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Realistic Future Plans


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I am a senior at UMass Amherst and I am trying to develop some sort of realistic plan for the next couple of years of my life. I am going to graduate in the spring with a degree in Kinesiology with a GPA of 3.2 and want to do some sort of graduate school. My original plan was Medical School until I took organic chemistry 2, and failed. I started to second guess Med School as an option and began to explore other options such as Physician Assistant and Physical Therapy schools. PT school lined up more with the classes I have taken so I started shadowing a physical therapist and enjoyed it. I also shadowed PAs and MDs and both were more stimulating than the PT was, but that is not to say I did not enjoy the work I did with the PT. Now, ideally, I would like to go to Medical School. I plan on retaking Organic Chemistry 2 next semester, but I do not expect my GPA to get much higher than 3.2. With that being said, is Medical School realistic? I know everyone always says "GPA does not define your chances" but realistically, it does, especially with Med School. I am not going to lie, PA school was sort of a "settling" decision, where I said if I could not go to Med School I will do the next best thing. I had the same mentality going into the PT shadowing but after doing the minimal hours that I have done for both, they are careers that I did enjoy and can see myself doing.  

I have accumulated about 50 hours of PT shadowing, 30 hours of PA shadowing, and probably 20 MD shadowing hours. I have not taken the GRE or the MCAT yet as I am not sure what exactly my plan of action is. Regardless of what I choose, I am going to have to take the year off to build up my resume but I guess the point of this thread is, where should I dedicate my time? Med school has always been the dream but I do not want to waste the next year or two preparing for something that is unrealistic.

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Honestly, I would spend more time shadowing and talking to PAs and PTs to get a better sense of what your education and future career will look like in either of those roles. Many PA schools require 80+ hours of volunteering or shadowing to be considered so you'll need to do more of that anyway. Hopefully, in the process you'll get a clearer sense of whether you'd be happy being a physician assistant or if you really want the MD/DO. Med school is a huge commitment in terms of time and money (and that's not even counting the application process). I have several friends who actually dropped out of med school to go to PA school because it takes significantly less time, costs less money, and allows you to do many of the same things at work. YMMV obviously.

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  • 1 month later...

I can't speak to med school, but PT school takes your pre-reqs, GRE (a lot of the time, not all), and recommendation letters into account. However, many PT schools are upping their GPA reqs because they can (one told me they wouldn't even look at applications with GPAs under 3.8). There is a pre-req GPA that is taken into account, though. So say you took a pottery class that you failed--sucks on your overall GPA. However, without it, if your science GPA is high, you stand a chance. This is the case for PT school and PA school. Shadowing PTs is important--if it's fun, but not something you can see doing for the rest of your life, save yourself the debt. They're requiring the DPT now, which is not cheap, and the pay doesn't quite reflect the cost of the degree (yet--hopefully it will soon). It's worth it if you love it, but if you're thinking it's fun but not the best for you then you should really consider your options. You also need over 100 hours of shadowing to apply at many schools, and some specify settings in which it had to be completed (at least 20 of mine had to be inpatient for one school). I had close to 400 hours overall when I applied, but I only chose to use about 200 of them in my application. A lot of mine were in orthopedic clinics, and I just didn't need to use all of them to show I had that base covered. 

So I'd take some time to think about it if I were you. You can also take pre-reqs at community college to try to boost up your overall GPA, and improve your applicant profile by shadowing or being a tech at a clinic. That would improve your chances at getting in everywhere, and the networking is invaluable. 

Good luck!

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