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Hi all!

I could use some advice on the next steps to take in my professional career. For the past year, I've been thinking more and more about attending medical school in a near future. I'm a 23 years old - single, no strings attached, no kids - guy and I feel like the longer I wait, the higher the chances are that it'll be too late to get in. But first, a little backstory...

Throughout high school, I've always picked the pre-university classes with the idea that I would be going to university. I finally ended up applying at the collegial level and got accepted in the Primary Care Paramedic program at a french college in Ontario, but kept my classes so I could switch to the university level down the road. I graduated the PCP program in 2017 and ended up in the Advanced Care Paramedic program in the Fall of that year. I was lucky enough to land a job in my hometown as part-time PCP as I am finishing up my ACP preceptorship (preceptorship is the final placement in the truck, providing care to patients with your preceptor's partner and under your preceptor's supervision). As I am approaching the end of my paramedicine-prehospital education, I am trying to figure out my options and the best way to get accepted into med school.

And there you have it: a 23 y/o PCP (soon to be ACP), academically inclined, who's been told a few times he should be going to medical school, and who's passionate about the intricacies in medicine and the human physiology.

My ACP diploma does give me 2 or 3 years of equivalency in a health related bachelor. From the info I've gathered, I'm pretty sure I will still need to get an undergrad with a full-time schedule and that my EMS experience will be an advantage in my application.

I'm curious to see who followed this unorthodox path of EMS to MD and their experience through the process. I've heard that their might be a university that "specializes" in 2nd career switch or in non-traditional applicants (I could be wrong though haha)? Any insights on the next steps or any recommandation will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks for your time!

TLDR; High School -> Primary Care Paramedic -> Advanced Care Paramedic (to-be) -> ? -> Medical School

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I went from PCP (in Ontario) to RN and have interviewed two years so far. Having all As in the PCP diploma gave me enough transfer credits that I didn't have to take any electives during my degree. None of my PCP-specific courses gave me any transfer credits though, only my generic courses like math or English or what have you. I believe I had around 30 transfer credits in total.

I tried a non-healthcare degree at first but found my motivation flagged quickly, so I switched to a BScN and was much happier. After finishing a nursing degree you're left with a highly marketable skill that you can travel internationally with and can work in various areas with. You also get to work very closely with MDs, which can give you a lot of insight into the career (including possibly whether it's even the right choice for you) My recommendation would be to go the nursing route, but at the end of the day whatever gets you a suitable GPA is the correct choice. Beyond this I'm not sure what advice I can give you.

 

Oh, I totally just thought of a caveat. So if you do what I do and utilize your transfer credits to avoid electives, you will need to be aware that this may disqualify you from the GPA calculation formula of certain schools. In my case I wasn't explicitly trying to get into medical school when I did my degree, but now I am somewhat limited in my choices. If you want to keep your options open, be mindful of this as well.

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PCP, currently first year med. 

Advanced Care Paramedic is a great place to start. There are paramedics that go into med and do well - the early focus on sick/not sick as well as a good understanding of physiology goes a long way. One of the things you have to consider is whether your PCP/ACP credits are considered in your GPA calculation as full-time university level coursework. Most paramedic programs are considered vocational and usually do not meet most medical school definitions as "full course load" (this is the case in Alberta/BC anyway). To this end, you may have to enroll in an undergrad to get enough years of coursework to satisfy this requirement. To clarify this a bit: medical schools don't usually care if you have bachelor degree of 'x' in terms of degree completion, they only care about whether you did a full course load during the academic year and maintained a good GPA. Medical school is a high volume program so the intent of evaluating prior coursework is not looking at prior knowledge as much as "can you handle the academic workload" type thing. So your best bet is to look at the websites of medical schools that you'd be interested in and seek out that information, as every school is different. 

As far as universities that "specialize" in non-traditional applicants, what that actually means is they put more consideration in to applicant extra-curricular and interview aspects. You still need to meet all the academic pre-requisites as mentioned above. To give you an example: an advanced care paramedic who as experience working prehospitally will likely have developed good decision making skills as well as communication skills - these traits can show in their application and definitely in the interview. They are older so may have had more opportunities to volunteer like doing volunteer fire-fighting or medical relief work overseas. When compared to a 21 year old science major with a 4.0 GPA, a 30 year old ACP with 3.7 GPA (from university courses) may have an advantage in these schools because they are looking for more mature applicants at their program. You still need to jump through all the hoops everyone else does (GPA, MCAT, extra-curriculars, volunteering, interview) but you may have a bit of an edge at certain schools that make up for lower GPA, etc. 

Best of luck.

 

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