40-year-old flight paramedic

I am posting this as a request for both information and inspiration.

I am thinking of starting the pre-med sequence, but want to be sure I’m not about to subject my wife and kids to a pipe dream.

I am 40, I have a wife, three kids and a mortgage. We love where we live, the kids are in elementary school where they are very invested in our town and have lots of friends.

Fortunately, there are more than a few medical schools within commuting distance, so that’s not a huge concern.

I’ve been a paramedic for 15 years. I currently work as a flight paramedic and I love the job, but I’m realistic and know that I’m pretty much against the ceiling when it comes down to what I’m able to do to help my patients. For a medic, there’s really nowhere to go, clinically speaking, after flight medicine. I’m not saying we’re the best medics (believe me, I know plenty of amazing medics who choose for various reasons to remain on the ground side), but we do generally get to see the sickest patients.

I’m just coming to the point where so much of the things I’m learning are filed under the “good to know, but not something I’ll ever be able to use in the field” category.

I don’t want to stop growing professionally, but in order to do that I think I need to grow in ways that aren’t circumscribed by the limits of my paramedic ticket.

Most medics I’ve known in the same boat have gone on to nursing, and I was even accepted to a 3-year NP program for people with non-science bachelor’s degrees (mine’s in English).

But at the end of the day, and while I have tremendous respect for nurses, it just seemed like the opposite side of the same coin. (Plus, I balked at the $100,000 debt I would have gone into in order to participate in a field I wasn’t 100 % sure I wanted to particpate in)

I considered that other great refuge of the frustrated medic, PA school.

I think this is a great avenue for medics as the philosophical underpinnings of the the training for PAs and medics are similar.

But again, I keep coming back to the fact that it’s only two years less initial training than medical school.

I’m kind of curious to see if there’s anyone else out there in similar straits currently or in the past?

Also, I’m debating a local post-bacc pre-med program, but have also had a couple friends use University of New England’s distance learning pre-med courses to great success, albeit for admission to PA school. But since UNE advertises these courses as part of the pre-med sequence, has anyone used them successfully to gain admittance to medical school?

Thanks in advance for any info!

But I know that


I’m a firefighter/paramedic working just outside of Atlanta, Ga. I’ve dreamed of being a Physician since I was a child. There are a lot of reasons I’m doing it now at 33 as opposed to straight out of college the traditional route. Some of the reasons were the “Sour grapes” of a lot of the Physicians I spoke to growing up. I got a lot of the, “Medicine isn’t what it used to be,” "Malpractice is killing us, “Your hands are tied” kind of a thing. Though, the real reason, I suspect to a degree, had largely to do with myself. I’ve always done well academically, but I come from a small North Georgia rural town. NO ONE in my family has ever done anything like this. In fact, I was the first person to graduate college in my family. But med school? Could I really do it?

No matter how you score on test compared to your peers in whatever your chosen field…come on…we’re talking about med school here! Only the best of the best! I didn’t want to be that guy who showed up having, “brought a knife to a gun fight!”

So…after college (B.A. in Music 2002) I became a Paramedic/firefighter. I still love medicine! The old dream still lives on! I’ve since met a lot of positive Physicians, and most importantly, I’ve gained a huge amount of confidence in my abilities! I’ve gone from “I think I can,” to “I know I can” to…“I WILL!”

I’ve now got 6 more classes before the MCAT and applications about 18 months away! I’ve worked twice as hard as the traditional students in my premed classes, and I’m pleased to say that…(thus far) that hard work and determination has paid off.

I’m not married, and I don’t have any children. I know that puts a different perspective on where you’re at as opposed to me. But if being a member here at OPM has taught me anything, it’s YES YOU CAN, if you want it badly enough! There are several OPMers around here with young children. Is it brutal? I’m sure! They’re an inspiration to me, I can only imagine what that must be like. But they seem to work it out!

Also, I looked into the whole “P.A. thing” myself. Are there perks, especially coming from our Paramedic background? Yes! Is it a good thing to do? Yes! Is it for me? NO. When I was young, I dreamed of being a Doctor. If P.A. is someone’s dream…and it is a noble dream, then they should become a P.A. …But it isn’t my dream. And being 33, I’ve don’t have the time to settle for something that isn’t my dream!

Anyways, sorry for the whole “life story.” Just wanted to let you know that there are some other OPM paramedics out there who are in a similar, if not the same, situation!

Best of luck to you on the journey!


Thanks for replying Dan, I really appreciate it!

I’m kind of surprised there aren’t more of us from EMS on here – or maybe there are and it’s just not something that gets mentioned very much.

I give you tons of credit for doing this while working on a FD. I left a FF/Paramedic gig to go to the flight program where I work, and the guys at the FD simply couldn’t fathom why anyone would walk away from the firehouse and retirement. It wasn’t easy – especially since I worked with a great bunch of folks, but I have no regrets.

Good luck with everything!