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

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ST in New York, New York

63 months ago

yorkpa in Flushing, New York said: I volunteered a NY hospital ER, they have several PA's (PA Caligory and PA David) that work their they would love to give you a recommendation letter if you ask. You should start soon b/c it takes about a month before you can start volunteering. Feel free to ask any Q you have, I am always online studying for my Board exam (PANCE).

Hi,
How many students are applying for apply for PA program?
Can you talk about your interview experience, and what kind of questions they ask you? thank you?

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Maria in Baltimore, Maryland

63 months ago

Hey everyone, I am an aspiring Physician's Assistant and I am having lots of trouble deciding on what schools to apply to, I really really want to go into the dermatology field as a PA. If anyone is currently a derm PA can you please tell me what school you went to for it (or what other schools are good for this specialty), do they look at things such as your undergrad GPA or do they focus on your PANCE scores? I would appreciate as much advice and help as I can get, thanks in advance!! :)

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Michael in Southfield, Michigan

63 months ago

You need to spend some time online, or speaking with PAs in practice. You have the process a little messed up. You have a few choices: attend a two year Associate's level PA program, attend a 5 year B.S. and Master combined program, or the most common route, attend an undergraduate college and get a 4 year degree and then attend a two year Master's level PA program. The PANCE is the national certifying exam that is taken AFTER completion of a PA program. The PA programs all teach you all the topics needed to practice as a PA (like medical school does) and you participate in rotations through all areas of medicine. Upon graduation you can enter a specialty. You can either attend a residency program in that specialty, or join a practice that is willing to teach you. In other words, attend any PA program, and then figure out what you want to do beyond that.

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Maria in Baltimore, Maryland

63 months ago

Oh no, I'm sorry I worded it a little wrong, I meant when trying to practice as a derm PA is it as competitive for PA's as it is for med students to get into that specialty? And I was asking if they would go back as to look at your undergrad GPA (after you have successfully completed the PA program) or do they only consider your PANCE score. I didn't too exceptionally well during undergrad-- my GPA is currently a 3.0... so I was a little worried if it would come back later and haunt me lol. I am going to get my Bachelor's of Science this May, I will have completed a 4-year undergrad program. Therefore, I plan on attending a 2-year physician assistant program, preferably one that offers a master's instead of a B.S. I just wanted to know which schools are the best for practicing later in dermatology. So far I have heard many good things about Drexel, Rosalind Franklin, Duke, and Emory. I am looking into York as well, because it is pretty affordable, but only thing is it doesn't give a master's.

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Janet in Commack, New York

63 months ago

Michael and others:

As you guys have mentioned previously, it seems like i do not need BS degree to apply to MS program. However, stony brook and bunch schools seem to require BS degree and i am confused which is truth.

So i would like to ask more..

1. I am planning to go to CUNY Hunter College for pre-requisites.
What are those pre-requisites? Will i be able to ask College counselors what i need to take in order to fulfill the pre-requisites for PA program?
OR do i need to find it by myself?

2. How long usually does it take to complete pre-requisites if i will be taking courses during summer?

3. AS Michael mentioned above, do i need to declare intended major for 4 year degree at Hunter and apply for BS PA program or straight to MS?

4. When people mean by PA program, does that mean after pre-requisites? Like BS, MS? So after PA program, i will be able to PANCE?

5. What is CASPA? IS CASPA important in terms of BS program or MS program?

6. Most important question is that do i need to obtain BS degree in order to apply to MS in NY, or any other states? Because it seems like most of the schools care about obtaining BS degree, prior to applying to MS.

Thanks a lot guys!

Janet

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Michael in Southfield, Michigan

63 months ago

You must contact the schools you are applying to and to check their prerequisites. The University of Detroit Mercy and others have a chart that lists what prerequisite courses are required, what their specific course number is at UDM, and a listing of the equivalent courses that will be accepted from all the surrounding universities. Courses from other universities that aren't listed will have to be evaluated for equivalency. These prerequites classes are a half dozen or so classes that must be completed prior to admission, not prior to application (you have to be able to show a plan to complete these prior to admission). These classes are usually Developmental Psychology, Medical Ethics, Advanced Human Physiology, Microbiology, etc. Different schools have different requirements, which is why you need to check with the schools you are applying to. The prerequisites usually have to be completed less than 5 or 6 years previous. Schools that offer a Master's level program (other than the 5 year, all in one BS/MS programs) usually require completion of a 4 year degree (not necessarily B.S., can be B.A.) prior to ENTERING the program -not prior to application.

One thing that I see repeatedly in these questions is a lack of the basic understanding of what a PA program is. A PA program is an independent program, usually in post-graduate education. It is NOT a matter of taking several individual courses, and then being allowed to challenge the PANCE (the national certification exam). This is a condensed form of medical school (look into the PA origins for more information on this) that usually takes two years or so. You meet the prerequisites, apply and are accepted to a program, take the classes with your classmates, participate in a year or more of clinical rotations, pass your final exam and graduate with an Associate of Science, Bachelor of Science, or Master of Science. Then you are eligible to take the PANCE.

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MattFl in Jacksonville, Florida

63 months ago

Mike and others,
I have a question for you. I recently went back to school at the age of 29....Now 30 I am graduating with my A.A. Degree. Some time ago I decided that I wanted to work in the healthcare field and after being stitched up by a PA in my local emergency room, I decided that the PA route was the most appealing to me.

My issue is that I don't think that I can manage to go to school full time for another 4 years to do the traditional bachelors degree and then Masters route PA school.

I do however think I can swing the full time courseload for the next 2 years or so if I can transfer into one of the bachelors level programs such as the one offered by Miami Dade. (actually might only be an associates level PA program)

I realize that you guys say the masters is the only way to go but I was wondering what you thought of getting going the faster route and then persuing the higher level degrees once I am working in the field.

Any help would be great.

Thanks, Matt

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Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

63 months ago

Masters now or Masters later - either should be fine. If you are competitive and have the prerequisites, then a PA program offering a bachelors at the end is sufficient. In both situations, you will get educated, trained, certified and start working.

I am just concerned by some misperceptions by some candidates that the PA education pathway is first a PA program that provides a bachelors and then a PA program that provides a masters degree. You only need to go to a PA program once! A PA program - whether certificate only (do they still exist?), bachelors, or masters - is one that makes you eligible to take the national certifying exam for PA.

Do not be surprised in applying to a bachelors level PA program that many of the applicants already have one or more bachelors degrees and even graduate degrees. That is OK, the key is not the degrees but how well you demonstrated your academic capabilities in whatever academic history you may have. Of course, there is also previous health care experience and other skills and aptitudes. But, it is the academic background that is the better (not perfect) predictor of whether a student will successfully complete a PA program and obtain certification.

I recently found a web site explaining some of the Masters options in healthcare. I think a non-PA, healthcare oriented masters degree obtained after becoming a PA is actually the most beneficial in the long term. www.mastersinhealthcare.com/what-are-the-different-masters-in-healthcare-degrees/

I am not sure who produced this site, but it has some good info.

Good luck.

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Michael in Dearborn Heights, Michigan

63 months ago

MattFl in Jacksonville, Florida said: Mike and others,
I have a question for you. I recently went back to school at the age of 29....Now 30 I am graduating with my A.A. Degree. Some time ago I decided that I wanted to work in the healthcare field and after being stitched up by a PA in my local emergency room, I decided that the PA route was the most appealing to me.

My issue is that I don't think that I can manage to go to school full time for another 4 years to do the traditional bachelors degree and then Masters route PA school.

I do however think I can swing the full time courseload for the next 2 years or so if I can transfer into one of the bachelors level programs such as the one offered by Miami Dade. (actually might only be an associates level PA program)

I realize that you guys say the masters is the only way to go but I was wondering what you thought of getting going the faster route and then persuing the higher level degrees once I am working in the field.

Any help would be great.

Thanks, Matt

Don't waste your time with anything less than a Master's level program. With the changes that are taking place every day, and the competition with nurse practitioners that are Master's prepared, you need the additional education in order to remain successful in this career. Lack of a master's degree might not hurt you right now and, as other have pointed out, anyone who graduates from and accredited program is board eligible, but it may limit you in the long run on pay, advancement, certain jobs, etc.

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hecstar in Clifton, New Jersey

63 months ago

Question, i'm working on a bachelors degree in Health Informatics, will that help me get into the PA program??

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Michael in West Bloomfield, Michigan

63 months ago

What counts is that you have a bachelor's degree and that you have completed the pre-requisites for entry into the program you are apply to. Candidates vary from the typical med school applicant with a bio-chem major, to a degree in accounting. Though some backgrounds will better prepare you for PA school (nursing, med tech, physical therapy, etc.), it really doesn't matter as long as you meet the criteria.

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hecstar in Clifton, New Jersey

63 months ago

I'm a Respiratory Therapist, I been one for 7 months now..I just graduated, now i'm seeking a bachelors degree in Health informatics, I just wanted a health is science, so i can get into the PA program, i believe with the health informatics degree and my clinical experience will enhance my chances ............I'm currently working for one the best hospitals in new york New york presbyterian.........What do you think> ? will it help me??

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Michael in West Bloomfield, Michigan

63 months ago

A background in respiratory therapy is fine. You will be better prepared than the applicant who is 22 y/o and has done a bio-chem undergrad, with acting as a hospital volunteer for their healthcare background. You will be more of a traditional PA student that many programs looks for.

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Peds PA Mike in Charlottesville, Virginia

63 months ago

hecstar:

You are building a great background for a healthcare career. I am not sure if the health informatics necessarily increases your chances of getting to a PA program. I have found most PA faculty a bit behind the times as to its importance in the future of healthcare. I agree with Michael in MI that your are becoming the traditional PA student prototype. So, do well with the grades and continuing working to gain experiential breadth.

I would not commit to the PA path at this point. Continue to gain experience and learn what makes you happy personally and professionally. You might find that the healthcare informatics track is very attractive. People who can combine a clinical experience with informatics training are in high demand - more so than PAs - in many hospitals and healthcare organizations. Almost all of the improvement efforts in healthcare now rely on medical informaticists. My former academic hospital's CIO is a respiratory therapist by trade.

So, if you follow the PA route, don't lose hold of the informatics. This will ensure longevity, flexibility and success in your career.

An aside - you may note that the US Senate (for the 2nd time) and the House (a few weeks back) refused to pass the physician payment rate "fix." This means that physicians will be hammered in terms of reimbursement. As PA pay is linked to physician pay, I expect PA pay to also take a hit with flat salaries for the next 2-3 years.

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Lisa in Woodbridge, New Jersey

62 months ago

Hello Peds PA Mike in Virginia,

I have a question for you in regards to HIM careers. I had an interest in Physician Assistant program as well but would like to know more about the HIM and how perspective it is going to be for the future. How does one get a foot in the door so to speak into informatics training without the actual hands on health experience?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

Peds PA Mike in Charlottesville, Virginia said: hecstar:

You are building a great background for a healthcare career. I am not sure if the health informatics necessarily increases your chances of getting to a PA program. I have found most PA faculty a bit behind the times as to its importance in the future of healthcare. I agree with Michael in MI that your are becoming the traditional PA student prototype. So, do well with the grades and continuing working to gain experiential breadth.

I would not commit to the PA path at this point. Continue to gain experience and learn what makes you happy personally and professionally. You might find that the healthcare informatics track is very attractive. People who can combine a clinical experience with informatics training are in high demand - more so than PAs - in many hospitals and healthcare organizations. Almost all of the improvement efforts in healthcare now rely on medical informaticists. My former academic hospital's CIO is a respiratory therapist by trade.

So, if you follow the PA route, don't lose hold of the informatics. This will ensure longevity, flexibility and success in your career.

An aside - you may note that the US Senate (for the 2nd time) and the House (a few weeks back) refused to pass the physician payment rate "fix." This means that physicians will be hammered in terms of reimbursement. As PA pay is linked to physician pay, I expect PA pay to also take a hit with flat salaries for the next 2-3 years.

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Carolyn in Atlanta, Georgia

62 months ago

The school I am attending in Atlanta for the Pre-PA program is affiliated with PCOM (Philapedia College Ostoepathic Medicine). I would have to transfer to pursue the Master PA program.

I would like to have some feedback about the PA program at PCOM.

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Billy in Buffalo, New York

62 months ago

Hi I"m a 26 year old with a BA in Anthropology(3.5GPA), 3 years out of school. I originally went to school for pre-med but then got the idea of becoming a archaeologist. I worked in the field for a year after school and decided it wasn't for me so I decided to try to make it in my band and support myself by waiting tables. Long story short, I'd like to go back to school for PA. But by the time I get the pre-req's out (2 years) I'm afraid I won't be a good candidate to be accepted into schools. Any idea's on if this would affect my application?

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Mitch Walker in Orlando, Florida

62 months ago

To Billy in Buffalo,

I'm a 30 (31 in August) year old guy, who majored in finance in 2004. I HATE the field and am currently in school full-time to complete various science prereqs for PA school. While I might not be qualified to answer your post, I will say that the only thing I can advise is to speak with an admissions counselor at any of the schools or school you are considering. People realize people change careers. GPA is typically the foremost important factor. However, clinical field experience is also GREATLY valued. I live in Florida and the University of Florida (those damn gators, I'm an FSU Seminole lol) won't even take an application if someone has less than 2,000 hours of clinical experience. Not to mention the competitiveness based upon the GPA of students there. So talk to people. I see alot of 'stupid' postings where people say things like "do I have a chance with x, y, and z as criteria. Just get as much info as possible and be prepared in advance.

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Samantha Ruff in Livonia, Michigan

62 months ago

TO MICHAEL IN SOUTHFIELD, MI:

My main questions are:

- Would becoming an RN and gaining experience and hours this way give me an advantage over just working as a CNA?

- Do people usually apply and get into PA school straight out of getting their undergrad? Or is it more common to take a few years off before PA school and just work and gain experience and hours?

- Which Michigan PA programs would I most likely get into based off my current GPA and background (I'm a realist- I don't think I'd get into Western's program--is it stupid to somewhat rule out the better programs?)

Background:

I am currently attending Western Michigan University pursuing an IHS degree with a PA concentration. I'm a senior; however, I won't graduate until April 2011 (taking a little longer than expected). I have a 3.3 GPA and just started my patient care hours in September. I realize I'm behind and without the best GPA, so I am beginning to reconsider my options. My ultimate dream and goal is to become a PA, but I was thinking maybe do the accelerated nursing program. Seeing that most programs require ALL prerequisites and patient care hours be completed BEFORE you apply, it will take me another 2 years before I would even start the program. I figured becoming a nurse sounded like a good idea, but would like some professional advice/opinions. Obviously I'd love to go to Western's PA program, but was thinking Wayne State or University of Detroit Mercy

Any other advice or information is GREATLY appreciated!

Samantha

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Michael in Royal Oak, Michigan

62 months ago

Ignore the city, I can't reset it on this damned site. It has shown me all over SE Michigan. I'm actually, and have been for 20 years, in Warren.

In answer to your question: WMU is an excellent PA program. This program and UDM's are the two original PA programs in the state. These two programs seem to weight their applicants equally on academics and background. Thank God, because my GPA was NOT exceptional by any means. UDM took me based on the strengths of my background (over 20 years in EMS) and recommendations. I would suggest that you get your pre-requisites done ASAP (maybe as credits toward your undergrad degree to save time and money) and apply to the PA program at WMU and UDM. Get as much patient contact experience as you can as a nursing assistant, ER tech, volunteer, SOMETHING -and get in the program as soon as you can. Nursing is an EXCELLENT background and will really help with the PA program but, in your case, this will be a huge delay to your entry.

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Billy in Buffalo, New York

62 months ago

Thanks Mitch I appreciate the comments. I've been thinking of taking a EMT-1 certification course this summer to get a job working full time as an EMT while taking my pre-reqs part time/or full time so I can complete my experience pre-req's and classes at the same time. Any ideas on if this is a good idea? I gotta be honest that I'm worried about the time/money it would take to get the experience and pre-req's out, already being 15k in debt from my undergrad degree but I want this career and I think I'd be great at it. The real question is... is the juice worth the squeeze? I want to say yes, but I'd love to hear some peoples opinions!

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Mitch Walker in Cromwell, Connecticut

62 months ago

Billy in Buffalo, New York said: Thanks Mitch I appreciate the comments. I've been thinking of taking a EMT-1 certification course this summer to get a job working full time as an EMT while taking my pre-reqs part time/or full time so I can complete my experience pre-req's and classes at the same time. Any ideas on if this is a good idea? I gotta be honest that I'm worried about the time/money it would take to get the experience and pre-req's out, already being 15k in debt from my undergrad degree but I want this career and I think I'd be great at it. The real question is... is the juice worth the squeeze? I want to say yes, but I'd love to hear some peoples opinions!

Billy, regarding your "juice worth the squeeze" comment, only you can decide that. I mentioned previously that I'm 30, changing careers. Frankly, I'm 30, was laid off twice, and 'let go' from my most recent position appraising commercial real estate in FL because I just don't understand it. I had to 'move home' but considering where I moved to two weeks ago, I like it here. I've worked out for 1/3 of my life and LOVE health, wellness, fitness, and anything to do with being a better person from a physically healthy perspective. Therefore, for me there is no choice of whether or not it's worth it. Honestly, I have about $21-$22 from undergrad. With the cost of PA school is high, It'll add at least $75 more to what I have (with two yr's tuition and living expenses).

Additionally, you NEED to speak to schools and be politely blunt, and accountable. While I can't say from experience, I did meet a person at Nova (NSU) in Orlando regarding my history, experience, etc.; and tried to show maturity and growth as a person, having graduated 6 yrs ago from college the first time, in finance. Regarding experience, the more the better. I generally think from reading these forums that schools take a blend of gpa and work experience. However, GPA seems to be the more decisive factor.

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Michael in Royal Oak, Michigan

62 months ago

I was 41 y/o when I quit work and went to grad school to become a PA. The average age of my class was 35 y/o. Then again, my class was made up of "traditional" PA students. That is, those that already had a career in medicine (nurse, paramedic, athletic trainer, x-ray tech, etc., etc.) and were moving into a new career by building on their previous experience. Especially in an environment like this, GPA and experience are nearly equal. Many of the newer PA programs are looking for kids who have the same background and qualifications as med school applicants. They are bio-chem majors, etc., with little clinical experience. It often shows during clinical rotations, and even when they move on to get jobs. LOTS of book knowledge (maybe more than I'll ever have), but little practical experience, maturity, or ability to communicate with and relate to patients.

Take this with a grain of salt, coming from an old fart....

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Mo in Miami, Florida

62 months ago

I am currently enrolled at Florida International University majoring in MPH. At the same time, I am taking my pre requisite courses at Miami Dade to get into the PA program. Since I am already getting my master in Public Health, do you think it matters if I have a master in PA or not?

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Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

62 months ago

Mo in Miami, Florida said: I am currently enrolled at Florida International University majoring in MPH. At the same time, I am taking my pre requisite courses at Miami Dade to get into the PA program. Since I am already getting my master in Public Health, do you think it matters if I have a master in PA or not?

You will already have a Masters in a health care related field. The MPH will meet any employment or potential licensure requirement. So, any MPAS or other PA Master's degree will not get you farther. Select a PA program based on its educational quality, rotational experiences and certification pass-rate. If you earn another Master's, good. If you don't, that fine too. Don't shy away from a good program simply as you may earn another Masters.

If you still have time in your MPH, you might be well-served by leaning more towards the environmental, epidemiology, or health promotion aspects of MPH rather than the public policy.

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Mo in Miami, Florida

62 months ago

Mike,

Thank you very much for your input. I will not shy away from this program. My goal is to become a PA regardless of the degree.

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Happy2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan

62 months ago

Has anyone had experience in being successful in having prereqs waived at Wayne State Univ? I completed by prereqs 10 years ago and will attempting to do so, but any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Kathy in Kennesaw, Georgia

62 months ago

Hey,

I am a foreign medical graduate. I have medicine degree from back home, I also passed United states medical licensing exams.Unfortunately I am unable to find residency training for last two years.My question is do you know any course for Physician assistant program that can give me advance credit for my back ground and education. We have only one program in the area in Atlanta i.e Emory university programs which requires that I should complete Pre-requisites and Gre/ Tofel and won't be able to give any credits for my previous back ground. Application dead lineis august 31, 2010 I don't know by that time I will be able to do everything they require. Do you have any suggestion for me. I will really appreciate your time.

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Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

62 months ago

Kathy:

I know of no PA program that offers any advance credit or standing to medical school graduates or transfers (US or foreign). This has been an question for well over thirty years. In that time, no program of which I am aware offered more than an exemption from med terminology or intro to physicial exam.

PA programs take pride in being a little more than medical school lite. The PA role in the team, a greater emphasis on acute care as well as continuity of care, and more practice with clinical decision making vs basic medical sciences are aspects of PA education.

You may find some programs that will accept some of your prior education to satisfy prerequisites. However, they will not go so far as offer advanced credit. Each program is different, and you will have to communicate directly with them to determine which might give you better standing as per prerequisites. At least your prior training and experience may suffice for the patient care experience prerequisite - but check on that too.

Your best bet might still be physician residency training - be sure to be flexible with your specialties and locations. Over half of family medicine residencies in the U.S. go to FMGs.

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Justin in Asheville, North Carolina

62 months ago

Directed specifically at Michael from Michigan (former EMT-P) but I welcome any and all opinions...

MIchael...I am currently a Paramedic (CCEMTP with 5 yrs flight FW/RW) been in EMS for 12 years

Since you have been in my shoes and have gone the way Im am looking to head I was curious if i could pick your brain for a second...

Im finding EMS to be highly restrictive, especially the last few years which has sparked this drive to further my education and assume greater responsibilities. Being familiar with the EMS world, do you find your career as a PA to be fulfilling? Do you ever run into any form of bigotry against PAs? I ask as Ive just grown tired of being talked down to and staff being dismissive towards my opinion based solely off my being " JUST and Ambulance driver"... I realize that this might read as if I have ego and perhaps to a degree I do. Knowing that though, i dont want to find myself working as a PA and running into the same roadblocks just doign it in a different uniform...

I suppose, what I am looking to know is, how is working as a PA similar to working a medic vs how is it different?

Thank you for your time

Justin

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Michael in Warren, Michigan

62 months ago

Hey! It actually got my home city correct!

Justin,

Yes, I have been in your shoes. I am a slow learner. It took almost 20 yrs. for me to be convinced to enter the PA program. I became an EMT in 1975, a paramedic in 1977, an EMS Instructor/Coordinator in 1981 and received my B.S. in Emergency Medical Technology from Madonna University (then Madonna College) in 1981. It wasn't until 1996 that I actually left EMS and entered the PA program. I only wish that I had done it in about 1981!

My EMS background was wonderful preparation for the PA program and was very beneficial in the hands-on skills, as well as in dealing with patients. I was told that I appeared far more comfortable in environments like the E.R. than many of my classmates and others that had preceded me. I am thankful for my background and experience from EMS, and feel that it has made me a better PA.

As far as ego, if you HAVE to be in charge, go to medical school. If you are willing to be "second banana", being a PA is a GREAT career! My daughter's godfather, who was a paramedic with me, became a PA (and was one of those urging me to follow the same route) and is now a cardiologist, says that he wishes that he had remained a PA. He graduated as a PA in 1981. He says that he could do almost as much as a PA as he can as a physician (depending on the limits set by your attending or the institution you work for), with less responsibility -and would be earning over $100,000 a year. It cost him a lot of time and money to become a physician and, for him, it wasn't enough "bang for his buck." If you HAVE to be in charge though, being a PA is not for you.

I work in surgery at a 400 bed hospital. I am treated with respect by the staff, as a colleague by the physicians, and as a professional by patients. I assist in surgery (we provide 1st and, if needed, 2nd assist in all surgeries), do admissions, provide post-op care, perform consults, etc. TREMENDOUS freedom and autonomy!!

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Justin in Asheville, North Carolina

62 months ago

Terrific News!

Thank you for your prompt reply also...

If you dont mind me following up with another question,

Is it likely for PAs to be performing invasive procedures such as Cx Tube placement, Intubation, central lines etc? As a medic I find this part of the job very rewarding. not cutting and stabbing but working with complicated critical Pts who require multiple interventions and quick thinking. To follow up on that, if so, where would someone find themselves employed to do such?

I would also like to point out that I am by no means closed minded to other arenas of healthcare (it is easy for Medics to do this)... I used to dislike OB/GYN until I learned more about it... I now teach lectures on High Risk OB Transport for my service and have been certified through OB STAT since 2006.

Thank you again

Jusitn

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Michael in Warren, Michigan

62 months ago

PAs do all of this and more. You are limited only by what your attending and/or institution allow. There is also at least one program for PAs to do anesthesiology as a post-graduate residency program. We have two PAs in our hospital that work privately for the Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine group that covers our critical care units. This group, that covers several hospitals in our area and has a number of physicians, also has a number of PAs working for them at other facilities and in their offices.

One thing that I want to stress is that you should keep your mind open until you are well along in your clinicals, A friend who worked in EMS with me went to medical school. I was sure that he would go into Emergency Medicine but, instead, he went into primary care. During rotations he was frustrated by the lack of closure on patients. He treated them, they left the department -and he had no clue what became of them. He found that he liked the continuity of following patients for the long-term. You may find yourself in the same situation. Who knows, you may even find that you like OB/GYN.

One thing that I find in my own practice is that I make more decisions and likely have a greater impact on my patient's outcome during my time rounding on the floor than I do in surgery. It's not as exciting but, as my old boss used to say, "I can teach a monkey to assist in surgery." You can really teach anyone how to do this. Look at the Certified Surgical Tech First Assist (CSTFA) and RN First Assist (RNFA) programs that also provide personnel to assist in surgery. The difference is that they can't evaluate patients, do a History and Physical (H&P), order, evaluate and respond to labs and tests, order meds, etc. It takes an education rather than training, teaching the critical thinking involved in order to do these other tasks, etc. This is no slam against CSTFAs or RNFAs, it is just a difference between their training and our education.

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Justin in Asheville, North Carolina

62 months ago

Michael,

Thank you again.. You really do a marvelous job representing your profession.

From my end, you've answered the biggest questions/concerns that I have about changing professions. I thought that I wanted to be a PA. Now I KNOW that I want to be a PA. I dont know how I can thank you enough...

I am taking a massive risk in this endeavor (resigning from my job, moving, assuming an incredible debt... Im not worried at all :)

THANK YOU-THNAK YOU-THANK YOU!!!!!!!

I dont know how to repay you except by paying it forward and being the best practitioner for my Pts

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Kathy in Kennesaw, Georgia

62 months ago

Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia said: Kathy:

I know of no PA program that offers any advance credit or standing to medical school graduates or transfers (US or foreign). This has been an question for well over thirty years. In that time, no program of which I am aware offered more than an exemption from med terminology or intro to physicial exam.

PA programs take pride in being a little more than medical school lite. The PA role in the team, a greater emphasis on acute care as well as continuity of care, and more practice with clinical decision making vs basic medical sciences are aspects of PA education.

You may find some programs that will accept some of your prior education to satisfy prerequisites. However, they will not go so far as offer advanced credit. Each program is different, and you will have to communicate directly with them to determine which might give you better standing as per prerequisites. At least your prior training and experience may suffice for the patient care experience prerequisite - but check on that too.

Your best bet might still be physician residency training - be sure to be flexible with your specialties and locations. Over half of family medicine residencies in the U.S. go to FMGs.

Thanks Mike, for your opinion and suggestions. I am still trying to get into residency. Residency programs are looking for some solid hands-on experience in US. I have worked like an ex tern, observer, research associate and volunteer in US. But still I am unable to find residency training.

Anyways, will try and try and see if I can get into PA program by next year. Again thanks a lot for your time and advice. I really appreciate it.

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DB in Boise, Idaho

61 months ago

Get an MPAS degree. You all with B.S. degrees are the reasons NP's think they are gods. If we want to compete with NP's we need to get rid of all of the stupid certificate and B.S. PA programs. End of story. It will come back to haunt you. Be a man and suck it up get the Master's. Miami Dade sounds like a joke to me...

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Justin in Candler, North Carolina

61 months ago

MIke,

Can I ask you where the anesthesia residency you spoke of is?

My fiance is is torn between PA and CRNA, this would really help her with the decision making process

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Michael in Warren, Michigan

61 months ago

I couldn't remember where the anesthesiology program that I had read about was based, so I Googled it. I came up with info about Emory University and found that 20 states currently recognize PAs in anesthesia. I really can't see why a state must "recognize" a PA practicing anesthesia or pain management because, by law, you are allowed to do whatever your attending allows you to do (with some exceptions, like performing abortions). If your attending is an anesthesiologist..... Well, it makes sense to me!

There are more and more post-graduate residency programs in everything from surgery to emergency medicine. There is a wealth of information available through the AAPA and just by browsing the internet.

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whitney in New York, New York

61 months ago

yorkpa in Flushing, New York said: I volunteered a NY hospital ER, they have several PA's (PA Caligory and PA David) that work their they would love to give you a recommendation letter if you ask. You should start soon b/c it takes about a month before you can start volunteering. Feel free to ask any Q you have, I am always online studying for my Board exam (PANCE).

Thanks to the both of you your information has really helped in my search in finding a PA school I'm currently taking the Pre requisites for the programs in Mercy

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Ame in Winston Salem, North Carolina

61 months ago

What is a good way to find doctors or PA's to shadow?

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Ame in Winston Salem, North Carolina

61 months ago

Is it true that PA's are the gofers for M.D.'s and can expect long hours and on-call periods at night?

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Peds PA Mike in Annandale, Virginia

61 months ago

No, PAs are not gofers for MDs.

Despite the tall tales stories many PAs will tell, the average working hours for PAs are less than those for physicians. Many PAs choose this career path for the schedule flexibility more often available to PAs than MDs.

The specialty, practice, and care delivery location greatly influence your hours, call schedule (if any). You can predict where you find the nights and call hours. Hospital-based specialties cover 24/7, 365 days a year - but you get lots of days off! Surgical and critical medical specialties may have call. Primary care and most subspecialties are weekday only. However, with pressures on the health care provider to be more accessible to patients, providers willing to work evenings and weekends are more valuable (more $$) than those who can only work weekdays.

All states permit PA prescribing. Most require simply practice protocol oversight. These and other hard-fought advances in PA regulation ensure relative autonomy of the PA within the medical care team.

For more info, check out the data & research under the "about physician assistants" on www.aapa.org. Example: most full-time PAs work 43.8 hours for their primary employer and over 70% do not take any type of call.

Called "gofers" by some older nurses, PAs are far from that. The broader expertise and greater training in the medical model allow PAs much more opportunity within the medical care team than NPs. Increasingly, the PA is the hub of the patient-centered medical team with physicians serving as specialist 'technicians.'

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dg in Miami, Florida

61 months ago

nicely put!

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Jenna in Indianapolis, Indiana

61 months ago

I am working on applications to PA school right now, for the October deadline. Could some experienced PA's let me know whether or not a PA school's ranking is taken in to consideration when applying for jobs after PA school? I understand that it is important to go to a certified program, but can I consider saving money on PA tuition and still get a job just as easily?

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Peds PA Mike in Burke, Virginia

61 months ago

Two questions here:

No PA school "rankings" do not matter in applying for jobs after PA school. Things you need to consider: PANCE (PA certifying exam) success rate (be careful of schools in which some matriculating students never get to take the PANCE and artificially inflate the number), variety and quality of clinical rotations, amount of first, didactic year faculty whose primary job is teaching (whether PA program or from another department, and do they place grads in specialty areas in which you think you may be interested (don't narrow your options yet). Highly recommend a Masters program. These are typically more stable, better programs. And, lacking a Masters will limit your job opportunities somewhat now and increasingly in the future.

I am not sure what you mean by a "certified program." All PA programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA). There are 149 programs that can be found at
www.arc-pa.org/acc_programs/
If a program is not on this list, it is not a PA program. Going to a PA program is the only way to be eligible to take the PA certifying exam required by every state and the government for new PAs.

You may have misspoken and asked about Masters programs. Your pre-PA experience and success in PA school will be heavy determinants of your competitiveness for a job. However, you should note that a Masters is required by many academic centers and is preferred in larger healthcare organizations. The degree is not so much an issue with small physician practices. Some states require Masters for licensure or allow greater practice autonomy to PAs with a Masters. If you do not get a Masters in PA school, plan to get one soon after - MHA, MPA, MHIS, etc.

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Lady with an ASS in HIT in Hialeah, Florida

61 months ago

I was reading this forum and it has very interesting information. You see i really want to get a Degree in Physician Assistant but here in my area Ive been googleling and i havent been able to find any schools that offers a Bachelors in PA. I currently have an Associates in Health Information technology from DeVry and well I was thinking on getting a bachelor in PA and than a Masters on PA. I somehow cant find a school that provides me with a Bachelors in PA. Im worried because the only schools I find is Miami Dade wich Provides an Associates and than Nova University provides a Master. Can someone advice me on how to go about this. I cant go for the Master in Nova University unlesss I have an Associates, and The Associate in Miami Dade well I feel ill be waisting my time taking another Associate due to that I already have one. if I go for the Associates in Miami dade for PA and later I want to continue my education can i skip the bachelor and go for a masters in PA or would I have to take a bachelors and were can I take a bachelors in PA If they dont seem to offer any.
Im soo confused on how to go about this. Please help.......

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MattFl in Jacksonville, Florida

61 months ago

Lady with an ASS in HIT in Hialeah, Florida said: I was reading this forum and it has very interesting information. You see i really want to get a Degree in Physician Assistant but here in my area Ive been googleling and i havent been able to find any schools that offers a Bachelors in PA. I currently have an Associates in Health Information technology from DeVry and well I was thinking on getting a bachelor in PA and than a Masters on PA. I somehow cant find a school that provides me with a Bachelors in PA. Im worried because the only schools I find is Miami Dade wich Provides an Associates and than Nova University provides a Master. Can someone advice me on how to go about this. I cant go for the Master in Nova University unlesss I have an Associates, and The Associate in Miami Dade well I feel ill be waisting my time taking another Associate due to that I already have one. if I go for the Associates in Miami dade for PA and later I want to continue my education can i skip the bachelor and go for a masters in PA or would I have to take a bachelors and were can I take a bachelors in PA If they dont seem to offer any.
Im soo confused on how to go about this. Please help.......

I'm right there with you. I am in daytona nad I just finished my associates degree and I am trying to find a way to make this work. Unfortunately the answer is no ( or at least what I have been able to find in the last six months) There are no bachelors programs in florida except for Nova and even then they want you to have 90 credit hours wich is damn near having a bachelors anyway. They are also a bit pricey. I think i have decided to do the Miami dade program ( or at least try to get in....They only take 40 per year and recieve over 600 applicants)

Even though everyone on here advises against doing a program that only provides and AS in PA It makes more sense to me to try to get in now and then do a bachelors or a masters bridge.

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Michael in Southfield, Michigan

61 months ago

(Despite the tag line, as always, I am in WARREN, MI)

You are right, you are TOTALLY confused. PA programs are not a series of classes, like working on a degree in photography. It is a PROGRAM. It is like getting accepted to medical school or law school. If you read about the history of the PA program (a good place to start), it was designed to build on a background of knowledge and experience and designed to cram in as much information in a brief period of time as possible. Check with a PA program that are intereted in, find out their pre-requisite classes, meet those requirements and apply. You will be accepted and will attend classes and clinicals for two years or more and will graduate with a degree in medicine, physician assistant studies... -whatever your particular program wants to award. Most programs are now going to Master's level programs. You will need a Bachelor's degree to enter the program (there are some programs that are 5 year Master's programs too, where you complete Bachelor's and Master's during this time period). BTW: I would HIGHLY recommend considering only programs that are Master's level programs. This is where we are headed in the future as a profession. After completion of the program you will be eligible to sit for your PANCE, the national certification exam. After that you will either begin working, or enter a post-graduate residency program in a specialty.

Now do you understand? Think medical school light....

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MattFl in Jacksonville, Florida

61 months ago

Maybe you can correct me if I am wrong.... If I were to take the two year AS program for PA in Miami Dade and get certified....Then they offer a bachelors specifically for PA ( I am guessing to help supplement the fact that most are at least bachelors level. And then lets say that I go on to get a masters in..Lets say healthcare management... Wouldn't these degrees be looked at the same way by potential employers as having completed a Masters program in PA? This way I could get into the workforce earlier (with the AS) and work on the grad and post grad at that point.

After all as you said, it's really the same program no matter what the awarded degree is, its just a matter of what level of education they want you to have when entering.

Maybe you can clarify some of these points. I currently have an A.A. and I am going to EMT school over the summer. If all goes well, my plan is to get a job with the ambulance service to get some experience and finish up some pre-req's in fall semester. Then I can apply in JAN to Miami Dades program which if accepted will start in May I believe. If I am not accepted I will try to go BSN or Bachelors of Health Care Management and then go for PA as a MAsters option as there are a lot more school options at that point.

What do you think?

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Michael -Surgery PA in Warren, Michigan

61 months ago

Just do a Master's PA program. Skip the other options. If you are young, you can do a 5 year option from high school to a Master's degreed PA. Several universities offer this option. Take the shortest path to this goal.

Remember that we are competing with nurse practitioners, another "mid-level" provider. They argue that they are better than PAs due to their programs being a Masters degree program. The Master's degree is becoming the standard. Don't start a step behind by not having one.

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