Sooooo, you wanna be a PA?
I have a couple questions about becoming a PA, and I was hoping you could help answer them. I’m wondering how to know if you’re cut out to be PA. I graduated high school with a 3.4 gpa, and I’ve always done well in school (except math). However, I went to a community college to get my AA degree before I transferred to a 4 year college. Since my mother hardly ever let me go out for most of my high school years, when I went to college I got involved heavily with the “party scene” & my (grades) have dropped considerably. I was able to get through community college despite my party habits, but now that I’m at a university I am on academic probation, probably now having to ask the school to let me back in. My mother, who has never wanted me be a PA, is telling me I need to change majors. Problem is, I know this is what I want to do. I just allowed myself to get caught up with the wrong crowd. I know if I disconnect from those people & actually out all of my focus into school, I can get my grades up.. My focus has just been taken away from school and living the “party” life I never had in high school. I’ve experienced it, and I’m ready to focus on school. The only true struggle is chemistry, due to the heavy math at this level. Now that you know my background, do you think I should pick another career? At the end of the day, it’s what I truly want to do & what interests me.. I’m just not naturally inclined. (I also work as a nurse aid & have medical work experience).
Disclaimer: So, I’m going to be blunt here so I going to apologize in advance if anything I post comes off as rude, sarcastic, arrogant, insensitive, etc.
Ok, so you had a rough couple of years in college. You got caught up in the whole “college party” lifestyle and your grades took a hit. Yikes. So you’re thinking that with the grades you’ve got, there’s no way you can be a PA, right?
Knowing is half the battle. You know what the problem was:
My focus has just been taken away from school and living the “party” life I never had in high school.
And now you know what you have to do to fix it.
I know if I disconnect from those people & actually out all of my focus into school, I can get my grades up.
The fact that you have medical work experience as a nurse’s aide helps balance your crummy GPA. But if you can retake courses, especially your basic science courses, then retake them and ace them. Also, from what I remember from the application process, there are several GPAs calculated including your basic science GPA, your overall GPA, and your GPA calculated from your most recently take 16-24 credit hours. PA schools are competitive and while grades are important, PA schools also want their applicants to be well-rounded. So take that in consideration, hunker down, work on improving your GPA and be prepared to explain those dips in grades when asked.
Now, I’m going to be blunt and jump on my soapbox for a bit. I don’t know you and I’m not going to begin to understand the relationship that you have with your mother. You stated that because your mom didn’t let you go out during your high school years, that was the reason you went all “wild and crazy” when you got to college. I’m going to call bullshit. This is me speaking from my own experiences. My parents were strict on me during high school. I didn’t go out. I was sheltered. And when I went to college, yeah I went a little wild and crazy. But that was all on me. It was no one’s fault but my own. I made the choice to go out and party hard instead of hunkering down in the library and studying hard. And it wasn’t because my parents didn’t let me do it high school. Also you mentioned that your mom doesn’t support you becoming a PA, so what? You’re a grown up. I’m assuming you’re over 18 and therefore in the US, you are considered a legal adult. Therefore, you can make your own decisions. If you made the decision to be a PA, own it.
I’m sorry that you’ve had such a hard time in college and that your grades suffered as a result. It’s a lesson that we all learn in our own way in college. Those years in college are spent finding yourself. You find out who you want to be and what you want to do. For some, it takes longer than others. But at least you’ve got your head screwed on straight again and you’ve found your focus.
You asked me how to know if someone’s cut out to be a PA. I’m going to answer your question using your own words:
I know this is what I want to do.
At the end of the day, it’s what I truly want to do & what interests me.
Q:I'm trying to decide whether or not to keep my X-ray licensure current while in PA school (CE credits). I wondered if you'd have some insight since you likely had RT licensure when you started. I can't imagine a situation where it would be an advantage, but still, letting it lapse seems so wrong. Any thoughts?
To be honest, I let mine lapse while I was in school. When my license was up for renewal, I declined to pay it. I wasn’t collecting CEUs and what I was learning didn’t apply to my licensure. I went from being a respiratory therapist to now practicing in Orthopaedics so I didn’t see the need to maintain it. Then again, it will be up to you to decide whether to maintain your previous licensure once you finish PA school. I know of some PAs who do and they went on to practice in an area related to their previous occupation. It seems like a waste to let it fall to the wayside but my employer pays my PA licensure fees and maintaining my RT license would have meant spending money out of pocket for a certificate to practice in an area of medicine that I no longer practice in. For me, it was a financial and career decision, for you, it might be different.
Q:Hi! I'm planning on becoming a physician assistant and i was wondering if most PA schools accept pre-req courses from community colleges because that where i am starting. Well I already have but i haven't done any pre-reqs yet though just some basics to transfer for my bachelors
Most PA programs should accept prerequisite courses from any accredited college or university, which includes community colleges. However to be certain, that’s a question you would need to broach with the individual PA program you want to apply to. To be honest, I don’t see the difference of completing basic science classes in a community college and then transferring those credits over to a university and finishing your degree there. However, as the profession grows and applicants become more competitive, some programs may require that all prerequisites be completed at a four-year college/university.
But again, it’s a question that I would ask the individual PA program because every program’s requirement differs in various areas.
Q:hi i am an l.p.n looking into going to school for p.a and i wanna know what degree do you have a masters or bachelors and how was school and clinicals ?
I have a Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies therefore to apply for PA school, I needed to have a Bachelor’s degree in some study as well have taken the pre-requisite courses in order to apply.
I think most current PA students in their didactic (coursework) year will agree with me when I say the classes in PA school is comparable to drinking water from a gushing fire hydrant. Another analogy I like to use when asked about classes in PA school is the treading water analogy. The water is up all around you and you’re barely keeping your head above it. The clinical year is much more relaxed and not as rigidly structured but you are still studying and reading and taking end of rotation exams.
This isn’t meant to discourage you, jadee24, or other interested pre-PA students from pursuing Physician Assistant studies. Your question of “how was school and clinicals” is a very broad question that I feel I would fail to convey in a succinct paragraph let alone an entire post. There’s no amount of information I can provide you that will make you emotionally or mentally prepared for the onslaught of the PA program of your choice.
Maybe to answer your question more specifically, here’s a list of Tumblr blogs written by current pre-PA and PA students (that I know of):
I hope that at least I was able to partially answer your questions and again, my analogy of drinking water from a gushing fire hydrant isn’t meant to be negative or discouraging. It’s the truth and if you can mentally be prepared for that, then that’s half the battle.
Wow, what a prick. Clearly he also needs a lesson on proper communication
Eh, it’s whatevs. Water under the bridge and all that. Although I have been catching myself making some pretty passive-aggressive remarks regarding that attending at times which does need to stop on my part, less I create more problems or add fuel to the flames. Like everyone’s been telling me, I can’t let it get to me otherwise I’d get nothing done and I come out worse instead of better.
Like Hova says, I’ve gotta get that dirt off my shoulder.
Q:hi, how did you get experience? I am thinking of becoming a PA but I have no idea how to get into PA school since I have no idea how to get experience.
So my path to becoming a PA was a bit of a meandering one. During my undergrad years, I volunteered at the hospital delivering flowers and patients’ labs. And I applied those volunteer hours to my PA school application, which really didn’t help me much during that first application cycle.
After I got my first Bachelor’s degree, I went and got a degree is Respiratory Therapy and then worked for a year as a Respiratory Therapist. So then I applied that year and those 1000+ hours of patient care experience to my second round of PA school applications.
The point in all this is that there’s no real clear cut way to “get experience”. If you’re thinking about becoming a PA, start researching. The American Academy of Physician Assistants website is a great place to start. Not only do they have information about the profession they also have links to state PA organizations if you’re interested in finding a PA to shadow. If you’re currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree, talk to the school’s Health Professions course counselors. Many of the pre-requisite courses required for PA school are the same as the pre-requisites required for medical school. If there’s a pre-PA student organization at your campus, go to a meeting and find out more about the profession in person. Send out emails or ask your family doctor if you could shadow them for a few hours a week or if they know anyone willing to allow students to shadow. Be assertive and be interested. Some healthcare professionals out there LOVE to teach and to mentor but aren’t interested in wasting their time with those with only passing interest.
I apologize for the delay in replying, Anon, but I hope that I was able to answer your question. Current PA students or pre-PA students and even pre-med students, what did you all do to get experience?
do you work at a medical center? because in my “city” whenever theres a complicated patient, we have to send them 45-60 mins away to a medical center with more better trained-ish personnel to take care of them ~
I work in a freakishly large urban medical center however my complaint in this post wasn’t in regards to “complicated” patients. I understand when patients need to be transferred for higher level of care because the hospital they were originally admitted to isn’t equipped to handle their medical problems. However, what I had a problem with that night were patients being transferred in and their conditions didn’t really warrant the transfer. A lady was transferred in for an intertrochanteric femur fracture which is a fracture that any general orthopedic surgeon could fix. The fracture had minimal displacement and the patient wasn’t even complaining of pain, which was a little surprising. But overall, her injury was an injury that wasn’t emergent or required a transfer. That was what was frustrating because it’s unnecessary medical costs that benefit NO ONE.
Q:I've been thinking about becoming a PA...what's it really like? I've never worked in a medical field before, I know they really want prior medical experience...I was thinking about being an EMT but there are some issues with that (I have scoliosis, bad eyes (my dr say's to avoid driving at night, but i don't even have my permit mostly because driving scares the fuck out of me) and abnormally tight leg and arm muscles, and i'm like, 100 lbs so i'm pretty sure i'd hurt myself) idk where to start.
It’s hard to conceptualize and summarize what being a PA is like in the confines of a single paragraph, so to answer your question about what it’s like to be a PA, I’m going to refer you to the PA Forum (http://www.physicianassistantforum.com/). This forum probably is the best Internet resource that I know of where the members range from those interested in the profession such as yourself and seasoned PAs who have been practicing for decades.
Having prior medical experience is a bonus but not necessarily a requirement. A good portion of my class were admitted to the program from undergraduate schools and a sizable number had little to no prior medical experience prior to their admission. Contact your local state Physician Assistant society and inquire if there are PAs willing to be preceptors. In my opinion, a way to understand what being a PA is like to shadow and follow a PA.
Hi, I saw your post about answering that question in regards to applying for PA school. It was so helpful! I wanted to ask your opinion - I will have every pre-req finished except one by the end of this summer (mid-July), so I was planning on applying after those grades are in. Do you think I should hold off until then or apply right away with the classes I have? (I’ve only taken about 30% of the pre-reqs, though I have A’s in all of them and I’m sure I will do well in the rest). I’m afraid I won’t stand a chance applying in July, but I’m also afraid they won’t give me a chance without seeing all my pre-reqs and I would really not want to wait another cycle. Sorry for the length but thanks in advance! =)
So, it’s been awhile since I had to tackle that monstrosity known as the CASPA so my memories are a little fuzzy on the subject. Luckily, the good folks at CASPA have prepared a handy FAQ guide for all potential applicants. So a quick browse through, I found this response:
For the benefit of the PA programs you are applying to, it is HIGHLY RECCOMENDED that you enter any courses which you are currently taking or plan to take in the near future. CASPA does not require that applicants document their planned or in-progress coursework on their application, but some PA programs do require this information. CASPA advises all applicants to contact the programs to which they are applying to determine if they require them to report planned or in-progress work.
So the short answer to your question, two-nineteen, is to submit EVERYTHING. When you enter your coursework information in CASPA, you have the option of selecting a either ‘Completed’ or ‘Planned/In-Progress’ for the course status. You’d enter everything in like it’s printed on your transcript. A suggestion I would make is to save/print a copy of every semester’s coursework that lists your course name, credit hours, and grade (if it’s been completed.) Enter all that and all the courses you’re currently taking, even if there’s no grades on it yet. The idea is that you can submit your CASPA application as soon as it is completed regardless of whether you’ve completed all your required pre-reqs or not.
However, CASPA doesn’t verify your ‘in-progress’ coursework so whenever you do complete all your pre-reqs you’re required to send the updated transcripts to the PA programs you applied for.
I don’t think that programs will hold it against you that your pre-reqs aren’t completed by the time you apply. As more and more PA programs admit students straight from undergraduate programs, I think it’s assumed that applicants will be in the process of finishing up required pre-reqs at the time of the application cycle and even during interviews. Again I stress applying early because the applicant pool is smaller and you have more of a buffer time with letters of rec, transcripts, and a faster turnover with CASPA.
Hope this helps for you, two-nineteen and all the upcoming applicants!
Q:When did you start applying to PA schools?
PA programs have varying deadlines for their applications to be submitted. A handful of schools I applied to had a secondary application specific to their school that I was sent once the primary CASPA application was submitted.
The first time I applied to PA school was the fall semester of my 4th year in undergrad. BIG mistake, I should have started the application process back in April during the end of my 3rd year when CASPA opened for the following year’s application cycle. I was stressed out, struggling with submitting transcripts and letters of recommendations. Then once CASPA was submitted, I needed to complete secondary applications which all had their own deadlines. Needless to say, I didn’t get a single offer to interview at ANY of the schools I applied to. The second time I applied, I was familiar with the process and the stress levels were near zero because I was prepared for the undertaking.
So my takeaway message from my experience is this:
- Apply early. In this scenario, it really pays off to be the early bird. When your CASPA application is completed and submitted in late spring/early summer, it’s processed faster than if you were to submit in the fall when EVERYONE is submitting theirs.
- Research. Make a list of the schools that you’re interested in applying to. I joined a Pre-PA student organization in undergrad where every 2 weeks, an admissions rep from a PA school in the state would come to talk about their specific program. I went to the annual Health Career fair on campus and I surfed program websites.
- Plan plan plan. Participating in a Pre-PA student organization and going to the health career fairs gave me the heads up on deadline dates for the following year’s application cycle. Once I made my list of schools and their respective deadline dates, I picked the earliest deadline date and made my own deadline to have the CASPA application submitted about a month prior to that earliest deadline date. One school’s deadline was September, so I made sure to have my CASPA applications submitted in August. And I completed the secondary applications as they rolled in.
I apologize for the long-winded response to your question, Anon. If I had to pick a static time period to start applying, I would say whenever CASPA opens their site for the upcoming application cycle.
Before you start applying, to get a better understanding of CASPA and what it entails, here’s a really good overview that they’ve published.
Q:I adore your blog its quickly becoming a new Favorite x
Aww, you make me blush! I’m glad you like it!