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I am a 40 year old PA who has all of the sudden gone nuts and decided to go to med school. I really crapped out in undergrad and then got an AAS in respiratory therapy. Then went to PA school at a great surgical program. Never took the MCAT.
Seems now I only have a couple of synapses firing and I decide to go to med school… I applied at a couple of offshore schools last week. I would love to take the MCAT but I don’t wanna put my wife (and our kids) through any more waiting than I have to.
It’s cool doing surgery as a PA, but I finally got the nerve up to be what I really wanted to be for all these long years… a real doc.
Nice to meet all of you, and if you got any advice (or need some, from someone in the field for 20 years) lemme know.
biggrin.gif biggrin.gif
Jeff K.

Hi Jeff,
I’m a former RRT (Pediatric-Perinatal). I went over to the “darkside” five years ago on a whim. Old Man Dave is also a former RRT who will turn into a DO in a couple of days. I’m in a General Surgery residency with plans to do something like Trauma-Critical Care in the end. Dave is headed for a residency in Anesthesia. Welcome to the group and I agree that surgery is pretty cool. cool.gif

thanks for the reply…
where did you go to med school?

Welcome, Jeff!
I'll go ahead and ask, why the change? I briefly considered PA before settling on the MD and I know several of our other members are trying to make the same decision. So we'd like to know what makes you want to go for the MD after years as a PA?
Oh yeah, what about the August MCAT in case the offshore plan doesn't work out?
Good luck!

Hey Theresa…
I always wanted to be a surgeon, and I guess since I turned 40 (I guess a lot of things happened when I turned 40… unsure.gif
I am not getting any younger, and I wanna be a surgeon more than anything. I don’t really know what happened, except that I figured if I am going to do it, I need to do it now and not wait any more.
Being a PA is nice, but the position I have is a lot of responsibility. We are in-house and first call for about 150-175 patients every night, 1-2X qweek. I get to do thoracic surgery almost exclusively, but we provide coverage for everyone else surgical in the hospital except for Cardiac surgery and gyn.
I think the August MCAT is a little too soon for me. I took orgo and stuff about 20 yrs ago and if the Caribbean thing doesn’t work out then I feel as though I should get a 45 on the MCAT if I have any chance of getting in anywhere. I know that it would be nice for me to get in somewhere stateside, but that’ll take at least 1.5-2 more years and I don’t really wanna put my family through that.
Anyhow, thanks for the support and the help and I appreciate everyone’s input. sorry for the long post, had 2 appendectomies and 3 gallbladders last night and I’m really beat.

but putting your family through relocating to the caribbean won't be as hard as the longer haul that results in your getting into a stateside school? I'm not sure I understand your logic - and this seems a little rash, frankly. And I wouldn't go offshore simply to avoid the MCAT… although i understand your reasoning about the timeline.
Keep in mind that the residency funding for foreign medical grads is going to continue to be cut in the next several years. Americans training in foreign med schools have an edge over foreign nationals applying to US residency programs, but have a relative disadvantage compared to their American counterparts in US medical schools.
There are lots of pros and cons to your various choices. No one can tell you what's the right decision for you.

I have to say my instinct is similar to Mary's–the short term gain for your family may turn out to cause longer-term problems. Plus if you don't know the science well enough to take the MCAT, you won't know the science well enough to feel comfortable in the first part of med school–which will not be about the stuff you already know and master as a PA, but about basic science.
Many oldpremeds think that rushing through a solution is the best one because time is the first thing on their minds. I strongly caution you to take other factors into account. Going overseas can be a reasonable decision but it should be undertaken extremely carefully and with a great deal of planning. I'd say that's especially true with a family. You will have to relocate up to three times in the next six years if you go with your plan and you will have less choice than most about where you relocate. That is going to be tough on your family too.
Below, I'm going to post an entry I sent to another person considering an overseas program, when OPM was still just a humble email list.
Good luck with your decision-making process.
best regards

This is a very old message but one that might apply in some parts, not others. I don’t know what the odds of getting a residency are any more; at the time I had some reason for thinking this number was true in this particular case.
If I remember correctly, the person asking the question to which this was a reply was also a PA.

On the OldPreMeds list, someone was asking about a program in the Caribbean as an alternative to US medical schools, saying that he was attracted to it because it would disrupt his life less by allowing distance learning. In reply, I wrote more or less this message (with some specific details about this person’s case left out):

As you know, this option would make it more difficult to get a residency in the United States after medical school. But let me also ask what I realize could be an extremely annoying question, but maybe it will be useful: Why do you want to be a doctor?
(If you just have to be a doctor, see below.)
As a physicians’ assistant or nurse practitioner there are lots of opportunities to treat patients, and you probably spend more time and give equally good care to your patients when compared to doctors. A recent study comparing NPs to MDs showed no difference in outcomes in treating a variety of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. If money is the issue, then there are probably also some ways to earn more money than you do now without going into the debt that any medical school requires.
For me, I gave a lot of thought to being a PA or an NP, and I decided there were a variety of reasons I wanted an MD. But I did consider some other options: just for instance, a Ph.D. program in any of a variety of subjects would provide enough support to totally or almost pay my way, allow me to explore scientific and clinical issues in more depth and with more freedom than a medical education, and allow me to head up research studies or policy efforts.
In fact, I still occasionally think of getting a combination of an RN and a Ph.D. instead of an MD for all these reasons, but since the best kinds of MDs are in my opinion part RN and part Ph.D., and I’m starting from the beginning, I’m still headed for the MD.
The arguments for getting an MD, at least the arguments that I can think of–more confidence in your clinical skills, greater authority and autonomy, more respect from others, and perhaps more money–are all put at risk by getting the MD from a program that leads you into probably worse than 50% odds of getting a residency in the US.
Aiming for a program that’s easier to get into would reduce the stress of pre-med work. But no matter what, you are eventually likely to have to relocate, reorient your priorities, change your relationship to your family–in short, transform your life–for the second half of medical school, and for residency.
Without in any way denigrating the possible value of the choice you’re making–that is, while keeping an open mind about still doing it–you might consider going back to the drawing board and making sure that all your assumptions about why you can’t go to medical school in the US are really true.
I’d suggest outlining these assumptions one-by-one, in as big and complete a list as possible, and then seeing if you can knock most of them down and squeeze by some of the others. This is where a good and encouraging advisor/mentor can be very helpful, and perhaps a financial advisor if the issues are financial.
I say all this not to be discouraging or to discredit the program you’re considering, but because just about all of us have spent a lot of time thinking about all the reasons we couldn’t go to medical school. Lots of us have probably spent some time trying to come up with work-arounds and halfway-there alternatives. Most of us have ended up realizing, no, it really is possible to go to medical school in more or less the traditional way even as “non-traditional” students. And it really is worth the extra effort, and we as individuals really can do it.
Of course, the joke might be on me: I write all this not having yet been accepted to a medical school. But after putting my heart into my studies, choosing the more difficult path and succeeding in ways I didn’t think possible, I think that I can say that even were I not to get in, the effort has been a experience that has thus far changed my life almost entirely for the better.
Best wishes for whatever your choice may be,
(PS: I did get into medical school. --j)

Hi Jeff,
I can definitely relate to your concerns about time. And I think it's great that you've decided what you want to do. But I just want to echo what some other people here have said, and add that if you're at all interested in attending med school here in the states (which it sounds like you might be except for the time commitment and MCAT), 1.5-2.0 years is not a very long time at all in the grand scheme of things. In fact, that extra time would help you clarify exactly where you're hoping to go in the long run.
I became a premed a couple years ago. When I started out, I wanted to get the preliminary stuff over with as fast as possible so that I could have the security of knowing I was in med school and on my way to some actual future employment. I mean, that's a totally reasonable attitude. But for various reasons I've had to go a little more slowly, and so far it's really been worth it. I definitely have a much better idea of what I'm doing than if I'd rushed through it. So does everyone who knows me!
Also, I can't think of anything on earth so insurmountable that a 45 MCAT is needed to overcome it. You just need to show that you can do well, which does not require a perfect score.
Anyway, welcome to the forum and good luck with your planning!

OK, thanks guys for the input so far. I like to be controversial rolleyes.gif
Now, lets say, for argument’s sake, that I decided to try and stay stateside. My grades form my AAS are about 13-14 years old. I assume that any school is going to ask me to take all my prereqs again, as they will want to see both better grades (I only had a 2.9) and also to make sure that I can handle the course work.Although, I did rock the house in PA school, I’m not sure that that will help. Do you guys think I should make an appt. with someone at the local medical school and get some advice there, straight from the horse’s mouth? Or does that look too cheesy?
So I probably will have to go to school at least part time for a year or 2, to take the prereqs, as well as continuing to work, before taking the MCAT and applying again to American schools. Is that a fair estimate?
I am trying to figure out the timeline here, staying and buffing my stats, v. going abroad.
Thanks again guys, I really appreciate the help.

It's not cheesy at all to ask for an appt. at a couple of med schools you'd want to go to–although they may just want to talk to you by phone. (If you can get an in-person appt., it's probably better, just to put a face to your name.) Point out that you have an unusual situation and that you'd benefit from talking to them directly because college/post-bac pre-med advisors are unlikely to know what to do with your record and experience. (Actually, some do–but it's a good rationale for meeting with the med school instead.) You'd also want to meet with the pre-med advisor at the school(s) where you'd take your classes to figure out how to arrange the classes, find out any school-specific quirks like some order in which you have to take the classes, difficulties getting labs, etc.
I think your time estimate is potentially more or less reasonable; just depends on how much you work vs. how many classes you take. Another common mistake: in trying to compress the timeline, a lot of OPMs work too much while taking too many classes. They end up suffering academically. So you want to think conservatively about how many classes you take at one time and about your workload while you do it.
Here's why I think you're not in as bad a shape as you might think.
1. 2.9 is not great but it's not nearly as low as many youthful GPAs we've had on this board, and if you rock your new academics (as with PA school), then you will do a lot to overcome that very old GPA in the minds of admissions committees.
2. You have already shown that you can do much of the work that a doctor does, and that you understand what medicine is all about; you will have a great deal to offer a medical school and your classmates, and if you go about telling your story in the right way, I think med schools will find it compelling.
For both of those reasons, if your MCATs and grades are good, and even more so if the doctors you work with will support you (e.g., with letters), I think you've got a good shot.
The key is to give the classes and MCATs the time and space they require to do well–obviously, you don't want to take the extra time to do them and then end up half-assing it.
Good luck!

Hey guys…
It has been a while since I posted…
I have come 360 degrees since last we met.
I have decided to speak w/ 2 nearby colleges ( go orange!!) and see how many transfer credits I can get and take my prereqs and then take the MCAT, vs. going abroad w/ my wife and 2 little kids. What the hell, I am only 40 rolleyes.gif
My grandfather who lives w/ us is 90 this year, and mom is sick, and I think I will hold out for one of the upstate NY medical schools like Upstate or Albany or Buff state.
Wish me like, I think I have lost my mind.
Thanks again for all of the help from everybody

Good luck!!
It sounds like you are making the right decision. I had a cousin that went to a foreign med school because of similar family concerns. He eventually got into a surgery residency and now does well. The downside: he has always felt inferior to U.S. grads and that has, unfortunately, negatively affected his self image and confidence. He is a shell of the other U.S. grads in my family. (Just my two cents!)

Question for jeffk13057 or anyone in the know: What are the significant differences (i.e., pay/job options) between PAs who hold a Master's degree vs. a Bachelor's degree?

QUOTE (jeffk13057 @ Jun 4 2003, 04:38 AM)
thanks for the reply...
where did you go to med school?

Hi there,
I went to Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC. Dave just graduated (doing a General Surgery internship) from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO. Glad to have another former "snot jockey" on board.
Natalie cool.gif

There really shouldn’t be a pay difference between a PA w/ a Masters and a BS… I think there is a trend among the schools now to grant a Masters degree after graduation. When I went to PA school, ( a long time ago now, now that I am counting backwards huh.gif ) you did not even have to have an undergrad degree to apply. Now you do, for virtually every school. 2 of the local colleges here are contemplating granting MS degrees. I think that unless you are doing something administrative with your MS degree that may get you an extra 2 or 3k per year, but when you get right down to it, I don’t think, if you put a clinical PA w/ an MS degree vs. a clinical PA w/ a BS degree and a certificate that there will be any difference.
I am interviewing at the 2 local colleges today to continue my premed education…
Thanks to all for the input and keep it coming.
Jeff K.
P.S. To be honest, I don’t miss sucking snot too much, but I’ll tell you, despite being a former RT, they are the first ones I call when I have someone whose lungs I am concerned about. I even got to draw an ABG the other night tongue.gif

You guys aren't gonna believe this…
I interviewed at Lemoyne College on Tuesday…Met with a great lady from the continuing ed dept. who has a close personal friend at SUNY medical school, who is also on the board of admissions. . She sent an email to her friend and told her to expect my call. Called her today and I am meeting with her and the DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS on Tuesday. Apparently, someone up there must like me. They were not distressed by my lack of academic prowess 20 years ago, and want to start an early decision program for OPMs which I will be a part of starting next fall.
Can't believe it…still. Wish me luck for next Tuesday. Have a great holiday, everyone.
Jeff K.

Wow!!! Jeff that is so awsome, I'm sure I don't have to say to kep everyone up to date on how it goes. I will keep my fingers crossed for you.
I also have a couple questions about PA's. Here in Oregon there is only 1 med school which also has a PA program. It seems to be highly competitive and you need a bachelors to get in. How rewarding is being a PA? I am trying to look into as many options as I can. I still want med school more than anything else and think if I went the PA route I wouldn't be totally satisfied. Also can PA work in all areas of medicine or are they mostly for primary care. Do they do an intership or residency like physcians?
Thanks to anyone who can answer these for me and if I come up with more questions which I am sure I will post them

Being a PA is fairly rewarding…Maybe I shouldn't answer this now, as I am at work today, on a beautiful holiday, and have transferred 3 sickies to the ICU and done 7 admissions and 2 cases today, SO FAR but I will.
Remember, that a PA is just that… a PHYSICIAN assistant. Not that that is bad, mind you, but as far as I am concerned my job is to be here to be a scut monkey for the doc. Once in a while you get to help a patient by being here and really making a difference if they are really sick or something. These docs have it pretty good while we are here, as the nurses call us for everything, and if we need to, we call the docs.
PAs work in every specialty-I do general and thoracic surgery and we have PAs here that do primary care, renal, cardiology, and neuroloy and neurosurg as well. There are surgical residencies but I have never heard of a primary care residency. The surgical one is a year long. I was lucky enough to go to Cornell's program, which is surgical by design.
Hope this helps
Jeff K.

Thank you so much for your input. I really want to be a doctor so thats what I am going to work for. I bet doing surgery is very interesting. I would love to watch it but I know I don't wanna be a surgeon. Nothing aganist those who are in residency for that!!! :slight_smile: I am not sure what I want exactly and I have plenty of time since I am still an undergrad.