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Apply late to out-of-state schools or wait till next cycle opens?

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Hi guys...

I'm new to posting, so please bear with me (it's a bit long). I've gone through many threads trying to gain as much perspective as I can regarding the application process, but it has left me with a big question regarding applying. Some background:


I'm a "non-traditional" student who recently graduated with a dual science major in Biological Sciences and Health Sciences. Due to some health emergencies and deaths in the family, my GPA dropped half-way through my degree. I was able to have an upward trend when I returned and have ~3.2 GPA at graduation (lower science GPA). Due to the number of credits I have, it is very difficult for me to raise my GPA any further.


I live in CA and am currently interested in EM, specifically with pediatrics. I've volunteered in a children's hospital ER, and can not see myself doing anything else. I've shadowed numerous doctors in other specialties including OB-GYN, family practice, mental health... but nothing interests me more than EM. In addition to shadowing, I've been working with patients at a biofeedback center for 6 years (adults and children), had an internship working with patients for 4 months at an urgent care clinic under supervision of a PA and DO (taking vitals, patient histories, etc.), worked in a chiropractic office prepping patients for the doctor for 1 year, and worked front office in a DO office for 3 years. In total (with shadowing), I have over 10,000 hours... yet I'm not certified. At my current job, I'm considered a "specialist" but was trained on-site. I've taken 2 EMT courses with associated internships, but didn't proceed to get my certification (I was young and thought it would be too difficult to be an EMT and a full-time student at the same time).


I was planning to apply earlier in the cycle, but unfortunately had a family crisis occur which caused me to move and become caretaker to my brother until he obtains surgery. I thought it would take longer to get the surgery (ultimately delaying my application), but he's to get it sooner than expected.


So... my question: Knowing that CA PA jobs are difficult to obtain, esp. in southern California and esp. in EM, would it be better for me to apply to CA PA programs next cycle (since most closed CASPA already, or will be closing shortly) to ensure that clinical rotations are in an area that could get me a foot in the door (and in the meantime maybe taking a CNA course)? Or... should I apply to out-of-state PA programs that are still open? I know I'm not the ideal applicant... I have experience, but not certified, and my GPA isn't that high, but I think I might have a shot somewhere. If you suggest I wait until next cycle, what can I do to be a better applicant?


Again, I apologize for the length... just wanted to get the best advice I can based on my situation.


Thanks for your time and any advice you can provide! :)

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