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?