P.A SCHOOL DOES IT MATTER WHICH ONE YOU ATTEND?

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Paul in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

70 months ago

I have a question, I'm going University of Pittsburgh for pre-pharmacy and I am getting concerned as to whether it was the right decision or not.All of the classes for prepharmacy are the same as the classes required for a PA. But Pitt is not accredited as a PA school. Would I be able to become a PA having gone to Pitt or would I have to transfer to another school.

canadared in Odenton, Maryland

70 months ago

I am considering going back to school to become a PA. Can anyone tell me does it matter if you graduate from a PA school that is a community college or a Unversity? Is it easy to get a job in the field? Does it make a big difference in salary if you have a BS versus a MS?

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

70 months ago

Community college vs university program - No, it does not necessarily make a difference. Both yield graduates that earn their certification, gain licensure, and can work as PAs. The NCCPA certication gets you the job, not the school's name on the degree. BUT, look into each school independently. Your clinical rotations - the quality of sites, the variety of electives, and practice backgrounds of the preceptors - make the difference. Clinical rotations often lead to first PA jobs. You experiences as a student fill in your resume. Not all schools are created equal as to clinical exposure. The greatest number and variety of patients the better. You want a mix of PA and physician preceptors. You want people working full-time in the specialty to be precepting the specialty (e.g. no family practice precepting ObGYN or pediatrics, no urgent care precepting EMed). Degree? You will want a Master with the program or within a few years. Without a Masters in some health related field (MPAS, MPH, MHA, etc.) you will see increasing restrictions on what you may do (prescribe some classes of drugs), where you may work (large academic centers will hire only Masters professionals), and what you will be paid (government employers place grad-degree professionals in different pay scales).

sam in Bakersfield, California

70 months ago

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia said: Community college vs university program - No, it does not necessarily make a difference. Both yield graduates that earn their certification, gain licensure, and can work as PAs. The NCCPA certication gets you the job, not the school's name on the degree. BUT, look into each school independently. Your clinical rotations - the quality of sites, the variety of electives, and practice backgrounds of the preceptors - make the difference. Clinical rotations often lead to first PA jobs. You experiences as a student fill in your resume. Not all schools are created equal as to clinical exposure. The greatest number and variety of patients the better. You want a mix of PA and physician preceptors. You want people working full-time in the specialty to be precepting the specialty (e.g. no family practice precepting ObGYN or pediatrics, no urgent care precepting EMed). Degree? You will want a Master with the program or within a few years. Without a Masters in some health related field (MPAS, MPH, MHA, etc.) you will see increasing restrictions on what you may do (prescribe some classes of drugs), where you may work (large academic centers will hire only Masters professionals), and what you will be paid (government employers place grad-degree professionals in different pay scales).

i am going to start the PA program next year in september. the school i am going to go offers AS degree. will i have any problems getting job with an AS rather than BS or MS, if i have the appropriate licensure and credentials? i ask this because mike was mentioning that the board may change its requirements.

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

70 months ago

At this point, I do not think having an AS and PA certificate will seriously hamper your efforts in getting a job. Other factors, such as the local job markets, specialties you may want to enter, availability of many or few other PA grads, the salary you are seeking, and your electives / recommendations from PA training will have greater impact. There are some larger academic hospital systems and states (eg. Ohio and ??) that require MS degrees. Do you have a bachelor's from any other educational institution. You may be competing against PA grads with additional degrees. I know "PA education is competency based. Degress don't matter." If applying through a larger practice group or hospital, they may note any degree differences. Smaller practices likely will not. No matter the degree, the most important info is to try to have your information directly presented to the physician(s) seeking to hire the PAs. Yes, send your resume to the practice manager or HR, but also find the name of the physician(s) and send your info directly to them. Also, rotations and local PA meetings are an excellent way to make personal contacts that lead to jobs. Network!

sam in Bakersfield, California

70 months ago

thanks, that was helpful.

Michelle in Clearwater, Florida

70 months ago

Mike, your information and advice is so helpful. I've been going back and reading your posts. I hope you are still available for some advice. I am absolutely certain this is the career for me. I want to apply next year to a PA program. I just have a couple of concerns. My background is in mental health counseling. I graduated with a masters in counselor education and worked for 2 1/2 years at a local hospice. I had a caseload of 25-30 patients who were terminally ill and worked on a daily basis with physicians, nurses and social workers. How do you think this experience will be viewed by a PA program? I am considering either volunteering at a hospital or trying to get a job as a mental health technician at a hospital, at least to get experience in a more clinical setting. What do you think?

My other concern is how emotionally taxing this career is. Do you have any advice for balancing the stress of the job? Is it common to burn out, or is that less likely if you're truly in the right career? I'm asking because I became very burned out while working at Hospice and this is why I chose to leave that job. I really believe it was the specific setting and my unhappiness in the mental health field that led to this, but I'm still concerned about being able to emotionally handle this new venture.

Also, regarding tuition costs - I am already carrying a student loan debt of $50,000 from my masters program. I'm worried about tacking on more debt. Do you feel like the loan payments are manageable with a PA starting salary?

missnjit in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey

70 months ago

Michelle in Clearwater, Florida said: Mike, your information and advice is so helpful. I've been going back and reading your posts. I hope you are still available for some advice. I am absolutely certain this is the career for me. I want to apply next year to a PA program. I just have a couple of concerns. My background is in mental health counseling. I graduated with a masters in counselor education and worked for 2 1/2 years at a local hospice. I had a caseload of 25-30 patients who were terminally ill and worked on a daily basis with physicians, nurses and social workers. How do you think this experience will be viewed by a PA program? I am considering either volunteering at a hospital or trying to get a job as a mental health technician at a hospital, at least to get experience in a more clinical setting. What do you think?

My other concern is how emotionally taxing this career is. Do you have any advice for balancing the stress of the job? Is it common to burn out, or is that less likely if you're truly in the right career? I'm asking because I became very burned out while working at Hospice and this is why I chose to leave that job. I really believe it was the specific setting and my unhappiness in the mental health field that led to this, but I'm still concerned about being able to emotionally handle this new venture.

Also, regarding tuition costs - I am already carrying a student loan debt of $50,000 from my masters program. I'm worried about tacking on more debt. Do you feel like the loan payments are manageable with a PA starting salary?

Good question!!!
I also think this forum is really great to share ideas from
those that is more experience in this PA field!

bob in East Orange, New Jersey

69 months ago

yorkpa in Flushing, New York said: Hi Katie I just graduated from York PA program this sept, when i applied to the school i was also concerned about their ranking, however, i applied to their school b/c it was going to cost me less then $10,000 for the whole education. It was the best decision i ever made, they have a great teaching staff. However, the program is very overwhelming, especially during the 1st semester, we lost about 6 student out of 22. Currently i have been offered two jobs paying over $100,000 a year.

I'm currently a PA student and was just wondering where/in what field are these jobs you speak of, because that is great money for a PA right out of school. lol

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

69 months ago

Michelle:

Good question about prior healthcare experience (HCE). HCE has varying relevancy to PA educators and programs. Some put a lot of weight in it, others less so. There are also different ideas as to what constitutes HCE. To me, HCE has two purposes: 1) familiarize yourself with the various roles and interplay among the healthcare professions. Healthcare is a team effort, and the PA role as a supervised provider yet as a central hub of many healthcare teams can be tricky. So, you need to be aware of how the team works and how you will work within it. 2) assess you comfort in dealing directly with patients and families in private and sometimes difficult situations. Some very smart people just do not have the interpersonal skills and aptitude to be a patient care provider. There is nothing wrong with that. However, there are currently few options for PAs beyond direct patient care for at least the first 6-10 years of a PA career. So, you do not want to waste your money and time to start a career that does not fit your personality.
Your experience in mental health and counseling sounds great, and it seems you are very aware of the team approach to care and the challenges of direct patient care. My opinion is that your HCE is very relavant to PA programs and career. I think at least a majority of PA programs will agree.

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

69 months ago

Michelle:

You ask several questions - and there is only limited space.

Burnout among healthcare providers is very real and common. It is a very fine balance to put so much of yourself into caring for patients, but not get swallowed. A phrase often used in teaching or coaching also applies to healthcare: "People don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care." However, as you know, you can't throw yourself completely into one patient - as the next one will arrive in ten minutes or is waiting in the next hospital bed.
Reward and benefit often depend on your own personality. I was frustrated in adult cardiology and felt a high potential for burnout. Yes, we "saved" many patients with MIs, stents, pacemakers. But, many were back in months or a year. Flowers went out weekly as condolences to families. I switched to peds, and am very happy. I have worked in NICU and PICU. Some very awful things happen, but I feel they are more than balanced by the good. That is me. Some people can't stand even setting foot in my pediatric departments.
My wife was a oncology clinical nurse specialist for 15 years, often similar to hospice. She was feeling the burnout from that patient care specialty. She switched to my side of the fence, and is now doing high-risk inpatient antepartum care. Again, this can go very bad at times. But, she says she has never been more satisfied as a nurse.
A good recommendation is to have a life outside of healthcare. You need someone, something to recharge your batteries so you can continue to give of yourself everytime it is needed.
You also want to work in a setting or for an employer where you are empowered to make the improvements you see as necessary. This is especially true of healthcare providers, who are typically dedicated to fixing things or making them better. If you feel constrained or like you do not have the necessary tools to do the job, then you will likely feel frustrated.

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

69 months ago

Loans: the amount of money someone can take on varies by their personal circumstances. You need to assess your current situation and plans. Student loan debt is tough, but it is not the "bad debt" of consumer credit debt. PAs do make very good money, particularly when compared to some other master's-prepared healthcare professions. New grads are often making in the 90-100K arena. Of course, you need to look at cost-of-living in some areas. However, some systems in more rural areas (e.g. Carilion in Roanoke, VA) are paying top dollar with very low cost-of-living.
A non-masters PA program can be less costly and an attractive option for someone already with a healthcare related Masters degree. I know I say you need a Masters, but this does not necessarily have to come through the PA program. Those states and employers who require a Masters degree do not specify, other than to say that the Masters should be healthcare related. This is a very big net.

adin in Miami, Florida

69 months ago

travia in Fort Lauderdale, Florida said: Miami-Dade college does offer a PA program. It is an AS degree. The pass rate for last year was 95% (first time takers). In my opinion Miami-Dade College is the best PA program in the area, although it is only an AS. They train and are taught by some of the best Doctors from University of Miami Medical school through Jackson Hosp. It only cost $19K. You can gain valuable experience with Miami-Dade who has partnerships with Jackson Hosp. and the Ryder trauma (only Critical care facility in the miami). You gain priceless experience, that can not be obtained with extra classes.

travia, I am doing my prereqs at dade to get into the pa program, I have a b.f.a but am working full time as a graphic designer. Did you get into the program?

I would love to email you or visa versa, let me know

adin in Miami, Florida

69 months ago

Rose in Hollywood, Florida said: My husband graduated from the Miami Dade PA program in 2005. And I must say that he does quite well for himself, well into the six figures. It was a great school for him, and he got a job as soon as he graduated making 60.00 and hour. My husband did say that it is a very hard and stressful program. The fact that he only has his AS never bothered and of his employers and he has not lost any of jobs or job opportunity because of it.

Rose, that is awesome, what was his background/job before he got into the Dade program? I am doing a complete career change.
thanks

Emma in South Richmond Hill, New York

69 months ago

yorkpa in Flushing, New York said: This is what I mean by overwhelming, our classes were held 5 days a wk 9-5 and sometimes we had to come on weekends, I could not hold a job, I felt like i had not enough time to study, basically my first year it was all short term memory. on average we had about 2-3 exams a wk. But you do not need to be a genius, the staff really does try to help you out during the program to pass. When you graduate any job that hires you will train you. You do not function as a nurse, you are train to function as a doctor( you treat, medicate and council, you just have to make sure your supervising doc agrees with you) . when you rotate in the hospitals you will notice that the medical students know as much as you do about medicine, it is just that they do residency and you don't. For your board's you use USMLE books.

Hi Yorkpa......first of i would like to congratulate you on your success! However, my name is Emma and am currently a student at CUNY York College about to finish up my prerequisites for Physician Assistant....i have about 5 classes left.....and am just wondering like how intense is it to ACTUALLY get into the program itself? everyone around me keeps complaining about how intense it is and not a lot of students get accepted.....only a few? am so nervous and scared (I REALLY WANT THIS AND IS TRYING SO HARD) that i won't get accepted. Am just wondering if you can give me a few heads up. My current gpa is 2.5...i believe it has to be above 2.9 now.....am really trying to get it up and believe i will but still have doubts about getting into the program. Please anything you have to say would help right about now. THANKS-Emma

CaRoLiNa in Alexandria, Virginia

69 months ago

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia said:
Hi, thank you so much for all the info on becoming a PA. Are you currently practicing as a PA in Virginia?? Which school did you go to?? Did you get a BS, a Masters?

Thanks!

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

69 months ago

I work in the quality improvement aspect of hospital administration. My clinical work at this time is as a clinic volunteer. This is one example of the difference between physicians and PAs - as a physician doing the same work is allowed a part-time position to still work clinically part-time as well. It is economics, the physician is much more profitable as a patient care provider.

I was one of the first classes of PAs to earn a Masters as part of their PA program. Only 4 programs offered it at the time. If not for the MS degree, I would have probably been a geneticist or research director. I was planning to return to clinical research, where an MS in some health / medical science related area is required. But, I loved the patient care so much, I never went back.

Blake in Fort Mill, South Carolina

68 months ago

Hello Everyone. My name is Blake. I really need some help. I live in fort mill, sc. It is about 25 minutes south of Charlotte, NC. I'd like to shadow some PA's to see if I like it, and I'd like to start up for the upcoming June. However I hear you need your apps in at the latest of November. I haven't taken GRE's and I have no volunteer hours. I just applied to volunteer in a hospital. I also have only taken Chem in college, and not organic chem.

I just am worried I wont be able to accomplish all this stuff by the time of November. I hear some places don't need GRE's? Also I'm wondering if all programs need you to take orgo as a prereq. I greaduated with a degree in Exercise Physiology.

Could I apply to these programs before I finished my volunteer hours? There is no way I could get at least 200 hours in a hospital before november.

My email address is ovathinka@yahoo.com

I really appreciate any information. Thanks for everything. This forum has given me some hope. Look forward to hearing from you guys.

Thanks,

Blake

lin in Morrisville, Pennsylvania

66 months ago

hii ...i hv a bachelor degree from india in biotechnology ...and i did 1 semester of my masters also....wn the WES evaluated my credits ,i hv a 104 credits and hv a 3 and a half year US equivalant undergrat degree....nw am planning to get into pa school as a transfer student(i hope i vll getsome credits transferred over)...a BS in biology or a BS in physician assistant,which one would be better inorder to get into masters in pa program...iam so confused ...please please help me

Ian in Austin, Texas

66 months ago

My girlfriend is considering applying to the PA Master's program in Seattle (UW) and we live in Texas. There are several PA programs in Texas, but none in Austin, where we live. My question is, if she got her degree from UW would it be harder to get a job back in Texas than if she had gotten her degree from one of the Texas schools?

We have several higher up contacts in the Texas programs and they claim it would be better to stay in Texas, but I have a suspicion they are biased. Anyone know if location matters?

Peds PA Mike in Springfield, Virginia

66 months ago

Does it matter if you go to school in another state, but want to return home to work?

No, not really. Go to any good program. The key to the first job is the quality and variety of experience you get in the second, clinical, year. A Master's will ensure you can work in any state and healthcare delivery organization.

The benefit to staying in-state is that a PA student can do rotations for potential employers. Thus, important networking begins early. Note that this rotation-based networking for jobs is relevant for only a handful of PAs' first jobs. With the growth of the PA profession, there is more general awareness and knowledge of the PA role. Also, in many specialties, there is a national job market for PAs.

Most PA programs allow students to arrange their own clinical rotations - as long as the site, precepting, and patient exposure is adequate. Make sure that the program permits this. All PA programs are strapped for rotation slots, they are glad when a student can arrange one or more rotations themselves. A good idea may be to arrange those core rotations and electives in which she may have a strong interest to be back home in Austin. I know of a number of PAs who attended school in one state, but did all or more of their rotations in another. Remember there is a often required end-of-rotation session after every rotation back at the program. Plan on the travel expense.

Are there any practices, hospitals, etc. in Austin where should would want to arrange a rotation? Without a nearby PA program, she will not be competing with PA students for slots. However, be aware of potential competition for slots from medical students. The VA in Austin has a good reputation. If she wants to do rotations back home, she will need to start looking in the first semester. Are there any PAs in the Seton system than can get you connected?

Ian in Austin, Texas

66 months ago

Peds PA Mike in Springfield, Virginia said:

Are there any practices, hospitals, etc. in Austin where should would want to arrange a rotation? Without a nearby PA program, she will not be competing with PA students for slots. However, be aware of potential competition for slots from medical students. The VA in Austin has a good reputation. If she wants to do rotations back home, she will need to start looking in the first semester. Are there any PAs in the Seton system than can get you connected?

My father is a physician in the Seton system and her father is a physician in a nearby town with good connections in the Fort Worth program, so we probably have an in already. I assume it depends on each particular program, but I would wonder if doing rotations back in Texas would interfere with any of her coursework and/or just irk the UW program in general? I know their ideal scenario is to train people to work in their area and contribute to their state workforce.

Talisha in Dallas, Georgia

66 months ago

I have a question I am currently in Georgia taking my first year of prerequisites I want to transfer to st johns university in newyork where I will have 3 years left to do and graduate with a bachelor in science in PA. All of the schools here in ga require that I have a BS prior to going into a PA program I don't know if I am making the righ decision should I go to st johns. Or go to a school here and come out with a masters?does it matter if I have a masters or bachelor in PA? And does anyone know if st johns university in new York PA program is really good?

maebashi in San Jose, California

66 months ago

What is your opinion of DeSales University's PA program? They have impressive PANCE scores as well as PACKRAT performance. I am trying to decide between DeSales and Rosalind Franklin. Any advice?

aibar in Bronx, New York

65 months ago

hi ,

I'm a bit confused here . I'm doing my Ba in biochemistry from Hunter College , N.Y . I'll hopefully graduate this summer. Do I need to go for BA in PA inorder to go to MA in PA ?? How does this work. Can I work after getting a BA in PA ? Coz I had thought that BA in PA is good enough to get a decent paying job . im freaking out . City college has a 28 month PA program . So need some advice plz guys . will appreciate it .

Peds PA Mike in Alexandria, Virginia

65 months ago

aibar in Bronx, New York said: hi ,

I'm a bit confused here . I'm doing my Ba in biochemistry from Hunter College , N.Y . I'll hopefully graduate this summer. Do I need to go for BA in PA inorder to go to MA in PA ?? How does this work. Can I work after getting a BA in PA ? Coz I had thought that BA in PA is good enough to get a decent paying job . im freaking out . City college has a 28 month PA program . So need some advice plz guys . will appreciate it .

You do not need a BA in PA to get a Master's in PA. You actually don't need any PA-specific degree. The PA certificate on graduation permits you to take the national certifying exam. Read up on www.nccpa.net.

The Master's degree is the recommended degree for PAs. About 80% of all new grads receive a Master's. At this time, a BA is the minimum for Pennsylvania. However, many employers such as academic medical centers and large hospitals already require a minimum of a Master's degree in a healthcare related area. So, with a BA in Pennslvania, you can get a job but will have to compete for slightly less opportunities with applicants with Masters. No, the Masters doesn't make you a better clinical PA. But, the public and employers increasingly demand it. PA education is an investment risk for you. Be sure the program has a good PANCE pass rate and strong clinical rotation opportunities. As most PA programs have gone to Masters, it is typically the weaker programs that are still offering the BA. You also want to consider why are you working on / paying for a second Bachelor's degree and not some extra for a Master's. Once you graduate with a BA in PA, expect to work on a Master's in some related area, MPA, MPH, MHA, MBA, MHIT, etc. to ensure some longevity and flexibility to your PA career.

GATEWAY360 in Irving, Texas

65 months ago

I am currently working as a LVN at a rehab home and would like to get into a PA PROgram . Should I go for the BSN program or start a biology degree. i am confused

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

65 months ago

If your ultimate goal is specifically PA, the BSN program may not provide the necessary prerequisites. However, if your goal is more flexible, the BSN track would be appropriate for clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, or other advanced clinical nursing role.

Your current age and lifestage have much impact.

If you really like healthcare and see yourself in it for a lifetime career, the BSN track may be "safer." LVN>RN>MSN is a stepped career path and can be stretched out over years. And, you would still be in healthcare the whole time. There is no natural steps to PA, though many would like to think so with EMT. If you finish your BA/BS in Biology and don't get into PA school, then you may find your self backtracking to get into a healthcare field. If you will be in your early/mid-20s and without a family, this will not be a problem.

If you have an interest in technology and are good at thinking about processes/procedures, health IT will be the largest growth field in healthcare in the next 10 years. A combo background of healthcare / IT will be in greatest demand. The government recently started pushing billions out to community colleges to begin training/transition programs for healthcare workers. We should start seeing those programs within the year.

futurePA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

65 months ago

I have a question I have a BS in business. I want to go to PA school but need to take the required prerequs to apply to the program. I was wondering if it would be smarter to just get an AS in Nursing which is a 20 month program and I will get all of the prerequs I need for PA school. I will kill 2 birds with one stone. Get the exp and prerequs at once. Or would it be a waste of time??

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

65 months ago

Just be sure to check on a number of PA programs and their requirements. Not all nursing programs provide the prerequisites required by PA schools. Not all PA schools will consider clinical rotations in nursing schools as appropriate experience. Though, more nursing schools with predominantly AS students give much better experience than those with most students seeking an MSN. The student in the premiere nursing program in our state almost never actually touched an actual patient - spending most of their time on care plans amd chart extraction.

lhauta76 in Ashtabula, Ohio

65 months ago

I am a junior at SUNY Fredonia in New York. I am planning on applying to three schools as of now that begin in January of 2012. I am needing some advice however, I am a dual major in Biology/Psychology, I have a GPA of 3.07 (I had a horrible semester due to a personal illness and it brought it down considerably). I am in a sorority that does a lot of community service, a girl scout leader, CPR instructor, I have studied abroad for 3 years, I am leaving for a medical relief trip in 2 days in the Dominican Republic, and I am also a state tested nursing assitant. I am trying to be as active as possible but I feel I am not going to have a good enough resume and I am extremely nervous. I want to be a physicians assistant and have always wanted to be one since grade school. Is the gpa going to hurt me that much?

Brian in Laurel, Maryland

65 months ago

How much do school rankings actually matter? For example, what is the difference between attending a program with higher rankings such as Duke or Emory as opposed to a school that is not ranked so high?

What benefits would there be of attending higher ranked schools? I understand that it's ultimately the contacts that you make during your clinicals/rotations and the relationships that you have with your preceptors that will better you with a chance of getting a job. But, suppose to you go out-of-state to attend a highly ranked program, but you want to go back home after the program is completed. Is there an advantage in finding a job because you are coming from a higher ranked school?

Additionally, I found a couple of post-graduate school programs/residencies specifically for PA's. Are the necessary, and/or if there is any benefit in attending these programs?

Thank you so much!

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

64 months ago

Rankings matter little. There are 140+ programs. Though all are ARC-PA credentialed, not all are equal. I think of them in quartiles. About 1/4 are the top programs and are recognized as such. 1/2 are good programs and will get you a quality education. The lower 1/4 - you are taking your education into your hands. So, from the prespective of the student, the Top 25-40 are all equal. Just, which meets your needs? Let's say, Duke and Emory are good but overrated. Rankings are based on reputation - essentially info 10+ years in the past. You need to see who will provide the basis of a career 10 years in the future. Quality programs have stable faculty, a broad base of didactic year faculty, and good variety, flexibility in the clinical year, and an excelletn boards passage rate.

PA residencies? The purpose of the first job or PA residency is to get you sufficient experience to fully develop you as a clinical PA. Only a small percentage of PAs ever go through a "residency." - most are in surgery or ED. Some residencies provide inferior experience - patients and variety - to many first jobs. No, they are not necessary. It depends on if you think they provide better experience than any job opportunity. Two to three years into practice, you can't tell who went to a residency and who did not.

dipal_19 in Maryland

64 months ago

Hello everyone

I graduated about a year ago from undergrad with a dual degree in landscape architecture and psychology. I currently work as a mental health counselor at a local hospital and I was thinking about applying to a PA program. I have a few questions. One of which is what are the basic pre-reqs for a PA program? I don't have a lot of science so I'm taking classes now in genetics and human anatomy. I know that various universities post what their pre-reqs are but some of them aren't very specific. I was wondering if Organic chemistry is a requirement and how much chemistry is actually done in the first year of the PA program? Also are there any programs, that are Master's programs, that start any other time than the Fall? If I could get all my pre-reqs done, which I believe is an average of 6-8 classes, then I was hoping to apply for Spring 2011.
One more question I have is regarding the clinical hours needed before application. I work as a mental health counselor and I was wondering if that might count. I deal with patients directly and run group therapy sessions.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated

dipal_19 in Maryland

64 months ago

Sorry I forgot to add this to my post but has anyone been through or know about the George Washington PA program? I would really like to stay in the Washington DC area and so far that seems to be a good school.

kellig21 in Providence, Rhode Island

64 months ago

Hi everyone I am currently a junior at Providence College getting my BS degree in Biology. I am planning on applying to schools this upcoming June. I ultimately would love to work as a PA in NYC, close to where I live. However, there is a PA Program in SUNY Upstate (upstate new york) where it would only cost me around $20,000 total for tuition, as opposed to many of the programs in NYC that will be close to $100,000. I am trying to decide if it is worth it spending the extra money to have my clincals/classes in an area I would like to work, or if I would be at a great disadvantage if I decided to go to school in upstate New York and save myself from being in a lot of debt. Thanks so much.

mergurl in Pawtucket, Rhode Island

64 months ago

Hello,

I am currently looking into apply for PA school next year. I would love to go to a school that seems like a good fit for me but is farther away from home. I am wondering how you pay for cost of living while in PA school if they won't let you work? Do the financial aid loans include cost of living? do i just need to save up enough money before hand to carry me through 2 years of living?

any info would be soooo helpful!

Thanks

Luke from Ohio in Akron, Ohio

64 months ago

I want to go back to school and become a P.A. Ive done a lot of things in my 5 years in healthcare. I went from EMT-B to paramedic, and have done 911,critical care transport, i have worked in a burn unit where i performed procedures in the OR setting and now i have the luck of working in one a the few programs thats lets non-physicians suture. I do a number of jobs besides sewing, like I and D abcess,some dental, digital and field blocks, foreign body removal, paronychia, ingrown toenails. Above all what we do really well is sew, we pride ourselves in plastics grade closures to the face and our physicians reccomend us over plastics more often than not. Wound care is kind of my niche i guess. Ive been exposed to a lot of wounds great and small between the burn unit and what i do now. i am very confident in my mental and physical abilites. I have kept a part time fire and have kept up with my paramedic skills. I have little college but i feel like i dont need a bachelors to do this kind of work. I feel like if i can just get into a program i can do this. Im not cocky but confident through my experiences and i know for sure i have the stomach for this. the burn unit tested my heart, and my physical and emotional limits a lot of the time, being a medic and doing wound closure has tested my mental abilities and dexterity of the hands. I have almost ate it a few times, but have come up on the other end and have excelled. I just need a program that doesnt require a bachelors degree. can you list some besides miami dade? I appreciate all of this information here, it has been very helpful to me. I know what i want to do and i am lucky in that, now i just need to find a way to go about it. Please help me.

Luke

futurePA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

64 months ago

From my extensive reaearch of Pa programs I have found some that do not require a BS or BA but the program is 5 years + and you obtain your bachelors in biology or something and then a Masters in PA.

futurePA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

64 months ago

Paul in Lancaster, Pennsylvania said: I have a question, I'm going University of Pittsburgh for pre-pharmacy and I am getting concerned as to whether it was the right decision or not.All of the classes for prepharmacy are the same as the classes required for a PA. But Pitt is not accredited as a PA school. Would I be able to become a PA having gone to Pitt or would I have to transfer to another school.

I strongly think you have to transfer to another program and complete the courses for a PA.. I am in PGH and Chatham, DUQ and Seaton hall or Hill have a PA program. Pa has alot of Universities that offer the PA program!

Michael in Royal Oak, Michigan

64 months ago

Luke, I have a similar background to you, having a B.S. in Emergency Medical Technology and over 20 years EMS experience. What I can tell you is that the more you learn, the more you realize you didn't know. I have been in practice as a PA with a MS degree for almost 12 years now, working mostly in surgery. I cannot stress enough how much you will need to learn while in school, and how that education will continue while in practice. Though your EMS training and experience, as well as the other training you have received, has helped you to decide to become a PA and will be helpful in your PA education, you still have an overwhelming amount to learn.

Find a good program, dedicate yourself to it (NO working while in school!), and get the most you can out of the experience. DON'T argue about what they teach you, based on your previous experience, learn what they have to pass on to you. If they want you to take a BP standing on your head, while in school DO IT! You might learn a better way than what you were taught in the past. I would also recommend going the Master's route. It's not that I think they receive a superior education, because some of the best PAs I know have an Associate's degree, it's that this is becoming the standard. It allows us to compete with NPs, who like to use an advanced degree as an argument to show they are superior to PAs. It allows us to be more accepted in some job settings, and to justify better rates of pay. It is also becoming more of a requirement to get some jobs. Rather than having to go back later to get this advanced degree, just do it in your initial program.

BTW: No matter what experience you have had in the past, keep an open mind as to an area of practice. Despite an extensive background in EMS and enjoying surgical procedures, you might find oncology or OB/GYN fascinating if you give it chance. Wait until you are nearly done before choosing a residency in a specialty or choosing an area you would like to focus o

Bufordht in Milford, Indiana

64 months ago

I am getting my ASN at Ivy Tech community college (accredited and all that jazz). Does anyone know if my classes will transfer to a PA program? Is there a better degree than a BSN that I can get after my ASN? Something where all my prereque's are met? I'm trying to figure out what the best path to a PA is after I have my ASN. I plan to work as an RN for a year or so while I get my bachelor's and whatnot. thanks.

Monica in Piscataway, New Jersey

64 months ago

I'm currently a second semester junior at Rutgers University. I've only recently discovered PA profession and have been set on this course. My GPA is a little low at the moment. It's a 3.03. But I'm doing everything I can to raise it up by the time I graduate. I hope to graduate with a 3.3

I'm afraid that with my low GPA, i might not have a good chance of getting into a PA school. Can you please give me any advice so I can be a better candidate for the PA program? I already plan on volunteering at the ER as a scribe and I've been told that this counts at hours for patient-care experience. I also plan on taking a year off after graduation so I can work and gain more hours and experience.

Also, does it matter what PA school you go to? I want to go to the top rank schools like UMDNJ but if I don't get in, will that impact me greatly on where I eventually get a job?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Fayyaz in Brooklyn, New York

63 months ago

Hi Yorka this is a question for you, You have said that u graduated from york as a PA,. I am a senior in h.s and go accepted into yourk.. After 2 years what will b my chanced to get into the program? I mean i will be 19 at that time and.. does age matter? and should I start my volunteer work now?

Janet in Commack, New York

63 months ago

I want to know if it is possible to take courses at college that does not have BS program for PA. Is it possible to take courses that fullfill the BS program for PA and apply to Master program at colleges that have master degree for PA?

Thanks!

Janet in Commack, New York

63 months ago

Peds PA Mike: Thank you for your detailed answer.

As i said, my ultimate goal is to receive a Master Degree in PA.
I was afraid in case of not getting into college that i applied for PA studies.

As long as i fullfill the "BS" program, stony brook and other universities that offer Master degree in PA will consider my application. (you probably know more than i do).

What do you mean by "offer transfer or advanced credit"?

Thanks again!

Mitch in Orlando, Florida

63 months ago

Hi everyone,

I'm a 30 yr old guy, who graduated from FSU in 2004 with a B.S. in finance. I'm taking AP I this semester with plans to complete 6-8 remaining prerequisite classes over the next calendar year (12 mos.). I live in Orlando, but can pick up and move/relocate easily (in other words, while I've been out of school for six years comign May 2010, I have no kids and am not married).

I've talked to Nova a little bit, I've also talked to USA (University of South Alabama as I have family in Pensacola, Florida; approximateyl 45 mins away). While I know GPA is important, I've read some posts here stating that sometimes, given a person's healthcare experience, a lower gpa will be slightly less weighted if a person has good industry experience. I say/ask because at my age, I'll be 31 (or 32) by the time I get into PA school. Therefore I'm not really being choosey where I go. Does anyone have any suggestions on schools from one to another? All replies and comments are welcomed as I'm very motivated considering I'm not 24 and have a few years to lag around "figuring out" what I want to do professionally.

Thanks, Mitch

Mitch in Orlando, Florida

63 months ago

Rose in Hollywood, Florida said: My husband graduated from the Miami Dade PA program in 2005. And I must say that he does quite well for himself, well into the six figures. It was a great school for him, and he got a job as soon as he graduated making 60.00 and hour. My husband did say that it is a very hard and stressful program. The fact that he only has his AS never bothered and of his employers and he has not lost any of jobs or job opportunity because of it.

Hi Rose, Do you know/remember what his GPA was when he was accepted? If he's been in the field for 5 yrs (graduatedin 2005), what modality does he work in to earn such a good salary after that time period? I'm 30 and very motivated to become a PA but have a years worht of prereqs to take first.

Thank you,

Mitch

Janet in Commack, New York

63 months ago

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia said: Janet: I suggest some more research into PA school educational programs, their content and their prerequisites.

Yes, you can take prerequisite courses at any accredited institution - four-year college, community college, liberal arts college, large research university, etc. - before applying to a Master's level PA program. The institution does not have to have a PA program (of any level), or any type of health professions program.

PA programs are self-contained programs. You do not first get a BA in PA, then go for a Master's program. Whether the program is MS, BS or even certificate, they all have predominantly the same core content and all culminate in eligibility for taking the national certifying exam.

Also, PA programs rarely, if ever, offer transfer or advanced credit for similar courses you may have taken prior to entering a PA program. Though graduates receive academic degrees, PA programs are professional trade programs and are responsible for making sure you take and complete every element of the required curriculum.

Finally, if possible, do not waste time on non-Master's programs. The Master's is the standard, and you will only limit your employment opportunities in the long run.

Peds PA Mike: Thank you for your detailed answer.

As i said, my ultimate goal is to receive a Master Degree in PA.
I was afraid in case of not getting into college that i applied for PA studies.

At this point i am accepted to Hunter College CUNY and more likely to go to Hunter for their very affordable tuition. But unlike York College, Hunter does not have "ARC-PA accredited program". I am desperately wanting to go to Hunter.
Is it possible to ask Hunter to contact York, what I need to take in order to fulfill the requirements for BA and will be able to apply for MS for PA?

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

63 months ago

Janet:

My suggestion is to personally talk to a PA or PA program staff member. You have a basic misunderstanding of PA training and programs that is too difficult to identify and correct via this board. Give the state association a call and see if their are any individuals or groups nearby to talk with.

Accredited PA programs are PA programs, whether they offer the certificate, BS or MS. Unlike nursing, which often (though not always) has a BSN to MSN progression, you can get a BA or BS in ANY major before applying to a PA program. You just need to make sure that your undergrad or postgrad work eventually gets you the prerequisites needed for application to a PA program. PA students come from an array of backgrounds and various academic degrees. Some may have a healthcare-related degree, others liberal arts, others science.

Go to school, pick a degree that you enjoy and will do well in, and make sure you cover some of the PA prequisites (bio, chem, gentics, psych, etc.). It is good to have PA as one goal, but don't exlude others - you have a long way to go.

Patient care is not for everyone. But, you will not know it until you have volunteered, worked, or taken care of a chronically ill family member. Many doctors and nurses find out they actually do not like patients, and can bail into some non-patient-oriented role. However, PAs have few options to bail like that.

So, focus on your education first. After several years, then you will reassess if PA is still an option for you and what you will need to do to complete your qualificiations to apply to PA programs.

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