I’m a PA Student and Want to go to Med School

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OPM 251: I'm a PA Student and Want to go to Med School

Session 251

Our student today is in PA school but has known “for a while” that they want to go to med school. What are the next steps and are there issues?

Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum over at premedforums.com. Please go ahead and register for an account, ask your question, and have fun with the community.

Also, please be sure to check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media as we try to bring you as many resources as you need on this journey.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[01:04] Check Out eShadowing.com

One of the most common questions I’m getting right now during this pandemic with COVID-19 is how do I get shadowing experience? Well, the answer is you don’t. And virtual shadowing opportunities have been popping up left and right.

If you haven’t yet, please check out eShadowing.com. Now, I wasn’t the first one to the game. But I think I’ve done well in terms of making it strict enough to be able to get credit for watching for an hour of each shadowing to hopefully give some legitimacy to the session.

I’m going to reach out to all the medical schools and to PA schools to let them know what eShadowing is and what a student has to do to get credit for their certificate. eShadowing for premed students takes place every Monday at 8 pm Eastern. You may also watch the 45-minute replay and still get the credit. But you will have to pass the quiz before you can get the credit.

Moreover, I found a PA to host eShadowing for PA on Mondays at 7 pm Eastern. We’re not verifying if you’re a PA student or pre -PA student or a premed student. Just go to whatever sessions you want if you’re still undecided about what you want to do. Go to both and have fun and learn.

Our host for eShadowing for pre-PA students is Rodeline Joseph. You can find her on Instagram @medsembly. Medsembly is a community to connect healthcare students and professionals, all in a single community.

[05:36] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“Looking for some advice in planning my timeline for medical school. I am currently in my clinical year of PA school and will be graduating in less than a year. I’ve known for a while that I want to pursue the MD route & I know in my heart I will not be completely fulfilled being a PA. 

Would you advise applying for medical school straight out of PA school or try to work a few years as a PA? Does it look bad to admission committees if I start applying to medical school without even being done with PA school or without truly working as a PA? 

Overall, I think I am a fairly well-rounded applicant, even though my science GPA could be higher. My undergrad GPA is a 3.64, science GPA is a little low at 3.2, >4000 hours as a CNA, lots of volunteer work in a free clinic & food bank. I also played basketball in undergrad with many other extracurriculars, and currently the president of my PA class. 

My grades fell a little bit sophomore and junior year in my science classes, but senior year science classes were 3.7. My post-graduate GPA is a 3.55. I still need to take the MCAT, but have a study plan in place and have been reviewing nightly with Kaplan, Anki Decks, and Khan Academy. Any advice on how to go about this would be appreciated!”

[07:01] PA vs MD

At the core of the transition from PA to medical school, whether you are a student or you’re out practicing, your story is going to have to be around.

Why are you making this transition? Is it an ego thing because you’re not the boss and you want to be the boss? Is it a knowledge thing because you just want to learn more? Or is it more of an impact thing where because you’re a PA, you don’t have the credentialing? And the hospital has told you cannot do X, Y, or Z and you don’t have the technical skills or maybe even the knowledge behind what you want to do with patients.

“PAs and MDs can do a lot of the same things.” Click To Tweet

Obviously, MDs and DOs get a lot more training. You have to do three to five to six to seven years of postgraduate training. That’s where you really learn because you’re doing things over and over again. You’re honing your investigation skills, your intuition, your knowledge, your surgical skills, your procedural skills – all of those things in residency.

As a PA, you hone all of those skills on the job, and that’s great as well. PAs who have been out practicing for a long time, have amazing skills that would rival a lot of physicians. So again, no shade being thrown towards the PA route.

[09:44] Go Down the Medical School Route

What is the goal behind going to PA school if you’ve known for a while that you wanted to go to medical school? Now, it’s very similar to a lot of students who go to nursing school as a premed course. And that doesn’t make sense. In nursing school, you get to learn a lot of clinical things but it’s not a premed route. So there are going to be lots of questions.

'Don't go to nursing school unless you want to be a nurse.'Click To Tweet

But at the end of the day, if you know you want to go to medical school, then start down that route. Start having some communications with some admissions committees. If you’re at a PA school that has a medical school attached, try to have a conversation with them. Tell them your story and ask for your next steps.

[11:28] What Admissions Committees Will Question

From clinical experience standpoints, you obviously have a lot of stuff. Just make sure you’re out shadowing physicians. As a PA student, you’re doing a lot of shadowing so get all of that.

But the biggest question you’re going to have to answer is why did you even go down this path in the first place if you knew you wanted to go to medical school? And then why physician over PA? Being a PA student, you’re going to have to be able to answer that so be prepared for that.

To help you hone those answers, you can work with Dr. Scott Wright, former director of admissions at UT Southwestern. He’s our VP of Academic Advising at Mappd, which is a platform with over 2000 students using it to track their process and their journey into medical school.


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The Premed Years Podcast episode resources about PA to MD:

Session 254: MD vs PA! Let’s Talk About It with a PA to Help You Decide

Session 170: PA Turned MD Talks About Why He Made the Switch

Session 159: Premed Q&A – PA vs MD or DO, What are my Chances and More