Jump to content

Career Change at 30


Recommended Posts

Hello all!

I'm really glad I found this forum. I found a lot of stories like mine so it's inspired me to keep my head high. I just turned 30 and graduated last weekend with an Associates of Applied Science in IT. I graduated with a 3.7 GPA and sometime in the last couple years my thoughts on life and careers have changed. I've spent the past 3 years working as an IT Systems administrator for my state government (Tennessee) and I currently make good money (50K a year) I'm good at my job, and was lucky to fall into this position since I pretty much got in because I was in school and I've been working on computers for the past 10 years as a hobby. Before going into IT I worked as a 911 dispatcher. Eever since I got into IT work I feel like I'm missing something. When I was a dispatcher I made very little money but every day when I got home I was happy because I knew what I was doing made a difference and I felt like my purpose in life was to help people (I know this sounds cheezy) I've always felt that no matter what career I choose it nees to be in some type of public service where I'm able to help people.

Around 7 years ago I looked into RN school but never really saw myself doing that. Well I ended up getting hurt, had no insurance, and had a friend of a friend who was a PA. My friend got me in tough with the PA and the PA called me and talked to me, and told me to come into the office and he'd work with me. I live in a small town and this particular PA helps a lot of people in our town and another small community close by. A lot of the people are uninsured, elderly with not much money and he helps everyone. That's what makes me want to do this. I'm not worried about striking it rich, I would love to work in a small town, I would love to help give back and help people just like he did for me and does for his patients. 

I've checked with my school and I'm 50% complete with a transfer degree in health sciences. I'm signed up this summer to take a required psychology class and in the fall I was going to take the other pre-req's (Lit, History, misc) so technically I could start a university pursuing a bachelors degree in Spring 2019, after getting my degree I could apply for PA school and hopefully get in. A couple things I'm worried about is, I've never been a nurse, CNA, EMT, so I have no real world experience doing medical. From what I've read on this forum PA schools like to see real world experience and I'm curious to know what you all think the best path would be to go down. I didn't know if volunteering at a hospital would be good enough for a PA school, or if it would be good for me to go to EMT school and get that experience. I hate to go off track for 6 months to EMT school and would rather do something that consisted of clinical experience that went along side the degree path to save time since I am starting out late in life doing this. I was hoping if all went well I could save up money the rest of this year and sell my house, use that money to help me out the next year or so while doing part time work and school and then once I enter PA school I would need to get a student loan and concentrate on it fully.

So 3 questions, is it too late for me lol, what path would you all recommend going down so that I have a good foundation and experience, and the last question, after getting out of PA school how much would a normal PA start out making a year? (just trying to figure out how long it would take to pay off the student loans) I know in TN the average is 90K, but I'm sure that's not what you start out making your first year.

Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, crabtreecj said:

So 3 questions, is it too late for me lol, what path would you all recommend going down so that I have a good foundation and experience, and the last question, after getting out of PA school how much would a normal PA start out making a year? (just trying to figure out how long it would take to pay off the student loans) I know in TN the average is 90K, but I'm sure that's not what you start out making your first year.

Thanks!

Hey Crabtree,

 

Here's my take on your questions:

  1. It's not too late for you. I was early 30s when I went to PA school. There were a handful of folks in my class who were around my same age.
  2. Paid patient contact hours are crucial for successfully getting into PA school. It really should be high-quality in the form of EMT or CNA, but you can read on the forum of instances where others have gotten in while working different gigs. You can get an EMT certification in as little as a semester. That said, you're going to take a pay cut doing EMT compared to your current job but you should really be striving to rack up hours. 
    1. A study done in 2013 by PAEA showed the average applicant had 7k hours of paid patient contact hours, the average matriculate had 4k hours.
  3. PA salary varies widely based on location, experience and specialty. $90-100k/year is the norm in most places as a new graduate. You can always pick up extra shifts at other practices once you're finished with your training.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, crabtreecj said: what path would you all recommend going down so that I have a good foundation and experience, and the last question, after getting out of PA school how much would a normal PA start out making a year? (just trying to figure out how long it would take to pay off the student loans) I know in TN the average is 90K, but I'm sure that's not what you start out making your first year.

I just turned 30, I am graduating from PA school in 6 months (in TN).  I made my career change though when I was 25, I left the military (combat medic) and did my undergrad and here I am. 

We have new grads, here in TN, making between 90-110-150k. That 150k is ortho surg working 24/7 in memphis  lol. 

Some off-the-cuff idea's about experience:

  1.  screw it -> join the military and go IPAP (military PA program)
  2.  Online MA/CNA/Patient tech/ER tech/Scribe program and work it weekends part time
  3.  EMT night school (easy to do), work weekends ect.. 
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since you were a dispatcher I would highly recommend being an EMT. I am very confident you will get that public service feeling back right away. Additionally, it will help you narrow your thoughts on the types of patients you do/do not want to work with. Becoming an EMT was a great choice for me, even when I leave EMS I will be so happy I have all the stories. 

 

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was twice your age when I became a PA, so it's certainly doable at 30.

I got several years as a volunteer EMT then EMT-I, before I transitioned to part-time paid with another department and became a paramedic the year before PA school started. I worked full-time at my "civilian" job as an engineer and management consultant, not quitting that job until a few weeks before PA school started.

You can tailor your life (i.e., which job is your full-time job) however you'd like while you prepare for PA school. Best wishes!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/8/2018 at 12:09 PM, 8404PA said:

I just turned 30, I am graduating from PA school in 6 months (in TN).  I made my career change though when I was 25, I left the military (combat medic) and did my undergrad and here I am. 

We have new grads, here in TN, making between 90-110-150k. That 150k is ortho surg working 24/7 in memphis  lol. 

Some off-the-cuff idea's about experience:

  1.  screw it -> join the military and go IPAP (military PA program)
  2.  Online MA/CNA/Patient tech/ER tech/Scribe program and work it weekends part time
  3.  EMT night school (easy to do), work weekends ect.. 

Thanks everyone for all the information. I was throw for a loop when I originally found out about the required patient hours and I'm still trying to figure out my best route. I've looked into EMT schools around my area so I know a few I could get into, but I had a question. Does clinical hours that you get during EMT or Nursing count towards any of the hours you are required to have (Volunteer or patient hours) for the PA programs? The reason I ask is I've looked down a couple routes trying to figure out which would be the best and what I've found is, I'm required to have a Bachelors degree to get into the PA program, I'm not really sure what degree would be best to enter the program, but I thought that something medical would help. I thought if I did take nursing, or some other type of medical degree plan that some of the hours would count towards getting into PA school. The other route would be to get EMT certified and work as an EMT while at the same time going to school full time to get a bachelors degree, so I thought if I could be going to school to get the bachelors degree already and getting those hours maybe it would help me cut down. 

I'm afraid if I quit my job and then turn around to get another job as an EMT I'm going to have just as hard of a time being a full time student as I have now. I work full time and the only real way for me to become a full time student would be to work as long as I could and when school / work started to interfere with one another I would have to quit my job and focus on school full time. I don't know if I could do this working EMT or not. I just wish that the required hours were part of the course work like LPN's and RN's get. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for all the information. I was throw for a loop when I originally found out about the required patient hours and I'm still trying to figure out my best route. I've looked into EMT schools around my area so I know a few I could get into, but I had a question. Does clinical hours that you get during EMT or Nursing count towards any of the hours you are required to have (Volunteer or patient hours) for the PA programs? The reason I ask is I've looked down a couple routes trying to figure out which would be the best and what I've found is, I'm required to have a Bachelors degree to get into the PA program, I'm not really sure what degree would be best to enter the program, but I thought that something medical would help. I thought if I did take nursing, or some other type of medical degree plan that some of the hours would count towards getting into PA school. The other route would be to get EMT certified and work as an EMT while at the same time going to school full time to get a bachelors degree, so I thought if I could be going to school to get the bachelors degree already and getting those hours maybe it would help me cut down. 
I'm afraid if I quit my job and then turn around to get another job as an EMT I'm going to have just as hard of a time being a full time student as I have now. I work full time and the only real way for me to become a full time student would be to work as long as I could and when school / work started to interfere with one another I would have to quit my job and focus on school full time. I don't know if I could do this working EMT or not. I just wish that the required hours were part of the course work like LPN's and RN's get. 


If you can interlace a medical job while you go to school, you could take a year off after graduating and be an EMT then. That’s what some of my classmates did.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/9/2018 at 8:52 AM, scott079 said:

Since you were a dispatcher I would highly recommend being an EMT. I am very confident you will get that public service feeling back right away. Additionally, it will help you narrow your thoughts on the types of patients you do/do not want to work with. Becoming an EMT was a great choice for me, even when I leave EMS I will be so happy I have all the stories. 

 

Were you 911?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, crabtreecj said:

Thanks everyone for all the information. I was throw for a loop when I originally found out about the required patient hours and I'm still trying to figure out my best route. I've looked into EMT schools around my area so I know a few I could get into, but I had a question. Does clinical hours that you get during EMT or Nursing count towards any of the hours you are required to have (Volunteer or patient hours) for the PA programs? The reason I ask is I've looked down a couple routes trying to figure out which would be the best and what I've found is, I'm required to have a Bachelors degree to get into the PA program, I'm not really sure what degree would be best to enter the program, but I thought that something medical would help. I thought if I did take nursing, or some other type of medical degree plan that some of the hours would count towards getting into PA school. The other route would be to get EMT certified and work as an EMT while at the same time going to school full time to get a bachelors degree, so I thought if I could be going to school to get the bachelors degree already and getting those hours maybe it would help me cut down. 

I'm afraid if I quit my job and then turn around to get another job as an EMT I'm going to have just as hard of a time being a full time student as I have now. I work full time and the only real way for me to become a full time student would be to work as long as I could and when school / work started to interfere with one another I would have to quit my job and focus on school full time. I don't know if I could do this working EMT or not. I just wish that the required hours were part of the course work like LPN's and RN's get. 

If you get your bachelor’s in nursing, you’ll be making much better money while accumulating PCE relative to EMT. Just be sure to get your PA prereqs done.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, katieo said:

Were you 911?

I am currently a volunteer EMT-B for a 911 dispatched ambulance. We are the primary EMS provider for a city of 50k. Since you asked, here are a few notes:

-I volunteer with 3-4 former/current dispatcher, they all really enjoy being an EMT.

-I make my own schedule and as a volunteer enjoy a fair bit of autonomy.

-I would never be an EMT for a none 911 dispatched service, never. 

-I would highly encourage becoming a volunteer in as big of city as possible, the things you see are crazy.

-In NJ, many volunteer places pay for your EMT course.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, katieo said:

Were you 911?

Yeah I worked in 911 for almost 10 years. I still work there but in a IT position part time. I had the opportunity at one time to go to EMT school because they cross train 911 and EMS in our county but I didn't do that at the time. Now I'm wishing I had. My county is a small county and most of the EMS runs we get are transfers from hospital to hospital, and maybe 20 a day that are real calls.

Let me ask you all this, If I (as an EMT) work a 12 hour shift do those 12 hours get counted towards patient hours, or how does that work. Anyone that's worked in EMS knows that there can be hours of down time and some days you may only have 1 call depending on the shift. 

I've looked at a local university (TTU) and it seems their curriculum for Nursing VS their pre-med track align very well. If I were to take Nursing I would need to take 2 extra chemistry classes to qualify for the PA programs around. I'm signed up this summer to take Psychology, and this fall I will take more of the classes I need for the degree (History, Lit, Comp II) this that my AAS didn't require but a BS would, and I guess that will give me some time to think about everything. I wanted to try to get into the PA program quickly, but maybe if I can mix a little EMT work, and maybe a couple months of Nursing I might get the hours needed. I assume I can volunteer at a local hospital or ambulance service on some nights and weekends to get those volunteer hours, and I currently do volunteer work for the county EMS but it's in an IT capacity so I don't know if that would count or not. I worked several years volunteering with the Emergency Management Agency and Sheriffs department. 

Scott0079, I agree with working in bigger cities. I could go to Knoxville or Nashville in Tennessee and see more crazy stuff there in a couple days than I would in a year in my county. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

52 minutes ago, crabtreecj said:

Let me ask you all this, If I (as an EMT) work a 12 hour shift do those 12 hours get counted towards patient hours, or how does that work. Anyone that's worked in EMS knows that there can be hours of down time and some days you may only have 1 call depending on the shift. 

Most people count all of the hours. I used to work 24 hour shifts--I tried to estimate time spent with patients, time spent on other work-related stuff, and time spent sleeping. Then the program I applied to just added it all up as PCE. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/8/2018 at 11:09 AM, 8404PA said:

I just turned 30, I am graduating from PA school in 6 months (in TN).  I made my career change though when I was 25, I left the military (combat medic) and did my undergrad and here I am. 

We have new grads, here in TN, making between 90-110-150k. That 150k is ortho surg working 24/7 in memphis  lol. 

Some off-the-cuff idea's about experience:

  1.  screw it -> join the military and go IPAP (military PA program)
  2.  Online MA/CNA/Patient tech/ER tech/Scribe program and work it weekends part time
  3.  EMT night school (easy to do), work weekends ect.. 

IPAP would not be a good move unless OP is already interested in military service.  Joining solely for the slight possibility of IPAP sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Separately, a lot of people on this forum speak highly to CNA, EMT type PHCE but it may be more financially conservative to look into entry-level PHCE.  A lot of MA jobs require little to no certification.  The con here is that the pay will be nowhere near what you make now.

Another option more specific to your background and pay scale would be telehealth.  It's a growing field that requires a blend of IT and patient care duties.  This would be an excellent crossover for your skill set.  If you have questions about the field let me know.  Im currently doing telehealth with the VA while I wait to matriculate into my program ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, SephONE said:

Separately, a lot of people on this forum speak highly to CNA, EMT type PHCE but it may be more financially conservative to look into entry-level PHCE.  A lot of MA jobs require little to no certification.  The con here is that the pay will be nowhere near what you make now.

For the record, I think those types of HCE are crap and I do not think highly of them, except EMT. But that's the way the profession has gone [shrug].

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/9/2018 at 3:46 PM, crabtreecj said:

Does clinical hours that you get during EMT or Nursing count towards any of the hours you are required to have (Volunteer or patient hours) for the PA programs? The reason I ask is I've looked down a couple routes trying to figure out which would be the best and what I've found is, I'm required to have a Bachelors degree to get into the PA program, I'm not really sure what degree would be best to enter the program, but I thought that something medical would help. I thought if I did take nursing, or some other type of medical degree plan that some of the hours would count towards getting into PA school. The other route would be to get EMT certified and work as an EMT while at the same time going to school full time to get a bachelors degree, so I thought if I could be going to school to get the bachelors degree already and getting those hours maybe it would help me cut down. 

Clinical hours obtained during schooling/certifications do not count. Hours only count after you're done with schooling/certificates. Your plan to get hours from EMT or Nursing schooling won't count until after you are certified. 

The best route to take is to keep your IT job and get a BS in Psychology. Psychology is a pretty easy degree to get and the majority of classes are online. PA schools don't care what BS degree you have, as long as you have the GPA, hours, and prereqs. You could probably sneak some schoolwork in during work since you're already on a computer. Get your EMT certificate and also take the PA prereqs, EMT and prereq classes can all be done at night. Once you get your EMT certification, you can get your PCE hours on night and weekends.

If you decided to quit and go to school full time, I would go the Nursing BSN route. MA/CNA/Scribe are considered lower quality PCE. Some schools will consider them as HCE instead of PCE since you're not actually working with a patient. Nursing and Paramedic are considered higher quality PCE and all schools will take them. EMT is probably in the middle for quality of PCE hours. A lot of people have to apply in multiple cycles. Say you go the BS Biology route and do a lower quality PCE, you will be getting paid nothing while applying multiple times. If you have to apply multiple cycles as a RN, you'll be gaining lots of high quality PCE and will have great pay. Nursing school is hard though, missing 4-5 questions on a test is a whole letter grade.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, aceface said:

Clinical hours obtained during schooling/certifications do not count. Hours only count after you're done with schooling/certificates. Your plan to get hours from EMT or Nursing schooling won't count until after you are certified. 

The best route to take is to keep your IT job and get a BS in Psychology. Psychology is a pretty easy degree to get and the majority of classes are online. PA schools don't care what BS degree you have, as long as you have the GPA, hours, and prereqs. You could probably sneak some schoolwork in during work since you're already on a computer. Get your EMT certificate and also take the PA prereqs, EMT and prereq classes can all be done at night. Once you get your EMT certification, you can get your PCE hours on night and weekends.

If you decided to quit and go to school full time, I would go the Nursing BSN route. MA/CNA/Scribe are considered lower quality PCE. Some schools will consider them as HCE instead of PCE since you're not actually working with a patient. Nursing and Paramedic are considered higher quality PCE and all schools will take them. EMT is probably in the middle for quality of PCE hours. A lot of people have to apply in multiple cycles. Say you go the BS Biology route and do a lower quality PCE, you will be getting paid nothing while applying multiple times. If you have to apply multiple cycles as a RN, you'll be gaining lots of high quality PCE and will have great pay. Nursing school is hard though, missing 4-5 questions on a test is a whole letter grade.

 

Some excellent advice here as far as pursuing the BS in Psych.  My only problem with that route is that OP would need to dump more money into PA pre-reqs and labs that aren't offered with his degree plan.  Not sure about pursuing the RN pathway though.  In fact I personally think this is terrible advice for the reasons you provided.  Why would OP pay for a degree to end up earning the same salary he currently has...for HCE? so he can apply to PA school?  Waste of money, sorry.

If OP is passionate about the NP route and nursing based education, then this advice might be a bit more reasonable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, SephONE said:

Some excellent advice here as far as pursuing the BS in Psych.  My only problem with that route is that OP would need to dump more money into PA pre-reqs and labs that aren't offered with his degree plan.  Not sure about pursuing the RN pathway though.  In fact I personally think this is terrible advice for the reasons you provided.  Why would OP pay for a degree to end up earning the same salary he currently has...for HCE? so he can apply to PA school?  Waste of money, sorry.

If OP is passionate about the NP route and nursing based education, then this advice might be a bit more reasonable.

The only reason why I say do BS in Psychology is because it's one of the easier degrees to get while OP can continue to work at the IT job. Yeah OP can get a BS in Biology which covers almost all of the prereqs, but upper division Biology classes like neuro and immuno are a lot harder than developmental psych and abnormal psych. Why do harder classes when all you need are just the prereqs? Some of the prereqs can also fall under the upper and lower division electives that all BS degrees need. 

 I see your point in saying a BSN is a waste for PCE, I see it as back up plan and earning a decent living. The RN route is great because OP talks about having a great IT job that pays well. RNs get paid way more than all the PCE mentioned above. If OP was to quit their job and did EMT (or any other PCE), then OP would have a BS in Biology with a low paying EMT job. If OP was to quit their job and have a BSN, then OP would have a great paying job while racking up PCE. Having RN vs EMT PCE hours doesn't matter at the end of the day, it's about having a back up plan in case you have to apply multiple times. I would prefer to have the job security of government IT (with BS in Psychology) or RN compared to low paying MA/CNA/Scribe/EMT. No guarantees that OP gets accepted into PA school at all. I went to interview at a school and they had someone in the class that got accepted after 7 cycles. I would prefer to do 7 cycles with RN pay over 7 cycles of EMT pay.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm really glad I found this forum! You all are great.

aceface and SephONE,

I think me and aceface have the same concerns in mind about the Biology Degree VS BSN. The way I look at it is right now I have a good job, 50K a year, but the room for advancement in my area kind of sucks and I'm burned out on IT. If I continue my position with State Government doing IT I will be making in 10 years around 58K to 61K, and top out, and for me I just feel like I could be making more in medical and enjoying it better. Now I would hate to quit everything and go to EMT school, get certified, get a biology degree and then get skipped over several times for PA school and be waiting around making EMT salary trying to get into the program. I feel like if I went the BSN route at least while I'm waiting around to get accepted into PA school I can be making good money that will help me to pay off all this debt for PA school. 

I said earlier that I wasn't interested in Nursing but I do like Nursing as far as Trauma, Pediatric, Surge Tech, and normal Doctors Office stuff, I just don't like Nursing Home type Nursing. I can deal with Trauma all day long, there's just something about Nursing Homes that I've never really liked. Now I know in Nursing Clinical's you get thrown around everywhere to get a dose of all fields and I can handle that, I just believe I would like working in an ER better after school. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/12/2018 at 8:29 AM, crabtreecj said:

I said earlier that I wasn't interested in Nursing but I do like Nursing as far as Trauma, Pediatric, Surge Tech, and normal Doctors Office stuff, I just don't like Nursing Home type Nursing. I can deal with Trauma all day long, there's just something about Nursing Homes that I've never really liked. Now I know in Nursing Clinical's you get thrown around everywhere to get a dose of all fields and I can handle that, I just believe I would like working in an ER better after school. 

If you do the BSN route, new grads usually start as a home health or med surge. You might get lucky though and start at a place that you want. I know lots of new BSN grads that started as float nurses, home health, and med surge. The others that got where they wanted because they made good connections in nursing school.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Welcome to the Physician Assistant Forum! This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn More