Taking a break from college

So, against what will probably be the better judgement of most people, I’ve decided to take a break from regular college (well, I’m going to stay right at 6 units so I don’t have to start paying back my loans, but you know what I mean) and go to paramedic school next year. I’m kind of curious how this will be perceived by adcoms, not that it matters since one of the key reasons is financial in nature, but yeah I’m not sure how part-time status at school would be viewed for a year…maybe they would look at it as me trying to lighten my load and get some pre-med reqs done under “easy” conditions (I will be getting my year of biology out of the way in the meantime, need to if im going to transfer to UCSB in fall 09 instead of 08), but yeah, what do you guys think?

Primarily, I’ve decided to do this for three reasons…1) I’m sick of learning useless crap I’ll never, well, use…at least medic school will teach me /medicine/ and not BS. 2) EMTs make 10-12/hr roughly in California whereas paramedics make 20+, and considering the cost of living in Santa Barbara, that may mean the difference between barely eating and eating well if you know what I mean. 3) Life experience…I think if I didn’t become a medic first and get the experience of going through medic school and then working as a medic, I’d just always wonder “what if” about that, so.

On the flip side, if I complete the paramedic program, I have the option of having it articulated from the technical institute (NCTI) to a community college out here for 24 credits plus an associate degree in paramedicine, so if I get an A, I can pay the tuition for those 24 units and then get 24 units of A’s added onto my overall GPA…so that’s a little bonus.

Anyhow, that’s the end of my rant! Thoughts, advice, rants, comments welcome.

Tim, in my opinion you should do what works best for you and not worry overly much about what adcoms think. In general, they’re looking for well rounded individuals with top marks in science so if you stay on top of your science course work and just keep pursuing your interests you should be fine. Taking your time and exploring the world is important because once you get on the MD track (or DO or whatever) you are locked into an 8-10 year training regimen that doesn’t let you up for air very often. There’s nothing sadder than a fifth year resident who has spent her entire adult life in school, and is tired and bitter and wishing she had chosen another field (I’ve met such people). I’m glad to have had the opportunity to get out there and do some other stuff before medicine, and I’ll bet you’ll be too.

That said, once you get past the two years of basic science (which are quite clinically oriented) you’ll be on rotations working with residents and attendings and learning incredible stuff, probably stuff that goes beyond paramedic training. So you should decide how soon you want to be doing that versus being on the truck. Financially… well, once you’re in medical school it’s all loans anyway.

My 2 cents! Best of luck,


Believe it or not, the pre-requisites are going to be used while in medical school and they are not useless.

For example:

  1. In order to maintain blood pH the body uses LeChatlier’s principle. (chemistry)

  2. One main cause of hypertension is an increase in viscosity of the blood which causes increased resistance against the flow of blood, (Physics)

  3. The way an EKG works is based on electrical vectors (physics)

    and I can go on and on.

    Point is, if you need to take a break for financial reasons than do it. But don’t think that you will never use your pre-requisites. You will need to understand them in order to understand physiology.

Hey Tim -

I agree with the points that both Gabe and Terry made. The pre-reqs are not as completely useless as you think - the UNDERSTANDING of how/why the physiology and pathology happen is a key difference between doctors and other medical professionals (nurses, medics, etc), who learn ABOUT the physiology/pathology, but not so much about HOW and WHY.

As for the medic thing - it’s been obvious that you really have a burning desire to become a medic for various reasons. I’m happy that you got some basic experience under your belt prior to going the medic route - I think that will serve you well. Even as a physician - if you can’t do the basics well, you will not be a very good physician. People tend to lose sight of how important the basics are when they start learning advanced skills.

I don’t think taking a year off will be a major issue. You may get asked about it at interviews, but I think if you explain it as financial issues, that will be sufficient.

Huh…well, I stand corrected Gabe, guess that would make the pre-reqs useful, although I was under the impression that viscosity was a chemical property, not something in physics, but yeah either way it would indicate they’re useful.

I suppose I won’t complain as much about learning the stuff, although I’ll probably hate calculus regardless, though that may be mostly because my calculus teacher is the most horrible teacher I’ve had to date…calc itself isn’t nearly as bad as people make it out to be, outside the word problems, but most people hate those regardless of context.

Anyhow, thanks for the input guys, much appreciated as always.


BE sure to push hard and finish the semester, it does not matter what the reasons for your break… DO not, under any circumstances, “DROP” the courses you are in at present… a hand full of W’s is a VERY bad MOJO (I was grilled about ONE that was 21 years old). Adcoms see it as “whell hum he quits when it gets tough… like those few kids who drop out of medical school the second month”

If you are talking about doing this NEXT semester there should be no problem… just make darn sure the grades remain good!

Also keep this in the back of your mind… remember ALL of the pre-requisites are “dated for freshness” meaning they expire after a certain number of years… meaning if the break is too long you might end up having to repeat some. So take the semester per your plan but be sure to check on the freshness dates on the way out.

On the other side I was a NREMT-P and much of what I did as a PM has been useful to me, besides a paid PM is the kind of “cool experience” that blows the skirts of ADCOMS (you can bet your lunch I played up my experiences…)