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Most practical way to PA school from this point.


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I am currently a 20 year old soldier in the u.s Army and I aspire to be a PA one day. To give a brief history of my medical experience, I joined the reserves as a medic right out of high school at 18. I received my EMT-B through the combat medic training and returned home to my reserve unit as a medic. I went through paramedic school directly after I came home and made it all the way to the end, only to fall short of completing the program due to going active duty. I did receive a lot of amazing training and patient contacts through the program, along with working part time as an EMT and drilling with my unit. I am currently in Korea and I intend on starting college to knock out my pre-reqs for PA school and work on towards my associates, then my bachelors. I have 3 years left in my enlistment. I was considering going through respiratory therapy school for my associates after getting out so I can gain more experience and to hold down a stable, healthcare-related job.  I've looked at the ipap program in the army and the chances of acceptance seem abysmal since there is such a long waiting list. I think it would be more practical to pursue PA school civilian side. From my current position, what would be the best route to becoming a PA?

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Thanks for your service. 

Given your circumstances, you might consider looking for a school with a dual degree program where you can knock out an undergrad (usually bio) and PA Master's degree in less time. The only thing with dual degree programs is that the workload is very intense. If you have been out of classes for a while, you might want to take some just to get used to the demands again as a "warm-up."

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On 11/15/2017 at 8:45 AM, SHU-CH said:

Thanks for your service. 

Given your circumstances, you might consider looking for a school with a dual degree program where you can knock out an undergrad (usually bio) and PA Master's degree in less time. The only thing with dual degree programs is that the workload is very intense. If you have been out of classes for a while, you might want to take some just to get used to the demands again as a "warm-up."

This was going to me my same suggestion! I may be wrong but it sounds like you are getting great hce from the army as a medic? I would think that most schools would consider that very highly. A dual degree program sounds right up your alley! 

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Prior Navy corpsman here. Had I known with certainty that I wanted to be a PA while in the Navy, I would have gone the route that is being suggested above. Find a school that have bachelors to masters PA program. I believe St Francis University in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia University are two that have BS to MS PA program. Your experience as a medic should make you more than qualified with the PCE requirements. 

So, do your research on schools that have the dual degree programs. Look at their requirements. Contact them and see what you can do to be a strong candidate for that program. Take the prereq classes and do well on them. This should take you where you want to be with the time frame you have in mind. 

Good luck. 

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I second above info. Detroit Mercy is another program that does a 5 year BS to PA (3 years for BS, 2 for PA) although it's pricey. MEDEX at the University of Washington has a soft spot for prior service folks and keeps a percentage of their seats available for prior service. Keep them on your radar. No need for respiratory tech certification. Your Army medic experience more than qualifies you from an HCE perspective. You just need to knock out the formal education requirements, keep a competitive GPA, and do some shadowing of civilian PAs once you're out.

 

I'm a former Army medic, current PA. Feel free to message me with any specific questions once you're closer to tackling applying to programs and I'd be happy to help where I can.

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Army Medic here. 6 years TIS and I get out in July. 

 

I agree with you that IPAP is extremely difficult to get into to. That being said, if you can complete your prerequisites during the remainder of your enlistment... it’s a no-brainer to at least apply. If you get in, great, PA school for free, if not, then you get out and go civ side. 

 

Also, you’ll need to get your bachelors degree and not an associates in order to apply. You mentioned the RT associates and I just wanted to make sure that you were aware. RT is a great way to get PCE hours, but you’ll have to get a B.S. somehow (I think there are some B.S. RT programs out there). 

 

The last B.S. PA school matriculates in 2018, and the rest will be masters programs. 

 

In short: IPAP, if not, then go civ and get your B.S. and apply. You’ll have plenty of PCE with the military. 

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Seems like a great start! Congrats! Also lots of good pragmatic advice on here. I'll just throw something out there for you to chew on. While the "tech" side of medicine (EMS, respiratory therapy, nursing, etc) is very important and an excellent foundation, hard core academics are worth considering too. I am a post EMS (and some other things) older PA student, matriculating next year, and when I went back to college at 27, I went all in. GED/EMT-I to BS in biology in 3 years (thank you summer classes). What I found by basically taking a pre-med track at a 4 year university was that as the classes progressed (300 and 400 level), I built upon fundamental stuff I learned earlier. For instance, I took all the prereqs for PA and med school, but I also took other classes that all built upon and reinforced that knowledge. I took a cancer biology course that was heavily reliant on prior understanding of genetics and developmental biology; the same could be said for invertebrate zoology, developmental biology, ecophysiology, endocrinology, and organic chemistry (in addition to prereqs). What I found that was interesting, as I worked at a clinic after graduating, was I was able to converse with the physicians at their level, and talk about the underlying cellular biology as well as system biology with them, that allowed me to learn even more, because the processes of biology had become so intuitive at a pretty advanced level. In addition to that, they became very interested in me because I was "speaking their language" and would go out of their way to have a chat or explain something to me. More than a few times a physician would come and find me to tell me about an interesting patient they had or complex problem they were treating (call it "academic privilege" if you like). I've also taken classes at community colleges and the core material is there, but it really does pale in comparison to a proper 4 year university. 

With the GI bill and most universities "yellow ribbon" programs (where they waive whatever the GI bill doesn't cover), you should be able to go anywhere pretty much for free. I would suggest trying to get into the best university you possible can, and really sink your teeth into the academic side of things, because you've already got a good background in the tech side of things. I'll also put a plug in for liberal arts universities, I had many upper level classes with less than 10 students, and we had the undivided attention of actively researching PhDs on our course topics. We had a lot of time to talk about their research, prior research, and go off on tangents that spanned far beyond the course content. Not to mention having a quick question and going to their office only to end up talking for an hour or more about biology and emerging research. On top of that, our bio department had 10 professors, they all knew exactly what was being taught in other classes, they all knew each other, and after having several repeat professors, I knew them very well and they knew me. I felt like I had multiple advisors that were all intensely interested in my academic growth and progression after finishing my undergrad. I wouldn't trade it for any other college experience. 

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FWIW, if you decide to pursue a traditional bachelors and then apply, it may be helpful to make a list of states/areas you’d like to go to PA school in and then go to the schools in those areas websites.  You can usually find bio’s of faculty.  Look for schools with faculty that have former military on faculty.  My school had several veterans on staff and applicants with military experience were highly favored.  One applicant in particular was a former army medic and green beret.  Our clinical coordinator was also.  The applicant walked in and sat down and that faculty member said “ I see here you were a green beret and medic, I don’t have any questions” he then turned to the other faculty member in the room and said “do you?” 

That applicant was in the next matriculating class. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

With 3 years left, get those prerequisites done and apply for IPAP. There is no “waiting list” per say. Ever year the pool starts over, those that were put on the stand by list may have a better chance the following year doesn’t mean that are an absolute. If you must take your prerequisites online- IPAP will accept them. Get good grades, try and hop on a deployment if you can, and build your Army resume. These will help in IPAP selection. 

Please don’t be listen to others and not apply because it is hard to get into. Have you talked to more people that have made it through the course, or found more people who didn’t get accepted? You may have to apply more than once, but you can do it if you truly want it. 

IMO, you cannot beat IPAP. Paid to go to school, and get a free education.

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