Non traditional: PA to MD questions

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Jan 29, 2018
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I'm old(er). I have been a Physician Assistant for just under 10 years now, am 49 yo and served in the US Army for 21 years, my last 4.5 as a PA. I worked as a PA part to full time for much of my time after the Army. GPA ~3.2ish, sGPA 3.4ish probably (I made poor choices out of high school which is how I ended up in the Army in the first place...PA School GPA BS+MS was 3.7). I plan to take the MCAT in September and am shooting for ~515. I have over 10,000 clinical hours as a PA (no negative actions before you ask). I do not plan on applying to tier 1 schools, I am in Eastern Ky and plan on applying to mostly state schools (UKY, U Louisville, U TN, U Cincinnati, etc. so I can maybe commute and not have to move my family anytime soon (at one point we moved 6 times in 8 years for the Army in and around PA school). My questions are:

Do volunteer hours really matter to me at this point? I did some volunteering while in service but that was a while ago and I do not have record of them.

Other than exceeding my own expectations on the MCAT, is there anything else that could help my chances?

Before anyone asks "Why do you want to go to medical school at this age when you already have a career doing mostly the same thing paying very well ?"

I figured out what I want to be when I grow up a little late...I love taking care of patients...In the Army my scope and freedom of practice was large, afterwards...not so much. If my body, mind, and family would have let me stay in the Army I probably would have loved being a PA until the day I died, however tensions in the aforementioned resulted in my retiring from the Army. When in service the Physicians I worked with were phenomenal and treated me as a peer. I do understand that the knowledge and experience of even a junior physician is far above 99% of PAs due to the raw number of hours and experience they are presented with in med school and residency which is at a minimum 2-3 times longer than PA school.

I am not done, I have more to give and my financial situation allows me to make choices like this. In my opinion there is no profession more deserving of respect and admiration than that of physician, so that's why.

And TBH my pride does not like being #2 in the food chain...I want to be #1.

Thank you in advance for your opinions and recommendations.

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It can be done. Andrew Fisher AKA Trauma Daddy went Paramedic -> Army Ranger PA -> Medical School. If I'm not mistaken he is in his early to mid 50's and is a general surgery resident.
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It's definitely do-able. I'm very non-traditional as well (same age as you) and am now a general surgery resident. From my experience, the rules for applying to med school is a little more complex than the standard 20-something college kid. Volunteer hours are not as big of a deal given your service. MCAT and GPA are still important but schools MAY be willing to accept lower than usual scores depending on your story (my GPA was not competitive at all but still ended up at a Top 20 school). Initial pieces of advice is do well on MCAT (of course). If you can, try to take some more classes to up your GPA (I took extra online courses through UMUC). Biggest advice is to apply very broadly. I would actually recommend applying to some Tier 1 schools, especially ones that are Veteran friendly (there are some threads that list some known ones). I definitely understand trying not to move your family but if you really would like to be an doctor then I would apply to at least 30 schools (I did 35) across the spectrum including MD and DO (just no Caribbean schools). The question of whether you get an interview or not will depend on who happens to read your application and it's hard to predict how they'll view your package so best to shotgun your apps.

Good luck!
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