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Retiring enlisted then pursuing PA career

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I’ve been active duty enlisted for 9 years with no medical background and it’s been 15 years since I’ve taken even high school level science classes so I’m starting from scratch so to speak, knowledge-wise. I plan on staying in a full 20 to get retirement and also use military TA to go to school for free as much as possible in the next 11 years. I have two associates degrees through the Community College of the Air Force. Criminal Justice (Security Forces) and Human Resources Management (Recruiting) and am looking into online schools to pursue my 4-year degree in Psychology. Since I have another 11 years in the military and another 2-3 years after that to gain PCE and shadowing hours, I’m concerned about my credits being valid when it comes time to apply for PA school if I complete it within the next couple of years. My thoughts are to, instead, self-teach myself basic levels of chemistry, anatomy, physiology, biology and medical terminology so that I can be prepared for those classes/upper division science courses when I take them about 5 years out from retirement and rock a solid GPA because of the preexposure. A huge factor for not separating now to just start school full-time is that I am married with 3 children, two of which I provide child support to. I don’t want to put them in a tough spot and my wife is still going to school finishing her teaching degree so we aren’t in a position financially for me to get out anytime soon. A rough timeline:

-Next 6 years: Familiarize myself with chemistry, anatomy etc. (text books, apps, videos)
-5 years from retirement: Start school for Bachelors degree and pre-reqs.
-2 years from retirement: Start EMT certification
-Civilian: Full-time EMT for PCE, shadow PAs, MDs etc. and volunteer
-After 2 years of PCE/100ish hours shadowing: Use G.I. Bill for PA school
-Graduate and practice medicine helping people!

Has anyone been in my shoes or similar situation?
Is my path realistic or do I need to adjust anything?
I’d appreciate any input and suggestions and thanks for taking the time to read.

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Re-class to 68k. Medical laboratory technician. This is the single most successful MOS at IPAP. It is or was the longest enlisted mos training in the Army short of the 18 series. For me it was 84 weeks which included BCT and 68W which was required at the time .

If you want to go 20 this mos is good for that as you won't be rucking, obstacle coursing, living at ntc/jrtc and you will have time for school. There are 2 68k slots in maneuver brigades and 3 in a CSH. Otherwise all hospital or clinic slots. You can deploy but it isn't common. I deployed to Kosovo and had a good time. Finished 4 college classes while I was there. 

The education is a 2 year degree but it is nearly all science. I think currently it is through Baylor  when I went it was The George Washington University . Virology, hematology, clinical chemistry, microbiology, immunology etc. Clinical rotations for the last 6 months. Then you will work in a clinic for clinical experience which you can log for 2k clinical hours for civilian PA app. 

Currently the army is waiving time in service requirements for IPAP so it may be an option after you finish school depending on how much TIS you have at completion. 

If you decide to not go 20, and only 11% of soldiers make 20, MLT is a viable job you can go to school while working and directly transfers to civilian employment. Also 2 years to medical technologist and commission in the US Army. Will also help for civilian PA application. 

Likely need GT score 110 to qualify. Hit up retention and see what is available. At 9 years you could be anything from e5-e7. May have limits on in/out call. 

Other options 68P (X-ray tech). Good gig. Similar to above but we had two of these kids fail out of my ipap class. Guess it is common for 68P. 

Good luck. 

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bovineplane, thank you for responding. I failed to mention that I’m in the Air Force. The only way to re-class into medical is via shred-out. For us that means I would have to already be in a specific medical career field then apply for something lateral to that. For example, right now there are availabilities to re-class into surgical services urology (4N111B) but in order to be eligible, I would already have to be a surgical services tech (4N111). “B” is the specific shred out.

Since you mentioned the IPAP, I looked into that for the Air Force. I don’t know why I didn’t think about that already with so many threads mentioning that program. Our TIS requirements for that are a max of 14 years with 5 years retainability prior to training start date. It’s a realistic option that I’ll have to seriously consider. 40 hours min of shadowing Classes required are A&P (6 hrs), General Chem (6 hrs), Medical Terminology (2 hrs), Algebra (3hrs), English (6 hrs), Psychology (3 hrs) and Social Sciences & Humanities (6 hrs). Highly recommended classes: Biology, Microbiology, Organic Chem, Biochem and Sociology.

I’ll dive a little deeper and see if I can find some POCs who may know of any degree programs that would allow me to take only the classes I need as of now in order to complete my pre reqs. Again, thanks for your input and recommendations.

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On 7/7/2019 at 10:06 PM, STFC5 said:


I can't speak for AF. Army has it set up with tuition assistance that allows you to turn in the pre-reqs to the Ed center for your "degree plan" which allows TA coverage. I would bet AF has similar set up. 

Email the ipap selection director. Certainly the Airforce has someone that does it. Also, look for the IPAP Facebook page and request to join. Lots of good info on there from AF and Army. 



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