but that wasn't the case for me. However, I do feel pretty good about my chances of getting into my state PA schools, which will cost me 60-75K versus the ~400K I was staring down by going to one of the out-of-state or private dental schools I would have chosen from. Couple that ~400K of student debt with another 350-700K to open up my own practice or buy one out and I just didn't really feel comfortable strapping myself down to that sizable amount over the next decade (or more). Sure the practice would appreciate over time, but I still have to make payments on both of those loans. I wouldn't be seeing "dentist money" until very late in my career, so there were really more cons associated with dentistry. Especially in the first decade of my career.

So going to one of my state PA schools actually does produce a greater ROI than dentistry would for the first 25 years (give or take) in my situation. I can also get out from under that student debt much more quickly, and use any extra income I'm not using to live on to invest in other ventures that could out-perform what dentistry would accrue from that breakeven point onward.

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