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AMA Finished first year of med school (PA to DO)


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I know the topic of going back to med school pops up fairly regularly so I'm happy to answer any questions someone might have while I'm waiting to start rotations for the summer.  I'm in LECOM's APAP program and was a PA in cardiothoracic and vascular surgery for about 2 years with some experience moonlighting in the ER.  I'll try to answer as many questions as possible. 

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Did you work at all the first year? How much did you retain from PA school? Specific specialty in mind? How does studying compare vs PA school? Do you attend class? Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck sized horses? 

Thanks

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Nope, did not work at all the first year.  There are three pathways at LECOM: Lecture-Discussion Pathway (LDP), Problem based learning (PBL), and Dependent study pathway (DSP).  I'm in the LDP group so pretty much in class from 8AM to 5PM everyday.  Could have worked over breaks per diem but didn't think it was worthwhile for me.

I retained a lot from PA school since I graduated only 2 years before starting med school.  It made things a lot easier compared to people who just went straight into med school from undergrad.  Like the first week, they are already showing everyone CT scans and MRI's and most people were like, "I have no clue what I'm looking at." Lol

I enjoy the operating room and doing procedures but not so much rounding, going to the office, and filling out disability paperwork so I figured Anesthesia would be the best fit for me.  It seems like a good chunk of the PA's in this program end up in Anesthesia if they have a choice.  Back up plans would be Radiology, Surgery, or IM with a fellowship in something.  All the PA's here seem to match into the specialty of their choice.

Studying is extremely similar to PA school IMO.  The big difference is you go into way more depth.  For example, they care about the specific gene mutations that cause different diseases and the specifics of what is happening at the synapse for something like myasthenia gravis vs Lambert Eaton syndrome.  The amount of information they throw at you at once, IMO, is very similar.  If you did fine in PA school, you would do just as well in med school with a similar amount of effort, just so long as you had the endurance.

Yep, I do attend class everyday.  LECOM has a mandatory attendance policy.

The answer is clear, one horse sized duck.

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1 hour ago, EMPA_7 said:

What were your reasons for making the switch?

I'm young, was 25yo when I started med school.  I didn't have a family or girlfriend preventing me from going back.  No debt from school so financially, it made sense.  When I was working, I realized that the docs had it much better working less hours than me (I would get there before the docs everyday and leave after them everyday with a fraction of the vacation time).  There was just not much going on in my life and I originally wanted to be a doc so I figured, why not?  I applied on a whim and was kinda surprised when I got an interview and got an acceptance. 

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48 minutes ago, moleashish said:

Are there any older PAs who have practiced for many years and decided to go back to school in your cohort?

Yep, I think most of the PA's in our program have practiced for at least 5 to 9 years before going back to school.  I believe one PA currently in our class has practiced for about 15-20 years.  However, it seems like the older you are and the more you have practiced, the less likely you are to stay in the program due to complicating factors like kids and spouses (just my observation).

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1 minute ago, OneDayPA-C said:

Why did you originally choose the PA route?

Wanted the fast track to medicine and discouragement from my parents to go to medical school.  I was dead set on doing cardiothoracic surgery in high school and didn't really look at any other specialties.  I saw how rigorous the CT fellows worked from shadowing without much pay and didn't want to go through all that.  I was also mislead throughout school on how much CT surgeons actually make and get compensated!  So naturally, I took the shorter path to get to exactly what I wanted (CT surgery) even if that meant that I wasn't the primary surgeon.  It wasn't until PA school when I was doing rotations that I realized that I just loved medicine in general (not just CT surgery). 

Parents lead me to believe that med school wasn't entirely worth it and that I could always go back so why not take the shorter path first?  That way if you aren't in love with medicine, you've wasted less years of your life.  They also scared me to death that I would go through 4 years of undergrad and 4 years of medical school and I may be stuck doing a specialty I didn't want to do because I wouldn't be what the residency programs were looking for (Now that I realize I could be happy in almost any area of medicine, that doesn't bother me much).  And they scared me with the whole, "You're going to get sued all the time as a doc.  PA's don't get sued."

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22 minutes ago, caide said:

Have any PAs at your program been able to get into dermatology residency? How hard do you have to work to get As? Thank you for doing this.

None that I know of have matched into a dermatology residency.  I haven't heard of anyone trying to though.  It is particularly hard to match dermatology in general let alone from an osteopathic school (too many applicants and not enough spots plus the bias against DO's in the super competitive specialties).  And I imagine the match into derm will be even harder now that the allopathic and osteopathic residencies will be merged starting in 2020 (my match year). 

Also, the APAP program is 3 years so that results in almost all the electives of 4th and 3rd year being cut out so there isn't much time for audition rotations at derm residencies which is important for matching.  In addition to it being 3 years, we also have to do rotations the summer after 1st year so it makes doing research during school difficult to fit in (another important factor for matching derm).  If that didn't seem hard enough, most places won't let you apply for an audition rotation in such a competitive specialty until you've passed your boards (Step 1/COMLEX 1) and have obtained 4th year status from the school which doesn't happen for the APAP students until late in the fall semester of 3rd year (the last year of the program in the midst of applying for residency) - translation: all the audition spots have filled up by the time you will be able to apply for a derm audition rotation.  If you're a PA going back to school specifically for derm, you stand a much better chance of matching derm going to an allopathic school and doing a 4 year program. 

I work hard to get A's but the same as PA school.  3-4 hours a night after class and 8-10 hours a day on days off.  You can't go out every night and you'll miss things you wish you could attend but you can still have fun. 

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51 minutes ago, CVTSPA said:

Wanted the fast track to medicine and discouragement from my parents to go to medical school.  I was dead set on doing cardiothoracic surgery in high school and didn't really look at any other specialties.  I saw how rigorous the CT fellows worked from shadowing without much pay and didn't want to go through all that.  I was also mislead throughout school on how much CT surgeons actually make and get compensated!  So naturally, I took the shorter path to get to exactly what I wanted (CT surgery) even if that meant that I wasn't the primary surgeon.  It wasn't until PA school when I was doing rotations that I realized that I just loved medicine in general (not just CT surgery). 

Parents lead me to believe that med school wasn't entirely worth it and that I could always go back so why not take the shorter path first?  That way if you aren't in love with medicine, you've wasted less years of your life.  They also scared me to death that I would go through 4 years of undergrad and 4 years of medical school and I may be stuck doing a specialty I didn't want to do because I wouldn't be what the residency programs were looking for (Now that I realize I could be happy in almost any area of medicine, that doesn't bother me much).  And they scared me with the whole, "You're going to get sued all the time as a doc.  PA's don't get sued."

So I take it you completed ur bachelors and went straight to PA school, no gap year or nothing? How much were you making as a young CT PA if you don't mind sharing (if so what part of the country)

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I seem to be in your exact shoes. Around the same age, in PA school with desires to go to medical school. Also share some of the same reasons on why I attended PA school instead of attempting medical school.

 

 

After one year have you regretted it at all? Also did you only try to attend LECOM(did you take the MCAT, go back and take classes, etc)

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1 hour ago, OneDayPA-C said:

So I take it you completed ur bachelors and went straight to PA school, no gap year or nothing? How much were you making as a young CT PA if you don't mind sharing (if so what part of the country)

I went to a five year PA program and was accepted straight out of high school.  I started at about $90k base with call bonuses in CT surgery and was making about $45/hr in the ER, I believe.  Overall, it came out to a touch over $100k my first year out and I worked hard for that haha.  Wouldn't do it again for that same amount of money. Western PA. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, SR0525 said:

I seem to be in your exact shoes. Around the same age, in PA school with desires to go to medical school. Also share some of the same reasons on why I attended PA school instead of attempting medical school.

 

 

After one year have you regretted it at all? Also did you only try to attend LECOM(did you take the MCAT, go back and take classes, etc)

Nah, I don't regret it.  My plan if I didn't go to med school was to move somewhere south (NC or SC) and continue working as a PA in CT surgery.  I think I would be happy doing that but I would feel like something was missing.  I would feel like I missed an opportunity.  But I certainly wasn't going to apply to med school twice haha.

I only applied to LECOM.  I never took the MCAT and I didn't take the organic chemistry and physics prerequisites until after I was already accepted to the program.

Finish PA school and work a few years then decide! You won't regret finishing PA school if you're already in the thick of it.  I loved being a PA.  I was just in a position where it made more sense to go back to school than not. 

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8 hours ago, CVTSPA said:

Nah, I don't regret it.  My plan if I didn't go to med school was to move somewhere south (NC or SC) and continue working as a PA in CT surgery.  I think I would be happy doing that but I would feel like something was missing.  I would feel like I missed an opportunity.  But I certainly wasn't going to apply to med school twice haha.

I only applied to LECOM.  I never took the MCAT and I didn't take the organic chemistry and physics prerequisites until after I was already accepted to the program.

Finish PA school and work a few years then decide! You won't regret finishing PA school if you're already in the thick of it.  I loved being a PA.  I was just in a position where it made more sense to go back to school than not. 

Thanks for answering my questions. Best of luck to you and please keep us up to date on your progress

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6 hours ago, ApolloPA said:

Do most of the APAPs go to Erie?  I'm starting in SH this summer.

Congrats! I believe it is usually split roughly 50:50 between Seton Hill and Erie.  However, they are moving the entire APAP program to just Seton Hill soon (if you started at Erie, you get to finish at Erie) instead of being spread across two campus.  I think Seton Hill will be the only campus option for APAP starting with the APAP class of 2022.  Also, they are getting rid of the LDP option for APAP students (only PBL and DSP pathways for APAP students).

As part of the class of 2021, did you have the option of going to the Erie campus? Just curious. 

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54 minutes ago, CVTSPA said:

Congrats! I believe it is usually split roughly 50:50 between Seton Hill and Erie.  However, they are moving the entire APAP program to just Seton Hill soon (if you started at Erie, you get to finish at Erie) instead of being spread across two campus.  I think Seton Hill will be the only campus option for APAP starting with the APAP class of 2022.  Also, they are getting rid of the LDP option for APAP students (only PBL and DSP pathways for APAP students).

As part of the class of 2021, did you have the option of going to the Erie campus? Just curious. 

Yeah we had the option to interview for either one.  

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I'm not speaking from a position of any inside knowledge but it seems the biggest barriers to starting programs like these:

1.  Enough Candidates - med schools aren't Hurting for applications.  They could double the spots and you'd still have enough people applying who would make competent physicians. 

2.  Loss of money - less years - less $$$ for the school

3.  Increased overhead - you need to have people overseeing the program (from application screening to developing a curriculum if it's going to be a shortened version)

I think maybe a separate MD/DO school that focuses on PA candidates might overcome some of these issues?

Regardless, it definitely seems like the LECOM program has been successful so I'm sure others will follow. I just don't know how common that will be. 

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On 5/22/2018 at 9:24 PM, karebear12892 said:

Do you anticipate more programs like this one will start launching in other parts of the country?

I do anticipate more programs like this one eventually opening up but not sure when.  IMO, it just logically makes sense.  The PA's who go back to medical school generally outperform most of the other medical students and rock the board exams.  It seems like an easy way for medical schools to boost their board exam stats.

With that being said, I have not personally heard of any other PA to DO/MD programs opening up or in the works. 

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On 5/23/2018 at 12:32 AM, lkth487 said:

I'm not speaking from a position of any inside knowledge but it seems the biggest barriers to starting programs like these:

1.  Enough Candidates - med schools aren't Hurting for applications.  They could double the spots and you'd still have enough people applying who would make competent physicians. 

2.  Loss of money - less years - less $$$ for the school

3.  Increased overhead - you need to have people overseeing the program (from application screening to developing a curriculum if it's going to be a shortened version)

I think maybe a separate MD/DO school that focuses on PA candidates might overcome some of these issues?

Regardless, it definitely seems like the LECOM program has been successful so I'm sure others will follow. I just don't know how common that will be. 

I agree with all this.

I feel loss of money for the school is big issue. A person in a 3 year med school program is taking the spot of someone who otherwise would take 4 years to go through medical school.  So often, I am viewed as having a scholarship equivalent to 1 year of tuition.  Thus, I am not eligible for any school sponsored scholarships.

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