PA Turned MD Talks About Why He Made the Switch

Session 170

Session 170In this episode, Ryan talks with Brad, a nontraditional student who comes from the PA world and is now a first year medical student. Today, Brad shares about his amazing journey, why he decided to take the PA route and then finally decide to switch his path to medical school.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Brad:

When Brad decided to become a physician:

  • Wanting to be a physician as a young boy
  • In undergrad, he took the Emergency Medicine Program
  • A year after college. he went to PA school
  • Realizing he was not fulfilled so decided to go to medical school
  • Brad worked as PA for 5 years

Take the PA route if you:

  • Enjoy clinical medicine
  • Are okay not always being a top dog
  • Are okay not having the physiological and pathological “why's” to what's going on with your patient

Why the switch to take the medical school route:

  • Having the desire to know more “why” about what's going on with the patients
  • Having the full experience
  • When he wanted to start a system-based program, it requires a physician champion to get it going and spearhead it

Factors that got Brad derailed from the premed:

  • Realizing he had to take classes or a semester in Physics and organic chemistry
  • Getting a D in organic chemistry the first time, a F the 2nd time, and A the 3rd time
  • Getting a C- in physics the first time, W the 2nd time, and A the 3rd time
  • Working at night while going to school in 2007

One question asked when applying to PA school is why you want to be a PA and not a nurse, a nurse practitioner, or physician.

The differences between PA and physician:

  • In the urgent care center, no physician on site but has electronic communication with them. The PA takes care of the patients
  • If you want to come up with a treatment plan, you need to be a physician in order to back up your point of view.
  • Autonomous service for the patients but as a PA, you're not the one leading the surgery or making final decisions on rounds in the ICU.
  • If you want to be heavily involved in patient care, procedures, and being clinically confident, and more in charge, go to medical school.
  • The supervising physician is the overarching leader at the end of the day.

On the PA side of things:

  • Exposure to the whole gamut of patients
  • No limitation on patient care depending on the kind of job you seek out
  • 2 years of school

Strategies Brad took to be successful in the medical school application:

  • Having a mentor
  • Contacting the admissions office occasionally
  • Forming relationships

How broadly did Brad apply:

  • Applying within the New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut area and Pittsburgh
  • Applying to 25-30 medical schools

How Brad got his acceptance:

  • Doing well in the boards and classes
  • Applying early decision and getting nothing
  • Applying to DO school
  • Getting placed on the waitlist
  • Sending a letter of intent every two months to send an update
  • Getting a call by the end of June

Can you tell a medical school you're applying to that you got an acceptance from a different school?

Yes. Let them know that you're in demand so they will take another look at you.

Some pieces of advice for premed students:

If you truly, in your heart, want to be a physician and that is your path, that is your destiny, you will always want to be a physician no matter what you do. It's not going to go away.

Form relationships. Meet everybody. There are thousands of people applying to medical school. Unless you make yourself known, you're a number.

Stay persistent if you really want to be a physician. Send update letters moderately. Have a person to talk to and form relationships with them.

Links and Other Resources:

Session 11: Interview with a 56-Year Old Medical Student

Session 74: 1st Year of Medical School For A Non-Trad Premed

If you need any help with the medical school interview, go to Sign up and you will receive parts of the book so you can help shape the future of the book. This book will include over 500 questions that may be asked during interview day as well as real-life questions, answers, and feedback from all of the mock interviews Ryan has been doing with students.

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For more great content, check out for more of the shows produced by the Medical School Headquarters including the OldPremeds Podcast and watch out for more shows in the future!

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