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I have decided to leave medical school in order to go to PA school. Now what?


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Hello everyone, 

 

I recently have decided to withdraw from medical school (MS1) in order to hopefully attend PA school in the future. The reason I made the decision was that I believe I was not pursuing medicine for the right reasons. Since I was little I said that I wanted to become a doctor which was supported and somewhat reinforced by my parents. They were so excited and proud of me and because of that I was fearful of disappointing them I never truly explored any other options and justified becoming a doctor because of the prestige and salary. I have always had doubts on whether or not medical school was for me but never acted on those feelings. I also do not want to spend 8+ years in school, I want to be able to enjoy my 20's as much as reasonable possible. My plan now is to work for 2 years in healthcare then start PA school.

My focus now is on improving my application for PA school. My cumulative GPA is a 3.65 and my science GPA is a 3.5. I still need to take 4 science courses (anatomy, physiology, psych, and sociology) which will hopefully improve my GPA. I believe my GPA won't be an issue, however, my MCAT score is not a strong part of my app as my score was a 503. Do y'all recommend that I include my score in my application or leave it out? Also I have been reading that around a 300-305 on the GRE is a competitive score, is that true? 

Another question I have is about jobs. I do not have work experience in healthcare, as all my experience is from volunteering and shadowing. I know PA school puts a lot more importance on clinical experience. What kind of jobs did you guys have before attending PA school? I am finding it difficult to find a job as I have no experience in healthcare. Thank y'all! 

 

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9 minutes ago, GoldenYoshi said:

 I have always had doubts on whether or not medical school was for me but never acted on those feelings. I also do not want to spend 8+ years in school, I want to be able to enjoy my 20's as much as reasonable possible. My plan now is to work for 2 years in healthcare then start PA school.

Yoshi, out of curiosity, why do you want to be a PA? You told me why you don't want to be a doctor... but PA isn't a backup plan or the easy way out. As a former medical student, you're going to have to do an excellent job answering that question to admission committees (and yourself) as PA programs are hypersensitive to the idea that they're the "easy way" or a backup plan for people who can't do med school.

I would recommend taking an EMT class or CNA class as these are short, not difficult, and get you into clinical roles fast. In addition, at least for EMT, the class also counts towards your science GPA. As for GRE, I believe greater emphasis is placed on the percentile scores (>50% is the standard cited bottom limit) but you'll find that much less emphasis is placed on test scores for PA admission as opposed to Med School. I've heard >300 composite is generally considered competitive. Programs vary, but tend to focus on HCE, GPA, PA shadowing and extracurriculars. They really want you to show that you know what a PA is and why you want to be one. Good luck. 

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9 minutes ago, boli said:

Yoshi, out of curiosity, why do you want to be a PA? You told me why you don't want to be a doctor... but PA isn't a backup plan or the easy way out. As a former medical student, you're going to have to do an excellent job answering that question to admission committees (and yourself) as PA programs are hypersensitive to the idea that they're the "easy way" or a backup plan for people who can't do med school.

Thank you for the reply! For me it's the life/work balance. The flexibility in work hours, less stress as compared to physicians. I want to be able to spend more time with family and friends. Also the ability to move to different specialties is very appealing as I do not know what specialty I would truly enjoy the most. I don't see PA as the easy way out I just see it as the better option for me.

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you need to do some research. many PAs work as many or more hrs than the docs they work with. less stress also is not true in many settings. the expectations on a pa are the same as on a doc. you can't practice "pa standard care". you are held to the same standard as a physician. lateral mobility to a great extent is going away in the pa profession. within similar fields you can switch around, but tough to do between unrelated specialties unless you are willing to enter at the new grad experience and salary level with each shift.

you may have significant difficulty getting into a pa program without any medical experience and having dropped out of medschool.

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Like everyone else has been saying, your mindset seems to be that the PA lifestyle is "easier" than that of a doctor's (despite your denial its not). You are terribly misled if you believe this to be the case - given that most PAs don't go through an official residency, there is lots to be picked up while thrown into an active practice. The difference in training time catches up to both docs and PAs in their right time, everyone goes through it in their own regard. The "lateral mobility" clause is a valiant one, but definitely is not a primary reason. PAs are very similar to doctors, but also very different in how they approach patients, treat diagnostic plans, work with others in professional settings, etc.

From reading your whole scenario, you come across to me like someone who just doesn't want to put in the work for med school because its too long, too hard, etc. which are valid reasons, but for an adcom interview? Those will get you shut out pretty quickly. You need to do some "deep digging" and figure out what about the actual profession aside from how you perceive it to be cutting corners it is that you like.

Also side note, it really peeves me when people are med school drop outs or change their direction from med school because "they want to enjoy their personal life more" or don't "want to study as hard" and therefore justify choosing PA route over MD. This is really an offensive way to look at the career because PAs, as mentioned, put in a ton hell lot of work, and need to stop being viewed as the "easy way out". It is it's own career, much like you wouldn't choose to be an NP over an MD because of it's "easiness" or what have you.

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I submit that choosing to drop out of medical school is not necessarily a reflection of a previously-suppressed desire to be a PA.

Don't make a second bad career decision: spend some time working in healthcare (if you're certain that's really where you want to be) and spending time with a variety of PAs. Make an informed decision.


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I submit that choosing to drop out of medical school is not necessarily a reflection of a previously-suppressed desire to be a PA.

Don't make a second bad career decision: spend some time working in healthcare (if you're certain that's really where you want to be) and spending time with a variety of PAs. Make an informed decision.


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This!

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On 8/9/2017 at 11:57 AM, EMEDPA said:

you need to do some research. many PAs work as many or more hrs than the docs they work with. less stress also is not true in many settings. the expectations on a pa are the same as on a doc. you can't practice "pa standard care". you are held to the same standard as a physician. lateral mobility to a great extent is going away in the pa profession. within similar fields you can switch around, but tough to do between unrelated specialties unless you are willing to enter at the new grad experience and salary level with each shift.

you may have significant difficulty getting into a pa program without any medical experience and having dropped out of medschool.

My reasons were from online research and some experience shadowing a physician who had a great relationship with his PA so I I was able to see some of responsibilites that come with being a PA. But I plan on working in healthcare as well as shadowing PA's and maybe other health professions to really see what their careers are like. I will be gaining HCE as well and finding out if PA is the right choice for me. I appreciate the heads up about the "red flag" my medical school experience may come off as to AdComs.

Out of curiosity, if you were to choose between PA or MD, would you choose PA again? 

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On 8/9/2017 at 0:40 PM, mmchick said:

Like everyone else has been saying, your mindset seems to be that the PA lifestyle is "easier" than that of a doctor's (despite your denial its not). You are terribly misled if you believe this to be the case - given that most PAs don't go through an official residency, there is lots to be picked up while thrown into an active practice. The difference in training time catches up to both docs and PAs in their right time, everyone goes through it in their own regard. The "lateral mobility" clause is a valiant one, but definitely is not a primary reason. PAs are very similar to doctors, but also very different in how they approach patients, treat diagnostic plans, work with others in professional settings, etc.

From reading your whole scenario, you come across to me like someone who just doesn't want to put in the work for med school because its too long, too hard, etc. which are valid reasons, but for an adcom interview? Those will get you shut out pretty quickly. You need to do some "deep digging" and figure out what about the actual profession aside from how you perceive it to be cutting corners it is that you like.

Also side note, it really peeves me when people are med school drop outs or change their direction from med school because "they want to enjoy their personal life more" or don't "want to study as hard" and therefore justify choosing PA route over MD. This is really an offensive way to look at the career because PAs, as mentioned, put in a ton hell lot of work, and need to stop being viewed as the "easy way out". It is it's own career, much like you wouldn't choose to be an NP over an MD because of it's "easiness" or what have you.

I didn't mean to come off ass a person who thinks that PA school is easier. I know it is just as competitive to get into as medical school. I like the fact that it is a shorter length of training so that I can start being part of the work force earlier in my life and start a family too. Yeah PA don't go thru an official residency so there will be a lot of learning to do when thrown into an active practice but I feel like that is with any job/career. You are also getting paid more than a resident.

I am a first generation student and I come from a working class family, my mom cleans houses and my dad is a mechanic and works as a ranchhand on his days off. My family and I have worked our whole lives for everything we have. I know hard work and pride myself as being a hard worker. So it isn't because I see medical school as being to hard. The problem I have is the training is to long and the debt is to much which I feel are valid reasons to not do medical school. Like I said in another reply, I plan on shadowing PA's to see what the actual profession is like.

Once again I never said PA school was the easy way out. I am sorry if I came off that way. You also shouldn't let other people peeve you off that easily because they changed a career path.

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On 8/9/2017 at 0:54 PM, UGoLong said:

I submit that choosing to drop out of medical school is not necessarily a reflection of a previously-suppressed desire to be a PA.

Don't make a second bad career decision: spend some time working in healthcare (if you're certain that's really where you want to be) and spending time with a variety of PAs. Make an informed decision.


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This is a good point. Hopefully in the next few years I'll be able to shadow multiple PA's and truly find out if this is what I want to do.

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On 8/9/2017 at 1:38 PM, NikkiO said:

OP, I feel like you have valid reasons, but please make sure that you really know what you're getting yourself into before flat-out withdrawing from med school. You worked so hard to get there.

I appreciate that. I will shadowing PA's and working in healthcare so I will be able to make an informed decision in the coming years.

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@GoldenYoshi Those are fine and dandy reasons for choosing PA over MD, however you still have yet to mention what it is about actually being a PA that seems more attractive vs the MD/DO route you are currently already on aside from logistical benefits. 

It peeves me when people change their careers based on superficial misleadings, yes. It is a common frustration for anyone in the PA profession and pre-PA alike, having to deal with the filtration of these people. That being said, the bottom line (as you have already confirmed for yourself) is that you really need to understand if PA is right for you. Med school being too long or too much money, etc. are valid reasons for a prospective student into either of the fields, but you are currently a medical student at the moment, so obviously those parameters were not all that deterring if you went through the entire process of applying, accepting, and then beginning medical school.

Best of luck to you, you are indeed in a uniquely more difficult situation.

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On 8/9/2017 at 11:04 AM, GoldenYoshi said:

Hello everyone, 

 

I recently have decided to withdraw from medical school (MS1) in order to hopefully attend PA school in the future. The reason I made the decision was that I believe I was not pursuing medicine for the right reasons. Since I was little I said that I wanted to become a doctor which was supported and somewhat reinforced by my parents. They were so excited and proud of me and because of that I was fearful of disappointing them I never truly explored any other options and justified becoming a doctor because of the prestige and salary. I have always had doubts on whether or not medical school was for me but never acted on those feelings. I also do not want to spend 8+ years in school, I want to be able to enjoy my 20's as much as reasonable possible. My plan now is to work for 2 years in healthcare then start PA school.

My focus now is on improving my application for PA school. My cumulative GPA is a 3.65 and my science GPA is a 3.5. I still need to take 4 science courses (anatomy, physiology, psych, and sociology) which will hopefully improve my GPA. I believe my GPA won't be an issue, however, my MCAT score is not a strong part of my app as my score was a 503. Do y'all recommend that I include my score in my application or leave it out? Also I have been reading that around a 300-305 on the GRE is a competitive score, is that true? 

Another question I have is about jobs. I do not have work experience in healthcare, as all my experience is from volunteering and shadowing. I know PA school puts a lot more importance on clinical experience. What kind of jobs did you guys have before attending PA school? I am finding it difficult to find a job as I have no experience in healthcare. Thank y'all! 

 

If I may ask, how did you get into med school if you didn't complete anatomy and physiology, the core prerequisites for medical school? 

What did you say to the interviewers the reason you wanted to study medicine before you were offered an admission? The same will be asked in PA interview.

Withdrawing from MS1 for PA school would give every PA school suspicion that something is not adding up. Be ready to be bombarded with loads of uneasy questions if you ever gets an interview for PA school. Remember, admission committees love it when a candidate is honest. Whatever the reason(s) for withdrawal, you need to be straightforward and articulate. All the best.

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13 minutes ago, mcclane said:

They are not prerequisites for medical school.

Really? From the little I know, anatomy and physiology are core science pre-requisites for almost medical schools and even PA schools. Pls share any medical school that does NOT include anatomy and physiology as part of their science  pre-requisites. Thanks

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11 minutes ago, Kunle said:

Really? From the little I know...

It would be harder to find a school that requires it than a school that doesn't. That standard pre-medical courses include a year of bio, gen chem, orgo and/or biochem, physics, calculus, and usually a psych or sociology class. 

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36 minutes ago, Kunle said:

Really? From the little I know, anatomy and physiology are core science pre-requisites for almost medical schools and even PA schools. Pls share any medical school that does NOT include anatomy and physiology as part of their science  pre-requisites. Thanks

https://students-residents.aamc.org/choosing-medical-career/article/admission-requirements-medical-school/

I spent quite a bit of time last year looking through the MSAR and osteopathic schools and didn't find a single school that required or suggested A&P.  The standard pre-reqs are a year each of: english, inorganic chem, organic chem, physics, and biology.  Since the new MCAT was released, a semester of biochem is pretty standard too.

Kaplan:  https://www.kaptest.com/mcat/medical-school/medical-school-prerequisites

Quote

Most schools agree on the basic elements for pre-medical education. Minimum course requirements include one year each of biology, general (inorganic) chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and related lab work for each. In addition, about two-thirds require English and about one quarter require calculus. A small number of schools have no specific course requirements.

 

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I hate to sound like a broken record, but please make sure you want to be in healthcare. None of us will shun you for saying you don't want to be in it. There are a lot of great fields that have great work-life balance and salaries to match, but making sure that you actually want to be a PA is important. I think you may have a little bit of an uphill battle explaining why you quit medical school to become a PA. You'll be qualified, but they may question your commitment, and knowing what you really want or not.

You're still young, so I would suggest getting a certification where you spend quite a bit of time with direct patient contact, while still being able to see the PAs. Definitely shadow them a lot, because it's going to show adcoms that you have spent a lot of time with them, and that this is the right decision for you. A CNA or EMT cert would definitely suffice. CNAs in the hospital setting will probably get a lot more exposure to other healthcare professionals, as EMTs are in and out of the hospitals for the most part, but it is great knowledge. I'm an EMT and I am glad I chose this route. 

As far as your stats- research the schools you're interested in, and see what they look for as an ideal candidate. Also, isn't that the old MCAT scores? You made need to take GRE anyway. I'm not too familiar with the MCAT, but from all of the research I've done, anything 300+ is usually competitive. MOST programs also don't weigh one thing higher than the other; they want to see you as a whole. I've seen people get into Duke with low 3 GPAs, but have good PCE hours, life experience, and so on. I think another thing is your age. You mentioned enjoy your twenties, so I figure you're straight out of college?

I was an engineer. I'll be 27 next month. I won't even be done until I'm 28, applying at 29, so don't worry about age. If it's something you really want to do, age won't matter. The older people might have somewhat of an advantage, as they have life experience, and that looks good to adcoms. 

I am by NO means an expert. The things that I am saying are what have been told to me when I started this journey of my own. Just make sure you do what you actually want to. There's no amount of money that can pay off regret. I hope you find what you're looking for. Spend time on here and browsing the different threads. I've done that ever since being here, and I continue to learn a lot. Either way, there's always people here! Good luck!

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Sorry OP, but your story doesn't add up. You say you want to become a PA to enter the workforce earlier and save money on interest but then say you're gonna spend the next few years shadowing a PA and accumulate healthcare experience..

Working a low-end tech job for a year or two and taking more pre reqs and the GRE etc.. and then another 2-3 years for PA school,  would be approximately 3-6years depending on how fast you get things done. Why not spend the next few years graduating medical school? Then you'd get a paid residency (not much of course, but better than nothing) and become a full fledged MD/DO in ~6 years.

As others have mentioned make sure your pursing PA for the right reasons if you do decide to drop out. Also, do research on the schools you're applying to because some are really expensive.

Best of luck.

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This sounds like a "I willing left with a gun to my head" situation. I've seen it before. Student does something faculty doesn't like, but not so bad they want to ruin life for them (or sometimes isn't worthy of expulsion but still want gone), so they make the suggestion to withdraw or be failed.

I could be totally off, but if that's the case I encourage you to keep your anonymity, but be honest. We could advise you better.

OR

you have a very skewed interpretation of PA life.

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