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Hello all,

I'm brand new to this forum. I graduated with a degree in biology and a gpa of 3.52, and was planning to go to medical school the whole way through, while also thinking a lot about PA school. I was ready to apply to med school while I was finishing college, but decided to take some time away from the academic environment to make sure I really wanted to do med school. After almost a year of soul-searching, researching and deliberation (in addition to the last 4 years), I have finally decided that PA is a more appropriate career path for me. I had a great mcat score (93%) and I had all of the volunteer and leadership experience to make me a competitive applicant for med school. Now that I'm looking at PA schools, I need to get my direct patient care hours, take anatomy and physiology (I didn't do the whole series since medical schools don't require it), possibly take statistics, and possibly take the GRE.

I have 400 hours of MA experience (not certified). I know the doctor personally and worked there for 4 months, I learned a lot but it was a very disorganized clinic. I have about 200 hours working as an EMT-B. I'm wondering if I should keep working as an EMT for a year and apply for the 2021 cycle once I take anatomy and physiology at my community college. I've looked at a lot of threads on the internet and from what I've found, paramedic is the best prep for being a PA; things like, "they were a head and shoulders above the rest of their class," and "they were very  experienced with patient assessments and had great clinical presence." I've also heard that it's unnecessary and a distraction if your end goal is PA. I want to be a paramedic and get real experience doing more advanced patient assessments, but it would push PA school at least 2 years back since I'd want to work for at least a year to make it worth it. Being an EMT entails a lot of driving and sitting around the station, and when I do get patient contacts, I'm not in charge unless it's a stable (BLS) patient.

Should I take the time to become a paramedic and get really good experience or should I get as many EMT hours as possible in a year and then apply?

Also, do schools look at how many hours I've worked or do they need to know how much time I spent doing patient care, versus driving and sitting around the station, and how do I record that?


My other main question is whether I should take the GRE or just rely on my MCAT score and not apply to "GRE required" schools. I live in CA and would like to stay in California, or at least in the west (CA, OR, WA, CO, AZ, NV, NM). This might be a question for a separate thread. 

I know this is a lot, but it's pretty much everything on my mind right now, please feel free to only answer a portion of it if you want. 

Thanks so much for the help!

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I'm an EMT-B starting PA school next month. You record your on-call time - PA schools are very familiar with EMTs and the general proportion of on-call to station time. I would take the GRE. If you did that well on the MCAT, you should be able to destroy the GRE with pretty low effort and it'll really broaden your school choices.

Instead of paramedic-ing, try getting a hospital job (I was a critical care technician in pre/post op and an ED technician). Especially in my ED, EMTs had exactly the same job description as the medics and LPNs - we all started IVs and ran fluids, worked in the level 1 trauma bay, did NG/OG tubes and Foley/straight urine caths, responded to any non-patient emergency in the hospital, EKGs, point of care testing, casts and splints, and assisted providers with all kinds of procedures like lumbar punctures, sedated closed fracture reductions, lac repairs, etc. It was fantastic experience that got high praise from interviewers and paid fairly well. 

I would also recommend shadowing a PA if you haven't already. It sounds like you're on exactly the right path! 

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I don't have much to add in regards to EMT or not but... 

I'm a west coast gal through and through and only applied to schools in the west besides one, "reach," school. So if you have any specific questions there, feel free to shoot a message my way or if you find yourself in AZ visiting schools or for an interview I'd be happy to help guide!

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Ya I agree with the above sentiments. I am about to finish the didactic phase of PA school and there are a few paramedics in my class, including myself. Just like most experience it has helped in some areas, but PA school is its own beast and everyone has to put a lot of effort in to get through no matter what previous experience they had. I would get the pre-reqs done and apply as soon as possible. like nichole said get a job in the hospital (like an ED tech) and that will help you see what its like, but again don't wait to be a medic apply to school and get to your end point ASAP

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Nichole96, congrats on getting accepted and thanks for the reply! 

After all of your guy's responses and asking people at my work, I agree; it's definitely too much time to go paramedic. So, EMT it is for me. 🙂  

As for everyone who said "just go to med school." I'm curious what your reasoning is. I love getting more opinions about PA vs MD/DO. 

Thanks for the responses.


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My sentiments are in keeping with my work associate and EMEDPA. For those of us who have been out for some time and have worked in EM (especially with a pre-PA background in EM) we believe that we would have been better off professionally and financially by just having gone to medical school. EM wasn’t a defined specialty/residency in my day as it is today. If you know that you want to end up in EM then do the most that you can to allow for your professional development as well as control of your work environment as much as possible. Even this is going by the wayside with large corporate EM groups now.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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