PA school — Full steam ahead?

I started this post last week with a working title of “PA school — An unreachable goal?”

I spent five months considering options, including getting a med tech or CNA certificate, and hunting for jobs (ideally ones that I could get without any additional education) that would give me more “patient care experience” for my physician assistant school application.  Five months with very few jobs to apply for, and zero interest in the few applications I did submit.

I was feeling like this whole PA school thing might never happen, when I looked at my work history and decided that, technically, I have [barely] enough hours to go ahead and apply now (for a fall 2015 start date).

Of course, it would have been much better to come to this conclusion in June, at the beginning of the application cycle, than in mid-September, just several weeks from the application deadline.  Better in terms of time, and better in terms of my odds of acceptance (the school I’m looking at considers applicants on a rolling basis — at this point, some of the spots for next fall’s cohort are probably already taken, so by applying late[r], I’m competing against a bigger pool for a smaller number of seats).  Sigh.

I went ahead and started completing the online application, which is ridiculous.  You have to enter, one at a time, each and every college level class you’ve ever taken: course title, course prefix and number, grade received, credit hours . . . talk about painstaking!  (I made it through undergrad, and I’m waiting on my grad school transcript to tackle those classes.)  This is in addition to sending them your official transcripts, which, of course, obtain all the info they’re making you enter.

With the exception of medical terminology, I have all the academic prerequisites (though some of them are a bit dated).  My overall GPA will be quite high, and my science GPA will be decent.

The fact that I have a degree in public health, and 7+ years experience in the field, should work in my favor.

Still, while my patient care hours meet the minimum requirement, they’re nothing impressive.  More clinical/patient care experience would be a plus, but it’s not clear that that is going to happen, certainly not quickly or easily.

The idea of applying now, and starting next fall (2015), as opposed to applying in the summer of 2015 and waiting until the fall of 2016 to start (two whole years away), is appealing (and frightening).  I feel like I’m just cooling my heals otherwise and giving myself too much time to second-guess and question this whole crazy plan (you know, juggling an intense 27-months of full-time school and studying with having a family,  going into debt for the privilege, watching school bills eat up all the money we’ve saved to buy a house, questioning why the heck I have to do this, and whether “this” is the right/best option — should I be seriously considering opening a bike shop instead?).

I was all set to go for it, full speed ahead, and then I considered the application fee.  Two hundred twenty-five dollars.  Not that much money, but I’m not a gambler, and that’s what it feels like I’d be doing if I go for this now, instead of waiting for the next application cycle.

The thing is, I’m not sure I’d be anywhere different in nine months, experience-wise, but I would at least have the advantage of applying really early, and being in that first pool of applicants they consider.  I feel like I may need that advantage.

So, cards on the table, or bide my time???  What would you do?


  1. What a tough choice! From your posts here and on Facebook, I’m sure you will be a competitive candidate for the position; also, to the extent you are nontraditional, you offer a different perspective, which the school will be looking for from a diversity standpoint. It’s hard to defer things once you know where to go. Plus, you’ve done all (most of) the legwork so far. I’d lean a little toward applying now if you are sure this is what you want to do. If the $225 is giving you pause because it’s tapping into a larger existential “not sure yet”, then wait.

    Or we can open a bike shop. 😉

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Thanks for the vote of confidence! I’m as sure as I can be, I suppose.

  2. EcoCatLady says:

    Hmmm…. well since I tend to live by CatMan’s philosophy that there are 2 things which will ruin your life: work & school, I’m not sure that what I would do is terribly helpful in this instance – because I would run screaming from the whole thing as fast as I could! But maybe it’s worth asking them if you apply now and don’t get in, can they roll your application over to the next cycle, or do you have to start all over again?

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      It’s a bit scary to think about school again — in the past, I had very high standards for myself, which made it stressful, but I was also good at school, which made it rewarding. If I go through with this, my plan this time around is to focus on “good enough.” The striving (though not always achieving) all A’s thing? Been there, done that. I don’t need to be the valedictorian of PA school 🙂

      1. EcoCatLady says:

        Ha! Sounds like we suffer from the same disease. I got my first B the spring of my senior year in college. I was never so proud of any grade in my entire life! I would hope if I ever lost my mind and decided to go back to school, that I could approach it differently – more as a means to an end than an end in and of itself.

        But I think I would suck at a medical career. I mean I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders when I was running the folk music school, because I had all of these starving teachers who depended on me for their income. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I actually had a person’s life in my hands. I’m sure it would be very rewarding when you were able to help someone, but I honestly don’t think I could take it when you couldn’t. And I think my FOFU (fear of F-ing up) would be overwhelming. I’m sure glad there are people like you out there willing to do that kind of work.

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