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Working as a Medic Before Med School...Good Idea?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - DO' started by dxu, Apr 22, 2007.

  1. dxu

    dxu the great one
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    So here's the deal:

    I am finishing up my Jr year of undergrad, majoring in Biology. At the rate I am going I will be done by next summer. I plan on applying to the LECOM Post-Bac program, not a big deal. I am currently working as an EMT-B on weekends and over the summer. I was told by many folks that I would make a good Medic. The company offered to put me through their program in the fall. If I take it, I will have to limit my undergrad course load down to 12 credits, maybe even having to become a P/T student.

    I know that becoming a Medic and working for a year or so and also during the Post-Bac would look good on apps and be a nice bit of income to help cover some costs. I'm only 21 and have plenty of time.

    What would YOU do?

    dxu
     
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  3. Vee

    Vee
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    being a medic would definitely be good experience. i got in after having my emt-b for 5 years (working summers and weekends while in school, like you). i thought about getting my medic, but to me it wasn't worth it since it is over a year of school, and then i wouldn't have even used it for very long. i guess it depends on if you want to push back graduating in order to get your medic, what is more important? for me, i wasn't willing to do that. being an emt is still excellent experience, especially if you work for a 911 company.
     
  4. lateapplicant

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    Well you brought up many positive aspects that I am convinced. If you think you'll be happy, you can keep a decent GPA, and find time somewhere in there to study for the MCAT (if you haven't already taken it) that sounds like a good plan to me. I worked at a night clinic full time, while taking a full course load and survived pretty well. Even from what you've written, you seem like the type of person that could handle it.

    I'm just not sure, why wouldn't you? Is the only downside prolonging your undergraduate years?
     
  5. dxu

    dxu the great one
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    911 company...ha!

    I work for a private co. who not only does BLS transfers to all over SW Pa, we also have wheelchair vans that are staffed by EMTs. What a waste of resources.

    Back to the topic at hand, I think part of me wants to work and have some fun out in the field (God knows that EMS actually is a lot of fun 90% of the time) and then go on and do the med school thing. Sometimes I wonder if having a little more life experience would be beneficial when entering some as demanding as medicine?

    dxu
     
  6. FieldDoc

    FieldDoc Whacker Extraordinaire
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    Its a good idea for experience, but I found that most of the people interviewing me back in the day didn't even know the difference between an EMT-B and EMT-P. I know that I have a head start on a lot of clinical skills, but it won't necessarily help with getting in.
     
  7. dxu

    dxu the great one
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    The only real downside I see is an extra semester or two of undergrad and a few year delay of applying to the Post-Bac. But there is something to be said for life experience.

    dxu

    ps thanks for the kind words
     
  8. DoctorMom78

    DoctorMom78 Sky Glory
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    I think it is a great idea. You sound like you think so too, so I say go for it. :thumbup: Good luck!:luck:
     
  9. Dr JPH

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    Only become a medic if it is what you want to do, not because you think it will help you get into medical school.

    I dont think it will have a large effect on your application but it couldnt hurt.
     
  10. GreenShirt

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    One of my co-workers, who I've meet, crammed her EMT-P into summers and evening classes while going to school full-time. She got into a med school in CA and deferred for a year to work as a medic.

    It would be a great experience and med schools like to see maturity and clinical experience. Although, from what I hear a post-bac is a full-time gig so you might not get as much time to use your EMT-P.
     
  11. dxu

    dxu the great one
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    I know it won't have a major impact on my app but I also know I enjoy what I do.

    Can anyone play devil's advocate here and help me see some different viewpoints since I am in favor of it.

    dxu
     
  12. Dr JPH

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    I say go for it. If you enjoy it and its something you want to do then why not do it?

    Medical school isnt going anywhere.
     
  13. GreenShirt

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    Prolonging your UG will mean spending more money. I don't know if you're using loans to pay for your UG or your own personal savings, but losing that extra money might not be the best idea. I personally took three extra semesters to graduate and I regret doing so now that all of my piddly Lab Tech salary is being eaten up by the payments. If this is the case for you, I'd recommend finishing your UG as soon as possible and then working on the EMT-P full-time.
     
  14. Dr JPH

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    Ah, money. Good point.

    Also, if you graduate and start working your student loans may come up for repayment.

    Staying in school = deferment!
     
  15. dxu

    dxu the great one
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    Hmmm this is a good point.

    My plan though is to take my medic class while I am finishing up undergrad, and still be finishing up my undergrad perhaps while working as an EMT-P.

    Plus, LECOM Post-Bac has its classes scheduled from 5pm to 8pm on weeknights from what I gather. This leaves enough time I think.

    dxu
     
  16. GreenShirt

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    Shifts usually run 6-6, so you might be limited to week-ends.
     
  17. dxu

    dxu the great one
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    You referring to shifts in Erie?

    dxu
     
  18. KMG365

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    I was a medic for 2.5 years before I started med school (and an EMT-B for three years before that). It will definitely give you a jump on clinical skills, but more importantly than that, it gives you knowledge of the medical system, and it should help you develop some clinical judgement- an invaluable tool they just can't teach you.


    I worked for a private service that did about 70% emergencies, 30% transfers- including critical transfers. It was a great experience.

    I didn't take the medic class to improve my med school application, but I do think it was a great opportunity to solidify my desire to pursue medicine. One thing I didn't do, however, was cut down on my undergrad classes while I did it. I carried all 16 credits at my undergrad, plus the extra 6 or 8 credits for the medic course. I don't know how much schools would be impressed with doing undergrad PT. May not make a difference at all.
     
  19. GreenShirt

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    double post
     
  20. GreenShirt

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    I don't know about Erie, but if they do 12's out there you may run into problems depending on how they break up shifts.
     
  21. NickRiviera

    NickRiviera MS-Never
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    I was an EMT-B for a while and a medic for a couple years before medical school. I wouldn't recommend doing the medic training while balancing school. It's not that the material is hard, but there are many hours required. In the end, I think you could have spent those hours working as an EMT-B seeing patients, instead of in training since you'll end up as a doctor.

    If you have a year off and really want to do medic, go for it. Else, save your time and work as an EMT-B as the experience is nearly the same. It's not all that it's cracked up to be and most of the things you learn will rarely be used. I have a couple of medic friends in med school right now and they are struggling to maintain their certifications. Since you need to refresh every 2 years, when will you find time to take ACLS, PALS, BTLS, etc. especially if they are only offered during the week or by hospitals for employees? Over the summers? What about the cost involved with refreshing? Will you actually be able to find a job while in med school and use that certification, or will it just be a line or your resume or something to tell people at the bar? It would be quite a waste to do the medic training now and then not have time to refresh it, and lose the certification. Just my thoughts.
     
  22. gotmeds?

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    I think that paramedic school is not a good stepping stone to med school. If you want to be a doctor, you might as well take the most direct path.

    With that said, if you'd really like to be a paramedic because you think you'd enjoy the job and want the experience, then go for it. I was a 911 paramedic for several years and it was the best job I've ever had. I didn't do it to get into med school, but it certainly helped.
     
  23. etman7

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    I did exactly what is being proposed (i.e. medic school during undergraduate), and I would not recommend it. For admissions, there is no difference between EMT-B and EMT-P, hence doing it just from the stand point of getting an upper hand during application process is not going to pay back huge dividends. Remember they are just concerned that you have had solid experience in medicine and EMT-B for few years fulfills that requirement.

    Medic school is a huge investment in time, even though it does not seem that bad on paper. A few hundred hours ride time, few hundred hours in the ER, etc..., but then remember that you have to do those hours at either crappy times of the day or at night. You will put a huge strain on both your personal and academic life. At the end you might end up with neither, which is not common but can occur.

    Like many have said, take the most direct path. It will cost you less in the end. I have been in the exact same predicament many years ago, and while I do not regret going through with paramedic route, in retro-spec I wish I didn't.
     
  24. gotmeds?

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    I found that the interviewers who knew the difference between EMT-B and EMT-P were the exception to the rule. I'm not sure if that means that they give EMT-Bs more credit than they deserve or if they give EMT-Ps less (probably the latter).

    The best way I found to get around this was by telling them the difference when they asked about why I became a medic. I told them that as an EMT, I couldn't really do much and mostly ran IFTs so I became a paramedic to work 911 and be able to do all the good stuff (not the phrase I used, of course).

    For the few that did know, it was a big plus. I had a couple of interviewers ask me about pediatric IOs and needle thoracotomies. But like I said, those were rare. Probably the biggest benefit, as far as the interviews went, was that I had a lot of good stories to answer their questions with. When they asked about leadership experience, oh boy! I loved that one.

    Anyway, I agree with etman. There are more beneficial ways you can invest your time and effort if you're trying to beef up your application. But I wouldn't discourage you from doing it if you really want to be a paramedic.
     
  25. roberts36

    roberts36 New Member
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    Definitely have to agree with that. I worked part time as an EMT all through college and have now been full time for two years between undergrad and attending PCOM next year. I wouldn't put off any graduate level stuff for medic school. EMS experience is great if you can find yourself a good 911 gig and take that time to get comfortable working with patients, assessments, etc. These things will be most beneficial when you start working with real patients in school (and hopefully the docs giving you your evals 3rd and 4th year will see that). While the experience in general is very worthwhile, and many interviewers will recognize that, very few will recognize (or care) whether it's at a BLS or ALS level.
     
  26. DropkickMurphy

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    :thumbup: Thanks JP, you saved me from having to rant. :thumbup: :laugh:
     
  27. TerraMedicX

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    Looks like people have already covered most of the big points, this being one of the biggest:

    I also agree that you shouldn't underestimate the time commitment. Between classroom and clinicals you're looking at a very large chunk of time! I personally took a sememster off of my undergraduate to goto P-school, and it was a good choice for me because it helped me refocus on my academics and do better my last few semesters. I would, however, discourage you from trying to work as a full-time paramedic while going to ANY type of school! There is a huge amount of time involved in this type of work, and no guarantee of any time for studying or sleep. I DID work full-time while in undergrad, and my grades suffered for it, which has limited me in terms of my ability to goto med school.

    Also, you said that your company offered to send you to P-school, which is great, but they very rarely offer this without some type of contract. This will mean that you'll have to work for them for a set amount of time after you're done with school. Two problems with this: 1) It means you have to fulfill your time commitment to them which means you might have to put off going to med school. 2) It means you're stuck working for that company. It sounds like you do almost all IFTs. Don't get me wrong, IFTs are great experience, but your paramedic skills will greatly deteriorate, or possibly never develop if you don't work 911 straight out of school. These are skills that really need to be practiced on a regular basis. I'm not sure what the job market for paramedics is like out in PA, but I know here it was pretty tough for me to find a job running 911 straight out of paramedic school.

    So I guess what I'm saying is, if you really want to be a paramedic because it is something you enjoy, you want to learn more, or something along those lines. If you're willing to spend the time involved in the training and working. If you think it will give you experience that YOU will find valuable...well then go for it, but remember that there is a lot involved!

    Nate.
     
  28. paramediclizard

    paramediclizard Powder chaser
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    Paramedic school is a full time class load, as well as a full time job (clinicals and field internship). I went through about 4 years ago and found it difficult to balance an acutal full time job on top of it.
    I would say that you should seriously consider your motives for wanting to pursue this extension of your EMT-B. If you are commited to investing the time to become a medic, and you will be utalizing the extra education by working in the field for a few years, go for it:thumbup: . Otherwise, keep gaining exposure as a Basic and leave that seat at paramedic school open for someone who really wants to invest the time.
    Good luck with whatever you decide to do!:luck:
     
  29. NPEMTIV

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    I've worked as and EMT-I for years now and I can attest from experience that your app won't look any different to an ADCOM if you're and EMT-B or -P. They don't care about the level and many probably do not know the difference. I would definitely say no way on taking the course if it would limit your real classes. You have to ask yourself would you rather work as an EMT-P or be a doctor. It's not worth it even though I'm sure you'd be a fine medic.
     
  30. 146233

    146233 Phthirius pubis

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    I couldn't disagree more. I'm in Chicago, so perhaps the large EMS system produces better informed adcom members. There is a significant difference between EMT-B and paramedic. (And there are still huge differences between I and P, contrary to what a lot of I's say.) EMT-B's are a dime a dozen. EMT-P's are less common.

    In Chicago, 98% of EMS responders are medics. Schools here know that medics intubate/start IV's/push meds/interpret rhythms/etc. They also know that EMT-B's that aren't firefighters typically work for privates.

    In the end, I think the OP should consider what they'd be doing with it. Going through the toils of medic school (clinicals/ride time/class, etc.) just to have a P card isn't going to impress anyone. Doing it because you want to work as a medic and get more advanced, more relevant exposure is an excellent idea. Additionally, medics can generally relate a little better (medically) to the physicians they encounter in ED's. Never know what types of networking this will lead to. So far, I've gotten an LOR from one and a hookup with the chair of an adcom from another.


    Best of luck,
    -z
     
  31. NPEMTIV

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    To each their own. Show me one ADCOM who knows the difference and I'll find 30 that don't. The question doesn't lie in the differences between the certifications and the level of medical treatment each is allowed to perform, the OP knows that already. My statement is that to become a medic at the expense of delaying or curtailing the serious efforts of becoming a physician are wasteful. Now if the OP wants to be a medic because he wants to then I say go for it. It's a fine profession. If he wants to become a physician then it would be of little benefit from what I can see. To become a proficient paramedic, as in any profession, would require years of on the job experience. If the OP wants to see more in depth patients then I would consider a different service before going through more school. Also, knowledge gained in paramedic school is irrelevant as it will be taught again, in much greater depth, in medical school. Finally, I disagree that a medic can relate to a physician better. Maybe the EMTs at your service aren't very good, but I have no problem dealing with or relating to physicians in any capacity and also obtained an LOR from one even without having a medic's license. I believe the EMS-physician interactions fall more in line with each individual person as apposed to anything else. Just my $0.02
     
  32. 146233

    146233 Phthirius pubis

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    I believe that statistic to be artificially inflated. Many adcom members have been reviewing applications for a long time. I think it would be a mistake to assume that "most" or "a majority" don't understand the differences. These are medical licensures (or certifications, depending on your state). If they don't understand, they'll find out. If they don't find out, it's not a school worth applying to.

    OP is doing a post-bac. That is sufficient time to complete a medic program and gain experience.

    Then you can't see very far. If he wants to become a Family Practice physician, then sure, it's of little use. If he's considering Emergency Medicine or Surgery (or Geriatrics, even), then it's potentially invaluable.

    It's all about determination. 12 months, depending on the volume of calls at a given service, is enough to become 'proficient'.

    Only half true. Pathophysiology and anatomy will be taught again. Clinical interventions, and "street" medicine concerns, not so much. Definitely not until 3rd/4th year rotations. Many residents I encounter who used to be street medics agree that their background prepared them very well for residency and gave them a leg up. All were asked about it during interviews.

    That's your right.

    Fantastic. There's a finite body of clinical knowledge a physician can comment on with an EMT-B. "He always put on the KED when none of his peers do," or "Best Hare traction application I've seen in all my years," or "Knows how to help an individual take their own prescribed Nitro better than anyone."

    Sure they do, but think about how much "each individual" can contribute with respect to their training. An EMT with 5 years may be able to contribute more than a new medic grad, but a new medic will run circles around a new EMT.


    -z
     
  33. NPEMTIV

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    blah blah blah :thumbdown: It's not that interesting to try and continue arguing. I was simply stating my opinion anyway in an attempt to help the OP as per his request. Good luck to you and the OP with your work. I'm taking my EMT's license and starting med school.
     
  34. gotmeds?

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    I think everyone pretty much agrees that getting a paramedic license in order to be more competitive for med school is a bad idea. There are simply better ways to become a more competitive applicant. However, saying that being a paramedic doesn't help any more than being an EMT is simply not true.

    Even when my interviewers didn't know the difference between an EMT-B and a medic (which was most of the time), it only took a little bit of explanation to fill them in. And for the ones who knew, it was a big plus (I had two interviews with ER docs, both of which resulted in acceptances).

    I also agree that medics can relate a little better to docs. No matter how many times you've run with medics as an EMT, you really don't know what it's like to be a medic until you've done it. I know what it's like to run some pretty hairy megacodes. Who else in the hospital besides the doctors can say the same thing? It's a level of responsibility that few people ever have.
     
  35. Round2

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    Being in SW PA, you have a great opportunity. Check out centerem.org. Its perhaps the best EMT-P program in the country, reasonably short (August to May), for credit toward a B.S. at U of Pitt, has an active research program and publication program, and close relationships with an EM residency/fellowship program, and reasonably priced if you are a resident of the right counties. You'll meet and be exposed to some really top EMS people, and to a program rich in EMT-P to EM MD people.
     
  36. dxu

    dxu the great one
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    So I am going to attempt a reply to all posts at once, please bare w/ me...

    I do not want to do Medic b/c it looks good on apps, but b/c it would be fun and provide me with some experience and cash to help in med school.

    Yes, pursuing my Medic would prolong my UG and cause more debt. But what the hell, whats another $1000 a year in interest when I am going to have 125K to pay back anyhow. Nickels and Dimes in the grand scheme of things.

    I am planning on doing a post-bac. If by some chance I do not get into it (LECOM) I will retake a few undergrad classes that I may not have done terrific in (none thus far, all B's). Then I will reapply, but during the time I can be working as a Medic.

    My becoming a Medic is contingent on how comfortable I feel with pursuing it come September. I am not going to risk the lives of patients just so I can do more in the field. That would be immature and irresponsible.

    Center-EM is an amazing program. But they are full-time and I don't really have that kind of time. The program I am thinking of enrolling in is at my company and has a high success rate.

    If I forgot to mention something, I apologize.

    Thanks to NPEMTIV for saying I would make a fine medic.

    and thank you to all of you for taking the time to provide your input and support.

    all the best,
    dxu

    dxu
     
  37. NickRiviera

    NickRiviera MS-Never
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    Yea OP, medic would be a great temporary backup if getting into post-bacc didn't work. However, I'm going to disagree a bit with some of the things that have been said about how useful being a medic would be.

    Please someone explain where postponing medical school for medic training would ever be beneficial. Do you really think that the level medic training is at (yes, I do know, I teach EMS) is superior to physician training? Do you really think that 2 years "learning the ropes" or "doing megacodes" as a medic would be better than working those 2 extra years as an ER doc, as someone mentioned going into? I've been in EMS for a long time and it is not at the level people keep claiming it to be. Yes, I'm talking to you the EMT-I's who look down on EMT-B's and the EMT-P's who think they know it all. This has been debated in other threads many times. Sure, my training in EMS will help me while I'm going through medical school, but when you get past residency everyone is (or should be) at the same level; the concepts taught in medic training will for sure be covered.

    http://www.jems.com/news/284916/
     

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