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When to apply to PA schools?


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I've just recently decided that I wanted to take the PA route. I've been a pre-health student, B.S. in Biological Sciences, so I am good on the prereqs.

Here's my situation, this is my junior year.

GPA: 4.0 both cumulative and science

 

I only have about 50 volunteer hours so far in a hospital, which I am still at.

[i have plenty (at least 200 hrs) from volunteering in various places in high school, which really wasn't that long ago for me but I don't know if I can use this?]

 

I'm going to get CNA certified but the soonest would be by Feb., leaving me with only a couple months of experience (about 250 hrs). I'm planning on starting to volunteer at a local hospice, so by the time I apply in the summer I would have 400-500hrs of patient contact total.

My paid work experience:

Summer with Artworks program, public murals project.

Health Sciences program at the university (336 hrs), participant with stipend

Tutoring services through the university (continuing)

Lab Assistant for Chemistry dept. (continuing)

Supplemental instructor for health and nutrition course (future, next semester)

 

Extracurriculars:

Biology club (VP)

Premed society (club)

Christians on Campus

Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society

Multicultural Association of Premed Students (MAPS)

 

I would still have to prepare and take the GRE, too.

Schools I am interested in: Baylor, Kettering, Yale, Philadelphia, Alabama (birmingham), UMDMJ

 

..Now that I'm typing this out, my application looks a little weak. It seems like a lot of work to cram everything by June/July (all these HCE hours, GRE, applications, etc.)

Actually, I could technically graduate after fall semester next year, after applying. But I'm planning on studying art abroad in Italy spring semester while I'm still receiving financial aid, so I'm delaying graduation.

 

Should I wait another year to apply? I could get in more HCE, spread out my classes, study more for the GRE, be able to put my study abroad experience on my application...and spend that extra semester or two either working or going to a Bible training college I've been looking into.

 

I really don't know what to do. Are my schools too beyond my reach? I need schools that don't have a high requirement for HCE, will accept AP credit, and preferably don't require statistics or additional psych. courses. I'm hoping my GPA will help. I would really appreciate any help! Thanks in advance.

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I'm curious too as to why you want PA too. I noticed you were in pre-med, why not be an MD? :) I'd suggest that you do some soul searching to what you want. You definitely have the grades if the rest of your grades are like your junior year, congrats on that!!! :) If you really want to be a PA, it can't hurt to apply to a couple schools this year to go through the process, but you'd be considerably stronger with your grades AND a year of experience. Just my opinion

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@mdma223:

 

Good question. The more research I've done on the differences between an MD and PA, I really think the PA career is more of what I'm looking for. The flexibility throughout my career (switching fields and such) is more appealing, and the balance of a family life and work seems a little less hectic. I don't have a very decisive personality, and I don't mind working as a team. The responsibility of having the ultimate authority or control is disconcerting, to say the least.

 

Thanks for asking! If I ever, ever applied to med school - it would probably be as a backup or a sudden switch in what I'm looking for in a career.

(Do you think I'm making the wrong decision? I thought medical school was even more competitive than PA school.)

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@mdma223:

 

Good question. The more research I've done on the differences between an MD and PA, I really think the PA career is more of what I'm looking for. The flexibility throughout my career (switching fields and such) is more appealing, and the balance of a family life and work seems a little less hectic. I don't have a very decisive personality, and I don't mind working as a team. The responsibility of having the ultimate authority or control is disconcerting, to say the least.

 

Thanks for asking! If I ever, ever applied to med school - it would probably be as a backup or a sudden switch in what I'm looking for in a career.

(Do you think I'm making the wrong decision? I thought medical school was even more competitive than PA school.)

 

Many misconceptions exist about the 'balance of a family life and work' when considering PA vs MD. You need to understand this: in medicine that balance is hard to find REGARDLESS of your job title. You will work long hours, you will have high stress situations. Being a PA does not protect you from any of this.

 

If you are a surgical PA, you will most likely work the same hours as your SP. But then YOU will be responsible for rounding and f/u after the surgeon goes home for the day. That usually adds a few more hours to your shift, not to mention the on-call pager glued to your hip. And you will be paid significantly less.

 

If you are an ED PA, you will work 10-12 hr shifts just like the docs and get paid significantly less.

 

If you are a FP PA, you will work the same hours as the docs but most likely will take more call and weekends than they do. And get paid significantly less.

 

These are just a few examples of the reality of the PA world. There are so many misconceptions out there, usually perpetrated by individuals that don't know much about PA's. You don't have better hours than docs, they are usually worse. And the idea that PA's can spend more time with their patients? Myth. My doc sees 25 patients/day, I see 25 patients/day. We work the same hours. Yep, that means the same amount of time with each patient. And did I mention that I make significantly less than he does? Yeah......

 

To be clear, I love what I do. For my situation in life PA school made much more sense.

 

For your situation, I suggest you seriously reconsider medical school.

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@mdma223:

 

Good question. The more research I've done on the differences between an MD and PA, I really think the PA career is more of what I'm looking for. The flexibility throughout my career (switching fields and such) is more appealing, and the balance of a family life and work seems a little less hectic. I don't have a very decisive personality, and I don't mind working as a team. The responsibility of having the ultimate authority or control is disconcerting, to say the least.

 

Thanks for asking! If I ever, ever applied to med school - it would probably be as a backup or a sudden switch in what I'm looking for in a career.

(Do you think I'm making the wrong decision? I thought medical school was even more competitive than PA school.)

 

Yes, even though I am not a PA, if i were you I would strongly recommend you consider medical school.

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Thanks for your opinion vaston. What type of PA are you? I want to go into primary care. I read this study and it made PA school seem like the way to go for me: http://faculty.som.yale.edu/keithchen/papers/GenderNPV_WorkingPaper.pdf

What do you think someone who is a little older? 27 year old female should do. I am 5 years out of undergrad and I would like to start a family but based on what you suggested I might as well do DO/MD school because I will end up working the same amount of hours anyways.

 

Thank you so much for your insights. I need to do some more shadowing I suppose.

 

 

Many misconceptions exist about the 'balance of a family life and work' when considering PA vs MD. You need to understand this: in medicine that balance is hard to find REGARDLESS of your job title. You will work long hours, you will have high stress situations. Being a PA does not protect you from any of this.

 

If you are a surgical PA, you will most likely work the same hours as your SP. But then YOU will be responsible for rounding and f/u after the surgeon goes home for the day. That usually adds a few more hours to your shift, not to mention the on-call pager glued to your hip. And you will be paid significantly less.

 

If you are an ED PA, you will work 10-12 hr shifts just like the docs and get paid significantly less.

 

If you are a FP PA, you will work the same hours as the docs but most likely will take more call and weekends than they do. And get paid significantly less.

 

These are just a few examples of the reality of the PA world. There are so many misconceptions out there, usually perpetrated by individuals that don't know much about PA's. You don't have better hours than docs, they are usually worse. And the idea that PA's can spend more time with their patients? Myth. My doc sees 25 patients/day, I see 25 patients/day. We work the same hours. Yep, that means the same amount of time with each patient. And did I mention that I make significantly less than he does? Yeah......

 

To be clear, I love what I do. For my situation in life PA school made much more sense.

 

For your situation, I suggest you seriously reconsider medical school.

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Many misconceptions exist about the 'balance of a family life and work' when considering PA vs MD. You need to understand this: in medicine that balance is hard to find REGARDLESS of your job title. You will work long hours, you will have high stress situations. Being a PA does not protect you from any of this.

 

If you are a surgical PA, you will most likely work the same hours as your SP. But then YOU will be responsible for rounding and f/u after the surgeon goes home for the day. That usually adds a few more hours to your shift, not to mention the on-call pager glued to your hip. And you will be paid significantly less.

 

If you are an ED PA, you will work 10-12 hr shifts just like the docs and get paid significantly less.

 

If you are a FP PA, you will work the same hours as the docs but most likely will take more call and weekends than they do. And get paid significantly less.

 

These are just a few examples of the reality of the PA world. There are so many misconceptions out there, usually perpetrated by individuals that don't know much about PA's. You don't have better hours than docs, they are usually worse. And the idea that PA's can spend more time with their patients? Myth. My doc sees 25 patients/day, I see 25 patients/day. We work the same hours. Yep, that means the same amount of time with each patient. And did I mention that I make significantly less than he does? Yeah......

 

To be clear, I love what I do. For my situation in life PA school made much more sense.

 

For your situation, I suggest you seriously reconsider medical school.

 

Can I ask what made you decide on PA school instead? I've been googling many differences on PA's and it really does seem like what I'm looking for. When I meant job flexibility, I meant that if I wanted to change "fields", I wouldn't have to change specialties or go back and do a residency. Medical school seems extremely grueling. What would you suggest I consider? In addition, I feel like I am unable to get into medical school.

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Why do you feel like you are unable to get into medical school? Your GPA is great and you seem to have a lot going for you. I think you just need good MCAT scores and you should be a competitive candidate.

 

Maybe I've just put medical school on a pedestal -- I don't believe I have enough extracurricular experiences to distinguish me. I'm not sure how affirmative action works for med school, but my race (as an Asian American) probably doesn't do anything in helping, either. There's also a lot more years of schooling, training, and time. It's a lot more upfront dedication. Those extra years in school could be used for working abroad, traveling, starting a family, etc.

 

When I first posted, I was so sure of doing PA school and wanted to see how I would measure up in applying this summer or the next..and now I'm being told that I'm more suited for medical school and I'm totally confused now!!

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Maybe I've just put medical school on a pedestal -- I don't believe I have enough extracurricular experiences to distinguish me. I'm not sure how affirmative action works for med school, but my race (as an Asian American) probably doesn't do anything in helping, either. There's also a lot more years of schooling, training, and time. It's a lot more upfront dedication. Those extra years in school could be used for working abroad, traveling, starting a family, etc.

 

When I first posted, I was so sure of doing PA school and wanted to see how I would measure up in applying this summer or the next..and now I'm being told that I'm more suited for medical school and I'm totally confused now!!

 

I hear you... I am confused too. One second I am so sure that PA/MPH is the way I want to go but then I hear about problems with the PA profession and I am back to studying for the MCAT and trying to get into medical school again.

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If you have a 4.0 cumulative and science in a BS in biological science then why don't you just take the MCAT and apply to medical school. I am just really curious of why you are taking the PA route when you have the grades to get in medical school.

 

Almost all PA students have the grades to get into med school. Just sayin'.

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I'm kind of the same. I'm really trying to do some soul searching and get as much information as I can on the different professions available. I'm still getting information on the PA programs but in the back of my mind I want to go through a DO program as well. I just don't know which.

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Almost all PA students have the grades to get into med school. Just sayin'.

 

Thanks! I feel like it's definitely not all about the grades/academics (well, maybe if you had a 4.0 from Harvard, etc.).

Do you have any suggestions? In terms of PA school, is my application strong enough to apply this summer with 300-400hrs HCE?

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Almost all PA students have the grades to get into med school. Just sayin'.

 

Many MD schools require a minimum of 3.5 GPA. D.O. schools are occasionally closer to 3.0, but rarely below. When a PA school reports that their average accepted GPA was <3.5 then you have to assume that the majority of their applicants were at or below the requirements to attend med school. Yes, there are many well qualified PA school applicants with a GPA >3.5, but I would guess that most are at or below that threshold.

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Thanks! I feel like it's definitely not all about the grades/academics (well, maybe if you had a 4.0 from Harvard, etc.).

Do you have any suggestions? In terms of PA school, is my application strong enough to apply this summer with 300-400hrs HCE?

 

Yes, if you focus on applying to schools that have little or no HCE requirements and score decent/high on the GRE. Continue to work after you submit your apps and then send a brief update letter/email to the schools informing them of additional HCE you have earned a couple months down the line. You may even be able to submit to additional schools at that point. Be sure to know why you want to be a PA and emphasize that in your personal statement.

 

Take some of the physician vs. PA comments above to heart so you know what you're getting into but realize that you can shape your career to fit your life. That may mean working part time vs. full time or working at a lower paying job that has a more ideal schedule, but that is available should you want it. Additionally, being out in the workforce in 2-2.5 years means you can more easily start a family sooner as compared to physicians, should that be important to you.

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The way I see it is that PA school (for the most part) makes more sense if you value:

a.) not having to take the MCAT

AND

b.) the years that you 'lose' attending the 3rd-4th years of med school and the 3-7 years of residency

MORE SO THAN

c.) the better hours, pay and respect that you would receive as a doc for the remainder of your life post residency.

 

So, in a nutshell:

DOC - short term pain, long term gainx2

OR

PA - shorter term pain, long term gain

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Many MD schools require a minimum of 3.5 GPA. D.O. schools are occasionally closer to 3.0, but rarely below. When a PA school reports that their average accepted GPA was <3.5 then you have to assume that the majority of their applicants were at or below the requirements to attend med school. Yes, there are many well qualified PA school applicants with a GPA >3.5, but I would guess that most are at or below that threshold.

 

So my statement is accurate based on what you're saying. Almost all PA students would be able to get into med school if we're talking strictly GPA. The PA schools that accept <3.0 are a vast minority and going off of minimum GPA reqs is not an accurate measure of accepted students. My school requires a 3.2 minimum IIRC, but our class average was 3.8. I'm sure that's a fairly common theme among various programs. I know I've seen some data on accepted students(from PAEA or ARC-PA maybe?) but can't find it at the moment. I want to say that the average accepted GPA was 3.5-3.6 nationally but I could be wrong(it wouldn't be a first ;)).

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Yes, if you focus on applying to schools that have little or no HCE requirements and score decent/high on the GRE. Continue to work after you submit your apps and then send a brief update letter/email to the schools informing them of additional HCE you have earned a couple months down the line. You may even be able to submit to additional schools at that point. Be sure to know why you want to be a PA and emphasize that in your personal statement.

 

Take some of the physician vs. PA comments above to heart so you know what you're getting into but realize that you can shape your career to fit your life. That may mean working part time vs. full time or working at a lower paying job that has a more ideal schedule, but that is available should you want it. Additionally, being out in the workforce in 2-2.5 years means you can more easily start a family sooner as compared to physicians, should that be important to you.

 

I can't begin to explain how valuable this forum has been! A PA who posted earlier gave me some more info with his experience to have me reconsider medical school more seriously. Some of my friends think it's crazy for me to want to go to PA school when they think I am fully capable of getting into a good medical school. I'm sure I could eventually get into med school if I wanted. On the one hand, I don't want to underestimate my abilities or cut myself short. But as a female who values family life, I feel more "comfortable" with the role of a PA. The demands and responsibility do not seem to be as high as a physician's, and the flexibility among the specialties is a wonderful benefit.

 

I figure I have a decent chance at PA school - just wondering if it's worth delaying a year to accumulate HCE to open up a wider option of PA schools? (Or particularly, the ones I listed initially.) Rather than trying to cram the rest of 300 HCE hrs in, preparing and taking the GRE, and applying.

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