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5+ Year Member
Apr 17, 2017
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Hi all, I will try to keep this brief.

From high school until recently (I am currently a second semester junior), I have told myself that I would work in medicine (specifically orthopaedics) as a Physician's assistant or Physical therapist. I've always been infatuated with science and the human body, partially because I am an athlete who has had his fair share of surgeries (the hospital is a second home for me lol). In college, biology classes are the only classes that I have never received lower than a B+ in.

Recently things changed. I have been working as the senior intern at a non profit for the past 2.5 years. My freshman year of college, I started a small iPhone repair business on campus so that I can have extra money on the side that ended up becoming a lot more successful that I had expected. I have led 2 annual community dinners where we feed all the homeless/hungry people in the city. I volunteer as a administrative assistant at my church where I manage and facilitate the majority of the community events. Recently people began to point out to me how good in business/leadership roles I was. This has all came at a time where I have began to doubt my ability to get accepted into a PT or PA school (low GPA ~3.1 but very good standardised test taker).

So now I am at a crossroads. All my life I have thought I was going to be a PA/PT, and now I realise that I may not want to be that. I have a strong passion for healthcare, but I realise that I have a strong passion and talent in business/leadership, especially when it comes to helping people. Ive done some research on using business in healthcare, and I found MHA programs. After a ton of research, I fell in love with the job opportunities that come with this degree (especially in hospitals). I believe that I could help many more people as a Hospital administrator, and doing so would be a dream come true. So I assume that MHA would definitely be the way to go right? Should I just forget about applying to PA/PT school?

There aren't many people where I live who can help me make this decision, and I am the only college student in my family, so any advice would be great!

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10+ Year Member
May 25, 2011
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I'll be starting my MHA program this fall, and have been at a similar crossroads as you. I was dead set on practicing medicine. But after ample exposure and a lot of reflection, I decided that being a clinician wasn't the best fit for me. I found that the questions I was asking about healthcare were broader in scope and more geared towards an MHA.

Let's assume you get into PT, PA, and MHA programs in the same cycle. Which one would you choose, and why? They're all very different career trajectories... you need to ask yourself: What do you envision your "day-to-day" being? Does that include clinical work? What are your long term goals?

I suggest doing the following:
  • Get a white board and doing a pro/con list for each career path, then prioritize what's important to you.
  • Gain employment experience in a hospital/clinic to see if it clicks with you. The culture and environment simply doesn't click with some people. It doesn't matter what it is... nurse aid, pharm tech, environmental services, admin assistant, etc. If you apply to an MHA program, it will be recommended that you have some sort of healthcare work experience.
  • Shadow and volunteer in a hospital setting... work your contacts to see if there are any people who will show you what they do.
  • Reach out to local healthcare business professionals and ask about their experiences.
Doing any combination of these should bring you some clarity.
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7+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2015
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I also switched from clinical to MHA for similar reasons and I agree with Excision on how you should approach it. One thing you could consider though is if you are still very passionate about working directly with patients is that there are plenty of executive MHA programs (or you could just do an MBA) out there for practicing clinicians, so it may be easier to do PA/PT first and then transition to MHA and possibly have the opportunity to be involved in both fields. This would require far more schooling though than just picking one track and also a significant amount of patience.
But from what you're describing it sounds like you are going through the process that many MHA students went through before going into the field.
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