PA-to-physician application strategy

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by primadonna22274, May 15, 2008.

  1. primadonna22274

    primadonna22274 Senior Member

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    Hello nontrads,

    A question I've been kicking around in my head for a few weeks now. Getting ready to submit AACOMAS and AMCAS 2009 and narrowing down my schools. I'm more willing to move than I was a couple of cycles ago and have decided to apply a bit more broadly.

    What do you think of applying primarily to med schools that also have PA programs? As in, will I get a more favorable consideration since the schools theoretically have a clue how PAs are trained? I'm not sure if it would be a help or a hindrance. My gut feeling is that the schools I'm considering would see prior PA as positive since they support their PA programs but I also wonder if med school adcoms will discount a prior PA as someone who wasted a spot (PA) or couldn't get in to med school the first go round (not true, or at least I don't think so, since I didn't apply to med school). I've been in practice since 2000 so I feel like I've done my time as a PA but I'm not content.

    So far my list is: MUSC (has a PA program), USC (doesn't), OHSU (does), and a few DO schools (LECOM, AZCOM, ATSU-Mesa, DMU--of these I think only LECOM doesn't have a PA program). Figure I'll apply to the new UCF since who could turn down free tuition too, although not a terribly likely candidate.

    Undergrad grades ~3.0, give or take, science hovering at 2.9 (ick), PA 3.87 (although I keep hearing nobody cares, why not?), subpar MCAT retaking June 13th. Have more than enough science prereqs as I was a bio major and took everything. Retaking physics this summer and maybe orgo/biochem in the fall/winter as refresher and to boost UG GPA.

    Thanks all,

    Lisa
     
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  3. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion

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    I see no point in this emphasis. Everybody knows what a PA is. I think you're overestimating the impact of a PA program on an MD program.

    Best of luck to you.
     
  4. primadonna22274

    primadonna22274 Senior Member

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    :D Thanks DrMidlife.
    Next?
     
  5. jcampbell

    jcampbell PA Student

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    That is so far from the truth and needs an entire separate thread...

    PRIMADONNA--

    I don't know if you would get a more favorable consideration applying to medical schools that are affiliated with a PA program, but I don't see how it would hurt. It might help in the aspect of the adcoms knowing what kind of education you have been through and possibly projecting your success in med school.

    In regards to the PA GPA not really having a large role--it seems as if there is transition from a standard GPA to pass/fail...maybe this has something to do with it?:confused:

    Good luck on retaking your MCAT, I'm taking mine next week!
     
  6. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion

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    The relevant "everybody" here, of course, is every MD or DO involved in a US medical school's admissions process. I'm not trying to argue that the average West Virginia voter knows what a PA is.
     
  7. primadonna22274

    primadonna22274 Senior Member

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    Ha thanks.

    I've taken care of plenty of folks who had no IDEA what a PA was despite the fact that we've been around since 1967. In fact sewed up one guy last night, a Navy veteran who I'm sure at some point in his career MUST HAVE been treated by at least ONE PA but he was surprised at what we do/know. Nice guy though.

    I go back and forth wondering if it means anything to anyone. It may, it may not. I like to think my high PA GPA in comparision to my underwhelming undergrad grades would help at least a little. Also it's my most recent coursework, but meh.

    L.

     
  8. princekc

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    ....Primadonna: I think you should apply broadly. You would be surprise that med sch that have PA program are the one that would give you a hard time. You should not be thinking about any favorable consideration (at least that what I would do). I am sure you would do just fine.

    congrad on your MCAT result....I'm graduating PA (<2days), taking the MCAT in Sept....just got a job line-up in the ED...I plan to work x 2yrs prior to heading to med sch (2010 matricu yr)...

    keep up the good work!
     
  9. FourMoreYears

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    We have very similar stats and experiences primadonna. Like you I have decided to drink the Koolaid. It needs way more sugar by the way.

    I have thought about the same tactics as to where to apply. The conclusion I've come up wth is that I've over thought this out. My solution is to mass apply. It can't hurt to apply to the programs that are affiliated with PA programs. I also think you can't get too cute in trying to overanalyze where to apply. You are going to find yourself on nexium if you keep it up for too long.:barf:

    I wish you the best of luck with all of this.

    A couple of quick questions for you....Have you applied before? If you have how was your PA experience treated?

    I'd love to see a new support thread for any PA/NP to MD/DO for this application cycle. You seem to have the most experience primadonna. Any interest in getting it started? :thumbup:
     
  10. primadonna22274

    primadonna22274 Senior Member

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    Thanks for the encouragement.

    There are a few of us. CarolinaGirl was on last year (FNP). There are a few notable PAs (Bandit, PACMattM, and several others who are quieter) who have been/are going through it. They're my inspiration.

    I think you're right that I am overanalyzing it. Honestly I went through the new MSAR the other night and scratched off a few that were just too damn expensive or seemed unlikely (OOS). One thing I pay very close attention to is cost of attendance in which case OHSU is rapidly becoming unapproachable (hey wait, isn't that why I left Oregon in the first place?)

    I'm hoping to have a decent shot at MUSC and USC-Columbia.

    L.

     
  11. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion

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    I think all you need is one interviewer who has a kickass PA/NP on his/her staff, and is willing to fight for you. That's what happened to me with my irrelevant and useless background in software - Nova thought it was impressive, and one of my interviewers was married to a software engineer. I'd heard this was typical - i.e. the thing that gets you in is as likely to be ultimate frisbee as anything else.

    Not that I'm trying to say random backgrounds are equivalent to experience as a midlevel. I would hope that adcoms see you as having "street cred" and as already being "one of us."
     
  12. emedpa

    emedpa GlobalDoc

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    if it was me I would only apply DO. they tend to appreciate the older applicant with prior experience a LOT more. in fact ALL of the pa to physician folks I know are now DO's ( n=maybe 10) although I'm sure there are pa to md folks out there as well.
     
  13. primadonna22274

    primadonna22274 Senior Member

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    This is what I hope too. Congrats on your NOVA acceptance Dr Midlife!! I'm sure you'll knock 'em dead. (Wait, is that the wrong thing to say?) :D

    E, I've noticed more of a PA-to-DO trend as well, but since there are 2 MD schools in SC and no DO schools I'm going to try both. Moving a household is very expensive and last time I did it the hospital paid for it. If I can get away without having to move super-far until residency it would be worth it. Also my sweetie likes having a job and remember how much fun he had looking in Oregon?

    L.

     
  14. gman33

    Moderator Emeritus

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    With your stats, you will need to apply very broadly. 30-40 schools minimum.
    You said you looked at MSAR, and as you have seen you are far below the average UG stats for matriculants. You will be quite a long shot to get into any MD schools. Your grad GPA will count for almost nothing. The general reason for this is that grad GPAs tend to be inflated. Whether this is fair or not can be debated, but the only grad GPA that would help is a SMP.

    Sorry to sound harsh, but it seems like a lot of these posts are not giving a realistic view on your chances. You have great clinical experience, but this will not offset your GPA. The average for matriculants is around 3.6 and climbing every year.

    I would agree that DO would be your best shot. I'm not sure if they are "more open" to non trads, I just think that many non-trads have lower stats and that DO schools are a little less competitive from a grade/MCAT standpoint.
     
  15. emedpa

    emedpa GlobalDoc

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    my understanding of pa to do is that they really don't care much about your gpa if you have some considerable experience as a pa as long as it isn't terrible(say >3.0) and they could care less about your mcat.
    2 friends of mine who are now do's called programs, discussed their backgrounds and were told to just take the mcat so they had a result on record. they both took it cold. their scores: 18 and 22. they are both practicing do's now. they both graduated near the top of their classes, aced their boards and got their 1st pick residencies.
    DO is the way to go for the pa who wants to become a physician.
     
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  17. primadonna22274

    primadonna22274 Senior Member

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    I appreciate your insight and hear where you're coming from; however, I'm going to take a little bit of a gamble this year and be more choosy. Applying to 30-40 schools would break me and quite frankly I think it looks "desperate". I'm not desperate but I'm willing to apply more broadly than I was in the past. It's true I was an undedicated undergrad student for a number of reasons and I admit my bio major hurt me since I wasn't particularly gifted in those upper division bio/chem courses. Putting in my courses in AAMC and AMCAS I cringe...the last seven quarters of undergrad I took 4-5 upper division bio and chem courses each, usually 3 with lab, just to finish in under 2 years, while working about 30 hours/week. GPA suicide, kids, don't do it. Looking back, I ask myself what the hell was I doing? and why didn't I get any advice from my adviser? and why was I in such a hurry???
    (Not that I would have listened.)
    Ah well.
    We'll see what happens anyway.
    :rolleyes:

     
  18. emedpa

    emedpa GlobalDoc

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    they don't even know what a muslim is.....
     
  19. FourMoreYears

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    I'm still not sure why you wouldn't want to apply to more schools. This has been hard enough as it is (MCAT, applications, extra classes, full time work, family, etc.). There is no way I want to repeat this whole thing again. Not to mention loosing another year in the process. We are not spring chickens. It's not like I'm in my early 20's when I had all the time in the world to get my crap together.
    Sure you can say that it costs more to apply. I'm an ER PA as well. The great thing about being an ER PA is that there is always an ED looking for someone to pickup some extra shifts (Hopefully you're privledged at more than one hospital).
    At this point, can you be "choosy"? Do you really want to keep pounding the pavement?
    I've had it myself. I've decided to clock out my PA timecard once and for all. I never would have traded the experience. It has given me the confidence to lead me to this juncture.
    I can't afford to be choosy myself. I don't like my life being in limbo.

    (Thump Thump to the chest) Power to the PA!!:D
     
  20. nlax30

    nlax30 Fellow
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    I understand you wanting to be a little choosy this go around, but if you don't get into to one of those schools this year and then apply next year a little more broadly, why not just apply a little more broadly this time around to start off with.

    You don't need to go adding every single school to your list, but apply to any school that you would be willing to attend. Say you would be willing to attend XYZ Med school, but it's not currently on your list..... why would you not apply to it now if you would be willing to apply there during a subsequent cycle.

    Your stats are what they are, can't really change that now besides doing well on the MCAT. And it may not be worth it apply to like 30-40 schools, but I do think you need to apply to as many as you can, and apply to any school you would be willing to attend. You can be choosy, and especially with a family it just comes with the territory, but ultimately you're just delaying your ultimate goal.
     
  21. I tend to disagree.

    With numbers (e.g. GPA) that are significantly below the mean for med school matriculants, it behooves you to apply early and VERY widely.

    As an example, when I was a pre-med I had stats (GPA and MCAT) at or slightly above the mean and I still applied to around 30 schools. Desperate? No, just prudent, IMHO (I certainly didn't want to be a re-app later that year because I didn't apply widely enough!).

    Best of luck, whatever you decide.
     
  22. primadonna22274

    primadonna22274 Senior Member

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    Thanks guys.
    I'm actually not in ER right now, back in FP although I am still privileged at one hospital (although not getting any shifts, ugh) and am in the process of being credentialed at another. I think you're right about the money vs. time part. One thing that bugs me is so many schools seem to send their secondaries to everyone as a money-making move, so how do I discern which secondaries are actually serious opportunities and worth the extra $50-100??? *sigh*
    I appreciate all your insights. We are willing to go *almost* anywhere except Caribbean. I interviewed for a PA position in England a few years ago and the thought of breaking up all my pets and choosing which one (or two) I could take with me was awful. I don't have human children so these are as close as I get.
    L.
     
  23. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion

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    There is no way to game the system. Every school is different. For example: Boston and GWU will send you an unscreened secondary request within 8 hours of submitting AMCAS, and Dartmouth's unscreened secondary comes immediately in the mail. These secondaries give you another chance to shine through the pile. Other schools allege that they screen you before they send their secondary - you're thoroughly judged on your primary app. If you are not a stellar applicant, you are relying on human eyeballs to see something in your app that makes you interviewable. There's no way to know what is going to catch their eye. Again, ultimate frisbee might be the thing. So if you are balking at secondaries, you're missing opportunities.

    If you take a look at my mdapps, I think you'll see the financial worst case with applying broadly. 45 apps (MD/DO), 28 secondaries, 6 interviews, couple waitlists, 1 acceptance. About $2k in primary fees, and about $4k in secondary fees. Tons more in Interfolio, flights, housing, etc. I'm probably not too far off saying I spent $10k on applying, not including the cost of leaving my engineering job, doing a postbac, and prepping for/taking the MCAT.

    $10k is chump change, compared to the cost of med school. Seriously. Don't nickel and dime yourself and then have to do it again.

    And yeah, I did get in. It's a HUGE relief to not have to go buff my numbers at age 41. But if I could do it again, I would not have applied last year, and I would not have picked any reach schools. I would have waited until I had better numbers - I would have done an SMP and retaken the MCAT. Out of 34 MD apps, I got 33 rejections and one in-state interview. I can't even describe how low it feels to be a sub-par applicant looking for a "mercy" admit. I am SO glad it's over.

    Writing checks and essays is by far the easy part. The interviewing and waiting and not knowing is the hard part.

    Best of luck to you.
     
  24. SOUNDMAN

    SOUNDMAN Senior Member

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    I had nearly identical stats to yours for PA school to Physician. Same undergrad, and same PA school grades. I think the DO route would be good, and DMU is usually good for PA's as well, since that is where I am. I practiced for 3 years then went back to school. Good luck to you, I was accepted to every DO school I went to the interviews at, and I received interviews at every DO school. You shouldn't have to go Carib, even with a subpar MCAT, apply broadly and I think you'll be surprised.
     
  25. FourMoreYears

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    SOUNDMAN----Do you mind me asking how you did on the MCAT?

    Well put DrMidlife. You have given me inspiration while at the same time deflating my hope for some schools. 10K to apply? That's a lot of extra shifts:eek:.
     
  26. primadonna22274

    primadonna22274 Senior Member

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    DrMidlife, once again, thanks for your wisdom on this. I hear where you're coming from on the nickel-and-diming and that I shouldn't do it. OTOH I hate to waste money as well so I'm trying my best to figure out which schools are a "fit".
    Soundman, DMU is definitely up there on my list. I don't like cold weather but I figure I can deal with anything for four years. I DO like cheap cost of living.
    And yeah, $10k is a lot of extra shifts...although not as many as you think...about 17 12-hr weekend shifts if I do the math right....... :cool:
     
  27. FourMoreYears

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    Don't forget Uncle Sam taking his cut.

    More like 23 shifts by that rate.
    It's gonna be a looooooonnnnnngggggg summer.
     
  28. 2008orbust

    2008orbust OLDER THAN YOU!

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    Primadonna, please PM me. I was (am) NP to MD and learned a few things that really helped my app. I'd be happy to share what helped me (bad grades and all).

    Good luck to you!
     
  29. primadonna22274

    primadonna22274 Senior Member

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    OK, will do. Thanks a bunch.
    L.

     
  30. primadonna22274

    primadonna22274 Senior Member

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    Hey E, meant to tell you, and this is a quote from one of ATSU's MD faculty to me in a recent email conversation about my fit for the ATSU-SOMA program:
    MCAT matters little for those experienced, reasonable sciences, steady track records with tough loads. Mission for the underserved matters most and experience in these areas is highly desired.
    Kinda cool eh? Sounds like record a score and you're OK. He did say in a follow-up that as long as my MCAT's not below 24 it "shouldn't raise too many eyebrows".
    Hmmmmmmmmmmm............................

     

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