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I wish at 18, I would've chosen the pre-pa route and gotten an associate's degree in DMS or an echo cardiogram tech then continued to get certified in different specialties. I may have taken pre med courses as well. Became a CNA and worked in many different specialties, hospitals, hospice, nursing and rehab facilities for experience, money, connections, letters of recommendation, on the job training to get certified in imaging, phlebotomy, resp tech, occupational or physical therapy technicians, basic EMT 1-IV, ER tech, pharmacy tech, and become a American Red Cross CNA trainer or at least CPR, AED, BLS, first aid and phlebotomy instructor's. Setting up blood drives, charity events etc. Too many ideas to count. I know now that being a healthcare professional  is my calling. Some ppl can just play the piano, which I can't, but medicine/biology/anatomy, makes perfect sense. But, I'm 40 now, and my Psychology degree I got in 2001 afforded me sales positions from food broker territory manager, pharmaceutical sales, animal diagnostic laboratory sales manager. I worked from home and travelled all over. I liked being my own boss, and other's as well. I then became a seller and writer of mortgages. Now, I have been on disability for 10yrs and am ready to do what I was meant to. I just wish I was younger. That's why it's important for me to manage my time and not waste a minute doing something that isn't going to help me get in a program. 




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When I was 40, I didn't know what a PA was. I became a EMT-basic and ran with a volunteer department for years before I met someone who wanted to go to PA school, whatever that was.

I took my first prereq at 51 after a nonmedical career as an engineer. I finished all but 3 classes at night in community college; the 3 I took at night and Saturdays at a 4 year college nearby. I kept riding with EMS and kept my day job as an management consultant until 6 weeks before PA school started. And somewhere in there I went to medic school, too.

Bottom line: don't curse the runway behind you; there is still plenty of it up ahead! This goal is clearly doable, if you really want to do it. 




Edited by UGoLong
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Somewhat similar to UGoLong:

Undergrad degree in computer science.  Total of 29 years doing corporate IT.  Most of that time I was a volunteer FF/EMT or FF/EMT-Advanced.  Got my paramedic at age 44, started working as a parttime FF/medic in addition to the IT work.  Took early retirement buyout at age 49, continued to do the PT FF/medic and taught EMS at a community college branch of a state university.  A flight nurse friend recommended PA school (I also looked into DO school).  So, since I could take 1 class for free for every one I taught, I completed my pre-reqs (med school and PA school pre-reqs are the same).  Ultimately chose PA school over DO school largely due to my age - I didn't want to spend 4 years of med school plus 3-4 in an EM residency.  Started PA school at 53, got licensed at 55, been doing emergency medicine ever since.

My advice: if you and your family can survive the time you'll be spending in school and the lost income while you're doing it, go for it.  Don't get too hung up on the lack of prior medical experience, the 22-24 year olds applying to PA school don't have much either.  Just get enough to be sure that practicing medicine is what you'll really be happy doing.


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I'm 40 and sitting in class in my first semester of PA school.  My undergrad is in Environmental Studies.  I did wildland fire fighting, horse logging, trail crews, trained and showed horses professionally.  Then I got into the medical field as a vet tech and then a phlebotomist.  I learned about EMS and jumped into that with 2 feet.  I spent 10 years in EMS and Community Paramedicine and applied to school last year.  Yeah, I'm the oldest in the class but I am loving every minute of it.  Sometimes I wish I had decided this is what I wanted to do when I was 18 but I never would have had the amazing life experiences that I am bringing with me.  My journey will make me a better PA.  

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